• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 09
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Ducking the tape, they walk ahead and stand a while at the centre of the cordon, eyes half closed, arms extended, thumbs and forefingers curled with seared and blackened tips in clamping hold of the setting sun.

You can smoke out a scent you don't want to recall if you can live with the habit it saddles you with and you can joke over the buzz of a bone saw when you need to forget what it's cutting through.

"Christ, Phil, they look just like my kids."

Then there are moments, fleeting and nondescript at first, that no amount of smoking or joking will ever hoist you over entirely. Things that kick the hinges off half-shut doors and squat in the recesses, clinging with a parasitical tenacity to every unguarded thought, every careless moment of reflection. Things like a backlit picture of innocence at the close of a glorious day. Young souls in the pastoral perfection of an American field, patiently tracking the distant light of the world all the way down to the drop.

The cankerous legacy of our presence in the moment is still a long way off revealing itself as we take off our jackets and roll up our sleeves. It's a full year before I feel the first gnawing remembrance of the kisses blown back and forth across the long grass and the shared observation that neither kid looked down at the ground they were standing on before or after we broke it. Not once. I lose a lot of conversation threads snagging on that.

None of us hear the hinges crack folding our jackets or spitting on our hands outside the cordon. Lighting our cigarettes as one body, we shoulder our spades in the fading light and turn the earth for all these distracted young souls have hidden in this perfect field.