On the 10th of January 2017, Peter took the day off and made a pilgrimage to the little shop in Doncaster. Of course it was a coffee shop now. They were all bloody coffee shops now.
He sat in a high backed armchair by the window holding the cup tight against his mouth until he felt the skin burn away from his lip. It would blister later, but that was okay.
He’d forgotten what it felt like. To choose to hurt that much.
Outside, the northern sunlight had struggled its way through another rainy afternoon. The streets glistened hopefully, and a flurry of tribal shapes moved around the same spectrum that he had once worn. Fashion repeated in cycles, culture dictated boundaries of normality, sexuality searched for another unique identity. The 21st century was obsessed with change, but nothing had really changed at all.
The people at the next table were laughing too loudly. But even the chatter, the steam, the clinking of crockery, couldn’t hide the temperate ghosts of those Saturday afternoons. He’d found Bowie here, all those years ago, tucked under the arm of the only man he’d ever loved.
Peter smiled with the memory. He’d never seen anyone wear black like that, like it was a million different colours. From the shelter of the record racks, he’d allowed the patterns of it to unfold across his skin, a forlorn tragedy of longing that had nowhere to go. The man had glanced over at him as he left the store, and Peter had taken that look and made it last a lifetime.
He’d also bought a copy of Ziggy Stardust.
And now here he was, relishing the pain again. He blew a cobweb of thoughts out across the top of his coffee before biting deep into the burn, pulling the spike down to his chest. Too much time had passed and memory had a way of changing the facts to suit its own agenda.
He closed his eyes and allowed the sun to turn the darkness orange. Wherever that sweet nowhere man was, whatever, whoever he had become, Peter knew that they were feeling the same loss today. Seeking out something close to Bowie in a world forced to live without him.
In a run down record shop all those years ago, nothing had happened. Nothing. In a multiverse of choices, he had chosen nothing. A whole mess of nothing. And that’s what the pilgrimage was about.
Because on that day of nothing, that moment of nothing, all those years ago, the moth in him had flicked through the records, and chosen to buy the wings of a butterfly.