Leap Year

(Inspired by Webster’s Leap Year microfiction, and also Becca’s, which I can’t link here)

You would think I’d track the date, but it’s always a surprise. There’s a presidential election in the US, and there’s the Olympics as well, and there’s one more thing. Always one more thing.

I was on a bus. I am a lot, these days, as I never got around to learning to drive, and work is far away. Half asleep I had boarded it this morning, no time for coffee, and the world was still asleep as the sun slowly rose over the spires of Oxford as I was driven towards it. Perhaps the sleep is why I didn’t notice the day, or perhaps it’s always supposed to be a surprise. It was a surprise, anyway.

With the sun rose the colours, the saturation of the world slowly climbing higher. The pale orange of the distant star became a vivid splash that crossed the sky. The faded blue of corporate bus livery became sapphire brilliance, and the bus took a right turn that hadn’t been there yesterday morning. The bus came to a stop, and I was already leaving it for a cobbled road with upper stories vaulted over it, the thin sliver of sky overhead lighting the street only by association.

The bus was gone, and the subtleties of the world faded with it. Almost all the doors along either side of the street were plain, dark colours with numbers that defied reading. I haven’t lived here long, and I’m sure there are crannies and bolt-holes in the ancient city that I will never find on a map or twice by exploration, but I’d bet you dollars to damnation that this was not a place you could find deliberately.

Almost all the doors. The arch before me bore a viridian door with a golden lion holding a ring exactly as if of *course* it didn’t really want to play fetch, but if that’s a game then fine, here’s the ring. A trick I remembered of old, but couldn’t tell you from where. A piece of candied ginger was in my pocket, and the cat took it with a desperate lick as the door slid sideways and the dark room beyond beckoned.

(There were others. Their doors differed according to some method beyond me.)

A glass of something rich, dark and enlightening came with the knowledge that this time I was here to observe the ceremony rather than take part. So I sat and I wrote the visions I saw, and the words folded into paragraphs and chapters as they drained from my mind with the pictures. They may be the greatest words I’ll never know, and I miss them.

The world was exactly as colourful as it always was when I found myself on the bus as it neared my stop, and drab by comparison. Slowly, as I always did, I forgot this day and its meaning.

I wonder often where the words go.

February 29, 2016

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