Wishing was to no avail, just like his pill melancholy. Nevertheless, he sometimes really wished such things as clocks had never been invented. He really hated those things, the pointers always watching him, always spying on him, piercing his thoughts like a sting or hanging over his head like an invisible sword of Damocles. He knew he should have been on his way long ago if he wanted be home in time to have a respite to catch his breath to bolster his defences and think through the loose ends before they all arrived from their daily toil. What was it really that each of them did during the day? He bet it was pretty much making someone else’s life a living hell, as they usually made his, so as to put out of their mind the bleakness of their own lives.
Five o’clock. He would not be on time now, there would be no silence for him. The idea of stillness before the storm is a poetic invention rarely materialized. What people have in life is the storm alone, before and after. The waves changed, even the colour of the sky might change, but peace never found a way into the picture. The thought of procrastinating was tempting, though, just strolling around in the area, sleepwalking through the neighbourhood mustering the armies of the mind for the imminent battle and before proceeding to go inside. He might…Martha would be very cross, they might even have their first serious row on the account of his folly…no, there was always going to be a beeping hell to resort to, phone calls. He could not have forgotten his cell phone somewhere the same day he forgot about his girlfriend coming down for dinner with his family. That would be too much of a coincidence, meaning noses sniffing for a hunt. Whatever! Let them sniff, the bloody hounds! He didn’t care…no, the trouble was that he did. And they would find out eventually, and make his life hell. Sooner or later, all curses meet their destiny. Then he would have to accept the offer probably, it would get to be too much for him. He didn’t know why the prospect daunted him so much, it should not, it should comfort him that whatever might come, he would not stand alone, he would have… He was afraid, afraid to set in motion things that could not be called back. Sometimes, when we have lived in Hell so long, we get used to the heaven we dream of in our heads and are afraid to risk the climb to look upon the real thing. That was what it was about, The Real Thing.
Enough. Drawing a deep yet silent breath, he abruptly rose to his feet, startling the strabismic bird, that wonderful new-found metaphor of self. Fly away, little bird, there is nothing for you here! He turned away and walked down to the tube station as the sun disappeared behind a nearby hospital, the ominous presence of which cast long shadows, hinting at some sort of holographic nightmare of shapes and lines melting into a fluid blur. Shapeless stains of imagination. As he walked, he dared glance sideways: there was Macbeth, walking side by side with him.
Oh tomorrow, creep no more from day to day!
As he stood waiting for the train in the platform, the threat of the ordeal to come was struggling with his weak resolve to make him turn back. Better a cold cup of coffee than a cold cocktail of insidious glaring, needling veiled comments, and irony or loud outbursts. Better the mimesis of the bird looking at shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave than even the least of the scenes of any sticky piece of acting getting rehearsed for the night. Now there would obviously be no great time for pretty much anything. He would not even be given the chance of having the house for himself while he took a shower and changed clothes. They would be pouring in soon; too soon, anyway.
His lack of control over time was all the worse when he was allowed to build any tiny expectation that was then dashed because he lost track of minutes and hours. No room now for him to put his ideas in order and think things through beforehand – which he should have done already, but anyway… No time at all for a bit of reading and writing to help putting his head into focus before going to meet the enemy in the battlefield. As always, he had been caught by a predictable sort of surprise. Now he would be shoved into their midst like a lamb thrust into a pack of wolves. And they would be all hungry, beginning with their eyes, eager for a piece of his flesh…those eyes…eyes…eyes…
To be continued…
Tomás Ferreira (Get Real. culture editor)
This series, entitled “A Horse!” will be in 8 parts. This is part 4/8.