I’m a killer, a murderess. Things will never be the same again.
It happened yesterday, no two days ago. Saturday. I woke at 5am, had set my alarm. It wasn’t the usual thing for me to do at the weekend.
I got up, got dressed, slipped out of the house without turning on a light, without waking my husband.
I clicked the button to unlock my car, dumped some things in the boot. The sunrise was astounding, outstanding, unbelievable.
It was my first clue and I paused to take a photograph: evidence that I might reflect on later but in that moment all I saw was the orange and the pink and the yellow that beckoned behind the church steeple in the midpoint of my vision. I stared into it for a second, two, three, then turned, got in my car and drove away.
The motorway was surprisingly busy for that time. Where was everyone going? Why were they up so early?
I flicked between radio stations, my finger tracing prints on the touchscreen. I hate touchscreens. And radio adverts. When I’m driving I just want to drive and get lost in music.
But the journey wasn’t long, maybe 20 minutes. I’d hoped it would have been even less.
Time. Time. Time. Time. It just ticks away and I can’t keep up with it.
The sun came up and the day was fully birthed. There was a lot of work to be done.
I did the work I set out to do, interacting with people along the way. Conversations, explanations, deviations, and money changing hands. Notes, coins. New money, old money, shiny money, dirty money. I filled my pockets with it and shivered undercover while the sun shone its rays out there, outside.
I was inside, undercover, but I could see the bright light of the heat outside. I knew what I’d done and what I hadn’t done, what the consequences of each action/inaction would be, but it was too late by then. There was nothing I could do.
That’s what they all say isn’t it? I didn’t mean to. It was an accident. It just happened. It wasn’t my fault.
But it was my fault. I’m to blame. And now I’m wearing that guilt like a brand.
Killer. Killer. Killer.
Still I took no action, and with hindsight a quote returns to me:
“All that’s necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”
It’s been variously attributed to Martin Luther King, Victor Frankl, Edmund Burke. It fits the bill for what happened.
When finally I stepped back into the light of day, the heat was raw on my head, my face. I felt it and I knew. If I had taken the appropriate action at this point then maybe it wouldn’t have been too late. Maybe.
Now, now, now.
But I didn’t. Of course I didn’t.
I pondered, gazed, grazed, ignoring the burst of thought that hovered like a speech-bubble alert somewhere above my head.
The sun began to drop in the sky; heat dispersed by an undercurrent of cool late spring breeze. It was OK. It was going to be OK.
Then it was dark, totally dark, and late. When it’s dark you can’t acknowledge what cannot be seen, it makes it unreal. At the back of my mind I knew by then that the damage would be done.
It would be another few hours still until I saw it, the massacre.
Not just one death, but multiple. Crisp, crippled leaves turned in on themselves, deformed, shrivelled, boiled to death, burnt alive in their pots. Herbs and seedlings and cuttings I’d carefully planted, lovingly watered. But not on Saturday.
I’d forgotten to open a window, forgotten to open the door: no-one survives a day of 40-50 degree (Celsius) heat with no shade, no respite.
I’d watered them the night before, but it wasn’t enough, would never have been enough for the full glare of that murderous fire.
I’m a killer, a murderess. Nothing (in the garden) will ever be the same again.