Invigilator’s Journey In pairs they come in and sit down before me. Scribble furiously, making the most of their twenty minutes before the examiners in the next room skew their brains, weigh all they know about this new foreign language. It’s my job to sit straight and make sure they don’t talk – not yet – just prepare what they will say, quietly wielding pen on paper, like marksmen and markswomen buffing their shotguns. But then – time isn’t even up – we can’t help it: the silence is broken, like a perfect glass dome caving in, and here we are, sweeping away tiny glittering bits with our illicit chatter. The smiling Brazilian claims he can improvise anyway; the Latvian mother of two isn’t worried, she’s been through so much already; and me, rule-breaking native asking all the odd questions. The world is so big. Time too short. We are, all of us, candidates for the ultimate task, and now, here, we bask in our folly, like thieves in the night, footloose pickpockets skipping to the beat of Cole Porter’s Begin the Beguine. Then the gong sounds. Then all the other gongs. Suddenly, the day is over. I go back to my simple life. Navigating through a sea of strangers. Live music comes wafting through a barroom door. In a park, I watch the first moon of the year rise over this throbbing world, wondering where the years have gone. Later, when I turn off the bedside lamp, a soft, bluish light spills through the window and drenches the sheets. The guitar stands in the corner, almost forgotten. And me: scrunched up in the warmest part of the bed, remembering how your breath sweetly tinkled, like the sound of snow on pines.
Francis Fernandes grew up in the US and Canada. He studied in Montréal and has a degree in Mathematics. Since spring 2020, his writing has appeared in over twenty literary journals, including Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Defenestration Magazine, Saint Katherine Review, Amethyst Review, Third Wednesday. He lives in Frankfurt, Germany, where he writes and teaches.