breath caught and wound in her throat, but he never brought it down. He gazed straight ahead. Everything ended and Mr Aske slipped out hurriedly and rushed away.
Some instinct drew her to the river. She saw him standing there, his bag on the parapet beside him, the sun flicking at a yellow flash of brass, catching fire, drawing flame. She went right up beside him and said: ‘But isn’t it all still real, even when there’s no one to look?’ But no, she didn’t say it, she only thought it. And ‘what’s with all the counting,’ she also thought and: ‘there’s no number for not’. All she did was smile and he smiled too. He did not look disappointed. He looked like a gentle man who had raised his sword and seen a question swinging at the end of it. And her question might be that strength was a glorious thing but how did you know it until you arched its muscle and then it would flick back its head and you’d see its face with a new name swinging which was called the
aroma of violence. But he put the gong back in the bag with another smile and when he was out of sight she opened her own bag and sent the tally counter sailing over the river.
MAY 2019 Anna Zaranko MONK