All families are tightly-knit but they’ll cut anyone who breaks the rules without a word. We slice and shred huge bunches of basil and the smell fills every cubic inch of this house. Lift your pillow and there it is. My mother’s shoulder-blades jut out like bony sails; her arms click like two long sticks knotted at the elbow. She went away for a while and nobody spoke her name but unlike anyone else she came back. I try to ask her about it when she tucks me into bed and the room is a fridge but she sighs and tells me some fairy-story.
One morning I pull up the blind and there are the storks on the big untidy nest on next door’s chimney, flinging back their heads and making that raucous clacking with their bills. I ask mother if they’ll make this sound all summer again till they leave. She sighs again and passes across another sack-load of basil. At school the therapist comes to talk to me every week. She hauls me out of class and the others point and whisper but I’ve already told them I don’t know what it’s all about. Where do we think we come from she asks, and where do we think we’re going? Let’s make a map of all the places we’ve been, and the places where the people we’ve lost might be hiding. I chew my pencil stub and draw a pair of vast white wings.
Geoff Sawers lives in Reading (UK). Born in 1966, he was only diagnosed as autistic in his fifties. He has work out this year in Alice Says Go Fuck Yourself, Backwards Trajectory, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Times Literary Supplement and Unstamatic. His paintings are on Instagram @geoff.sawers.