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.

    • So, it is not a poem after all
      It is sad, it is melancholic
      It seers into the recesses of the soul
      Just the same, it is the picture I did not like…

  1. Christen A. Amolong

    Believe me I research the title first before reading this. Based from the meaning it says “to cause to die or lose consciousness by impairing normal breathing, asby gas or other noxious agents; choke; suffocate; smother.” And I was curious to find out what’s behind the title, so I read.
    From the title itself I’m expecting a tragic story, heartbreaking scene that would make me think for the whole day. And it really did. Because no matter how many times I read it I still don’t get the whole scene. Because I have different perception for every time I reread. What exactly is going on with his children? Why it said “moment’s half life before insentience takes them”? Are they sick and he’s just looking at them through his screen until it’s too late? These are the questions that souring my mind.
    Michael Forester has this ability making the readers think critically. Which I hardly own. So I have to download this piece and reread it again ‘till I understand this.

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