beauty, men, mental illness, short fiction, women

Watch For An Owl

He called at half past nine. It was a recent thing for him, having a phone but the first time he had sent Hedwig, my dog went nuts. He brought the phone as part of things you did in the muggle world.

Our friendship being one of them.

‘Hello mate, how’s tricks?’

He sighed.

‘Ginny’s in hospital. She had a breakdown.’

I put my shoes on.

‘Have you got anyone with you?’

He cleared his throat, said no in a soft, defeated voice.

‘No, but Ron and Hermione are coming. I wanted to tell someone what happened.’ he said.

I avoided my dog’s pleading gaze as I slipped my coat on and found my keys.

‘I’m on my way.’ I said.

They lived in an expensive house painted in warm yellow, looking out onto the sea. I sent him a text message when I was outside, knowing the kids would be asleep. Ginny hadn’t been well for a while now, but we would talk and I could see the flashes of her soul arise again.

He came to the door, glasses on rather than contact lenses. More people knew him as Daniel Radcliffe than the actual man. It was easier for him.

We became friends because I didn’t recognise him. In the second hand bookshop down Victoria Arcade, turning over a copy of Infinite Jest and grimacing as he set it back on the shelf.

‘I read it, but I admired it more than liked it.’ I said.

He smiled, thanked me for saving him a pound.

He asked if there was anything I could recommend. It started from there.

He talked about how tough it was being a parent. I talked about getting divorced. We both talked about films, books. Quidditch and I confessed I didn’t understand it. He explained it over a full English breakfast and I talked about the documentary I saw on Netflix about it. There would be pauses and we would change the subject.

He put the kettle on. We had a cigarette on the balcony and he told me what happened.

It had been over how he made the tea. He left the bag in too long and she shouted at him about it. She didn’t want to, but it made a horrible sense to do it.

Harry had shrugged it off before, but he was tired and dealing with a toddler and a newborn whilst Ginny curled up on the couch, sobbing with agony had scraped him thin. He kicked the kitchen cabinet, grunted loud enough to make her start.

She stormed out the house, snatching up her phone.

They found her in the park. She called the duty nurse at the clinic, said she was afraid about hurting herself so they were keeping her in for observation. She wanted to stop feeling like this, she loved Harry with a terrible depth and she lived behind a fog of guilt and grief away from them.

”She will be all right. You will too.’ I said.

He looked down, gave a choked sob and closed his eyes.

‘I don’t know. I don’t know what to do with myself, and I’ve been taking it out on her.’ he said.

I put my hand on his shoulder.

‘You’re doing the best you can with what you have.’ I said.

He looked up and smirked.

‘Sometimes you sound like a fortune cookie.’ he said.

I laughed and shook my head.

‘See, it was worth me coming over.’ I said.

He smiled and came in for a hug.

‘You’re a good friend.’ he said.

I chuckled.

‘Hey you’d do the same for me. Just making sure you’re all right. She’s getting the help she needs.’

The doorbell rang. He opened the door, we exchanged waves as I left. Hermione had her arms around Harry and he peered past her to roll his eyes as I winked at him.

Ron gave me a firm handshake and grinned through a rich spade of red-gold beard.

I walked back along the seafront, took the dog out and watched the waves as the sun set.

I watched the sky for the sign of a white owl. I sent him a short message, letting him know I was there if he needed anything. I had my work, but he called and said she was home.

He said more but something crashed and he said he would call me soon.

He hung up and I smiled. I rang my daughter and told her I loved her. If she asked why, I wondered what I would tell her.

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