It was dark and he pointed at the street. 'There is frozen?', the guy said in an accent. Hungarian or something. I said yes, the street was probably frozen.
'But I cannot see ice' he said, 'How can you know there is ice?'
I said that you just had to expect it, in this cold. You had to expect ice this time of year. The dog pulled at the lead, my husband's dog. If the dog was pulling at the lead it must have been cold.
'I need to be careful, right?' the guy added, smiling and pulling his collar to his throat, 'The ice cannot always be seen here.'
I can see you looking for a seat and I guess that if our eyes were to meet, you would see that you are quite welcome here, next to me.
And I might talk to you - but that's okay, right? That's what happens in these situations. Someone is kind enough to offer you a spare seat, and at the very least, a small bit of conversation is normally conducted; phatic, friendly.
And I know where to draw the line, where the clock stops.
So, there you have it. The kind of thing that can go on in a place like this; "Hey, stranger! You're in the same boat as me! Let's paddle together!"
It's not generally the kind of thing one can do in a regular public place, is it? You can't really just draw attention to a seat going spare next to you and expect a rational, safe set of responses.
People will hesitate.
people will doubt.
people will not recognise that they are in the same boat - which they are.
But when the boat is this big, carries this many people, people sometimes don't even realise they're in the boat in the first place.
So this is where the caution sets in. Why is this stranger offering me this seat? What do they want? Well, sometimes they just want to connect with you. And sometimes you don't want that - and that's cool.
But there is nothing to be afraid of, and see that we are all in the same boat.
This is something that can be common ground, because, underneath it all, we are here, looking towards the waters together.
And sometimes people often see something different to what other people see. Some see calm, some see a storm and the trepidation that comes with it. Others see nothing but the water at night, and the unknown journey through it.
But, here, under our feet, there is only one boat, just as there is only one sea. So, take a seat, and tell me your name.
More roads lead into than lead out of the labyrinth and the sun cannot illuminate them all.
Only the children rush in without fear of ever getting out again.
They laugh, their eyes gladly only seeing a metre or two ahead, never afraid of what might be around the bend or sharp corner.
Only when the sun gives in for another few hours, only then do the children begin to look for a way out.
They glance up, take in the seductive orange and grey of the encompassing sky, and then they notice the shadows which have crept into the labyrinth.
This was the challenge the children did not expect, the suspender of fun.
And as for grown-ups, they figured it out long ago.
They are already gone, short of temper, long in the tooth.
But the children will not be beaten.
They know that one of these roads will lead them out of the unpredictable turns,
away from the closing skies, and into open arms.
The grown ups, they just forgot to remember this.
I push my fingers into the pan, through the water, into the rice.
I agitate the water, watching as the water swiftly turns cloudy.
The bottom of this pan, only two inches below, disappears from view.
I let the water escape, using the glass lid to keep the rice.
I add more water.
This was the first time I did it like this,
the way which you thought would be best,
if you ever didn't have the rice cooker.
My fingers replicate yours,
the gentle treatment,
watching every grain as it shifts back and forth
and disappears beneath the white clouds.
I think of the watering can,
the flowers pointing towards the blue
as you rain the water down upon them, stem to root.
And all the time watching,
patient and grateful.
You pour the water away,
replacing it with clean water,
and the rice parts for the flow.
It goes into the cooker, and
you turn and nod,
asking if it is alright.
I reply, stem to root,
that all is fine, and I
take a seat,
My rice sits in the pan,
the smell of it lifting up to the blue,
and I nod to myself when I
think of you, and I
patient and grateful.
Everything always tears off in huge, bloody strips. I sit here and wait for you, like I have done for years, like I have done for minutes. I am starved from the calm, silent waiting. I have no memory of the taste of anything anymore. Come save me; just your being here will be the nourishment I need.
Whenever I watch you walk home, it is always at dawn. Whenever we say goodbye, it is always under the rain. Time is here, relentlessly here, and vicious, and it is always winning. I imagine you pressing your fingers to the keys, and that life is unfolding in front of you, happening, like the beat of a heart.
Tram lines lead me back to you, to the wish that I had told you I had loved you. Across the table, in the darkness, next to the water; I love you. I would have said it, I really would. But it never came up.
Time is still the years, holding on tight, making me drag them along, as if there was never a time when they were not with me. The years are acting like they are family, and maybe they are by now, because who am I to argue. What do I really know.
Barbed wire on decision sits in my marrow and once in a while tears a strip off the flesh - sometimes with bone, or muscle, and once in a while a tooth or two. My eyes will be torn out eventually, and yet in a way this suits me fine, because it means I will finally stop looking at the clock. There is so much blood around me. There is so much gore in my wake yet you do not see it. You do not even smell it - the living, twitching, damage caused by my decision.
As life saps away, all I can say is I don't know, I don't know. How can even you know. I just don't know. Paralysis, which track to take. The viscera of fear, indecision and complete blindness.