The Courtyard

I often sat at the window looking out into the evening sunshine fall onto the courtyard.

The courtyard was neither large nor pretty: some tiles, some concrete, with a short ramp to allow wheelchair access and a wall alongside that my children had always delighted walking along in their early years.

I frequently saw him wander out of his house, through the open door, into the courtyard, almost in a daze, and it was always this same wall that he would slowly lower himself onto, catching the last warm rays of sunlight before they disappeared behind the upper stories of the block. It seemed that by sitting down he entered a mode enabling him to recollect, recharge: there was a certain stasis, but it was clear that underneath the surface things were swirling, extending and contracting, re-arranging and re-ordering themselves as the events of the day settled. The courtyard was almost a sanctuary, shielded, bathed in the sunlight’s steadily-waning glow, partly shielded from the background noise of the city outside.

And with the call of a bird, or the rattle of a moped, the spell was broken. Thomas would bow his head slightly, perhaps rub his eyes, then look up and tilt his head sideways, before wearily rising and ducking into the shadow of the open doorway.

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