Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Safe Place

The last time I saw him – after I'd adjusted to the ravages that time had inflicted on him, he wrote his name and two telephone numbers on a piece of computer paper. I folded it and put it in my wallet. Everything felt alright now. I had this connection and a chance to resume from where we'd left off.

Those ravages! Fool that I was, I expected him to look more or less like he did twenty six years ago when I'd last said goodbye. Lean, gaunt, with a hairstyle that made him look like the sixth – or was it fifth now? - member of The Rolling Stones.

Instead, the hair was now snowy and his eyebrows had been invaded with long, wild strands like brambles invading a once carefully manicured hedge. When he tilted his head back to laugh there was a black space where a tooth had once been.

But he was essentially the same. The lean, easy walk. The quickness of thought. A distance in his eyes that spoke of far off places.

I carried that piece of paper until it became an old-looking piece of paper. Sometimes looked at the handwriting, the tracks of the ballpoint pen travelling like a drunk on a bicycle. Worried that it would become worn away I planted it somewhere safe.

Damn. I wish I could remember where that safe place was.

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