You must remember that day. Do you? I feel embarrassed to ask, but I have no idea how, or indeed if, memories work where you are.
Let me explain how it works for me. Within my head is a private screening room. It has one movie which I have seen before. I have no desire for another screening. Yet I find myself in one of the purple, velvet seats at the back, near the emergency-exit. The whirr of a cine projector comes at me from behind. A funnel of light stretches across the room, ignored by the hanging motes of dust it illuminates. A monochrome image is cast, high-key and over-exposed, scratched and with heavy vignette. I watch the images playing out the story, familiar to me as if it were yesterday, or is today, or will be tomorrow.
This is the movie:
A fog had descended upon the hill, and seeped into the bones of the cemetery. I had lost you; or rather you had lost me. Among the gravestones, dark slabs that punctuated the lighter grey hue in which we were enveloped. I heard your whoops and hollers as you inhabited your role of oppressed Sioux. I followed your voice as it taunted me for being a crybaby Pale-face Cowboy. I gave chase, a posse of one.
I stumbled down the slope with no respect for the dead. I left footprints in the sodden earth of their graves. I climbed a wooden stile, up and over the barbed wire fence that protected the boundary of the consecrated land. After a few minutes I was at the foot of the hill. The fog had thinned enough to see you in the middling distance. You had made your way to the abandoned cottages. Through my wet eyes, I watched you pull aside the wooden panel that we had together worked loose some months previous. Then you slipped inside.
I slowed to a walk. My breathing loud and heavy; while you had stopped your whooping. I approached the cottages and called out your name, claiming you as my prisoner, making me the victor. Silence. I called again as the fog closed in, surrounded me, and threatened to hijack my mind.
I escaped, I pushed on, squeezing through that same hole in the wall. Now inside, It took a while for my eyes to adjust. There were footprints outlined in the dust upon the ground. A funnel of light stretched across the room, exciting the dancing motes it illuminated.
I made my way to the back room with the sprung sofa and rotting table. Then to the kitchen, then on to the stone steps to the cellar. I knew you would be down there. In the dark with your torch, and the dripping walls, and the bones of the dead rats you used to kill with your catapult. I expected to find you in that cellar, but not with your body contorted in such a fashion. Not with your leg bent grotesque. Not with the blood pooling at the foot of the bottom step. Not with that look upon your face, eyes empty and black
I wiped at my tears, leaving streaks of mud from the cemetery across my face; like war paint. Forever forward a posse of one.
I don’t know why I’ve written this all down, J. I am not even sure there will be more letters – maybe this is the first and last. For now, I’m going to keep this one in a box under the bed and see what happens. Feel free to take a look when you wish. Although I’m embarrassed to say, but I have no idea know how, or indeed if, an afterlife works where you are.