A Game of You

I remember when I was so little that you never saw the whole of a person, only fragments – arms that picked you up and carried you; hands that touched your face and hair; and sometimes a face, so large that it blocked out all other things. A face that would look into your eyes and become the sky. When I was that little, my mother would rock me in her arms and sing to me. The songs I have I forgotten, but I do remember the sound – a soft crooning that wove itself into the air, creating a cocoon of sound that wrapped itself around us until there was nothing else but the firelight and the rocking and the song.

I realise that such moments are supposed to slide across the surface of the infant mind without leaving a mark on the memory. To be lost in time. But I had so little time, that, somehow, a few moments of clarity have remained to me. As though I have not enough memories for the tide to bear these moments away to the sea where all things are forgotten.

I was perhaps five when I died. My family lived in a slum, ten of us crammed into a single room just above ground level where filth poured down through our ceiling. Sickness came to the city every summer and every year people died; but that year the sickness spread through the city as though borne on carrion crow’s wings and those infected dropped in the streets.

I was so sick I was raving. I don’t remember much, only a cloud of dark visions that made me scream in terror, and an eating fire in my veins. I was so hot I thought I was actually being burned and sheets of flame danced before my eyes. Finally, I became aware of the room’s burning, airless darkness. I felt disconnected from my body. The room was full of people sleeping, but I was alone as I had never been.

As I lay there, almost floating, I became aware of... a sound. At first, I barely noticed it, but, slowly, it became clearer. I realised that the sound was voices. Singing.

You can find the complete version of A Game of You in issue 58 of TBD.

Claire Hamilton