Tom Kelly

Sorry

Trevor was quiet. That troubled me. His long fingers carefully held the pen as he wrote requests for housing repairs.

A quietness stunned the office. I was young and had neither knowledge or confidence to break the silence. I stared at the walls; important messages were busy turning yellow. No-one had bothered to take them down as if the past had to be there.

Trevor drew in his breath with a desperateness I found unsettling. I noticed, for the first time, his jacket was worn at the sleeves and provided a dark border for his pasty-white bony hands. Did he know I was examining him? He said nothing as he searched under paper work for reading glasses.

The telephone ringing shocked me. I answered the call and was confronted by a shrill demanding voice. I had to do something quickly about a problem with their plumbing.

Trevor did not move as he wrote and wrote with such intensity it made me sweat. The office became smaller and I took off my Harris Tweed jacket which was a newer version of Trevor’s. Loud banging on the portacabin woke his nervousness and he stepped outside.

He returned and said nothing. The silence was oppressive and held me at my desk as I watched the traffic flow slowly by. I found myself writing more and more receipts and advice notes which began to cover my desk.

He was working behind me. The door slammed. I turned and found an envelope addressed to me. He was standing outside my window and held a finger to his lips, wanting me to obey his silence.

I choose silence. He left. and was soon in the distance. He did not look back.

I placed the envelope in my inside pocket. It felt like a dead weight, heavy as his body that hung from a bannister that night.

I was young. I didn’t know what to say. His note just said, ‘sorry’.

Tom Kelly © 2020