‘What’s that noise, Gran-dame?’
We were sitting on the edge of the window, the wooden shutters were spread wide open to either side of us and our shoeless legs dangled freely out into the calm air, over the five storey drop. Her legs were covered in skin coloured mesh tights. Mine were bare like pale sausages, ripe with child puppy fat.
She cocked her head to listen and a smile spread beatifically across her wrinkled grey face.
‘That, my dear, is a bird singing.’
I vaguely knew what a bird was, though I had never seen one and especially not in the shared open space of our housing complex. I always put birds and trees together and there were no longer any trees in the whole expanse of the territory in which I roamed.
‘What does it mean?’
‘It means that we are approaching dawn. The night is about to end.’
I looked about at the clear blue sky and thought about the tasty lunch that was lying, digesting, in my stomach. ‘But it’s already day.’ I protested.
Gran-dame looked at me and her smile changed to a more recognisable tenor – it was the smile that meant that I should not worry about things I did not understand. She always reassured me that things would become clear in time. With one hand, its translucent skin paler than usual in the wan daylight, she reached over and ruffled my hair playfully.
‘There is some darkness that you cannot see with your eyes. That you only feel with your heart.’
I squinted at her, more confused than ever.
‘You will understand eventually,’ she continued, turning away from me to look out over the wild concrete below us. ‘The main point is that things are going to improve from now on.’
I watched her face for a little while longer, seeing thoughts flit over the textured surface, soundless words being muttered through her thin lips. And then I too turned away to look out over the limited view and forgot my confusion in the simple joy of banging my legs against the brick wall below me.