“I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared of not dying enough,” you said, “Being trapped in-between.”
Entranced by the fire, we drank wine out of mugs. Watched pictures pulsate in charred lines and embers. Minds roamed on journeys chosen by flames.
“Can you see a bear? Or maybe a tiger?”
You couldn’t see furry but witnessed Hell clearly: a hungry inferno; a prison of flames.
I looked at you, loved you, wondered why you were fearful, when there was just us, under bright Winter stars.
You wanted to know: How was I certain? That the end’s the real end; and not just a limbo that’s sinister, frightening?
I offered reassurance but no guarantees.
We fed the fire. Watched flames eat new wood, gentle then ravenous. Hunger insatiable until the last log was left.
A plane crossed the sky, we wondered where it was heading. I agreed it looked lonely: fading to nothing, its taillights blinking a wistful goodbye.
We stayed up watching stumps turn to embers, until nothing was left and the chill bit our bones.
In twitchy early hours, you disclosed it was back: the anxiety, raiding your mind. I pulled you tight. Stroked your hair softly. Said worry was just the red wine, sat heavy on your chest like a 4.00am cat. Sang you to sleep.
“Brunch is the cure!” I declared when we wakened late and hungover; sent you for supplies. You were gone longer, so I laid the table, filled the bath with hot water, lit candles, in every window, to welcome you home. Slipped into your bath, to wait…
Kate Simblet lives in Brighton, works in mental health and often types late into the night.
Photo – authors own