At first I thought everyone could see It.
It wasn’t even trying to hide. It was just sitting in the corner of the cafe, waiting.
I chose a table before I saw It, and threw my coat over the back of a chair as I glanced around.
My knees gave out from under me. The chair groaned, and I had to place both hands on the tabletop to steady myself. I closed my eyes.
I swallowed, hard.
I’m not ready for this.
I heard the scraping of a chair, and knew It had climbed up at my table. I felt for a menu, and only when it was held up in front of my face did I open my eyes.
The font swam, and I had trouble focusing.
Come on…you knew I’d be back.
My heart sank. I was still trying to pretend It was there for someone else, that it wasn’t my turn. That I could go on with the same heavy steps I’d become so used to taking.
I sighed. Can’t I have a bit more time?
It peeked under the menu.
For what – this?
I knew my tired eyes and unwashed clothes wrote my story for me. I felt a surge of irritation that I was being prodded out of my cosy world of wallowing, and suddenly reached out two fingers to pinch It, hard.
It squeaked, a noise so high pitched and ridiculous I started smiling despite myself. It joined in, and as I lowered the menu I felt laughter bubbling up for the first time in ages. It felt good, as though I was being washed clean, darkness flooding out of each pore. I even winked at the waiter when I paid for my coffee, and as I stood up I looked at It with pursed lips.
So…you’re back then.
And there’s nothing I can do about it?
It grinned, and I found myself grinning back.
Nothing at all…it’s time.
I swung my bag over my shoulder, and opened the door.
And for the first time in months, Hope followed me home.
It’s almost Hallowe’en in the northern hemisphere, but here in the southern, it’s Walpurgisnacht. Summer is coming, and the regeneration this heralds is glorious.
The trees outside my window are a riot of green, I walk with my face turned up to the sun, and get a nod and a smile from people I pass in the street.
Seems like as good a time as any to pick myself up again.