The catcher asked me why I’m alive. “Why are you still here?” Her beautiful gentle voice.
I smiled through tears. What a lovely question. Not what’s wrong with you; why do you want to die; how can we keep you back from the edge; but, why are you still here.
Every now and then the catcher reaches effortlessly through layers of defenses and anguish, through shattered and razor sharp shards of armour, through the cracked and weeping skin of my blasted epidermis and puts her hand gently on my heart.
The storms still and the demon hosts pause for minute, lean on their swords and chat gutturally but quietly amongst themselves while I consider her question.
In the stillness of the pause I hear her voice in my head telling me this: you are alive. You have chosen; thus far you have chosen. Whatever courage it requires, you have it. Whatever capacity for pain, you have it. You have been tested, and up to this point you have not been found wanting. So – why did you choose as you did?
Why are you alive?
My little army of apologists and defense attorneys, most of whom are on the take, or moles for the prosecution, leapt to their feet harrumphing and marshalling eloquent phrases about living for others, sparing my family the pain and bewilderment of my premature departure. But before they could speak, a child’s voice rang out, clear and strong.
Hello, I thought. I haven’t heard you this clearly since – oh, were we five years old? Walking barefoot on the beach in winter, looking in all the rockpools, perfectly comfortable wrapped in the ragged grey cloak of the sky and with periwinkles scattered across my brow. Hello me. Where have you been all this time?
We, me and him, we said, I said: because the world is so beautiful.
The sky doesn’t care about my shame. The sunrise doesn’t know about my failures. The waves roll over my head the same whether it’s full of pain or only thoughts of kelp. This city behind its tideline breathes and bustles and turns in its sleep regardless of whether I’m awake counting my sorrows or dreaming of lovers past and future.
Because the world is so beautiful, I said, looking out the window at the sky. Hello sky. Hello me.