Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Four paragraphs and five hundred, thirty-one words to say you're not quite forgotten


The capital was a crumbling city in the south of the southernmost province. Large and violent, average and stilled, small and peaceful; it was all of these things. What more would you expect from a city with a one-word name? It was easy to forget about her there. In the small town where I grew up, I would often see her face between the patches of sunlight lazing on the sidewalk, and amongst the cottony clouds lounging in the sky. And it wasn't unusual to catch a flickering glimpse of her reflection in the store windows on the postcard-perfect mainstreet; all the places we had been together, and all the places we never made it to - they had outlived what was us.


So I fled to the city to flee her. It rained that whole first week I was there, and instead of looking for work, I spent my time splashing in the giant mud puddles which lined the street. But I didn't chastise myself for irresponsibility, then, and I don't, now; that week's worth of mud puddle splashing was worth much more than any paycheque I would have received working, and I knew it. There's something infinite in experience which is not present in the mundane paper and ink of a paycheque. Something which can not be squandered. Something which can not be lost. Something which can not be stolen. But something happened between the mud puddles and the hospital. I'm not sure what, exactly, but it had to do with a clearing of weather, a clearing of mind, a clearing of senses. I was sitting on a curb outside of a coffee shop when they took me away.


Each day he came; glowing scrubs, a glowing smock, and a glowing smile. Everything about that man was golden. We talked, or, conversed, rather. I spent hours listening to him, and answering his questions. And he listened to me, and answered mine. Now, in the present, nineteen words stand out: "Time is like money," he said, "it drips away little by little, so slowly you don't even realise it's leaving you." That made sense to me. Actually, a lot of what he said made sense, and before long, I was waving goodbye to the glowing man from the backseat of a white sedan.


Not having an address, I was dropped off outside of a gleaming tower downtown, and introduced to myself by means of my reflection in the dusty windowglass of a bank. I had changed. Large and violent, average and stilled, small and peaceful; I was all of these things. I had left behind the me of an undetermined time ago - that carefree dreamer, that insouciant stargazer - and I had arrived there in the present to be met with another man altogether; a man who knew the value of time, a man who knew not to waste time, and a man who kept his time secure, close at hand. That afternoon, that new man set out to find a job. The sun hid behind a taut tarpaulin of grey clouds. The store windows were quiet. There was not a sign of her anywhere. But still, he searched.

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