The girl walked past the tall building full of busy people. She trudged her way past the bus stop full of impatient people and crossed the road, barely dodging the angry drivers. The world seemed full of emotion and excitement. Vivid. Alive. Yet, none of it seemed to touch her.
She walked nonchalantly past her life as easily as she did past the enthusiastic shoe shiner. Barely batting an eyelid as he whistled at her… at her legs anyway.
Nothing. She felt absolutely nothing. No pain. No happiness. No sadness. Just absence. And absence isn’t quite a feeling: more an awareness of the lack of it.
She could walk straight now. Head tall, eyes forward. No more slouching under the weight of… well, she could walk straight now. Her eyes, clear and empty, observed the people around her. Her ears taking in every rustle, squeal, expletive, she could even hear the birds.
She felt a chilly breeze float by and tap her shoulder as if seeking her attention. She ignored it. Now more forcefully. It engulfed her then rustled past her, suddenly losing interest.
She sighed a little, tried to smile then thought better of it. Too many people stranger than her on this road. Too many people who thought they had rights to her attention. Too many people.
She straightened her sweater. Pulled it down at the back- no need to flash the world her underwear- then continued her journey. Well, it felt like a journey. Really it was just a walk up the road. Up to… She’d deal with that when she got there. In the meantime, her concentration was on getting there in one piece: before the shadows disappeared and the really scary things came out to play. And just as she thought about it, she was there. The spot. The only place in the world in which her heart made sense. The last time when anything felt real, and so she stopped and drank it in. The breeze was back. She closed her eyes this time and embraced it. Felt it lift up the tiny hairs on her arms and neck. Felt every goose pimple rise. Breathed in the dust, smoke, sweat and faint freshness. Let it carry her back to the day when she was as alive as the breeze was now.
When the tiny hand resting on her back and a warm heartbeat breathed life into her.
She stood there and allowed it all to come through. Remembering the beauty of dependence. This fragile body relying so much on her and yet, she relying more on him for life than anyone could understand.
She felt that hand now. She felt it rubbing her neck. Those little fingers pulling on that one last cornrow like he always did as he fell asleep. Like he did when… wait. Not ready to go there yet.
She could feel his weight on her back again. She was slouching again. No complaints though. This was welcome pain. He was tugging on her cornrow that time. It stung a little but reminded her that he was there. Alive.
It all happened so fast though. Screeching, angry drivers, frantic crowds, yelling. Police and she was lying down. Right here at this spot. Her head was buzzing a little but her last cornrow was free, and it didn’t hurt anymore.
Everything else did though, her back, her arms, her stomach. The ground felt strange. It was warm and murky and… bloody?
She turned her head. Eyes clear she looked around. And that’s when all feeling disappeared. Everything stopped hurting. And nothing had hurt since.