I was human once.

Now I don’t know.

I don’t know what or where I…

There is no what or where or even when, just stillness and silence so absolute they are one thing and everything. It is perfection without time or space.

I love this. I’m going to keep it: part of me.

Oh … it always was.

It’s perfect rest … but I have nothing to rest from, no task, no purpose, no desire … no identity.

I am silence and stillness … not anything else … not really a me.

It is death and I can keep it, always return if I want to.

Inviolable, eternal, safe.

It’s totally chilling out. I chuckle. Maybe it’s absolute zero where nothing can exist except consciousness.

Ah, is that why I’m thinking? I’m rested enough? Maybe it’s time to do something … be something.

This is hilarious: I’m bored of death. Well, that’s how I feel but … but now what?

I spread out. I don’t decide to do this: it’s instinct. I could expand infinitely – but don’t. I feel a … a something odd, strange, a tiny thing, far far away.

Barely conscious, it’s a point of pain. Without any effort at all I’m beside it, with it.

Like me it has no physical presence; it’s an awareness, a loneliness in shock. So tiny, no matter how close I get it curls smaller and smaller: numb agony trying not to exist.

Without body, but with imagined form, I reach out and try to catch it in cupped palms. “No, little one, don’t shrink away. I’m here. I’ll look after you. You’re safe with me … I love you. You’re not alone any more.”

Now I hold something. Whatever it is, it feels alive. It must have a past, a source. Where is that?

Come on, little thing, are there no threads, no trail you’ve left? What’s behind you, long ago in your past? Where do I take you? Give me the pain – I’m big and strong enough to take it. You must think, think where you need to go. This is no place for something still living.

Infinity turns, accelerating, creating a vortex with us at the centre. I will it to spin faster, whirling, forming a spout and pulling us down … down into a tumultuous blur.

Now I’m infinite and lost … and here … all in this moment.

We’re in something like a kaleidoscope of shredded images. I take a deep breath – which I don’t need. The humour of that settles my head, which in turn, helps the pictures assemble themselves into a coherent scene. More or less coherent – I’m still a bit dizzy.

It’s a street, partially cobbled. Mean wattle and daub houses lean into the centre; paint and plaster cracked, timber joints buckling. Children run downhill, one of them with a gird and cleek clattering, ringing on hard stones. Young voices calling, shouting, laughing. The children shine, full of life.

With two sticks to steady her, an elderly lady labours uphill. She’s slow, deliberate on the uneven surface, and skirts the muddy areas.

The only other person is a man with a wooden barrow laden with clay and cobbles. He’s bent over, placing lumps of beach shingle into bare earth and pounding them with a stave, mending ruts dug by carts and carriages.

Unlike the children and woman, he’s empty – almost transparent. There’s a dullness, drabness, a lack of life. The woman speeds up a little and hails him, waving one of her sticks. He momentarily pauses in his work but continues without lifting his head.

As she stops and talks to him I look harder. He reacts now, straightening up, stretching and staring at her. Eyes blank, hardly looking out, he lacks wonder, fun and vitality. The woman talks more, laughing and tapping her sticks to emphasise words.

The man brightens a little – and this tiny thing in my hands squirms, taking form. It’s growing, gaining energy and life, blossoming into a childlike shape, a little boy. The woman pokes through the dullness around the man with her stick, tapping his chest. The child leaps from my palms, pushing them back with astonishing energy.

Too fast for me to see, this almost phantom boy enters the man. He stiffens, eyes focussed on nothing, or looking inward.

He’s poked again and again, turns his head, eyes widening, watching the children tumbling and racing back uphill, shouting for turns with the iron hoop.

The man’s eyes brighten, he laughs at the clamour and leans back against his barrow.

He’s hugging himself: hugging himself.

So that’s what I’m for? Did you, oh mysterious lady, call me? Is that why I started thinking and time began again? Am I to fetch forgotten children while you seek their empty adults?

Yes, well done whoever you are, Miss or Mrs. I’m with you on this venture. I once forgot to hug and love the child in me: keep it safe. Life ran out of fun, wonder and mischief…

…and I started dying.

©Gary Bonn, 2020