• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 03
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Past the Bedtime of the Earth

I am never sure whether to photograph him or not. I wonder which is the more powerful image, the one in my mind or the one he makes in the dusk, his body blocking out light, the form travelling through lens to eye.

These are our last days together, I tell myself, and it is true: these are always the last days, always our little fragment of existence darkening to itself.

At three he would lift his salty bed-head from the pillow and ask: will you love me when you are dead?

I will love you when I am nothing, and when you are nothing, I did not say to him. I gave him smiles and said of course, following the braille outline of how to be a mother, a role in an advert for something clean.

Now he bows his arms back to jump into the smallest and largest thing he can imagine. At night he will ask more questions: what is darker than black? Then: what is lighter than the sun?

I wish I could answer, wish that I could stand ahead of him, a great shadow to follow. Instead, watch: he leaps past me. How quickly we are overtaken.

Sometimes I ask the Internet his questions but all it gives me are song lyrics. Small videos where blonde women sing about men they have clearly never loved.

Meanwhile he keeps his baby scent, for now, and when I part his hair it is still there: cradle cap, a meagre covering, an attempt at something more.

It is unnatural, ladies tell me at the supermarket. He should stand at my grave, grey and disappointed. He should throw a flower onto me, and then return to his pirate ship or call centre or place in the sun.


Past the Bedtime of the Earth

They are right, over the pineapples and tiny jars of pickle. They are right all the way home, past the couple leaning into each other by the fountain.

When he goes to bed, I look for my camera. There is no picture, but I see him again. He is flying over the water, lifting his arms, reaching for the night.