They came to me this morning, a simple, almost nonsensical pair of sentences. I couldn’t remember where I’d heard them, only hear them in my mind covered in the feathery dust of memory. Old words, forgotten words, no reason to recall them, yet there they were. Tracking down that old familiarity by watching it only from the corner of my eye, I found their origin with an echo of surprise. From there, after so long, I had expected no more, a past that is over with and that rests softly amidst the silent dust motes in memory’s attic.

Yet there they were. No brave declaration, no grim prophecy, no defiance of fate — no, nothing but a moment of implausible humour in a tale turning dark, four captives mocking their captor as if their lives were not at any moment forfeit. All the words on either side are lost, only these words, and their cause, such as it was.

The guard is a brutish creature, a parody of humanity, with an intellect probably less than most dogs. Its grunted command of “Out door” meets with the kind of mockery that only makes sense from the perspective the tale was written from, long ago and far away.

“Or do you want the door to go out? I think you’d break it, it swings in.”

It was an accident, that tale, in a sense. It took off and grew and became a world, a timeline, a history of a friendship, and now it has long since been laid to rest with honour and ceremony despite the brutal way in which it was slain only two or three brief years after it began. I carry it with me, unread.

Why, after so long, those words alone should return to my mind and echo ’til I can hear them spoken even though they were only ever written down, I can only wonder. Is it but chance? Or is it a message from myself, a clue I might decipher? I hope not, for in such an echo the only message I can hear is warning. Of what, or why, it is less easy to say.

“Or do you want the door to go out? I think you’d break it, it swings in.”

Or perhaps it is simply a reminder: despite all, always remember what was good.