A conversation with Binky’s rider.

This requiem to Sir Terry Pratchett was posted a few days ago on Facebook by a lady called Susan Wylie Wilson. A brilliant, and moving, tribute to the author, it is far to good to be allowed to get lost (as things do) in the depths of the social media network so I have copied it here, allowing me to refer back to it more easily.
I make no claim on the following text, it is purely the work of Ms Wilson.

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“Excuse me, sir.”

The figure in the dark cowl glances over his shoulder at the white-haired woman looking up at him. There is the merest hint of a brow furrowing across the polished ivory forehead. He fumbles in some hidden recess of his cloak for a moment. When he turns to face her, he holds up a plain hourglass. The top bulb has far less sand than the bottom, but more than enough to ensure this meeting is unexpected.

UNUSUAL, MADAM. NOT MANY SEEK ME OUT UNLESS THE GRAINS RUN LOW.

“Yes, sir, I know.” She meets his gaze fully, despite the trembling plainly visible to the tall figure.

IF YOU WISH AN EXTENSION, YOU MUST TAKE THAT UP WITH—

“No, sir. At least… not for me, sir. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’d like to talk with you about that one, the man in the black hat.” She inclines her head toward the man standing beside him, watching in uncharacteristic silence.

AH. AND?

“Please, sir, I know it’s possible. You did it yourself for a little girl, and it was done for you, for Bill Door. Please, sir, let me give him mine.”

YOU WOULD DO THIS FOR A STRANGER?

“No, sir.”

The blue of his star-eyes flares for an instant as he turns to go.

“He’s not a stranger, sir.”

YOU HAVE NEVER MET HIM.

“Not in that sense, no, sir. But I have known him for decades. I have laughed with him. Wept with him. Lost sleep to turn one more page, and another, and another. His words, his world, his thoughts have been my meat and drink. I have been Nanny Ogg at the buffet of Discworld, gorging like the glutton I am, returning time and again despite making a fool of myself trying to balance a plate of work and a mug of delight and yet be able to feast. I have walked the desert with Brutha, scaled the pyramid with Teppic. I have fled with Rincewind, pontificated with Ridcully, flown with Granny. I have muttered with Foul Ole Ron, knuckled down the alleys with Detritus, heard my feet whisper ‘you are here’ as the paving stones of Ankh-Morpork spoke to them. I have schemed with Vetinari, fought the madness of craving with Maledict, raided with the Nac Mac Feegle. This man is no stranger, and for him, I say, ‘sir, empty my lifetimer into his’.”

The tall figure taps a gleaming cheekbone with a bony finger. Click. Click. Click. Considering. Finally, he said, I AM SORRY, MADAM, BUT IT WOULD MAKE LITTLE DIFFERENCE.

“There are others who would make the same offer. I know it, sir.”

He raises his gaze, looking behind her. YES, IT APPEARS YOU ARE CORRECT.

She turns for a moment. Young, old, men, women, every variation of skin tone, every strata of society, thousands of them, each with a lifetimer held tightly and hope mingling with fear in their eyes. She smiles as she meets the figure’s gaze again.

“You see how much he is loved. Sir, please. He’s important to so many. With all of us offering him borrowed time, he could live almost forever, sir.”

AND SO HE SHALL, MADAM, SO HE SHALL.

“You’ll do it then?”

YOU MISUNDERSTAND. WHAT WAS, HAS ENDED. WHAT IS, HAS BEGUN. He turns to the man in the black hat. SHALL WE GO?

The woman reaches for the tall figure, lays her hand on his skeletal arm. “You’re taking him? But you said he would live almost forever.”

There is a hint of a raised eyebrow in his look at her hand. Despite the oddity of grasping bone, she does not move her hand, or flinch.

THERE IS, I BELIEVE, ON YOUR WORLD A BOOK CALLED HOLY BY SOME IN WHICH IT IS SAID THAT YOUR WORLD WAS CREATED IN SIX DAYS.

She stifles the question of relevance and nods.

YET YOUR WORLD HAS LASTED BILLIONS OF YEARS.

Again, she nods.

HE TOOK THIRTY-TWO YEARS TO CREATE HIS WORLD. I SHOULD THINK IT WILL LAST AT LEAST AS LONG AS YOUR RACE.

She blinks and gives one last nod, releasing his arm. As the tall figure and the man in the black hat resume their walk, she calls out, “Sir, will you tell him how much he is loved?”

The tall figure looks down at the man in the black hat, then back to the old woman. I DO NOT THINK THE UNIVERSE WILL LAST LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO EXPRESS THAT. BUT I BELIEVE HE UNDERSTANDS YOUR MEANING.

“Thank you, sir.” She hesitates for a moment, then calls out to their fading forms, “Stop in any time, sir. Thanks to him, I’m not afraid anymore.”

As they fade completely a star slowly winks and, somewhere, the creator is made welcome.

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Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)
Requiem by Susan Wylie Wilson.
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About Bob Hughes

Ex railwayman, life long railway modeller, lover of real ale and spicy food. Divorced, she got the kids, I got the dog.
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