Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The end of the big sky

Sometimes when you look up at the sky, it’s too vast, too magnificent to comprehend.
Its swirling cloud formations and the refractions of the sun’s dying rays of light appear as entire galaxies, racing to the solar system’s end. Each night is like the end of time.
That’s how it felt the night I heard about Nandez’s passing. I hadn’t spoken to that man in eighteen years, but his words are burned onto me. I felt a strange crumbling void, somewhere in this world, to learn of his passing. I’d have gladly sacrificed the morning to know he was still around.
I stayed out, long after the early dark, that night. I just stood there, stock still, as the last creepers of light pulled their tangled arms down into the impregnable undergrowth. Gnats and midges bit hard, but I held firm, entranced by the darkness. I wanted to see if Nandez would come.
In my mind’s eye, I could see Hernandez: blue jeans and long hair. A strange stereotype of an older, mysterious man. He was good to me, but he told me strange things, horrible things. He said he knew when he was going to die, and he said that I’d know it too, when the time came.
For years, I thought that he was going to appear to me at the hour of his death; one last meeting between us two. It really scared me for a while. It’s scary to think I believed he could actually do it.
After a while I realised he wasn’t coming, and I felt something between relief and pain. It turned out that I did find out he was going to die, but that was because his friend called me to tell me a few hours before it happened. “He fell under a train,” said Simon. “He hasn’t got long.”
I’m not sure what Simon wanted from me. A message? An apology? After a long while, I just whispered, “Goodbye,” and put the phone down.
I was thinking about this, as I stood out in the field, in the fantastic enveloping darkness. Had I been wrong? Should I feel regretful?
As my eyes got used to the pitch blackness, I saw the slow wink of a hundred points of light poking through the veil, and soon the sky had returned. It was just different now.
And as the evening clouds moved on and the star fields blinked into glowing life, once more, I turned my back on the sky. As I walked slowly to the house, I decided that I’d done the right thing. I looked at my hands in the moonlight and they seemed good, they seemed right. I wasn’t regretful at all.

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