Maps

Photo by geezaweezer (copied from Flickr)

Photo by geezaweezer (copied from Flickr)

After the noisy death of a friend, she decided that to go quiet into that good night was exactly what she wanted. But first she would diminish her footprint. She imagined she’d get a better overall view once her life and her rooms had whittled down to essentials.

It didn’t work out that way. Instead she floated around the new, sparse layout like a ghost. The room played broken tunes on her bones. Her feet got lost inside her shoes. She found herself trapped in the long emptiness between two chairs.

 ~

She met him at the Society for Help at Exit. Their eyes locked as she scanned the room from her position near the wall. She felt something shift. Her body fitted her skin; her feet found their place in her shoes. But she wasn’t yet ready to cross the unmapped expanse of floor between the wall and the chairs.

At the next meeting she chose another angle through the entrance. Aimed an unsteady compass-needle towards the first row of chairs. He moved up beside her, but said nothing.

At the third meeting the first words were pushed backwards and forwards between them, like a game of marbles with muted colours.

As the meeting came to an end, he rolled a last sentence across. “And pancreatic cancer is a slow burn in old men…”

She nodded and said nothing. His words dispersed inside the all-pervading comfort of being seen.

 ~

He started to pay her visits. Each time he brought something of his own. His work-table and chair, a chest of drawers, a favourite cup, his plants, until at last he added himself to his possessions.

She discovered new pathways in the layout. They wound pleasingly around the objects in the room, protected her steps, created a new geography.

At night he stood smoking out on her small balcony. She found she enjoyed watching blue coils of smoke entwine and unravel, dissipate against the dark.

 ~

He spent much of his time drawing a map of space, one he had been working on for years. Nebulas and galaxies spun like smoke-rings, contained by a net of stars.

“It’s really very empty out there, so it’s comforting to condense it, get an overall view,” he said. “All maps lie, anyway.”

 ~

She stopped removing spider’s webs from the balcony window. Instead she covered them with gentle breath, watched them sag and shiver, and let them be. 

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