Alone on the hill I send my good wishes to you. You don’t see me as you approach, but it feels good just waving secretly, sending the greeting on the great vast wind, fragrant with the last of summer’s wisps and sighs. I haven’t spoken to you in years.
Somehow it comforts me that you still have the same walk, and wear the same old coat that I don’t like but yet is an essential part of you.
I always liked the way you looked at people. I sat with you each Friday in the same seaside café, where people would be talking over each other, clamouring for coffee, scouring newspapers. And I saw the world through your eyes.
You would see all at once with your four senses. Us, others, the undiscernable herd. You didn’t move much… just one steady arm occasionally reaching for your macchiato. Without error you would clasp the tiny handle, sweep the cup to your lips, savouring the hot bean aroma more than the sip itself, before placing it impeccably back on its tiny saucer. This small movement never failed to amaze me. I saw you do it so many times. I wondered if you knew I always watched it so intensely, seeing if you’d ever miss and accidentally put the cup perhaps on the edge of the saucer instead. But you never did.
I knew you were listening to the man at the counter, the ting-ting of teaspoons by the barista’s machine, the woman with the child and the Volkswagon at the lights. All a scarlet and blue Matisse around you but with your motionless, slightly conceited side profile at the centre. Yet, you were listening only to me, little as we spoke. I was always fascinated when I saw the world through your eyes, thinking things from under that great ridiculous mop of brown hair that flicked awkwardly in a different direction every time I saw you.
The first time we met, I rushed too eagerly to pick up the cane for you when it clattered to the floor, instantly regretting my well-meaning zeal. You only laughed, a good-natured nicker-nicker through your nose, and humoured me. The following week you touched my cheek briefly before getting into the cab. By the September we were dancing alone in our underwear under your pointlessly ornate living room light fitting, trying to learn how to dance together, my unseeing feet a muddle of distraction. I have never dreamed of anyone since.
Most people don’t notice more than the essential facts of their day. You notice things. You notice details. Sounds. Radio waves and emotions. But you never notice me standing alone on the hill, watching you walk to the cafe at 8 o’clock each Friday. Oh, how I miss you.