In this darkness, the stone bird table is a mucked grey, a permanent ghost.
Gustav feels a scrunch of leaves as he puts his hand on the table. He wipes them to the floor. The pocked ruddiness of his skin makes a scraping noise that reminds him of his mortality.
He uncups one hand, gently angled, close to the surface of the table. Four pebbles roll out. They roll then click into a huddle, barely forming separate shapes in the night light: dirty grey on dirty grey.
He touches the first pebble, presses a finger on it, feels its resistance. Smooth, he thinks. It would look soapy in the light.
"This one's Martin," he says.
Gustav touches the second stone, then the third one. He pauses before the last one. He touches each of them in turn: tries to feel their centre; tune his mind into them.
"This one's Steve."
"This one's Matt."
He doesn't know the fourth member of Gene. He closes his eyes to look for the name. Behind his eyelids, he meanders through song lyrics swept up from the floor of his memory:
"You'll be lonely when you die,
"Couldn't change it if you tried."He tries to feel the centre of that song. Tune his mind. All he can see is gravestones lined up before him, unmoving spirits taunting him with the threat of the next world.
When he opens his eyes with a jolt, Gustav finds his vision has adjusted: he sees the bird table more clearly than before.
Gustav brings his palms to his face, lays them flat against his wrinkled forehead. The pebbles are listening to him, feeling his resistance.
Under a silver misted moon wiped onto the ink of the sky, he prays to the pebbles in clustered murmurings.
With thanks for the Twitter inspiration: @cedered ("smooth pebbles") and @vincesapplemac ("Gene").