Thursday, November 19

Something

HE STOOD BEFORE one of his bookshelves looking for something to read, a book to begin, something that would suit his mood at that moment. He spied a book he did not know he owned: Victoria by Hamsun. Hadn’t I given that to a girl years ago? he asked himself. He was glad to have found the book again; lifting it from the shelf, he opened it to check the typset – wide, round and thick. Yes, he had gifted it to someone, years ago. She was a distant memory now, although she had taken his virginity and made him laugh so much, and how she had worn her hair in plaits. She is married these days, living somewhere else. He took the book to the sofa and began – for the second time in his life – to read it.
The demons had returned. For a while they left him alone, but he knew that they would return because that is what they did. So they returned and he had the demons upon his shoulders and life was cast into the pit of darkness and misery. There is no-one around. It is a lonely place. He enjoys reading the book, its pages darker around the edges, smelling of years, stained in years, too, and good to have back after he thought he had lost it. Books can indeed be burdened by significant nostalgic weight!
There is some while to go yet, before the darkness shifts, or even begins to lift, and light re-enters the world. What to do before then? There are still some leaves left on the trees; they must be quick to fall before the frost gets them. The forecast says sleet and cold this weekend. The wind comes from the Atlantic. He is going back to see his family by the coast – where the wind will most certainly tear into his clothes – and observe the petty christening of his niece, all adorned in white, cherubic, beautiful as life, unaware, a darling, a sweetheart, a sugarplum. Her hair is a little longer now, thicker, the colour of straw but sweet smelling as his nose tickles during a hug; she kisses clumsily with an open mouth. She blows kisses like a drunk opera singer. He waits to hold her again.
He waits to hold something again, something he cares about. He cares about the long lost book, he holds it yet it is not the same. If only books could fulfil that longing; if only, he thinks, standing up to turn on his laptop, writing could fulfil that longing.
Worst of all is the thoughts of his former-lover returning. He awoke from a nightmare and looked at the time: 06:52, marked in twenty-two red lines. His eyes were wet, a terrible nightmare about the only girl he has ever loved. The thoughts had all but disappeared, but then they came back, slowly, gradually, not constant as they had been, but under his skin like a splinter, small and painful. The nightmare startled him awake. I thought I was done with this. I thought I had done my time. Now he thinks of her often and he hates himself and he hates her. He just wishes to be left alone. The thoughts are awful and they always take something out of him.
Well, he thinks, I wanted to feel something, now I am feeling something.

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