I don’t have any bones to pick with this world. I’ve been around a while and enough time has passed for me to get over the wounds that living on this planet provides. People hurt one another through ignorance if you look at any situation long enough. My mother was right when she told me no one escapes, but did God give me eyes to hide?I believed in God because God seemed to believe in me. I watched my prime minister on the television; a powerful man. I watched the news presenter on the television; a powerful woman. My feelings changed. I saw their vulnerability. I probably wasn’t supposed to see that. I walked out of the house and looked at tiny birds enjoying what could be their first and last flight through the changing skies.
I sat in the wooden booth in the restaurant and examined my fingers. The morbid thought settled in my mind that there was blood running through them and I would have to put them to work before they were frozen in my coffin and I would no longer be able to see them anymore.
A bag thrust into the opposite seat was my announcement that Kanta had arrived. I would describe him as a deliciously quiet person, but then he was my boyfriend and probably the only person who really loved me or cared what I thought or thought to ask. Naturally for me he radiated like the sun. He looked at me to see how I was, an enquiry in a glance.
He pushed a little gold box towards me. “Happy Birthday”, he said.
I opened it cautiously and cushioned in a ball of cotton wool lay a white ceramic bird. I picked it up to feel its glossy surface. I reached over and held Kanta’s hands in thanks. He held the white bird up to the light bulb above us and brought its face into the light.
“This is you, Atlas”, he said. I looked upon the white light like it could eradicate any darkness that had ever caught me.
I ordered a strawberry shake, fries and a cheese burger. Kanta ordered a coke and noodles. I looked up at him and he said “So do you have any more thoughts about what happens to you after you die?”
I had been trying to think of a story since our last conversation and knew what I wanted to say.
“I gave it some thought”, I said. Kanta had my full attention.
“I remember once not too long ago I was in my apartment and I had an exam the next day. My whole body was gripped by fear. I went into my kitchen and there was a tiny house moth flying like crazy all around me. It landed on me and didn’t leave me till the fear went away. That is the only way I can explain it. So I think this is connected in some way to what happens when you die. You are filled with terrible fear but something in the natural world happens. It’s a kind of magic because there is no rational explanation”.
Kanta nodded, slowly absorbing what I said. Our food came and we ate in silence. I didn’t know how my story had been received.
Finally I asked. “So what do you think?”
Kanta slurped at his noodles. “I believe you”, he said.
Lena O’ Connell
Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She is a qualified art teacher.