Saturday, 6 June 2020

'None of them say you' by Kathy Hoyle

It’s mainly digital now. The looking.

Online sites. Amber alerts.

I know because I’ve searched.

Name, age, weight, birthdate, eye colour, hair colour, was wearing, last seen.

None of them say your name, the name I searched for, when you were just a bump, through Welsh mythology and history, to get just right.

None of them say your age, no age, so young. Hardly grown at all.

None of them say your weight. I had to guess anyway, who knows the weight of a fifteen-year-old girl? A fifteen-year-old girl does. She measures it every day and writes it down in the notebook you brought her back from your trip to France.

Some of them share a birthday with you.

There are green eyes, but not your green eyes, flecked with grey. There are blonde girls, but not your blonde, wheat and autumn leaves and sand and winter sun.

There are pink sweaters with denim skirts, expensive trainers and silver jewellery. There are blue jeans and green baseball caps and zip-up jackets and black rucksacks. There are red bicycles and one earring, two earrings. Piercings, tiny heart tattoos, red shoes, tracksuits, ballet leotards.

There are no cream gypsy tops and handstitched ankle-length skirts with sequins sown on one weekend in January when it was too cold to go outside so you made clothes and played folk-pop music too cool for me to understand.     

There are last-seens, at school bus-stops, in bookstores, by canals, walking with a man in a black leather jacket, on route to a grandmother’s house, at the cinema with friends, on the tube, at Heathrow, in Topshop.

There are no ‘Bye mums’ and the front door slamming, the same as every morning and the spring sunshine coming through the kitchen window so you remind yourself to get glass cleaner because the dirt is showing.

There are no notes under pillows, or Facebook clues, or hung up-calls, or secret boyfriends, or found clothing, or dark web entries, or sightings in France or Turkey or Australia or on trains, in doorways, under bridges. There are no drugs or grades slipping or fights with friends or with your sister or with me. 

I saw you once. Not long afterwards.  A half-smile from a tube window. You pulled the scarf I’d knit for you, up over your nose and mouth, as I pushed through the crowd, breathless with hope. The doors slid shut. Mind the gap. The next train was delayed, of course.

I keep searching. Through space and time. A downward, spiralling, endless pursuit.

Name, age, weight, birthdate, eye colour, hair colour, was wearing, last seen…

I’ve read them all.

None of them say you.

‘None of them say you’ was first published in Lunate on 10 September 2019.

1 comment:

  1. This is a stunning, quiet, desperate story, full of restraint and longing. Thank you, Kathy – masterful!


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