Written by Rivers of Tarmac
I saw two shooting stars last night. I wished on them, but they were only satellites. Is it wrong to wish on space hardware? I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care.
– Billy Bragg, A New England.
A face peers out through the cracked and grimy window. The skin might be pale and sallow, then again, it might not. The face is thick with dirt, and it is hard to tell. The eyes might be blue, or brown, or green. They are sunken and shadowed, and it is hard to tell. The face opens its mouth, and a voice heavy with despair slinks from it.
“Please, god, let me find the money by tomorrow.” The eyes latch on to a light moving slowly across the sky. A shooting star? It is hard to tell. “I wish I would find the money to pay him by tomorrow.” The voice pleads with the light in the sky. If the light has noticed, it gives no sign. It marches on.
The room is lit with harsh white lights. Machines beep and whir. The woman on the bed could be asleep. Then again, she could be dying. It is hard to tell. By her side, a small child sits in a chair. He trembles. He cries, silently. He stands up and crosses the room to the window, pressing both his hands against it, leaning his forehead on the cool glass. He could be seeking relief from the hot white glare of the room behind him. He could be hiding his tears from a mother who can’t see them anyway. It is hard to tell. His eyes latch on to a light moving slowly across the sky. A shooting star? It is hard to tell.
“I wish mummy would wake up real soon,” he chokes out. “Please?”
Behind him, the room falls silent.
A hand reaches out, gently stroking through the thick black fur. The hand is shaking. This could be a sign of age – then again, it could be due to the tremors of the cat. It is hard to tell. The owner of the hand sits on his porch and gazes up at the sky. Drops of liquid splash onto the ground behind him. It could be tears, or it could be rain. It is hard to tell. There’s not a cloud in the sky, though. A pair of eyes latch on to a light moving slowly across the sky. A shooting star? It is hard to tell. A mouth opens, desperation springs from it.
“Please. Please don’t leave me all alone not now. I wish she could stay. Don’t-” The voice chokes to a halt. The cat gives a tremor, and is still.
It is daylight. A young woman sits alone on the street, her few meagre possessions clutched in her hands. Her eyes are sunken, her face sallow. She has nowhere left to go.
It is daylight. The light seems just as harsh and just as cruel as the blinding lights of a hospital room. A young child sits and cries as a coffin is lowered into the ground before him. He has no family left to love.
It is daylight. A man sits unmoving in a chair on the porch. Across his lap, a cat lies, still and cold. The man sits in silence. After all, he has no one left to talk to.
The night sky, so dark at first, seems to break up into a hundred, a thousand, a million pieces. The longer you look, the more lights you will see. They might be stars – then again, they might not. It is hard to tell. You watch the sky, desperate and hopeful and afraid, all at once. Your eyes latch on to a light moving slowly across the sky. A shooting star? It is hard to tell. You close your eyes and open your mouth. “I wish,” you whisper.
Above you, a satellite continues its march across the sky. Wishes float past it like wisps of cloud. It might be able to hear them. It might respond. It is hard to tell. I’m betting it can’t though. After all, it’s just space hardware. But it is hard to tell.
– This short piece marks Rivers of Tarmac’s first entry into Inkblots. As a new contributor, she’s not afraid to get stuck in and has entered into the monthly Half Hour Challenge. It Is Hard To Tell was devised through August’s theme ‘Wishes’, and is a stunning piece looking at the value of life.