The Things We Cling to and That Cling to Us by Laura Dobson

You solemnly snap twigs as you tell me: what I already knew but somehow didn’t. 

Something implausible passes between us. 

Eighteen spots. I count them three times in the drawn-out silence. The ladybird who first appeared on your knuckle, I decide, is the same ladybird now scaling my right sleeve. Not even a cursory hug today, but it has crossed all manner of fortifications to set foot on us both. 

Light recedes; you too. 

I’m tear-stained on the tube and somewhat startled when it drops into my lap, crawls to my palm and remains there. Lost, a little scared. 

While it navigates the peaks and crevices of my topography—traces a fractured heart line with a chirologist’s care—I recall how whispered words once portrayed me as your whole world: I love you assumed to mean forever

It’s dying; I can see that now. Beneath the elytra, one wing is crumpled cellophane. It has flown its last.  

Home, I fumble for keys with my free hand. 

I carry it all the way upstairs, tell it thank you, for choosing to remain with me when all I could think was that no one ever does, and sorry, that you now have nothing but me, in this shoebox room in this ever-so-big city.  

Bone-tired, I find it a pleasant spot, amongst the disc-shaped leaves of my propagated pilea. As Mercury stations direct—an Aries full moon ablaze—I say bye for now, but really goodbye. Sometimes, the proper time comes to let go, and then there is nothing at all to do but accept it. And you know; you just know.

Laura lives in London with twenty-four houseplants. She works in a secondary school pastoral role and relishes sharing the therapeutic potential of creativity with young people. She has recent work in The Phare Literary Magazine, Retreat West, The Birdseed Magazine, and The Elpis Pages. She tweets at @laurarose_13.