Writing by Rachel Dwyer // illustration by Ramya
It’s cool and damp here, I know that much. The kind of cold that creeps into your bloodstream, hitching a ride through your body, touching every part. The temperature of goose-bumps and teeth chattering. Yet, I can’t feel it. Not like I used to, anyway. Before I came here, you would call me the coldest creature on the planet, infinitely amused to see me shivering in any temperature below boiling point. But you never failed to warm up. A sweatshirt, some socks, or a cup of tea would miraculously appear just as my lips began to change colour. I loved it most when you took my hands, enveloping them in yours. You would raise them to your mouth, blowing warm air onto them as you gently squeezed each digit. Sometimes I hoped that your methods wouldn’t work so well, then maybe you wouldn’t stop. Maybe you would just hold me forever. Maybe I wouldn’t be here now.
I’m certain my eyes are shut, have been for some time now. Although, I don’t need to open them to see anymore. I can see more this way, somehow. Taking in every angle of the place that holds me, without moving an inch. I guess our eyes can adjust to any kind of darkness, even this special variety found six feet beneath the surface. Colour is different here, more vibrant. Lively specks of it dance through the air around me. Sprightly and animated, I swear I could touch them if I wanted to, certain that each hue would feel different. There are at least two colours I’ve never seen before; I don’t know what to call them, but you’d say they are beautiful.
Insects tunnel near me, diligent and tireless. Burying deeper into a network of roadways beneath the soil. Tiny teeth and limbs scraping and pulling. They sound like the nightly roadworks behind our back garden, except the single glazed windows that once separated me from the noise have now been replaced by varnished pine. Actually, they sound more like a heartbeat, pulsing through the dirt, replacing the absent sound of my own. I wonder will they continue work around me, or eventually grow tired of the new obstruction to their plans and begin to plough through the wood and velvet to greet me. Would I then become entwined with the roots of trees, part of the earth, another nutrient for the thriving lives surrounding me? But I worry then, that should they breach the boundary of these walls, that their munching and gnawing might drown out the sound of you.
You’re coming now. I would recognize your footfall anywhere. Thanks to years spent in a house with the ancient wooden floors you refused to let me replace. Your gentle shuffle is the soundtrack of our house, of lives spent together within the walls that we built.
“Hello love” I hear you whisper, placing a hand on the cold stone above my head.
You don’t cry anymore when you visit, I know that, thankfully. For months, your sobs rang in my ears, even long after you got back in the car and left this place. The soil took on your tears, the smell of salt covering me. It was a sourness I hated to appreciate, because even though I could feel the pain you shed, it meant you left a piece of you behind with me. The essence of you made this cold, damp, dark place with its noisy neighbours feel safe and warm. Because no matter where I am, or what I become, you are my home.[share]