The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
The Whale and the Wind
A fly buzzed into the kitchen through the gap in the window. It flew in on a breeze, out of the harsh sunlight of the day, and spiraled down to where the boy was sitting at the table. With a negligent hand he swept at the fly and urged it onwards throughout the house. Then, as if this movement was some sort of trigger that he needed to overcome the heat and start to move, he stood up. No thoughts in particular were in his head as he walked slowly down the corridor.
They lived on the top floor of a block of flats in East Central London. High up where the noise of the street had to rise to be heard and the view looked down on most of everything. ‘They’ meant him, his mother and his little brother. Three marbles in a small maze, on top of a little piece of London on a hot day.
By this time he had entered the living room, where his brother was inside his own head playing video games and staring at theTV. The day was bright so that sunlight poured in, blurring the screen and making you feel blind when you looked at it. You could see all of the dust particles in the shafts that cut the room and hit the floor. He crossed through, stepped over his brother and made his way towards the balcony. Into the sunshine. His mother was asleep in a bedroom.
You could see the sky most completely from their balcony. If you titled your head a certain way, upwards, the view was uninterrupted. No clouds passed by, huddled together in white resistance, and no buildings crept up in the corner of your eye to kill the eternity that was the blue sky. This is what he loved the most. This way you didn’t have to close your eyes to dream that you were somewhere else.
When he was little, younger than he was now, he had been standing here and tilting his head like this when he had imagined that the sky was a huge invisible whale. And whenever the wind blew it meant that the whale was spreading its fins and swimming off into further sky, to points high up over his head and towards the horizon.
He couldn’t say why he was remembering this now. The heat of the day made his head feel like it was swimming. Memories surfaced from the inside and passed by his minds eye, bobbing like they really were resting on water. Memories like when he and his brother used to cry when their dad would come to collect them for the weekend. He would hide too. Hiding was more like a game than anything serious, like a soft way of letting his mother know he would rather stay with her, in the high flat, without actually having to say the words. You have a small voice when you are young but you still say things. They never cried for long. Once they were off, on those weekends, they were fine. Him and his brother. One in the front seat next to their dad and one in the back of the small red van, sitting on a box. Or both in the back, but there was only one box. Driving forward and stopping for red lights. Through grey streets and passed people you couldn’t touch because they were walking on the pavement and you were in a car on the road.
Now there wasn’t any box, and he didn’t have to find places to hide on the weekend, because their dad didn’t come to collect them anymore. One day their mother had sat them down and told them.
“He doesn’t want to see you anymore.”
Or maybe he said
“He isn’t going to see you anymore.”
But it sounded like the first one to him. It had happened when he was little, younger than he was now, but from what he could remember and how the world felt it sounded like the first one.
Remembering words never felt that important. But whenever he tried to dig into his head and be at that place again he couldn’t say whether or not he had felt sad.
He had asked “Why?” More because the reason things change is something hard to understand than out of any burning loss of his father.
“Because he is a bastard.”
Something like that.
So now there wasn’t any box in the back of the small red van to sit on, or any red lights. Their mother didn’t drive. There wasn’t any sleeping in the same big bed on a Friday night. Or waking up in the same big bed on a Saturday morning, watching cartoons with the day outside of the window and laughing loudly until we were told to shut up once. Or any shadows on the walls of the flat on Saturday nights that had once morphed into the profile of a witch and had kept him awake. Next to his sleeping brother. No more. Never again. Nothing. Just memories on top of water.
He came back to the blue sky.
His neck had started to hurt so he relaxed it, his gaze sank down and London rose in front of his eyes again. Reminding him where he was. The whale was still invisible and the wind felt just like wind. He walked back through the balcony door, into the stifling shade of the living room and sat next to his brother, watching the TV screen.
© Isabella Kerr March 2013
isabellakerr92 at gmail.com