Art by William Penhallow Henderson
Sitting by the window of the car, the wind on your face and hair, the world outside shifting from yellow to black, and the smell of old clothes beside you, you think of three things. You think of the boy who once convinced you that he only had fifty kisses in him, that after he crossed that odd number--a count he kept buried deep in one of his picture books--he would simply vanish into thin air--three two one poof. What was his name? You try to remember, but you cannot. Trees, yellow under umbrellas extended by street lights, pass you by. However hard you shake that tree, the leaves don’t fall; the name stays put. He’s long gone. I am long gone, you think.
The leaves have turned yellow, and you think of Daddy, he of the shiny bald head, who told you, when you were old enough to remember, that if you smile in the wind, all the trees will clap for you. You later heard it in a song, read it in the Bible. But you were a blue girl in a blue world. At least that’s what you told him, crayoning the papers and walls, brushing away the burn marks on yours arms with the blue of your mother’s eyes.
Being forgotten doesn’t scare you anymore, but you are afraid to forget. Ticket stubs of late-night cinemas you watch with your neighbour are softy dabbed a gentle white every night. Just like that you will too, one day. The end is only the end anyway. But to forget as you disappear? No. You look out the window, not letting the wind close your eyes. There are forests on the way and you want to see them. The wind, if you were younger, would have been telling you secrets. They would have been whistling. But winds are now people who knock on your doors, clatter in your kitchen, and patter at your windows. They are children straggling in with candle-stuck cakes and awestruck faces, returning a wayward birthday you nearly forgot.
Are you forgetting things, my love?
Where this car is taking you, you don’t remember. When it hums to a pause you briefly see on an ageing metal billboard the words “We Will Take Care of Your Old Vehicles” carved in rust. Before you commit the phone numbers to memory, you are away.
The trees move in the wind. The boy who ran off before he kissed a forty-eighth, will he wander by your place and fall by your side? The world, now yellow, now black, dapples your face. The trees, if you smile, will they clap their hands?
The beloved myths of your life, you hold them close.
The wind tucks you in. Three two one poof.
Follow Ananthu's work on Instagram.