These days, I often think of Leo. That night, when I sorted and packed a truck that was going to London, I thought of him again. It was cold in the warehouse, and the water vapor we exhaled around our mouth like a beard. A box of gloves was sent to the office last week, but I like the feeling of holding the cardboard box with my old hard and cracked hands. I have been working for Royal Mail for almost thirty years. Twenty years ago, when I started to stop talking, I thought they would let me go, but they treated me well. I will be able to retire in ten years, when I will get a state pension and a simple farewell party. I really like my job, except for a beach walk, it is the only reason I leave the house.
Every package has a place to go, and their contents are a mystery. Occasionally, I will find that the addresses on one or two boxes are written by children. I like to put these boxes aside and not send them out before the end of my class, so that I can study the handwriting and compare them with Leo ’s handwriting. Children’s handwriting turns the text into a painful and distorting medium. Ever since Leo was lost, these parcels have become fragments of glass for me.
The warehouse is divided into several areas. There are no windows here, and sometimes I imagine I am in Oslo, Mumbai or Rotterdam. Outside, the wet Welsh hillside spread in one direction, like an ancient giant hiding under a mossy blanket. In the other direction, the land came to an abrupt stop. At the place where the land stopped, something else started again, and the sea continued to extend northward until the place where it began to freeze, it clung to the land like a child holding her mother.
The muddy minivan drove all the way from the village into the valley. Parcels will be sorted in the nearest city, and these trucks will transport them to unload. Every two days, a bulky tug will roll from this warehouse to Glasgow, Manchester, London and Penzance.
Every morning, when I walk home in the dark, I will imagine the picture of the tugboat’s headlight shooting into the night. I love the names of the towns wrapped in them, just as I love the different types of weeds that grow on the ground at the gate of my house.
Hundreds of years ago, people in this village lived by fishing. In my living room there is a picture book, one of which is a picture of a young woman in an apron standing on a cliff, watching a boat crash into a cliff. In the front of the painting, a ray of sunlight shines on the surface of the sea water. I can’t tell you who painted this painting, but I can understand the meaning of the long beam of light. I can feel the grief from the details in the painting. Only a few people in this village are still fishing.
Although warehouse transportation is more stable than the income provided by fisheries, all the boys in the village still dream of going to sea. They opened their windows wide and dreamed that their ancestors were sitting on that old sailing ship.
When the morning came, I ended my duty and recorded the number of unloaded trucks. Thirty years have passed, and I have not missed it once, because to me, every car is like a person. Just like a little boy, I think cars have faces.
I laid the table and found my coat in the lounge. There is a half-eaten sandwich on the table. The calendar with beautiful women is hanging outside a locker. Those women look very cold. There was a big smile on their faces. The people in the photo may pretend to be happy, but never pretend to be sad.
The warehouse is half an hour away from the village. First, I had to cross a narrow country road, and then through a thick hedge wall. When I passed by, there were many birds looking out from their nest on the fence, and finally You can climb to the village again. In summer, wild berries replace the black eyes of the birds.
In a few hours, dawn will flood the world. I stopped and leaned on the pillar of a street lamp. My left leg always hurts, and it gets worse in winter. At Christmas, everything is bad.
The light from the street lights shone on my hands, turning them into colors like stained glass. The church in the village has a magnificent stained glass window. Sometimes I kneel under that window and immerse myself in the colorful world. When the pain in my leg became a vague twitch, I continued to move forward. Along the way, small stones at the bottom of the boots scratched the concrete floor. I miss autumn—when summer bears the memories of my destiny that will pass away. Then it is winter. Then is the season full of miracles, everything will be reborn in fearlessly.
I always walk very slowly on my way home, with rows of slate houses flashing lights. The curtains pulled up from the inside, blocking the eyes of outsiders.
A bird jumped on one foot under the lamppost, with a round and fat bug in its mouth. It flew away when I approached.
I walked past the tavern on the corner. Even if it violates the law, the tavern in the village is always open, and the few fishermen who have persisted will return here about an hour before dawn, carrying a kind of dryness caused by floating on the inedible water thirsty. The light and the laughter splashed into the street together. I smelled beer, the jukebox’s faint impact made me think of my legs, and that reminded me of Leo.
The fog enveloped the whole village, like white arms spread out on the street. The dogs barked at the back door of the kitchen.
I used to go to the tavern for a pint or two. But now, I haven’t been in for six years. These alcohols are useless to me.
Twenty years ago, Jenny brought Leo’s things to the United States, and I felt a release. The house is so quiet, for some reason, I started to think of my mother, who died at the age of 68, married me and Jenny in the same year. My mother slipped on the ice, broke her hip bone, and then died in the hospital without any signs, like the end of a book I thought I would never finish reading.
Last Sunday, I was watching the fishing boat roll back to the pier. The hull was covered with a net of silver fish and thickened.
I have n’t said a word for two decades, but for a while, I was a person who could n’t shut up. Without the pain of language, I spent so long. My life is a letter without a delivery address.
If you observe me in the afternoon, you will notice that my hands are moving all the time. They are always touching each other, just like blind siblings.
I like to observe those fishing boats. The arrival of each boat will be celebrated by the birds’ coaxing. Looking far away, seagulls are like drifting eyes on the waves. Last week, one of those young captains asked me if I needed a job. I shook my head. He is a handsome guy, and if Leo is alive, he should be his age. I want to know who inherited the life left by Leo.
I have always lived in the house where I grew up. The parent’s room is still the original one. Actually it was just a guest room, but our only guests were the ghosts floating in the driveway in front of the door
Everyone in the village knows what is going on in my life. But I am too old to feel that my sorrow is different.
Jenny is the same age as me, but she lives a completely different life. In this village, with damp shoes and Sunday hymns, I grew old when someone I love died. Then I spent the whole Sunday watching the movement of light. It walked through the garden from a small and hot room and smelled like someone was ironing clothes.
Jenny lives in Los Angeles. We are still husband and wife, although since Rio, we have never spoken again. People make movies in Los Angeles, maybe her life is a long fantasia.
Sometimes, I wander outside the elementary school at the foot of the mountain. At this time of year, Christmas decorations are already hanging on the windows. On the other side of the school are mountains dotted with sheep, and scattered lights of the tractor on the way home. I sometimes calculate my walking time and get there when I ring the bell at three. At this time, the children rushed to the playground like hot water and rushed into the arms of their parents. I’m willing to use anything-even my memories, especially my memories-to exchange the moment I held Leo in my arms. He is not in my arms, the missing weight is the weight of the whole world.
After the accident, I soon stopped talking, hoping that would allow me to keep Leo’s soft, biting tongue in my memory. Sometimes, I held a certain word related to Leo in my hand, shaking my hand like a trembling bird. After the accident, the doctor said that I had only a few months to live. Jenny returned to the United States, and I was waiting for the journey of death in my own home. It feels like you want to pack a box, but don’t know what to put in it. That was 20 years ago. I no longer go to the doctor, they only believe what they think they know. They are like priests-blinded by the religion of a certain religion.
If Jenny could see how hopeless and gloomy everything was here, she would be shocked. There is no change in this village except that cars are allowed to drive to the market, and there is a truck-accessible road to the mountains. When I thought I would die shortly after that accident, I started to write a book, and then never stopped. Its name is called: “Dream is a city lost in childhood”.
I haven’t written every day for twenty years. I will not finish it until I die. The book I am writing is the one that ends all other books, and my death will be the ending chapter. I also drew all the illustrations in the book. This book is about my life with Leo and Jenny. I ca n’t draw myself, so I use an “X” to represent myself. Sometimes when I read the chapters I wrote before, I will suddenly be in the old days-just like being in a theater setting that someone built with your life. Memories are like life played by actors.
Jenny always wakes up in the sun, she always drinks orange juice. Even at this time of year, Los Angeles is still very warm. In the United States, some people spend Christmas on the beach, but also in Australia. And I always wake up in the sound of raindrops knocking on the window, the sound is like a hundred nagging mother of Wales. Each raindrop is a mark with tiny rust marks.
Jenny came to us to study the climate. There is a university in Bangor where students from all over the world go to observe the clouds. I still remember how surprised she was at the large white, slowly swirling object. I gave her a cockle in a paper cup. In the past, you could buy these things from a carriage that transported goods, but those cockles have been dead for a long time. Jenny’s accent is very smooth and rich. I always hoped that my ancestors had also gone to the United States. Maybe that would be different. Maybe we will meet at the theater and meet at the entrance of the vehicle. Maybe Leo and I could assemble an old broken car together-the kind of car people would tinker with in the garage.
Twenty years ago, I drove down the cliff in a car. I just want to turn to Leo and make faces at him so that he can laugh happily. It’s that simple.
Leo’s body was found half a mile away from the car wreckage. He looked like he was asleep, only his internal organs were broken. I would like to think that he was picked up from the car by the angels written in Milton and Black’s books, which I have always believed in. They wrote those books under the moon that also shines in our village. The moon saw everything that happened.
They told me that I was the survivor of the accident.
It is Wednesday morning. The darkness at this moment is rarely remembered. Most people are about to wake up. I stood on the side outside my gate. It was not really a gate, but another path to sorrow. The rain began to drizzle. The mist dissipated and slowly rose to the dark hilltop. The fire started. The Welsh morning was filled with the smell of fried eggs and wood fire. The children were rolling on the warm bed, and they would soon break away from the arms of the dream. All arms are God’s messengers. It’s still night here, but it’s already daylight elsewhere, and the alternate cycle of day and night has continued in some way, continue, whether we are in it or not.
Suddenly, the sky was full of rain, and the raindrops were as big as the thumb. It will be Christmas soon, the children in the school are rehearsing a play, and they have made costumes themselves. The night is a worn veil. It is now a full moon, but there is always a time when the moon is in deficit. Leo’s face awaits me in every mirror. Dreams are the unfinished wings of our souls.