I had found myself sitting on a party table when the party was over. I could not escape an inexplicable feeling of dread; the feeling one would presumably get whilst walking in a battlefield just after the last corpse was removed, the detritus of what happened still in plain sight. Amongst the empty wine glases and plates was a half-eaten cake and next to it two wax numbers laying flat on the table like two miniature versions of some ancient temple’s fallen columns. It was a 2 and a 9. Frustrated by the modern world’s continuous inability to produce a digit which does not change value when you flip it over I asked the waiter for the answer to the riddle, as if he was an ancient oracle or seer.
“29” he replied.
Moving outside on a vacated table, I saw a tall lean girl leaving alone, walking out of the murky orange streelight and dissolving into the darkness of the car park.
As if recollecting a dream, I remembered seing her at the birthday party though I could not deduce whether she was the one who blew the candles. Perhaps I saw her taking a selfie with two other girls, their faces surrounded by square boxes on their phone’s screen as if a missile had just acquired a lock on them. Perhaps not – the entire event had a fleeting sense to it, like a mirage in the desert, a blast of colours and movement followed by their equally abrupt disappearance
As she was passing next to me, I caught a glimpse of her face whose contours, though frozen, appeared to emanate an underground flow of worry, an anticipation of sadness. I wondered whether my reading could have been completely wrong and I merely projected my own state of being onto the faces of others, like one of those mutants that Mulder and Scully always managed to stumble on in the X-Files. I wondered whether my reading was correct and what could have happened to bring melancholy to someone right after a birthday party.
None of those thoughts lingered longer than the time it took to finish my drink. None of them mattered just like so many nights before this one didn’t matter; dissolved in the ocean, washing up on far away beaches as pebbles admired by passers by who have no hope of ever knowing what they were before.
But sometimes it just so happens that they linger just long enough for me to write them down. Exactly why they have that power eludes me but the outcome is this:
They are saved.