A northerly wind
The downpour hid the Edinburgh stonework behind a sheet of grey, its dull roar muffling the buses working their way up towards the George IV Bridge. Shivering in my peacoat, I held my arms close against the cold.
The funeral had been intimate; cozy, even, with a roaring fire at the reception afterwards. He had been there for all of us, in his infuriating way. He had been there for me. In turn, we gathered together for him one last time, our weakly smiled memories dragged out of the darkness to mask our loss. We had tea.
Like us, it was over in a snap, and here I was out in the cold and the rain. The wind cut through me like daggers as I made a run past the joke shop toward the Grassmarket. April bloody showers. He had wanted to move to Dorset, where the clouds don’t try to stab you; if he hadn’t made me wish I’d never met him, I might even have agreed.
It was too late now, for sure.
I bristled as the wind picked up.
I didn’t expect to see you.
I’m gone, neither corporeal nor corpse. I’m here but not here. I can’t explain. All I know is that I saw you running up the Royal Mile, and I miss you.
I wish you hadn’t been so cross with me. The last time I saw you, you turned away, and that was it. It didn’t kill me, it wasn’t you that did it, but we deserved a finer ending. At our best, there was so much laughter.
Did you hate me? I hope not.
I’m just wind now. I can weave myself around you, and swoop and sway above the rooftops, and I can whistle through the catacombs, but I can’t explain.
Seeing you is hard.
The barman looked at me askance as I dripped across the floor. “A wee bit wet out there, is it?” he asked, mocking from the corners of his mouth. I ordered a dram and moved away.
On the far wall, a child played with a toy car, racing it off-road across the tabletop while his parents wordlessly nursed their drinks. A man in the corner looked as if he had sat in the same space for thirty years while the city slowly changed around him and his stubble turned to white. A woman texted, or Facebooked, or otherwise hid herself from view. For my part, I wondered between worlds, gently asking what might have happened, and what still might.
“You have to move forward,” the barman said, landing me back in oak panels and the smell of stale drink. “People need to get by.”
I pulled my stool in toward the bar, and let a shadow squeeze through the empty space behind me. “Thank you,” it said, and I nodded at the wall.
After all this time, I thought, not seeing you is hard.
Outside, the wind and rain battered at the windows, as if longing to get in.