my mother called saying,
'you have to come now nicky, he's dying'.
there was an accident on the way there and i saw a boy who's portrait i had taken on a cold day at the seaside earlier that year. he was pale and standing in the road, then he dropped his phone and when it smashed he sighed, bent down and picked up all the pieces. we were held up by the police car across the road. my driver cursed the route he'd chosen. i watched it all from behind a grubby glass window and i could feel it, the small and quiet terror that filled that car.
i ran through the village and my lungs were filled with dust by the time i reached a too hot hallway. i could breathe out but not in.
that was march. it was jo's birthday and i had just bought her a soft, pink kimono, slippery in a plastic bag.
everything changed then.
and then, on boxing day as i ran through a muddy field near the chemical works, alone and wearing the wrong kind of boots, i changed some more.
it seemed to be all about the low slung sun and the gold grass and the mauve sky and the shy birds. i ran right into it, as fast as i could.
'you see them..?'
he'd said once upon a time, pointing to clouds the colour of a smoker's fingers.