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134. K 136. December the 15th

December 14th, 2020

Essays on Love

Moonlight, cool, Watch over this man, Don’t let him stray too far. Through the dark streets he’s wandered, Under lamp light and the night. In his hands he holds a dying star. As an army marches blindly, So he struggles on to the sea, And casts a line that catches beyond sight. He leans back from the water, Puts weight behind the wire, And heaves against the ocean’s tidal might. From through the gathering gloom, With a rumble that echoes on, The islands, two, are gathered coast to coast. Aloft, he holds the star, That flickers, sings with life. Renewed by love, his heart’s ungodly host. Is there anything more satisfying than closing tabs, he wondered, tapping the Xs as they slid across the top bar, each page so studiously pored over, gone forever with a little haptic feedback. He yawned out a little tune as the last few screens sailed away, leaning heavily on his other hand. The tune morphed into some lack-lustre lah lah lahs that trailed off into a sort of squeaky whine and then silence, and a pause. The page left open was one of the first he’d pulled up, messenger, with something unsent in the little chat box. He frowned, scanning through what he’d written some five or six hours before. It felt like days ago that he’d angrily bashed out a mini rant, venting some griefs that had gone frustratingly unreciprocated, and now he knew why. Slowly he lowered a forefinger towards the backspace button and letter by letter, then in a flickering stream, erased the message. With the same editor’s forefinger he moved to x out of the window but he paused, watching the cursor blink. That sturdy, unforgiving insertion point, that had gently reminded him where the empty space was as he spent all night chasing it across a desperately slow-forming word document. With his point-and-click finger he punched out a shorter, less involved reply that he hoped wouldn’t lead to any more probing questions and closed the chat, then the page, and was surprised by the sight of his desktop background. Before him was a foreign vista, photographed by some stock photographer who probably made more than a pretty penny for his picture of fishing boats on the beach. The sun was setting, as it had done despairingly early that day, and he gazed at the coloured pixels with a sense of nostalgia for that generic place which he only ever saw just after start up and just before shut down. Seeing it after such a long stint of plain text and academic articles felt a little like coming home. He made a mental note to try and find out where the place in the picture was, and to try and go there one day. A clock with a sallow face told him to just go to bed and leave the clean up till morning, and my god was he tempted to do just that, to sling the dirty things from the table into the kitchen next door and trundle himself down the hall to where his unmade bed eagerly awaited him. The moment he shut his laptop, however, and rubbed his eyes to scrub out the screen daze that had guzzled him up for the night, a sweeping rush of energy gushed up into his brain and he felt the sudden urge never to go to bed again. Why should he? What benefits did sleep bring that couldn’t be balanced out by the extra hours of excitement? Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew the burst of adrenaline would wear out so he worked quickly to get ahead of it, to force his body to embrace its new-found vitality. The river was a mess of swirling eddies peaking slightly around the base of the bridge’s squat pillars. He leant right over the rail, experience giving him the courage to stretch precariously far, his heels lifting, toes tapping on the slabs. Light sparkled on the water’s surface, cast from both sides and above, the next bridge along glittering with thousands of coloured bulbs that painted shapes and patterns along its web of structural wires. He watched the water below, entranced by the ever-changing patterns that appeared for the briefest of moments before being swept away by the current to be replaced by new arrangements of white water and light. Unbidden, and surprising given how little he’d paid attention while reading it, a passage from an article he’d reluctantly referenced swept over him like a sudden cloud in an otherwise clear night sky. He tried to blow it away, using the river’s energy as a cleansing wave to wash his mind of the night’s hard slog. The thought persisted, grew even, the way a terrible idea does when you’re lying in bed, and you actively try to ignore something pressing. So he succumbed to it, considered it, even agreed with it for a while, this notion that had sprung to mind. He toyed with it, weighing its properties and searching for counter-arguments that he knew he wouldn’t find. Only when he was walking up the stairs of his block did he realise he’d buzzed through the door, and so must have walked home, and so must have left the bridge, and so must have forgotten what he’d been thinking about. The lights remained, and the water’s tiny whirlpools, that might have sucked down a miniature captain in a walnut. By the time he’d realised that he’d realised all that, his feet had carried him further, and his hands had taken off his shoes. His keys clattered on the table, next to the mess he’d clean up in the morning (or afternoon), and the curtains in his bedroom closed with a breath of night’s air. He thought about the fishing boats in his desktop background, the far away land he might one day see. Something told him he would never go to that beach, and that brought him joy of a kind, to always have mystery in his life, always to feel the tug of distant shores, to have a home to leave, and to which he could return.

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