Close In Darkness


Sometimes all anyone wanted was to hear the rasp of the projector, the glassy sheet of film purring coolly though the gate and painting its vivid light on the wall. Some days it was all that I could think about, the thought that the darkness could be lit this way, like magic. Like stars up close.

One of those nights we sat near the back, your arm around me, my hand gripping your leg through sheer excitement. No funny business, not then not there. I would think about that later, in the silent grey of the early morning, and tremble.

The light of the screen was a hard rectangle adrift in the soft black fluid of the night. The images danced for us, sang shrill from a speaker somewhere behind the seats, beckoned us through the bright window. A night at the theatre for we who had no nights, we who sat in the close darkness as the fire screamed to the sky and the sky roared back, peppering our childhood bedrooms with soot, with lead, with carelessly spilled blood. How could we return to them now and be innocent still?

Impulsive, I turned and kissed you, once, on the cheek. You put your hand to it and stroked it like a new scar, eyes fixed ahead. Blinking tears, you held my chin and kissed me back. It felt sharp, like a bite, and I knew then that you were doomed, and I doomed likewise. The projector hummed on.

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