Monday, June 4

Witness

I am a nervous man, an anxious and wary man. There is no hope for someone like me. Generally I find this world to be a terrifying place. My own shadow may, at times, cause me to jump. If there is a thud in my building I launch into a panic, wondering whether someone has collapsed and my heart beats very fast. At night with the window open, a sound from outside will startle me awake and, again, my heart beats very fast; I lay there, completely still, listening carefully and flashing my eyes from wall to wall.
The city wears me down.
Last night I was in my flat in front of the TV. A lamp was in the background, golden and spilling out limply from the hallway. The TV dribbled blue over my face, shimmering and irregular. It was Sunday evening and I was relaxed. I had not left my flat the entire weekend, so tired was I of a great many things and of people. There were enough rations, tobacco and alcohol to get me through the forty-eight hours and at no point did I really feel lonesome in any way. Truthfully, it was how I liked it – and you may think me a hermit! … ah, you may be right.
I turned and looked out of the window: in the building opposite, on the stairwell, someone was watching me. It was so strange; until that moment the world had been mine alone and I was enjoying my own company, the comfort of solitude, and now I was being watched. Why did they stare at me? Sometimes homeless people sleep there and they were watching me. They would come over and rob me, of that I was certain. I would be lucky to escape with my life! Immediately I turned away and a chill ran through my limbs, my stomach tightened and a light sweat broke across my entire body. Now I was being watched and became painfully aware of every movement, every facial expression. The land seemed silent and I waited for them to shout at me, now that I had disturbed their spectacle. Perhaps they did not care I had seen them. Perhaps their staring was innocent enough – and surely something I would laugh at in the light of day – but in my mind I ran through every eventuality, each one nightmarish and negative.
So I sat there and the TV lit me up. I was on show. My space was no longer my own. Time passed but I am not sure how long: maybe a minute, maybe twenty. When I looked again, they were still there, staring.
How silly, but I was terrified. Finally I got up and snuck a look, but they had gone. I listened intensely for steps approaching my door. They would come soon. They would hound on my door and then rob me blind.
The steps did not come.
I lowered the blinds and got into bed. Finally I grew tired of looking round and listening out. Sleep came.

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