Sunday, August 9

Smells Of Manure From The Route To My Parents’ House

LIKE THE INFANT I always supposed I was, I fled to my mother.
These are dark days, very, very dark days, and I am not a man enough to handle them on my own; rather than to disclose to my mother my misery, I had only to be in her presence again. I spoke to her on the Monday—‘O, I’m shit… I’m shit… But it’s okay, it’ll get better, things always get better... Don’t worry about me… I’m just trying to be honest & shit, yknow, like I said I would be.’ The week worsened. My eyes reddened. Constantly I was invaded by bad thoughts, terrible thoughts; I worked late so that I would not have to go home alone, until I was by myself amongst the desks, so I went back to my flat and drank into the night. The drink did little but sting in the morning. How I wished to get rid of the bad thoughts, although they would not leave me alone and in the twilight I would cry out—‘Leave me alone!’
So it was with a heavy heart that I decided I would go home for the weekend, get out of the city, see loved ones, reconnect, calm down.
‘You seem happier today,’ M— told me at work.
‘I am,’ I said—‘I’m gonna see my mum tonight… and my niece!’
My workload was such that I had to sneak out on Friday evening sparing me being caught by my boss, fingered on my escape and doomed to work all night to meet the deadline. The deadline could wait, I thought, it was of little consequence to me. I got my old train and saw the gentleman I used to sit next to. He did not bat an eyelid at my presence! ‘O, hello, sir, don’t you remember me? Don’t you care? We caught the train together every evening for seven years!’ He did not care. For the first time since I had left my old apartment building, B—w Q—r, I saw it, passing by the window and I daydreamed past its length, drearily looking at its bricks, in a sorrowful reverie, unable to climb inside its gates any longer.
However, I was very happy to be going home so that I danced in my seat and could neither read nor sleep for the excitement that distracted me! As we got closer to the coast, the activities I had witnessed a hundred times before continued to happen: the paunchy man walking down the carriage as it approached his stop—‘All right, Tony…’ I had not been away; this had always happened, it would always happen; it was infinite, and it was larger than me. All of the fields smelled of manure, thick, sour, and one manure strangely different from another; I breathed them all in and catalogued them in my mind, under the memories—‘Smells of manure from the route to my parents’ house’. A new addition I spotted at T—e le S—n was that of potted plants below the signs at the station; a most novel decoration, a feature certainly, and beautifying the location! Bravo to the organiser. A ticket office clerk asked the stationmaster—‘Is it possible we can get some money to buy some plants for the station, yknow, liven it up a bit?’ The stationmaster rattled from his report, rubbing his hand around a cup of tea, smiling—‘Yeah, sure. Why not? I’ll sort it out. You leave it to me.’ The clerk surprised when, two weeks later, the funds were awarded and he, personally, in charge of obtaining the plants.
Tall stalks of corn wobbled in the wind. I had missed them. I was with my parents again and the city seemed so far away, as though a million miles, and even then it lay there dead & unimportant.
In the morning my parents and I ate breakfast on the patio with the sea breeze casting a salty perfume about our hair. I put on a large pot of coffee, which I drank with my mother as we sat there chatting. I told her many things without looking at her, but gnawing at my nails the way I prefer to. ‘Just don’t do anything silly, darling. Things will get better.’
‘I know,’ I said—‘Don’t worry, I won’t do anything stupid.’ The coffee was good; the wind could not displace its scent from the air—‘I know things will get better. They have to.’ I told her that everything reminded me. Sober as I was, the confessional came out of me with ease. I knew then that the half-hour we shared in the Saturday morning sunlight was the purpose of the whole trip, it was what I had gone to do. Afterwards, she disappeared for a shower, while I finished off the pot of coffee. There was not a single cloud in the sky. I finished off the pot of coffee and tried to think that there was not a single cloud in the sky.

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