A heavy breath expelled a fine mist into the air, the only movement in an otherwise still captured moment and though I failed to see its fogging coil branching outwards and upwards, the sound of its making seemed to draw me from my melancholy.
A sigh. Such a little thing really but just one could hold the weight of the world within its almost lamenting respire. Whereas a sigh could sound a brief annoyance in impatient huff so more often did my own betray a deeper reminisce; a longing, a yearning, almost a groan of things lost in near sorrowful regret. Still in one way it was cathartic, willing the lingering emotion outwards amidst my expelled cold breath and allowing the present to reassert itself in my focus.
My head lifted, shoulder aching from my half slumped position and angled upwards to that splutter of electric light cast feebly into the sleeping shadows of the spot atop the hill. The same spot I’d sat and pondered many a thing, many a time.
“A thousand times…” Like a whisper from the void the feminine hushing voice sounded upon the crisp air, coiling seductively to hold that leash between the worlds of dreaming and waking. I could almost believe she was there, close behind the trees but just out of reach. I pushed myself to sit, head hung forward a moment and I waited, waited for the first rumblings of consequence to creep up on me.
It began at the back of my head, like a gradual pressure applied to the nape of my neck then spreading outwards in all directions like a swarm of spiders. Within moments the ache had fully encased from the shoulders upwards, most intense at the temples making me flinch at the sudden sounding of a train horn blaring as it raced past a crossing somewhere in the distance. It may as well have thundered past right before me.
I groaned and almost succumbed to the preference of slumping back down to a horizontal position upon my trusty bench but determined I sat still, palms placed steadily either side of me, swaying slightly from side to side as expected accompanying nausea swirled within my stomach. It was always the same, no matter the variations of my experimented drinking. This test may have indeed stolen my pain amidst near comatose hallucination but was making up for it now.
The rocking motion eventually built the inertia to push myself to stand, muscles in my forearms protesting through lead-weight sluggishness. Rising to stand straight reluctantly I stumbled slightly with the sensation of spinning though managed to steady my balance. Sucking in deep breath I pursed parched lips, head angling to one side as my sixth sense attuned. In the distance boots clip-clopped upon pavement, moving in quickening pace to maintain speed up the hillside. I knew she was coming before the sound was audible.
“Bad night?” Shiloh’s voice called in question followed by a sigh that I imagined might billow a fog of frosty breath as she spoke. Her footsteps grew louder then shuffled to a pause beside me. I gave a slow heavy nod “Momentary release that as ever comes back to haunt me” I replied with sigh of my own.
I felt her hand upon my arm “Yes, yes” she murmured tugging gently until I began to turn her way. There was a pause, rustle of paper and clink of glass as she gathered the remaining bottles. The empty and discarded remained, sound of her boot giving a small huffed frustrated kick against it chiming a hollow rolling sound as it was sent off down the gravel path. I perceived her glare after it, focussed dismissal of that which had failed her mentor. It was such a small thing yet it made me smile.
“Let’s get you home.”
© Rachel Ellen, 2012