In the Blink of an Eye

I am very like you. It could even be said that I am you – albeit for some fleeting moments. Fleeting moments are all I have: all I ever have.

I am always a person but the person can change from one moment to the next.

Yesterday, if days can be said to exist, I was a mother in Bourem, making a meal of fish and bread. My house stood almost at the tips of boats lying beside the Niger River. A lorry passed, kicking up gouts of swirling dust which engulfed my daughter. She emerged smiling in sunshine. Beautiful clothes, brilliant reds and blues, radiated her leisurely grace and strength as she approached, bearing a basket of fruit.

In that moment a connection occurred and I was no longer in the mother, but transferred to inhabit the daughter. She was pregnant with twins, and I learned what that felt like. Leaning back slightly, to balance as I walked, I listened to my mother’s radio as the lorry’s roar died away. Laying the basket of fruit beside her, another connection happened.

There was a noise, a tiny noise trapped in the radio’s music, and I became the person who made it – the man standing in front of a stage somewhere near Rotterdam. The noise was him placing a can on something – too infinitesimal a sound for human ears, drowned as it was in rock music. My job, this man’s job, was to keep fans from climbing up and disturbing the group performing above me. Their thudding music made my beer-can rattle where it rested. I’ll bet few people find the tail of a wooden mermaid the best place to leave their beer, but this stage had all sorts of fairyland creatures attached. I was one of many bouncers lined up to keep people away. Rain pattered on my mock-WW2 helmet. One of my boots was letting in water and mud. I could feel it building up inside my right instep. The more I moved, the more it oozed towards my ankle. I never got to taste that beer because someone took a photo – with me in the frame.

Then I became a tiny girl being shown the photo, and thinking the man in the motorcycle outfit was the thing I should look at. I touched it. No, said my grown-up cousin, that’s just some bloke in front of the stage. The band is the people up there.

That’s how it is for me, flitting from one person to another with each connection. I’ve been everything, nearly, though there are often shocks and surprises. Once I was a soldier shooting someone – then the person he shot: in the throat. They had made eye-contact, and that’s almost a guaranteed connection and transfer. That death was messy and horrible. The next connection happened as another soldier read my dog tag and wondered who I’d been, who would mourn me.

I do not know what I am; it’s you people who give things names. Nor do I know from where I came. Neither do you – where were you before you became alive?

Today’s surprise is to be in the head of a writer who’s actually conscious of my presence. That makes me him – briefly of course. This is the first chance I’ve had to communicate with the people I’ve passed through all my life.

Now, of course, I’m in you: I am you – just for a moment.


©Gary Bonn, 2019