A man with seaguls

She touches her fingers to his for as long as he will bear them, ‘Hey, I meant to tell you earlier, Poppy painted a picture at nursery today.’

‘You peddle words like they would call him back,’ he shuffles on the path, white slippers catching at the stones, ‘but he is set free. Why would he return to the wasteland of your suburbia?’

‘She said it was you,’ she smiles anyway, ‘and actually, I can see where she’s coming from, in a primary, dribble down the paper with a blunt object kind of way.’

‘Where do you want him? Where is he in this?’ he smacks the palm of his hand into a long scar that cuts through his hairline, ‘Where is he in this utopia of you?’

The wind stirs up the bones of empty trees. She stoops, picking up a silver remnant, another bastard reminder of that November night, ‘She even gave it a title, A man with seagulls.’

He pauses, tilting his head to catch her words and her breath is burnt away in the sweet of his familiar. He leans in, conspiratorially, ‘Man, men, mice, a misplaced piss, a strange choice of water bottle and they rapture, they have no idea that it’s really them who run on the wheel.’

Grief, vicious at her flesh. Even the scent of him has been sanitised away, ‘She wanted me to give it to you…’

‘They don’t know that the cage has bars on the inside. Locks on the inside. They are the caged, they are the rats,’ he laughs, spinning away from her, stumbling as his slippers lag behind with the stones, ‘they are the watchers, watched.’

‘But they say you can’t be trusted with anything,’ the bullets still ricochet, ‘…not even your daughter’s painting.’

‘You’re not welcome here you know,’ he stumbles again, ‘he won’t tell you, but you make him sick. Sketching out Foucault in the charcoal of your conformed normality. You make him vomit.’

The madness of mankind had scattered his sanity. And now it seemed that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together again. Tears can burn like anger in the meaningless. In the desolate. She closes her eyes and feels them die away, ‘I asked the staff if they would put Poppy’s painting up in the main corridor instead.’

He turns, stooping, whispering back through her words.

‘And then everyone who sees it will remember that the world isn’t ready yet,’ she watches him curl, twist again into winter, ‘not for a man with seagulls.’