Friday, February 18, 2011

Edward: A Fiction

What became of Edward, I thought, as I leaned into the doorway. Poor bear. These days thoughts like these slipped into my head the way a streetkid shimmies through a space carelessly left in a warehouse window. It wasn’t that I’d seen a bear like Edward in a long time. Last time was over a schoolgirl’s shoulder on the computer, before the librarian coughed loudly and slid her eyes towards the door with an expression looking like it had been etched there with sleet. The computer bear had startled me- was almost exactly the same shade of baby-blond that Edward had been, same green glass eyes with the huge pupils that seemed to take in the whole room with their hypnotic stare. Anyway, the computer bear had been a while back. A year? Five? I wasn’t too clear on time any more. But tonight, Edward had lumbered into my thoughts again, a clumsy visitor, like a nervous young pastor visiting an ancient parishioner in a hospital- there, but you could tell he’d rather be somewhere else- perhaps sneaking a small glass of sherry in his study. Edward and I had been inseparable for a while. He’d followed me in and out of the foster homes; my comforter. He’d only been a teddy bear, mute, paralysed, but it had seemed at the time as though we were conspirators in my activities. The foster parents were generally quite patient, unless I bothered their own children, and knew better than to separate me from my bear. Edward had watched me with his steely glass glare the first time I sucked the white cloud from the filter of a stolen cigarette, and he hadn’t said a thing. He’d smelt a little like smoke from then on, but with undertones of other scents from the past. I swear, if you closed your eyes, you could hold him to your nose and inhale my entire history. The stench of unchanged nappies, the food which was left to dry on my chin as I dozed off on borrowed couches and floors. He’d soak up the wet rings left by the empty wine glasses, and carry with him the woody smell of the finished vintages. He slept with me at my cheek, his stitched nose nuzzling me where the scars healed on top of each other. He kept me safe from dreams, when the noises in the night were those of hissed or shouted arguments and toppling vases or coffee mugs. Edward watched over me always. And now, I wondered where he’d gone. He’d nudged me awake in the reformatory, and even been tucked into the satchel I packed when I thought I’d do something right for once and joined the army. He wasn’t here now. Or was he? I’d lost track of things recently. I’d be certain that I’d done something, or been somewhere, only to find myself lying aching in the same doorway, in the same position. Maybe I’d dreamed of those things- Edward wasn’t there to keep my head clear when I slept. But the years of drinking the cheapest wine in the darkest places had made me a little unsure of what was true. I patted myself down. Thought maybe I had a cigarette in one of my pockets. I knew I didn’t actually have one, but in one of the jackets I was wearing, it was possible I may find something else to take my mind off the cold wind. Smoking didn’t have the same satisfaction it had once had for me: Nowadays, if someone gave me one, assuming that people who live in doorways enjoy smoking, I’d choke it down, and struggle to catch my breath. Maybe that was it. I smiled a little, as I thought of him: Edward would know what to do. He’d lean over and stare into my eyes. His lipless mouth would touch my ears. Breathe, dammit, breathe, he’d rasp, over and over again. Breathe, dammit, breathe.

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