the thing after the thing

I put my hand in the air and pulled out sunshine, passed it round to people and watched them play with it like sand. Now the air is thick with the memory of what has been. There’s nothing to see, just like there wasn’t really much to see when the band were playing, or when the poet was performing. But there is something. Perhaps if we had other senses we wouldn’t dismiss all that is unquantifiable.

We felt the hands of the drummer nudging back time. We felt our hands interlocked with one another, we felt the room sharing a heartbeat, we felt removed from the squandering of time, removed from the trains in immense tunnels so loud they shook pavements.

The sunshine had turned to sand, and the sand had turned to feathers, and with the feathers, we’d spent three hours filling a duvet whose safety we were all reluctant to leave. There are ghost notes and broken chords to be swept up. The radio plays while the barman rinses glasses, their clink audible over the winding down of conversations.

You can’t buy, barter or steal this thing: as long as you’re here, it’s yours. Limited Edition. Signed copy. We linger, letting as much of it fill our pockets as we can.

You won’t know you’re carrying it with you, but you’ll find it, weeks later in your jeans, like a lost ten-pound note. You’ll pull out a feather, or a handful of sand, or an entire beam of sunlight.

“What’s that?” they ask.
“It’s what’s left after a thing.”
“The after-thing thing.”
“That’s it.”
“Let’s see it.”
“Can’t just hand it over to you, mate. Doesn’t work like that.”
“Come along then, next time. Get some for yourself. Mark it in: 30 April.”

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