Taking stock (2011)
It’s Friday night, and this week she’s home alone – a momentous week is over, and there just wasn’t enough energy to chase a sunset drink on the edge of the harbour.
But this is good, it’s what she needs – time to walk undisturbed through the streets of her mind, see what’s broken, what’s new, what’s snuck in on a night train and taken up residence. Taking down some scowling emotion as it tries to blend in on the It’s Not Fair Shelf, she turns it over slowly in her hands.
“What are you, exactly?” she asks.
“I’m all those hundreds of hours you put in on the phone – listening, cajoling, humouring, comforting, trying to understand, understanding, anxious, careful, afraid to do harm, but knowing that you couldn’t walk away.”
She nods, remembering, and the sudden hurt of it is deeper than she can believe.
“Why have you come back here,” she stops, “and how on earth did you get in..?”
“That’s easy – you stood and saw a crowd of people forget what part you’d played, as if you’d never even been there – you saw them wondering who you were, and it hurt – that’s how I always get in.”
It’s true, she knows that it’s true.
But that’s not all she knows.
“Yes, it did – does – hurt. But how would they know, unless they’d been told? And who was going to tell them? And would they have believed it? And, even if they did, was that the reason I invested the time? It was a gift. What kind of person tails someone to watch what they do with a gift? And how about the gifts I’ve been given – the doors people have opened for me?”
She looks down and the scowling emotion is smaller, cowering in her cupped hands. But it tries one more time:
“Yes, yes – but they don’t KNOW! None of them knows what it cost you – they don’t know how it REALLY was. You did such a good job, you even heard your own words being recited back at you – and none of them KNEW where those words CAME from!”
Now she smiles: it’s gone a step too far and revealed itself.
“Ah, THOSE words. Do you think they originated with me? How funny. Someone gave them to me and I passed them on. Do you think I have a copyright on concepts like “examine your heart, and examine your motives”? Go on – git…”
And she watches it disappear – like a thread of smoke in a strong breeze.