/ Last Moments Of My Life
Yesterday afternoon I was stood at the lights on the high street, the ones opposite Sophocles and Hermits Cave. Stormbird on my left. I’m standing there waiting, scuffing at some gunk on the pavement with my trainer, and I look up and see this youngish guy across from me who’s also waiting. He’s wearing sunglasses and holding a long stick, one of those blind canes, but his one is black or greyish with the sun glinting off it and a little white tip at the end, it looks like. The guy is sort of looking up at the building above my head, at the coffee shop with D missing from the sign. But he’s not looking, is he, because he’s blind. He’s just sort of pointing his face up in that direction and holding still, daydreaming or probably listening to the traffic, for the beep of the green man and the road quiet and clear around him. Buses and trucks rumbling past, a few cyclists. This one always takes a long time to change. I go to press the white button again but the green man comes up, finally, and I jump into the road with all the others who’ve piled round the crossing waiting, and the people on the blind man’s side of the street all hustle into the road too, but the blind man stays where he is, daydreaming, because there are no beeps, they’re broken or there never were any to begin with, so how does he know when to cross? I’m going past him at this point and I’m about to walk off and leave him be – I wish I had – but instead I stop and think, you know what, he can’t see, I’ll just let him know it’s OK to cross, so I turn round and reach out and touch his elbow with my hand, so he knows I’m there, because he can’t know I’m nearby, being blind, and I can’t just make eye contact with him or smile, so I reach out and take his elbow in my hand, actually take hold of it, really, the jersey cotton of his blue hoody gripped in my fingers, and the guy jumps like I’ve electrocuted him, makes a sound like Uh, and I say It’s all right to cross now, and he says, in a thin voice, It’s all right, thank you, and he pulls his arm away from me because I’m still holding onto it. No, I tell him, and I tighten my grip, It’s OK to cross now, it’s green, you can go, and he pulls his arm harder and says Yes I know, I can see, and I think Oh you can see, can you? and so I let go of his arm and he steps off the curb and into the road. I hear something like rubbish being crushed and see a cyclist come off his bike and hit the road skidding along like carpet ripping with the blind guy a bit to my left lying face in the tarmac sunglasses off on the road the arms pushed up at wonky angles one lens popped out missing and his cane nowhere to be seen.