If today you had ridden up onto Great Bentley Green to join the park up and pints and the ‘alright?’, ‘alright? with the slaps on the back, then the sandwiches would be cleared, and the hot pasties removed, and the small custard squares and chocolate brownies returned— uneaten—and The Plough would serve drinks from enough real glasses like it was any other bloody day.
If today we could undo yesterday and the countless bleak, black days of suffering in the dark months before, you might find some comfort in the acceptance of greyness. Grey like the blokes’ three-day stringy beards and their well-worn favourite t-shirts and the endless, stretching, high Essex skies.
If today, you had seen the cavalcade of wizened Coggeshall Bastards strapped in their leathers, strung together by long fraying hair and the inky lines of their full body tats. If today you had seen their throbbing-engine parade when they came to salute you, but couldn’t all shoulder into the crem, then you might have decided to ride again alongside them instead of leading the pack.
If today, we could undo all of yesterday, you would see the sun still insists upon rising. Even when the days are clouded over or become too wild and windswept, or when the rain flies in slap-sideways, the sun—it still insists upon rising.
If today you had seen the kind sorrow when we gathered to mourn the spaces where you should have been, and the places where you should be going to—all the journeys left to be taken—you might have paused. Or hesitated.
If today, you had seen the heads of coloured dahlias replicating your electric guitar, and the card sending love to the missing Legendary Character, you might have heard the songs still to sing and the recordings still to make. You might have booked the band for all the gigs left to play.
If tomorrow we can fix all the yesterdays, you will wear your biking jacket, and laugh your bass-line joke. You will sit astride your grunting bike on the butt hard unforgiving seat, and you’ll sling your guitar across your shoulder and ride off to smack freedom full in the fucking face.
And though the sun still insists upon rising, each and every morning, the days will be longer and greyer, and you’ll still leave us far, far behind.
Emily Macdonald was born in England but grew up in New Zealand. Fascinated by wine as a student, she has worked in the UK wine trade ever since. Now freelance, she writes short stories and flash fiction. She has won flash and short story competitions with Retreat West and Globe Soup and has work published with Reflex Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, The Phare, Virtual Zine, Paragraph Planet, Hammond House and forthcoming in Fictive Dream and Crow & Cross Keys. In writing and in wines she likes variety, persistence, and enough acidity to add bite.
Photo – Emily Macdonald
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