As I breathe in, she breathes out. A process of harmony whilst lying on our backs. Static harmony, still, forever waiting for the final act of the season. A crackling fire with searching flames, stretching, trying to reach the mantelpiece and the photos. Happier times in safer climes.
The clock carries on. Never erring. 360 degrees of time, roundly passing. What can I do? What can we do but lie here and wait? 360 degrees of expectancy. 360 degrees of acceptance. I breathe in.
And then it tumbles downwards. Rolling. Growing as it gains ground. The flames stop reaching but the clock still trundles on. At exactly 10:23am she says:
“At least it didn’t sneak up on us.”
Her voice is muffled by the softness of the pillow but the murmur is strong enough to break the static harmony. The quiet anticipation that quelled the flames has been shattered. As the ball hurtles towards us I’m enraptured by fear and swathes of emotion. The flames reach up one last time as I feverishly bat my eyelids, rejecting the soft flow of tears. And one last time, one last futile attempt to clear the nerves, one last sound in an empty house, one last pure breath. I shoot an icy wave deep into the pits of my organs and she doesn’t make a sound.