Traveling downhill in a rush. It’s not walking, but it’s not running either. It’s this particular
way of staying vertical whilst falling forwards. The things I remember: The thud of the soles
of my feet reverberating in my chest, the ridges of the rubber bar gripped in my hands, the
sweat under the wool of my too warm coat, the running of my nose I didn’t have time to
stop and wipe. My beautiful girl asleep in her pram. Her big, round, red cheeks, the left one
tilted up at me. Her dark lashes resting on the tops of them. Her little nose. There snuggled
in her sheepskin. Green woolen blanket. Yellow babygrow. Lilac flower motif. Amber
necklace. Toe nails need cutting. Hands done, little finger on right hand a bit jagged. Dry
patch of skin above left eyebrow. Beautiful hair. My girl.
I was going so fast. It felt. I don’t know how fast you can go rushing downhill pushing a
buggy. I guess that’s the problem, you’re not really pushing it. You’re holding on. It’s this
strange feeling of falling forwards and pulling backwards at the same time. Very confusing.
I became hyperaware of my movements, my coordination. I became aware of how easy it
would be for me to make a mistake right now. My clammy hands gripped the handle bar
even harder. It’s a white knuckle ride, I thought, telling the joke to my girl in my head. I talk
to her all the time, whether she can hear or not.
I started to panic about the buggy slipping out of my hands, about how steep the hill was,
about whether I would be able to catch up with it. I checked the road for traffic, evaluated
the likelihood of the pram being hit by a car should it slip away. I saw it go in my mind,
zooming away from me. I gripped harder. I walked/ran/thudded faster.
I didn’t see it go. I think I did, but I can’t have. It must be what I thought I’d see. Though I
can hear the turn of the wheels, the whip of the wind, see the shaking of her cheeks as it
went over bumps. But I can’t have. I can’t have seen any of it.
I looked up - But no, I didn’t. That’s something I thought would have happened. The first
thing I saw was the road, from sideways. I opened my eyes and I saw the road from the
side. I felt my cheek on the ground, the emptiness in my hands. Then my eyes pulled my
head forward. I could see her. I could see her pram. It was on its side.
I do not know how long I did not see her for. How long I was not there. I hit my head. The
ground. Hit my head, tripped my foot. My hands. My hands let her go. I don’t know. I know
that I had to be where I was going at 10:45, and I’ve worked out that it takes 6 minutes to
walk from where we were to where we were going. I was running 5 minutes late. I don’t
know how long it was until I knew the time again, I’m told it was about 2:15. The man in the
cafe said he saw me at 11:05. The woman in the car 10:50. I don’t know if what they say is
true. Every second has been a hundred years.
I crouched down to the pram. I looked under her blanket, under the sheepskin. A few
seconds, hundreds of years. I moved very fast and I stood very still. Road, pavement,
other side, that way, behind. Listen. Listen for her. Nothing. Again. Blanket, sheepskin,
road, pavement, other side, that way, other way, all around. Listen. She must be calling.
She must be making a noise. Few seconds, hundreds more years. There. She was not
there. Here. She is not here.
She is not here. She is somewhere. She is somewhere. She is. She is. She is my little girl
and she is somewhere. And she is happy. Do I want her to be? Happy, yes. Somewhere
else, no. To be? Yes. To be somewhere else if she is happy. To be if she is not happy? To
be if one day she might be happy? Until one day when we find her.
I search. I search, I search, I search, I search. Everything. Everywhere. I see her. Long
hair. Dark lashes. Little nose. Long limbs. Maybe not red cheeks. Her eyes haven’t
stopped changing colour yet. I don’t know. I don’t know. My little girl. I look down. I see her,
asleep in her pram. Little nose, lashes resting on big red cheeks. I keep going. I hold on. I
don’t let her go.