A Refle(x)ction

I thought about you tonight. Felt like the first time in years.

I was waiting for a bus, kicking the dead leaves of June, like a child in red gumboots. I could feel the eyes of my soon-to-be fellow travellers, all staring at me, asking, “Why? She should be more mature than this! She is wearing lipstick, and has a handbag and has wine in her shopping!” But I didn’t care. I had to pass the time somehow.

Then I remembered you. I remembered how you held my hand to stop me chasing seagulls. I remembered how you got angry about taxes you didn’t have to pay yet, and talked about marriage like it was a matter of fact.

Like we’d picked a date.

Like you’d even asked.

Like I’d have considered if you did.

I was sixteen, back then. You were three years older. It feels like an age ago. It almost is.

But we both moved on along our respective paths. You found a wife and a new land. I found my own adventures, and what adventures they have been.

I’m older now than you were then. And I still kick the leaves. And I still chase pigeons and seagulls. And I still dance in bus shelters for no reason at all, where everyone can see me.

And whenever I do, and that memory of you creeps back into my head, I just softly smile and think the same damn thing.

“Thank Christ I dodged that bullet.”

Because to live the life you wanted for me would have killed me.


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