a fiction written for procrastination


Seeping deeper into something unnamed. What contorts the days in corrugated parodies? He moves hesitantly, lingering on the staircase, perched between going up and going down. Remaining still. Everything is a question. She talks sometimes about a suddenness. A counsellor who stopped her tearing out her hair. Sometimes she still pulls on it. Grabs at eyelashes while listening to other people speak. He wonders; is it the other people that make it happen? Some social reflex against sociality. Too much closeness without quality. Connections. Everyone plugged into everyone else. Existence as a facebook dilemma. Tributaries of guilt and astonished shame. Concave murmurs of dislocated desire. Or is it simply a charade.

He hovers on the stair case for a whole minute before he realises he hasn’t moved. One foot held slightly above the ground. Hovering there. A tardive dyskinetic sculpture. A gesture forestalling time. He has work he should be doing. Exams to pass. Knowledge to accumulate. Questions to answer. Answers to evade. Evasions to be molded. A mason of dismantled gaming. Figurative temptations on a more or less abstract architecture. And a sense of being hollowed out. Of being always hollow. Of the inside being a misfired flare against a catatonic ocean night. Somewhere, behind a wall, someone is screaming something. The words are indistinguishable. But he notes the passion, murdering it in his mind.

She would sit with him for hours, doing nothing special, saying nothing special. Just passing the time. Two vessels for absent gods. Playing out the scripted movements, gestures, vocalisations. He enjoys her company. He enjoys it a little to much. She said her male friends always fell in love with her. A puzzle to be worked out. Was it warning or incitement? Or something altogether more innocuous. Funny how he assumed this. That there must be some intention. A level of meaning. All communication produces double-binds. Opacity and transparency, he wanted to tell her, are worn out names.

Someone shouldered passed him. He watched a woman’s body move up beyond him, ascending. A figure like a mannequin or a pop starlette yet to come. To him she was all movement. Nothing else. No sex insinuated itself in the neuronal communication from his brain down to his cock. Nothing flickered. Instead, just standing. Still perching like a lame flamingo. A mockery in freeze frame. A sadness so air-tight. The circuitry of consciousness bouncing soundlessly against the walls. This place, this library, where he would throw away the days. Marking diversions from drinking. A place, surrounded still by others, where one could be alone: enforced silences his final refuge.

Would he risk it? And did it matter? No. probably not. But still there would be consequences. Codes nested into neural fibre. Evolution detailed by convention. Loss. To gamble. Lose a friend or win a lover. What is this singularity? He didn’t love her. At least, not yet. And guilty pangs at the thought. If she knew he saw her this way. Now he was sure it was a warning. Love is a monstrosity. Desire is always rapist in its sociopathic self-regard. But warnings are always incitements: the law pleading to be broken, the law enforcers pleading for a riot. Control demands abandon. And why did he think this way? Others might simply know they want her and act on it. Or they might frame their confusion in simpler terms. More accessible. More human. Less a mechanism of digesting too much theory. Reality, he said to himself out loud, is theoretical. Wasn’t that Freud’s point? Reality is a hypothesis constantly needing to be tested. And he almost smiled: to assume others didn’t frame their thoughts in such convoluted ways…did he honestly think he was more complex, more complicated, more refined in his guiltily admitted petit-bourgeois ways than all the bodies that surrounded him? They all had the same evolutionary heritage, all lived in the same society, experienced mostly the same banal days. Is singularity that impressive it could render one mind so radically different from another? He planted his footdown, muttered out loud again; we’re obsessed with difference because we’re terrified of just how exchangeable we are.

She would probably make her scrunched up face on hearing this. She would look at him as if to suggest he was like a child playing at being a surgeon; curiosity bled into perturbed. Almost asking for an elaboration with her tilted head and acknowledging that none could be given or wanted. She indulged him. Was it genuine interest or just pleasantry? They would bitch about other people they knew, as everyone does, as if to prove themselves immune to the bitching of others. As if they stood out and above those who they judged. Did she talk about him with others? What did she say? He walked up one step. He’d didn’t know anymore how many minutes he’d been standing there. It didn’t seem to matter. A hand, his he presumed, wafted up to rub his beard.

Behind him the empty computer lab reverberates. Some tricky energy reaches into him. Its expansive open emptiness seduces him. Its bare white walls suggesting a psychotic calm. He wants to sit in that room. To sit in it and stare absently at the ceiling, cross legged and empty headed. Someone he knows approaches, breaking the spell. Even here. It’s a girl, not her. She asks, smiling, if he has finished his essay. He says no. she asks, smiling some more, if he knows what time tomorrow’s lecture is at. He doesn’t. Well, all jolly, her eyes and mouth twisting into a perfect happiness, I have a cold so I’m away home to sleep. Goodbyes follow. He is left with the impression of the obscenity of her mouth. It is just one of those days, he tells himself. I drank too much last night. I didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe I have a cold as well. Distraction following distraction. More people shoulder by.

Her name is the same as a girl he used to fuck. A girl he used to be in love with. He wonders about that. So young, could it really have been love? Or was it adolescent drives striking out hot for the first time and swelling full with themselves? And he wondered whether or not she, she now, was so appealing because she offered the chance of repetition. Not so much of that girl he once let suck him off in the middle of the street. Not that. But of the time itself. It wasn’t a time of innocence for him, he knew that. It was a time of morbidity and despair. A time when he would proclaim his distrust of happiness, calling it intellectual ruin. A devotee of the depressive hypothesis. I can only think straight when nothing matters. Only when all was meaningless could meaning be detected. Now, a grown man still learning his way into a profession, he was afraid. Not afraid of the world as he had been. He knew now that it was a circuitry of atrocities broken up by the occasional small miracle and quotidian beauty. That was fine. But rather afraid of himself. Of who he could so easily pretend to be. Pretend not to the others but to himself. And afraid that beneath that pretending there lay something horrific. Not simply the emptiness. Monsters.

He slowly twisted his body as if no forces exerted against him. The waist like a turning circle. Then the legs heavily following. He sat down on the stairs and gazed into the empty room. It had housed an architecture exhibition until a few days ago. They, he and she, had gone to it briskly after studying. They discussed the designs. She with her straight answers of what she liked, he with references to postmodernism, brutalism, other high-minded and ultimately trivial things. They had voted for a competitor that would become part of the city’s waterfront, a dilapidated area known only for housing an exploration sea ship that now went nowhere, there being no territory left to conquer. They agreed that the huge glass diamond was the best building. Usually he hated this glass fetish but here it was all dreamlike and impossible, like the unconsciousness’ own crystalline geometry. She said it looked like a perfume bottle. It did.

Gazing into the room, into the blankest space he knew, where no-one went anymore. But it was still open. You could still enter freely. It called to him. Incited. And every incitement is a warning.

He walked in to the empty space. The nothing in the nowhere, he thought. No explaining. No grand articulations of what happened next. Its too private for that. Too private and too boring. Simply, thinking of her, he lit a match and put it too himself. No reason for him to combust. But he did. He burnt down. And didn’t make a sound. From outside the building, through the huge glass windows, it was to the crowd as if he were a new exhibition. It crossed the mind of the girl, who was watching, that it should have been entitled; a rage against myself.


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