Where have all the Contrails Gone? Long Time Passing.
She locked revenge away for a moment and gazed into and beyond a sky that seemed washed of all cloud and sense. The kind of sky she used to paint at school where she mixed blue with increasing amounts of white and just painted across and across, getting lighter and whiter towards where the line where the ground began. She did it just like Miss Fletcher told her to.
Strange to think that she should get her idea of what skies should look like from a woman whose hair came from a bottle, body mass index from McDonald’s and memories from a time long before all the clouds disappeared.
A dark speck against the blue. She tried to follow and lost it. Probably just another piece of dust in her eye. She was getting more of those as she got older and her eyes became more like dried river beds. As the land had parched under the relentless sun it had started to take to the air and to her clothes, hair and eyes.
No – there is was again – definitely a bird. She marvelled for a moment, thinking herself back home, then remembered where she was. Remembered that she was in the North. Birds were more common here. And not just the ones that fed on flesh. On carrion.
She followed the arc of the bird as it coasted in the wind-lanes. Probably searching for lunch. Insects? Small animal? Or something worse. As she thought of food, she felt, rather than heard, the trail of gas rise in her stomach and was disgusted by her body’s reaction. Roadkill and hunger were not natural companions for her. Not as natural as they had become for some of her friends, and even her own family.
As the bird swooped downwards, she lost it among the trees. Some of these were still in their overcoats, as they had been all winter. Others were just rising from sleep and still getting dressed. The warmth of the day was encouraging and they had already donned their filmy underclothes in various shades of green.
She searched the boughs for nests, but couldn’t find any. But they wouldn’t risk nesting here surely. Too close to man the hunter – still close to the top of the food-chain, but for how long? A wry smile.
Her eyes climbed through the nearest tree. Down along the branches until they met the trunk, and then clambered down the bark until they met the ground. Dry earth. Too dry for spring. No promise for the grass gathered there with the moss. Green now, but like a vehicle without fuel, it just wasn’t going to go far. More’s the pity that it was even trying. She felt obscurely sad for the grass. It had no idea what was coming.
It was a bright day. A good day to be alive. A day to celebrate and dance. And so why did her thoughts keep turning to destruction, darkness and death. An anchor on her heart. A weight taking her down to depths. She shook her head and raised her eyes back to the sky. Still blue. Still empty. Stilled, like her heart.
(continues in Let Her Stay (pt2/8))