This is fiction, maybe a kind of a short story, actually grown from a recent dream, but it’s inspired by chats I’ve had and heard in Scotland and a very special Samhain (on which I will write later). I have a particular pub in mind when writing this, some people might recognize it.
Every single time the door is opened, a wave of chilly oxygen sloshes the misty half-light of the room. Every single time it’s a shock that forces me into opening my eyes a bit wider again and thinking of a neat posture that would not tell anyone what’s in my head. That’s what people expect from us, don’t they? That self-aware erectness that makes us human, a nonchalant smile, the casual small-talk on insignificants. Laughter hits my ear. It’s a sharp metallic soprano, totally faux, even more so bearing in mind that the girl does her utmost to speak with a smoky deep voice otherwise. There would have been a time when I’d have nudged my neighbour slagging her and the likes of her off. And there are many of them in town these days. Spoilt childs of nouveau-riche families with brazenly huge houses overseas who get daddy’s credit card for some months to boost their cultivation in good old Europe. They tend to be crazy about the average Scottish lad. The accent, the thrilling question after what’s beneath the kilt, they say.
I hear a wellknown voice singing something on wasted chances and regret, but I don’t get the words, let alone their sense. All chitchat, banter, giggles, tunes, clangs merge to an excrescent ambience noise which regrettably isn’t dominant enough to drown my thoughts out. I think of outstanding money, and I trudge to the bar to order another sleazy lager. I sit down again and ask myself what the hat on the ceiling wants to tell me, and smirk for a second because that shabby chandelier above my head reminds me of a garrotte. There is the spark of an indecent idea of what this kind of tool could be used for, but it’s gone as unheralded as it came. Just me and the pint are left. And the gluey spots on the table top. Plus, a short memento of an angry girl’s text accusing me of indifference. I am not indifferent, I am simply not interested. In making efforts to change things.
There was something I wanted to change. I forgot the word. Everyone was enthusiastic about it, and people had swayed in celebrations which came too soon. A sudden flashback: Me, in the street, flaggings wet, masses of tourists around. I can see my own breath. An odd melody somewhere behind me. I turn around. A pair of beautiful eyes is searching mine. Foliage in her hair. She reaches into her basket – a real basket! – and thrusts a rolled paper into my hand. I try to see the letters in the dark of the evening, staring at the handwritten note on a pale green paper. Her voice, singing a comforting sough, departs. “Even mighty trunks break in a storm, but the bamboo bends and bows and will survive.”
I will survive. This pint and the next. This breakup and the next. This sacking and the next. This No and the next. I will survive. But if darkness was a drop, I would drink even more to thin it down, to make it bearable. At first I thought I was empty inside, but it’s not the benedictory languidness of the void. It is a restrained rage, it’s an idea of what I would do to the mildly smiling white-collars and the facelifted tarts in their fancy dresses sipping blue coloured cocktails. That’s only the surface of the darkness. But it’s not a drop. It’s burning hot, and it’s taking control if I won’t manage to forget about it.
The door is opened, the last laughter leaves the room. I stare at tiling with delicately painted ornaments. “You have to go, my friend”, a foreign accent shakes me up. I cannot localize the person speaking, although the guy must be standing right in front of me. I’m tired. “You’re tired”, he repeats what I think. I don’t react. “Go home”, he says. “And take your darkness with you.”
EDIT: A short note for my concerned readers – you are very funny, but no, that’s not about me or my perspective and I’m not lesbian, but if I was I would proudly stand by it.