despair

 

 

He is sitting in a small study, facing a window that stares out over terracotta rooftops to the foliage beyond, which even now is sliding into the chaotic dilapidation of autumn. Lost, somewhere amongst the unmapped mountain ranges of his mind, occasionally he stumbles on a single thought that stirs a tremor, that starts a rock fall, that cascades into an avalanche. Then his fingers flail the keyboard, in a hopeless attempt to keep pace with the images that tumble down into his consciousness to form the words, the words that are his children, for whom he lives and dies. They flash onto the screen in front of him, animate beings sculpting themselves rapidly into meaning, for they know they have but a moment’s half life before insentience takes them.

 

The sounds of domesticity and commerce echo in from the outside world. He hears them without processing them. He has swaddled his meditation in silence. His hearing aids, an irrelevance discarded on the desk an hour ago (or was it four?), will not tell him that the doorbell has been rung. It takes the flashing of the light directly above his head that has been wired into the entry phone system, to intrude into his trance and confront him with a world that consists of more than his keyboard and screen, his mind and his memory.

 

With irritation he acknowledges an alien presence at the door. He pushes back on the edge of the desk with his hands, and the wheels of his black leather chair glide soundlessly back. Oblivious to the framed bond certificates hanging ponderously on his wall and the obese volumes mercilessly corseted onto his bookshelves, he spins in the chair and pushes it back, then strides purposefully into the hall. The wind of his motion makes the hall lampshade sway, and a pool of light spins around the walls in uncontrolled panic.

 

He reaches the door as the bell sounds again, answers it and is wrenched momentarily across the dimensions into an aphoristic rejection of some unwanted proffering. Inside him his mind is glancing repeatedly back towards the study, fearing for his children who will be distraught without him. Eventually the exchange ends. He closes the door and rushes back into the study. But it is too late. The solitary pendant light bulb above his chair keeps devastated vigil over his children, who even now are gasping in death rattles at the bottom of his screen.

 

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