There are so many people here
but all are still, invisible, dead.
Some are dust, some bones
and there is a deep regret,
not held by them, but by those living on.
You sit in company at the end of the boulevard –
the trees are all different.
The wind is noticeable, but kind.
Here and there one walks in pairs or with a dog –
this is a place of people getting used to death and to being here for ever for those who yet live on.
It was a time of large plots. On one of these plots stood a house, a good-sized house that looked open and on dark nights blazed with light in the most welcoming fashion.
But a businessman acquired this house and he was a businessman with pretensions. He wanted to build a house commensurate with his ego. So he hired a fashionable architect and had the pleasant house pulled down. In its place rose a house to dominate the area, to dominate the town. But it cost a great deal to build and a great deal to run. So the wealthy man became not so wealthy and he did not live so long as he might have in the smaller house. When he died, his wife, who liked the old house and did not like the new one, sold it fast.
It was autumn. He was walking up towards the Beacon. He came to an old, tight copse of trees. Around it everywhere there were leaves.
He loved the leaves, their colours, the heaps and the sound and feel of walking through them. He trudged on, striking his feet firmly into the ground. The leaves rose around him in a green, brown, gold cloud.
Something chinked beneath his feet. He struck again, looked down. There was something dark and metallic moving. He moved his foot again, more cautiously. Then he bent down and picked up a dirty, round thing. It was a coin. There were more.
They must have been disturbed by the rains, by the winds and by the constant yearly thudding of young men’s boots through the leaf heaps.
He spat on the coin, rubbed it and it began to shine. It was gold.
He walks from point to point around the grounds.
Each time he stops he takes a photo or two.
When he finishes, he wipes his eyes.
“I didn’t expect to feel it.”
His wife pats his back.
Or she would have if she were still alive.
Brian went home every day the same, until he found his wife gone and a brief note on the kitchen table. He had never noticed anything wrong. In fact he had never noticed anything, and that was where he’d been wrong.
He got out of his car and walked to the front of the house. He was not happy about the meeting. He did not think he could talk her round. He liked her very much. He knew she liked him. But she seemed too determined to build on this land and he was too determined to prevent that.
She was standing on the lawn. As he approached he could see her nervousness, but also her determination. They exchanged a kiss.
“Will you withdraw the application?”
“Will you withdraw your opposition?”
It was then, at that very point, that one of them should have laughed. Better if they had both laughed. But neither did. Instead, somehow, there was the sound of a relationship breaking.
He turned and walked away. He felt his eyes wet. He turned once to look back. She had not moved. There was something in her face he could not read at that distance. Something – and tears.
There was a cottage high up and alone on the moor. It looked out through a dip. The view plunged down to the spread of the plain, or up into the width of the sky and the moving clouds. It came up for sale. A man wanted to buy it but he hadn’t the cash, not nearly. One day he was up there when he met another man. He also wanted to buy it but hadn’t enough. So now they live there together.
Helena was feeling very ill as she got out of the taxi, walked into A&E. A black woman behind the reception desk was busy with paper work. Her brow was furrowed, she looked stressed. Helena had to wait for a minute or two. She was not sure she could stand any longer. Then the woman looked up and smiled. She was tired but she still made the effort. Helena explained how she felt. The woman told her to sit down. She was kind. She said she would call a doctor. And she did. And Helena sat down. Then the next patient appeared at reception. And the next. And so on. The doctor got the message and was on his way. Then there was an emergency heart failure. He got diverted then distracted. It took two hours to sort the problem. During this time the woman remembered Helena three times and called again. The doctor remembered Helena five times including the three calls. All Helena did was die.