Un petit cadeau

Posted in Original, Prose, Writing by netscheri on July 14, 2007

The Sea of Quietude: A Study of Distance

1:46 am (a moth)

The impersonality of the room is like that of a hotel suite. There is something else as well. The space in the middle of the room seems too empty, the tabletop too tidy, the angles made by crisp books too sharp. There is something missing. The colour of the walls is indistinguishable in the dark, but they too feel white. No curtain is drawn across the glass doors leading onto the balcony. Only light from the city, subdued by distance, enters. Unlike the whiteness of the room, this murky, rounded darkness speaks.

The bulge created by a body near the left and right edges of the bed however, are anomalies, belonging to neither the inside room, or the outside night. The rise and fall of their chests interrupts the stillness of the dark, the composure of absence; creating wrinkles, indentations in the perfectly pressed linen. The narrow strip of bed between them is undisturbed, crease-free. It is an invisible line neither will cross by their own volition, a will that extends even to times when neither is conscious.

One bed. Separate sides. Separate dreams.

She watches the numbers on the clock turn. The polished wooden tabletop is bathed in a green glow. 1:46 am. Only the tip of the twisting yellow ribbon that is the highway is visible to her eyes. She wants to open the curtains wider, but then remembers that they are already tied and wound, bound and drawn. She never closes them during the night, only during the bright day, so she may make for herself a sort of midway between the harsh light and deceptive blackness.

The springs, unused to the weight of two, give a faint creak of protest as her feet hit the soft carpet. She tugs on the edge of the sheet to straighten the crease that appears. She, too, is unused to the weight of two. It means she has to walk with extra, especial care, the distance not being enough to mute her sounds. Her sleeve brushes against a solid where she expected none, the sound of a car’s engine reaches up from the street below. She folds her legs beneath her and sits on the ground near the other side of the bed. In the mingling of moon and streetlight, she looks strangely vulnerable and child-like, her brown hair falling in front of her eyes and face.
His fair eyelashes are indiscernible against his skin; his face as unreadable in sleep as it is when he is awake. For a moment, she studies it with the objectivity of a scientist. His face structure makes him look younger than he is, boyish almost. There are no lines on his forehead; neither joy nor anger is able to etch a mark. His breathing is quiet. He has forgotten to take his glasses off his face. She exhales a small breath of relief. Childish as it is, juvenile as it is, she looks for these things to remind her that he is human. Sometimes she isn’t sure. She guesses weariness was the reason for his memory lapse. It was late when he came in, he must be tired. She hadn’t heard the door open or close, only when she had felt the pressure on the other side of the bed did she become aware of his presence. However tired he is, she supposes that he would have the strength to perform these small courtesies. So many guesses. She wants to tell him, someone, of what night speaks to her, what day shows her; she wants to tell him that it doesn’t matter if he wakes her. She thinks that it wouldn’t make any difference if she said so. He would persist with his absences, his silent presences.
Tenderly, like the touch of a moth, she brushes away strand of blond hair that has fallen across his eyes. She would have eased off his glasses at least, but that would have said too much. Night whispers, day speaks. It is better this way.

2:03 am (dreams)

He isn’t sure what it was that woke him. He is only aware of a thudding in his chest, a memory of running and fear. There is a heaviness resting on his chest that he cannot shift. It could only be that then. His hand reaches up to his face only to feel a barrier of glass. Removing his glasses, he loosens his tie, slips off his jacket, all the while hearing, above the continuous murmur of traffic, the hollow sound of a world collapsing.

He waits his rapid breaths to slow, and as his eyes look up to towards the grey ceiling, they rest on the locks of brown hair fanned out across him.

6:51 am (martyrs)

They never wake together, for who knows what they’ll find – perhaps even a moment of vulnerability, of truth. So, each morning, they allow each other a few moments to apply their jester’s makeup before proceeding to the game. Their understanding of the aim is wordless, a thin thread where none other exist. Faster faster faster, higher higher higher, more, their heartbeats pound while their lips smile. Surpass the other with your indifference, with your efficiency in returning to the fabric of daily life. Surpass the other in erasing the nights where time moves differently.

This morning, she has won but the sweetness in her mouth burns. She imagines that this is what the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge must have tasted like.

12:25 pm (reunion)

Darkness again. She spreads her fingers on the sheet, over the pillowcase. A ray of light falls on her palm and she closes her fingers, gently, to trap the light, to hold it there. She opens her fingers again, and there is an almost puzzled twist of her features, as if she does not understand why the light does not stay. Open, close, the lights, a myriad of lives, reflected upon her palm.

In this darkness, she remembers. A surging crowd, and the heady sensation of the weight of thousands surrounding her. She remembers standing still amidst that weight of thousands and of a single image imprinting itself upon her mind. Countless threads, each a slender bridge, from herself to that shining image. And tenderness, so soft that it seemed to be made of longing rather than substance.

And so, she dreams, for in darkness, no harlequin needs to smile.


This is something that I wrote a little while back, though I’ve still been thinking about. I wanted to round this passage off somehow (as you can see above), but still, it’s nowhere near finished. I think it’s because I haven’t come to a resolution about the characters in my mind, what will happen to them. Or rather, will anything happen at all?

Further Commentary: The inspiration for this came from when a friend of mine told me about how in a piece of fanfiction (oh, I don’t like that word), where these two characters in a distant marriage, when lying in bed together would fight for space, tossing and turning. I thought, “no, it wouldn’t be like that” and I guess this here is my response. Since beginning to write it, the two protagonists have become their own and left behind those characters from whom they first began. I don’t know who they are – anybody and nobody, just two people caught in the tangles of marriage. I say marriage, because I think (correct me if I’m wrong) that such a state could only arise in a marriage. If this was a relationship, it would have ended a long time ago.

A little back story, and something about motives and intentions – ‘Motives and intentions’ sounds so sinister. What I mean is to say a little about the all emotions, etc. behind this. I guess one of the things that I wanted to explore in this is that there are more important things than love, and that perhaps, sometimes, love does not conquer all. Maybe I was just sick of all the romance in all the films and books out there. For her, it’s her pride that she doesn’t want to surrender, not wanting to be pitied or showing what she would see as ‘weakness’ and he, he is just lost. This isn’t too fluent, I’ll edit if or when I think of some better way to describe it.

Feedback would be very welcome. I wonder if it seems a bit too rushed. Or unrealistic. Tell me?


One Response

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  1. Marianne said, on July 14, 2007 at 2:14 am

    I am obliged to comment. I like ‘The Sea of Quietude: A Study of Distance’

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