2nd March

A Moment

Some moments never go from you. They’re like rocks sticking up out of a river in spate. The water churns round them but they don’t shift. Once maybe a route existed, a way of stepping between one bank of the river and the other, but you can’t see it any more. You used to make that journey back and forth without thinking, hardly conscious of the rocks you stepped on, but now the fierce water has submerged some of them, and your courage, or foolhardiness, isn’t as great as it once was. So you’re left looking at the ones that remain, clear as they ever were even though you can’t reach them.

A bunch of you after work, Friday night, knocking back the beers, reliving the comedies and frustrations of the day. You should be getting home, but you stay for another. Home is where the heart isn’t. Your wife is waiting for you but the pain of going in through that door is not bearable, not without more drink. The bar is hot and loud, everybody’s talking, laughing. Some of you will be back at work on the Saturday shift, but who cares, who’s even thinking about that? And she’s there, so why would you leave? You smell her perfume, you are inches away from her hair, her cheekbone, her mouth. She’s laughing at your jokes, which are funny because she’s laughing: some signal has passed or is passing between you. And that moment comes when everybody in the bar is somewhere else, it’s just you and her, and her hand is in your hand. You have no idea how or when that happened, but it did. It’s as if you’ve been holding hands for ever. You know that it means some- thing, but what? And some voice, not hers or yours, suggests going on to another bar, and the others come back into focus and still your hands hold, out of sight in the crush, but it’s going to end soon, that hold, it has to end, because it has nowhere to go. Hold it, hold on to the fit of your two hands. Neither of you will ever feel this again. Not ever.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harp: Esther Swift
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