The Castle

This was somebody’s house. These roofless ragged stones kept out the wind and rain once. These grass-grown rooms were full of firelight and candlelight, warmth and music, voices, cooking smells, the smell of home.

There was a gap in the broken wall, like a gap in a row of teeth. I wandered off from my parents to look closer, and saw that it had once been a window, cut deep into the thick walls, a window-seat just big enough for somebody my size. I climbed into it, fitting my body into it, my back against the cold stone, looking out across the hills. I felt sure a child like me had sat here hundreds of years ago.

‘I’m thinking about you,’ I whispered, close against the stone. ‘I’m hundreds and hundreds of years in the future, thinking about you. Are you thinking about me?’

I was quiet on the way back in the car. When we got home, I went up to my bedroom, curled up on my windowsill and pulled the curtains round myself the way I always did. I thought about a time hundreds of years in the future, when our house would be a ruin. Just worn bricks open to the sky, with grass and lichen growing between them, and future-people in silver jumpsuits coming to stare at where my family once lived.

A child my size would wander away from her parents, and come to my window. The glass would be long gone, and the garden outside would be a wilderness, but she would know that I had sat here once. She would whisper to me in future-language, in words that hadn’t been made up yet. She would tell me she was thinking about me.

‘I’m thinking about you, too,’ I whispered back.

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