• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 12
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Grief Like A River

From somewhere above the stars, you make a river to swim down to me.

I try to picture you, beyond the light pollution, laying out crushed velvet the colour of dark chocolate.

You’ll pick out the banks, the bends and the curves, arranging it just as you please.

Where you are, does it look like a better version of the sky from the window of a plane? My stomach lurches, thinking of all the trips you never got to take. When you swim down, will there be turbulence?

Do you base your river on one of the rivers we cried for you? And if so, which one? I jealously hope this is my one. I hope you’re diving down to me tonight, even if I worry about what you’ll make of what you find.

Grief comes in waves, they say. The tides come and go. But more often than not, for us it’s a river, gently cutting its way through the air. A constant current swirling around us, mostly quietly trickling and flickering, sometimes roaring with the wrongness of it all.

Maybe you’re wearing that awful baby blue suit you insisted on bidding on from eBay, with the stain blooming across it. More likely, your dressing gown. I smile to myself, remembering how many times the postman saw you in little else. I regret not picking up some white Magnums for when you make it here. You’ll be ready for one, after swimming so far.

I can imagine you pressing your face to the river’s glassy surface – or would it be the river bed? Your breath steaming, collecting in little clouds. Your fingers, plotting your route, leaving greasy marks. The stars swimming towards you like you might give them something to eat.


Grief Like A River

I lie on my back, very still. I breathe as quietly as I possibly can, and try to listen for your voice; and even as I try, I feel my heart sink, because it takes me longer than I would like to remember what it sounded like. I imagine extending my arms, reaching up high enough to trail my fingers in it. I don’t know whether it would be hot or cold. I imagine the water curling around my knuckles like a promise.