“21”



A shape enters my view. There’s a connection between us - through hands, through a smile and a smile back. Then stride and shuffle on to where you want to go. Concentration, sound, music, mess. The moves are there, studied, replicated, repeated imperfectly but perfect. Joy exudes, unselfconscious action, dancing and laughter persists. A lightness throughout my body, a response to your body occupying the same room as everyone else.

All this somehow is tied up with a recent memory - a man shoots and kills 58 people because he is afraid. Afraid of what they might do, of who they are, of others like them.

Way back as this man’s being was taking shape, tests were available to check for ‘defects’, ‘abnormalities’, ‘problems’. Before his body moved from his mother’s into the world he would have passed these tests.

As he grew though he found defects, abnormalities and problems with others. Others agreed with him, or he found others to agree, or those others found him. He found these problems with other people so bad that he decided the world would be a better place without them. He felt justified in his actions.

In return for what he did we give our outrage, solemn outrage, disgust, horror, we say we are all one, I am you, you are me, we are together.



The shape that entered my view, exited and didn’t return. The news of his death devastated a community. He was taken too soon, died suddenly and far too young. Before his body passed from his mother's into the world the same tests on his body - that the man who killed 58 people passed - would have had a different result.

“If you are faced with this choice you will get support to help you make a decision.” [1]

Someone close to me once said that if the body they were bringing into the world had failed these tests then they would have prevented it from entering the world. They said they would be too afraid of the life it would have. They believed the world is made for those that pass the test, not those that do not and the struggle in fighting this would be too much. I understood.

“The best case scenario is they might become an artist or a dancer.” [2]

You are no longer here and I don’t know in what ways you will be missed. Are you; dead; buried in the ground; in heaven; are you gone last week; a shame; a sadness; a young person; work; a project; a friend; an inspirational man; a DJ; a case study; a loss; a force to be reckoned with; an education; a reason.

Words attach to your memory, like they did your whole life. There are some words that say nothing of who you are. Time folds in on itself, you are now free to move and exist anyway you want. Life was better for your body in this world.



1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/screening-tests-for-you-and-your-baby/downs-syndrome-edwards-syndrome-and-pataus-syndrome

2. Said to a pregnant woman by NHS staff after a screening that came back positive.



Text originally appeared in ‘Underpinned by the Movements of Freighters’ exhibition zine, curated by Joe Moss and held at The Florence Trust from the 1st - 10th July 2021.