**I’m going to start with a character called Sid, and see where he takes me.**
Sid thinks about the Syrian boy a lot. Even now, even all these years later. Lying on his tummy, arms by his side, palms upturned to the sky. He looks asleep in his red top, like he could wake up at any time as the tide laps at the top of his head.
Sid doesn’t know when the thought is going to come or how long it is going to last, but it arrives with a paralysis, and it anchors him like a weight in the Mediterranean sand. Everything stops. He imagines this is what grieving feels like. Blindsided at two in the afternoon, the rest of the day a write-off.
And yet, he welcomes the feeling. He doesn’t push it away, but gathers it in, allows it to consume him, because he should think about that boy every minute of every day. Every second of every minute of every day should be spent thinking about that little boy who dared to believe that life could be better and who was betrayed by the world.
Except, it’s not an anchoring that Sid feels. No, it’s more than that. It’s a physical rooting to the earth, a connection, his veins and bones extended down through the carpet of the reception area like wandering tendrils, through the stone floor and concrete foundations of the Cleveland Animal Welfare Centre, through the soil, and the Cuyahoga shale and Berea sandstone, through the Devonian Limestone and the Silurian Dolomite, through the Salina Formation and Niagara Limestone, through all of that to the core of who he is and who we all are, connecting him to an ancient truth.
We are all reconstituted matter, all of us simply redistributed energy from the same Big Bang. Connected.
And so for those few moments, the Syrian boy’s pain is Sid’s pain.
He tastes the bile, and it is always at this moment, at this physical reaction to an image committed to memory, that he is pulled back into the now.
The lady has taken a step back from the counter
Are you ok?
Sid blinks twice and looks down at the reception desk to compose himself.