A lone figure stands behind thick curtains, he strokes the soft material. His eyes watching, but not remembering. Each passing car, a pounding bass drum, he grips his head, rubbing his palms hard against his skull. He hears a car pull up. A quick glance up, red. He drops to the floor and crawls under the windowsill, stopping behind the sofa. On his hands and knees he waits. He imagines soft voices and smiles. The slam of a car boot startles him; his eyes burst open, wide, light pours in, his body assesses for signs of an attack. The gate swings open, four small wheels roll along the path; a deafening war cry. His heart pounds. They knock.
His leg touches his wife’s, both cold and wet, both signalling frightened. They are swirling around. Their hands grip the rope; their knuckles pale with the intensity. Dark green and blue peaks topped with bubbling white foam crash against them. They swirl and spin. He takes his hands from the rope and reaches for his wife’s hands. A wave hits, he topples back. A second wave slams into them and he is thrown forward. On the floor he reaches again for his wife’s hands, taking them into his, he pulls her towards him; she slides onto the floor of the round inflatable. They hold each other as they swirl and spin. On waking he tastes salt when he kisses her cheeks. They look out at the expanse of water and clear sky; the horizon empty. She wraps her arms around him, he pulls her closer to him, together, alone. As they drift under the sun, they feel no warmth, but their skin cracks; weeping sores stung by the salt as they attempt to move, to find land. But each night under the spotlight of a silver moon they drift back.
Under a blue sky they knock again. He hears a gurgle. He hears his wife gulp for air as she stands at the top of the stairs.
A wide valley opens up in front of them. As he parks up the car, he mouths to his wife, this is it. He smiles at the distant mountains, the wide expanse; an endless breath. Taking hold of her hand, they run down the narrow road. Her cotton dress brushes against his leg, he stops, picks her up and spins her around. Their smiles merge and he hears laughter. Bare feet hop across chalked numbered squares, with each bounce the worn wooden slats echo. Daddy, look! The young girl, smiling, points to a butterfly fluttering by the overhanging purple flowers. He sweeps up his daughter into his arms and kisses her, thinking they dance for you too.
A curled hand meets the plastic door. His wife’s feet lift and fall against the stairs. He slams his fist against his leg in time with the gentle knocking. Water rushes in, tearing at the rock, the white bubbling foam, hungry. He swims to, pass, the rock, sinking before he can touch it. A piece of wood, a chalk square visible. His wife hugs it, exhausted. His fist smashes against the sea. A smooth stone bounces against the laminate floor. His wet eyes plead. She takes his hands and pulls him close. She wants to whisper I saw our son. We were sat together, under a thick blanket, watching specks of light being joined together by our son; the joy in his and our eyes. But he knows, she remembers, the hope in his eyes as he rested his hand on her stomach; this month it would be. Two of her index fingers trace the edge of his face. He looks up and kisses her silent tear, sealing their joins. The water drains away, the mountains gone; a new valley floor gouged from their bedrock. He picks up the round stone and they stand. Looking at each other, they set their smiles. Together they reach for the handle.
Andy is many things, but not a dad, which leaves him too often wondering if he is anything at all. Andy is making his way through the grief with his wife and two black cats. Find out more at Decoding Static