You Know Who I Am
I have many different names. You may call me what you like when we meet. I assure you, we will.
Sea-spray hangs in every gust as I walk through the small northern town. I have some time before my next appointment, so I do as these people do. I take shelter in the local pub. You might think it strange, but here, with life fresh in the thick tumble of voices, I feel full. I am nothing without these people.
In return, I let them see me as they need.
The woman behind the bar, for instance, with purple streaking through her dark ponytail like a rare September sunset. She sees me as a doctor, a man with a tight chin and thin lips that carry nothing but bad news. I can feel it, can feel the blazer she thinks I wear tight around my shoulders. She avoids my gaze, her eyes downturned.
Her father was the same when I met him, his eyes fixed on the hospital lino flooring.
I look over at a man nursing an empty glass. His dark eyes watch the game on the screen, anticipation bleeding through his taut shoulders. I sense he sees me as a younger man, a boy with a careless smile and reckless grin. One who never lingers, always keeps the engine running faster, faster.
His excitement is infectious. I laugh with him, cheer with him, clasp his shoulders when somebody scores. Temporary bliss lights his eyes.
His daughter had the same eyes when I took her hand, pulled her from the crumpled mess of her blue Mini Cooper.
The evening wind is cold when I leave, calling winter forth with every breath. Yet my cloak is still, rusty leaves undisturbed by my tread. The hum of life fades, and my steps are silent among the cobbles.
My charge is here; I hear his rasping breaths before I see him. He falls still, as if he is simply sleeping in the alley. Idle leaves scratch across my feet. When he wakes, his unseeing eyes will see me as I am.