(“night flowers #1”by 7-how-7 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Like a memory of dissipating into the air

For Awa

Without sirens, the police arrive. The officer watches their partner try the door. It doesn’t open; it doesn’t budge; it’s locked. It is secure, they say. 

The police, mistakenly, believe the dead open doors for us to find them. 

Well, the elder is not in anyway. They are visiting family. The neighbour says they are away but doesn’t know when they’ll return. 

It’s not a fire alarm, the neighbour points out. It’s an alarm alright, but it goes off when the fire alarm runs out of battery – so they say. 

So, there is no intruder, no one is dead, no one is dying, there isn’t a fire. Now, the concern is over, the complaints made, the relief settles. 

The alarm was not ringing to someone who could not have heard but rings not hearing that we can hear. 

The repeating series of three beeps, a pause, then three beeps, tampers the air. 

In time, the alarm isn’t alarming. 

The alarm doesn’t just sound like it is comes from the other side of the wall but from outside, from beyond the window. It begins to sound like a memory…

a front yard full of crickets, the night’s no higher than blades of grass and the air’s thick with rubs.

And then, it sounds like it was always there, speaking. We just had to listen.

It is hard to remember hearing it for the first time. It is hard to imagine it will ever go away. The memory of dissipating into the air. 

The heart speaks in its sleep.

Carson Cole Arthur is a writer and researcher based in London