Small waterfalls click on and off, cutting through the dead calm of early evening. Swish, swash, swish: the beat of hands rubbing together, erasing today’s toils beneath the stream, chops the flow. I wonder whether I noticed these details then as I seem to in hindsight. They join the growing jumble, this big rubber band ball of assorted misrememberings.
They say that smell is one of the last senses to leave us. Or is that sound? This scent obliterates all others, leaves you gagging. It chews away: strong, potent, harsh and found everywhere in this place. That it is better than others that might replace it does not weaken its omnipotence. Too clean, too cold and brutal. Let me run from it, from this.
For those of you new to this game, the frowning faces of these mesmerised viewers become easier to spot beneath TV screens flickering in the gloaming. They seem mostly living, still. The TV screens; the watchers, less so.
A sharp angle will suffice, enough to catch the glimpse of a news reader, a chef mid-slice, two lovers in stylised quarrel, or a racquet drawing back to swing. We’ll take sport, an apt metaphor as this is often a fight to the death. See, here the winners still lose. After all the rounds, who truly leaves unscarred? After all the games, the champions’ bodies become maps of each contest, resigned wearers of flesh-borne badges. Victors marked with cuts, scrapes, tears, bruises, incisions, abrasions, pain in all its assorted titles. Don’t forget the mind wilts too, just as the flesh is stripped of dignity, independence, control until it is this eroding shell you see before you.
Hold tight. You may leave tomorrow.
I try to piece together that night, to rearrange the splintered fragments of that jigsaw. But memory is a vindictive creature. We tussle in all the shadowy places. It makes of all nights a single one, congealed by time.
I suppose that this is not too dissimilar to how you felt, too. In here, how different is one day from another?
These meditations are not prayers: please do not mistake one for the other. It would not help any of us. Please do not ask me to explain what they are. I could no more do that than explain why some live, not others.
Dates seems to matter less in here. So too with each passing yesterday. I may wake without you there and your presence becomes an absence, a dotted outline marking what was, what will no longer return.
Time is everywhere and nowhere. Why should we count it?
Somewhere a lift’s doors slide open and closed. A trolley, a bed, a piece of equipment is wheeled back or forth. And we could be astronauts stranded on a shuttle: these pouches, food; these seeping noises a synthetic accompaniment. For all I know we have come ungrounded. Perhaps they have forgotten that we are lost out here.
I think of all the vanishing sounds.