She taps her fingertips rhythmically on the oil drum she’s perched on, indexes middles and rings all just a blur between her knees. I’m holding a compass in the palm of my hand close to my eye, looking down the twitching needle towards her.
…dabba-dab-da-dabba-dab-da-dabba-dab-da-dabba-dab-dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba-dab-da-dab-dabba-da-dab-da….
“…do you think you could hold still for just a second?”
Her head is bopping gently to the beat, staring fixed at a spot on the ground in front of her, lips puckered and forehead creased. The eyes close, and the drumming of the fingers intensifies. I stop holding my breath and look up from the dial of this compass.
“Well… no doubt about it. You are magnetic North.” She breaks off from the beat to tilt her head towards me with a look that is one part well of course and one part I’m not fucking interested.
We were bored, nestled deep in that suffocating malaise that only happens around 4pm on a Sunday. Where the present dies and nothing can happen other than regret for the past and anxiety for the future; those lingering doubts about the mornings to come, and despair at another pointless day chalked off when we could’ve been curing cancer instead of hanging out under trees we are too old to climb and setting fire to damp grass.
I throw a stone at the drum; it clanks loudly enough to immediately jump her out of her reverie; she flashes a look of utter hatred my way but then takes a breath and settles into mild annoyance.
“You know what I could do right now…?”
She cracks a faint smile. ‘Yes. You want to play old records and stare at the sea.’
My mouth opens to respond but the words evaporate. “Okay that is strange, how did you guess that?”
‘I didn’t’ she says, hopping down from the drum and grabbing the stone. On her haunches she begins to carve lines into letters into words that gleam silver under the flaking rust. I ignore her for a moment and take a few paces nearer the barbed fence, still but confused like a photo of thrashing tentacles. Looking towards the ghost of an open field, I’m halfway through some self-indulgent soliloquy about music and the nature of being in the moment when a stone cracks me just behind the ear, breaking the skin. Around me the quiet whispering air raises into a high pitched whistle as I turn to face her, standing next to the carved runes.
Looking at me, she crouches again to press her finger against every word as she speaks it aloud, like a teacher in front of a pre-school class.
Video. Et. Taceo.
I bring my fingers to the side of my head and feel blood on the tips, as she puckers her lips in a vague sympathy.