What I was never told

If they’d been ghosts I’d have known. They’d be vaporous and fleeting.

But they were something else—a kind of memory so solid I knew it like a friend, but not a memory of anything I knew. Not something I could recall. Until the last time I saw them.

As always it was a moment of drama that brought them to me. Jessica was being born and things went suddenly wrong. That room with its screaming and its machines and its scramble for life—its jolt into desperation—was no place for strangers.

Yet it was then they appeared. I saw them in the doorway, holding each other as always. As the orderlies rushed Deborah to surgery they moved aside. Their eyes met mine. They reached out for me. As I tried to touch their extended hands they vanished.

And I remembered. A backwash that caught me and took me into deep water. The burning of saltwater in failing three-year-old lungs. They came to me through the foam. I fell in and out of blackness as they struggled against the tide. A lifeguard got out to them. They handed me to him as a huge swell crashed onto us. I rolled with the guard onto the beach. But they went under. Embracing each other as the sea took them.

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)