A whisper and the wind will change, and the birds wheel round to shore. Sometimes just the intent of a whisper. It’s never far away – sometimes too close to see, a shadow dogging your footsteps so intimately you never sense it there, its breath held between bared teeth. It’s the other side of a paper wall, head lolled against the yellow paper, listening, half asleep, cock in hand. The ground is an ocean. Sound the bugle, sound the horn, ring the fucking curtain down. Fingers poking through the mildewed pattern, all labyrinths and curlicues, the eyes want to vomit, overwhelmed. Your loss – your tiny loss, the first of many. It breaks my heart. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My emotions are all in that secret room with the thing scrabbling its mouldering gloryhole in the wall. I can’t look at them, all my other twisted children, scuttling down the hallway over municipal carpets, things that bristle and hurt and shame, things I cannot steel myself to understand, things I am afraid of. Winds turn, the outgoing tide blows salt and spittle in our faces, driven back open the beach. The wall itself is moving, like an insect in a matchbox, grasshopper knees wedged in corners, struggling to breath. I can’t bear your pain. I’m making excuses as the pieces hit the ground, struggling to breath, another one of life’s blind alleys, nowhere to go. Your sob, caught in your throat – the first of life’s so many if onlys. I’m sorry I couldn’t make everything perfect. I’m sorry I’m not perfect. I’m sorry the world’s not perfect. I can’t pretend I ever thought it was – mea culpa. Sad face. And everyone died. the end.