Summer Sweat

– Warren Peace

It is a hot day and dry winds have discovered a small room and its dilapidating window.

I am resting on a mattress which has jute fibres protruding, erect to annihilate. I cannot tell if ants are devouring me or the mattress is revolting.

I see that all is fine. I am distracted, so bundles of time are missing. I cannot get this time back. I can call media warlords who sell my time to thrive but it would be futile. I am a victim but I am a perpetrator as well. And what is it, this time? There is a universal clock and another one which runs on my strong pulse. My time can be as I like but finite. My only purpose is to live without distractions. For how long, it is a matter of taste.

Right of the solitary window, I find myself sitting on a chair that wobbles and squeaks every time I shift my weight. The chair belongs to a table, which is perpetually burdened with rubbish.

We look at each other and the wind dies down. Our eyes glitter and we smile because we are in love. I sometimes doubt if she is real. She seems perfect but she looks just like me.

There are other rooms as well and maybe there are people living in them. But we are not sure. If they enter our room, they will see me, not her. But she is there, still sitting in that garrulous chair and oblivious of everyone but me. I will not move or answer. I have nothing to do with them and I’d like it to stay that way.  Everything, no matter how miserable, should remain as it is. There is no need to imitate.

I have decided not to get an old bedsheet to cover myself, from the drawer. I can ask her but she cannot hear me, cannot be persuaded. My menacing cadence is only for me to hear. Every inch of my skin is irritated but I am used to stifling afternoons.

She keeps her head down to let others of her reality know that she is preoccupied. She stays away from inappropriate men and women.

Like me, she doesn’t want to be guilty of anything. Incrimination is my fear of fears. I am understandably busy protecting myself. I see no possibilities other than avoiding every possibility.

I have infinite capacity for regret. She doesn’t anymore, her regrets never survive. Maybe I should be like her.

Every evening, she leaves the room to go for a walk and frowns at every crossroad and by-pass. Maybe that’s the only time she ever lets herself make mistakes.

We often go out for dinner and seemingly eat alone. The outside world tempts me to participate, I am also to contribute to it.

I also deplore inactivity and her viciousness. But she works so I don’t need to. There is another universe where I work hard and I am happy. Why repeat the same here?

I mostly leave early and let her find her way home. Even though she has lived here for many years, intermittently taking a compulsory holiday, she doesn’t know the roads well. She has no memory, no malicious desires except to do what will add to her harmony.

She wasn’t always like this. There was a time when she cried because of the promise of happiness. I can’t tell what has happened.

 

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Filed under Creative Writing Competition, Prose

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