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Paper People – Abi Hennig

Cut a long piece of paper

At my bedside she used read me poems. Poems that grew from a sparkle in her eye and exploded softly like firecrackers of green and gold from her tongue as they danced in the air between us, the words holding hands as they pirouetted in the sky, light as icing-sugar clouds before they fluttered downwards, evaporating before they hit the ground.

Never fear or falter; I will fashion paper people, dancing hand to hand.

I watch her: jaw askew, lips twisted, tongue-tip protruding as she grips safety scissors, slicing inch after careful inch.

Fold end to end; check edges are square

For a stolen second, our eyes meet, her mouth gapes wide; I can almost glimpse the spectre of a sentence which hovers on her tongue and the world slows its spin as I wait, breathless…

She sinks back, glistening shards of almost-words lying dormant as dust.

Fold accordion-style into rectangle

Check: bag, coat, keys. She folds, bends, back and forth with gentle precision; I unfurl beneath the tablecloth, silently slide necessities towards the door.

Draw outline in centre of rectangle

Streetlights glare; fine mist coats the windowpane; her eyes are fixed on head, arms, legs.

I will fashion paper people.

Cut out the person

Dancing hand to hand.

She scoops scissors. I gaze at the ceiling, cornice-covered with paper roses, paper stars, paper chain upon chain. Look back at her, locked in her private paper world.

Carefully pull paper apart (be gentle)

She teases the edges, slow as simmering treacle. I slink into the mizzling dark. From outside, I see her turn, arms filled with paper figures, waltzing, hand linking hand linking hand. I stare into the beetle-blackness of the night; with faltering feet peel myself inch by careful inch from her as she dances, blind and blissful in her paper-patterned dreams.