Margins Magazine Issue 1 - Page 8

ABIDE ANITA JEAN 8 ABIDE He let his fingers stretch out to touch the petals. They were beside the path and beyond his resistance as each had collected a glow in the end of the evening’s light. Then the sound of things too big to be grit, too small to be stones, scratched between his feet and the slabs. His brow creased at the noise as he neared the front door. Frustrated that he couldn’t find a name for these shards of things and all too aware of his own placelessness, he rang the bell. A flurry of warmth met him, scooped him in, hung his coat and pressed him with tea. With a smile he shut out their kindness. He couldn’t risk letting it in, though he ached to collapse into somewhere he could belong, like a foldable item that becomes nothing when it disappears into its cupboard. Once he had tried to let them hold him, but like a footless limpet he had become unstuck. Biscuits appeared, then offers of dinner: ‘Oh, but you must stay.’ He could feel the heat from their electric fire creeping into him and pushing out the good sense of the cold walk to the car. ‘Oh, go on. A good meal won’t harm you.’ Were they naive or wilfully oblivious? To him, they didn’t seem to know these unspoken normalities of human interaction; the skill of keeping things to where they belong. In contrast, he knew too well that their borderless welcome held a threat to his composure. ‘Do I still not know how to leave?’ he wondered. The glimpse of hesitation frightened him. Then he felt anger rise at his reluctance to look after himself. It enabled his resolve. The pain from an unrealised hope stood him on his feet and politely asked for his coat. This hope was for a home and the hurt of its deferral had become his resilience. Back in the car he felt the bottom of his shoes to check for pieces of the notquite-stones, fearing they might have been implanted with the memory of what it is to be lodged somewhere one does not belong. Already missing the room, the soft carpet with recent crumbs, he breathed in. ‘Maybe I’ve come back too soon.’