There are signs, I don’t care what William says. There are signs of change, of regeneration, and I saw the first mushrooms in the graveyard on the morning after I ripped up the photograph of my mother’s face and threw the pieces over the cliff, into the fat swallowing folds of the sea.
Timing is everything.
My name is Nathan, just twenty-three and given to the curation of stories. I listen, retain, then polish and release them over the fire at night, when the others hush and lean forward in their desire to hear of the past. They crave romance, particularly when autumn sets in and cold nights await them, and so I speak of Alice, and Bethany, and Sarah, and Val, and other dead women who all once had lustrous hair and never a bad word on their plump lips. I can remember this is not how they were; I knew them, I knew them! Only six years have passed and yet I mythologize them as if it is six thousand. I am not culpable. Language is changing, like the earth, like the sea. We live in lonely, fateful flux, outnumbered and outgrown.
Last night I spoke of Miriam. She was the teacher with a passion inside her, always burning hot, making her ferocious. When the inspectors would climb up through the rocks from the town and tell her it was their right to judge her lessons, she would fling pieces of paper at them, plans and registers, and she would sneer, a skewed expression of her natural superiority. Then, after the inspectors roared away, she would rip the papers to pieces, make celebratory confetti and tell us to dance in it.
Miriam once caught me trying to make my own records of attendance like I had seen, all our names, ticks and crosses, marks and meanings. She threatened to hold my hand over the fire if I didn’t destroy it. She said nothing good comes from anything but natural rhythms: daybreak and sunset, spring and winter. So we learned to read storms in the laying down of cows and when to plant pumpkins in the wake of runner beans. Those were our lessons, until our strengths had been discovered, and then we were given our tasks.
Miriam died early, one of the first, with the yellow fungu