The return trajectory to Salton Weir was a matter of backflips and blindside evasions through the firewall of Schiller and Beethoven’s Ode:
“Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!”
Somewhere along the backstreets Lucas was still and still moving towards his inevitable destination. He broke cover along Ballards Lane for long enough to be caught by the torrential rain storms following a brief ice age. We watched him from above, swept upon wings of song, and the warm updrafts of an oncoming golden age.
Salton Weir was as near as the corner shop, and also as far. The milk rounds of the incoming dawn deposited an extra pint on the doorstep. We could read its import in the tea leaves: expect an unexpected visitor. Whoever reached the galley first would be obliged to put the kettle on. That much had been agreed.
Lucas carried a parcel of gifts. Fancy goods. We practiced the motion of the words with our lips to ensure that he would gain no advantage from these bribes. “Oh, you shouldn’t have! Really!” The rime upon our faces cracked after aeons in the wilderness.
Nonetheless it followed: the Scrabble tile that Lucas’s sister had started to wrap in so many layers, so many Christmases ago, had taken on the mass of a small moon, and rolled across the dark side of the earth towards us. At its heart the small mystery of a single letter, or a wildcard blank tile.
If “ifs” and “ands” could truly be pots and pans, we could have forced our way back into the kitchen, driven that mass of paper back against her, slopping the mulled wine off of the stove top to scold the old clay tiles. Once there we could have taken all of the steak knives from the drawers, and like many-limbed Kali we might have torn open those layers surrounding the gift. Carving ever inwards towards the core of the enigma.
We do not live by such extravagant hope. The water flickers silver with the new day, and we can anticipate it before it dawns into view. Salton Weir.