She held the pen precisely, with force, control. Her left hand is spread, holding down her diary’s fiddly, springy pages with their golden edges, fingerprints pushing on a well trodden spot. There were words above where she hovered, crossings-out, capitals, not cursive. Thoughts, perhaps, or more accurately, memories. Small pieces of a past that was slithering out of her grasp, ripping from her fingertips and running, fast, fast, faster than she could keep up with, away from the bulb. The anti-moths. They started slowly, borrowing words and replacing them on the wrong shelves. There’s a swarm now, stealing letters, the fronts of words, the sense of language. Still she gripped the biro, her nails whitening, her eyes searching.
He’s put his knife and fork down now, the bloody steak too heavy to go with this weightlessness of sadness, of realisation. Understanding that now, her alphabet is being harvested, preyed upon. Mine is too much, too. Lamb shank sits on its bone, hugging its lifelong, final ride.
Kicking K, he says, reverting to something stupid, something that worked with their babies more than thirty years ago. She slowly, carefully, draws a C.
It comes. K!
I, I say.
Here arrives an A, O. Oh, I.
The unmoths are getting away with Ks and Is. Ts and Vs. They’ve got away with much more than that already.
I can hear everything inside my little heart, she says, an oily squiggle of salty eye makeup running down and over her jawbone, still strong, loveliness not a far away thing. Too lovely for this. But the thieves won’t listen. Every day, they plunge further from the light, their snatched loot leaving a hovering pen with holes left to write.