Thursday, March 20

Somewhere in the World, There Are Horses Racing

PERHAPS I WILL CALL my mother and speak to her for just fifteen minutes, I thought—though I have nothing to say, I suppose I might find something to say and to just hear her voice.
Once the kettle had boiled, I saw the steam coming out of the spout in white rushes that crumbled so frailly against the kitchen air. I put my wrist in the steam and, immediately recoiling, felt the deepest of pains running down my arm. Rushing to the bathroom, I saw small white flowers begin to bloom upon a potted plant in my living room; the flowers were small white prickly erections, splaying in little crowns; the waxy green leaves wide out poking; the saucer I had rested it upon gave birth to tiny flies every time I watered it.
I ran my wrist under the cold tap.
If you create something great and everyone knows your name, then you will have to create something else great, because people are foolish, bloodthirsty and forgetful. I was so glad I had created nothing great; I hadn’t even prepared my dinner. Time, for me, was staring at cold water running down my burned wrist and on to the floor. It was all a very peaceful and painful time.
When I realised that no amount of cold water could stop the pain, I turned the tap off and resumed doing nothing. I stared once more at the small crowns of white flowers. To me, white light was not all the colours waiting to be separated, but all the separate colours locked together.
I go outside. There is a group of people, all ages, talking over the furry spines of their dogs. I do not disturb them. Thinking, hoping, for a moment that one of the dogs is on his way to me for my all-too-eager hand to reach down, he skirts, last moment, and defecates in the bushes, aware that he is being watched and flouting his parting anus mockingly. I move along. There are the dustbins, where I have nightmarish visions of being robbed by desperate young men. I have not been robbed, yet still the nightmares persist. If I could make sense, I would. Instead—‘I dunno.’
‘Your brother is ringing me.’ She always holds the phone away from her mouth so that she sounds distant. ‘Hmm,’ she says—‘He’s trying to ring me … do you have anything else to say?’
I try to think of something, but I don’t wish to burden her with bad news and nonsense, so I say—‘No, I don’t think so. I dunno.’
‘Okay, then, well, I’ll see you Friday night. We’ll get junk food … a takeaway. I’m having a kebab. We’ll get a KFC for Nan, but I’m having a kebab, regardless.’
The bookies have horse racing playing endlessly. I walk past, on my way to work, at ten-past-eight, and there is a horse race, somewhere in the world; at that time of day, freshly inclined sun, I’ll wager it’s somewhere in the Middle East. Men gather round the screen, leaning where they can; the televised grass is greener than anything in east London. I am charmed at the thought that, somewhere in the world, there are horses racing. What if the horses die? I think of their spindle legs crushing beneath the weight of their slimy muscles, and the bolt into their skulls. A man comes out and asks me directions to a bank; before I can answer a lady, with a voice like a pocketful of change, says—‘Couldn’t help overhearing your question … there’s one over there, in that supermarket.’ But I don’t like that supermarket and did not wish to direct him there. The man says—‘Thanks, mate.’ The woman doesn’t hear him; she has somewhere to be.
My wrist is getting better now (thanks for asking). Tomorrow I will stick it in the steam again. I feel the steam cleaning me. I use—because I do not like to waste—the boiled water to make a glass of jasmine tea, or I shall use it to clean a pan where spices have accidentally burned.
At work, I am driven to tears by the documentaries I watch during my lunchbreak. I perform a quick exit and clear my throat. Sometimes I stride down the street sobbing, but they are not tears, they are just my eyes watering. Strangers could ask me why I cry, though I would only tell them I am not. It is ridiculous to cry, anyway.
When there is nothing left for me to do, I turn off all the lights and stare into the kitchen, where, in many places, there are lights aglow. Three digital clocks, all telling the wrong time; the most correct (12:41) is one hour and nine minutes fast. I find something to clean or to iron; if I can do just one of those things, my mind…
Where was I?
I awake from a daydream and see that nothing is changed, and that time, be it one hour and nine minutes fast, is still passing with no intention of hurrying. I close the curtains and lie down. I eat a cake, taking the smallest of bites to prolong the pleasure, which echoes from my tongue down my whole body; a lemon slice recommended to me by my mother, who was no doubt talking to my brother.

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