I am eight years old, sitting quietly in a hotel in Cornwall. The room is musty, but cozy, with green furnishings and velvet cushions. There are busts of men with moustaches arranged on the windowsill, a hat rack placed beside a walnut piano, and the stained wood is bright against the white walls. The fire is lit, even though it’s the middle of summer. It crackles gently in the corner, flickering over the tiger-skin rug, shot by someone’s grandfather, years and years ago. It is 2007, maybe 2008, and life is so potent I might levitate.
Do memories always stay…
You are an observer. We tease you gently for your wide-eyed stare, reminding you to blink at the dinner table. As a baby, your eyes would fix on whoever was speaking, holding your bib in a fiercely-balled fist. Guests were disconcerted by the intensity of your gaze. You scrutinised the world around you, all at once.
You are fourteen, now, an adolescent equipped with the internet, an inquiring brain, ferocious idealism. Almost six foot one, you’ve grown into your eyes. You are seven years younger than me.
You and I have spent a lot of time together, eldest and youngest…
It starts as a bruise.
Or so I think — it has the shape of a bruise, but the colour is faded, light brown, and pink. It’s enormous, it covers my hip and reaches around my back, like a handprint. In certain lights, the skin seems luminescent, a slick, pearly sheen. My patch of mottled scales. I’m transforming — fantastical, magical, dangerous.
“Huh.” I say. And I ignore it.
I don’t have a very good visual imagination. My sense of object permanence is inconstant, even weak. Things just don’t stay in their boxes. When I undress at night, I see…
Living in Scotland.