The hurried back and forth of the waistcoated clutching sachets of brown sugar; therein lies the difference between the carriages. The refreshments cart ran over my foot, and the refrigerated orange juice wobbled with intense discomposure. The cart’s advocate, a picture of domination and rippling viscose, pushed the door’s entrance button with her buttocks and shuffled backwards into the glacial atmosphere of first class. A wave of air conditioning washed over the clustered hooligans in the end portion, before the door promptly closed, rubber securing the divide between bare arms touching other bare arms, hairs intertwined; and the singularity of the evenly-spaced champagne recipients.
I mentally discussed with my manager my medical requirement to chew gum, my facial expression twisting in accordance with my various contemplative responses. The business man stood opposite me pulled at his collar as a bead of sweat absorbed into his pink and off-white pinstripes. He had made a distinct effort with his attire today.
I just can’t bear to hear myself breathe, is all.
All of a sudden the fire was upon us, and upon this realisation, it was as though it always had been. There was comfort in intense heat, skin blistering beneath flame, a form of apathetic acceptance; succour in inevitability. The heat of the day had made us lazy, and the burn of the fire sparked only vague interest in life. Through melting glass it appeared as though the world outside was burning too. We passed my stop with ceaseless pace and before they had exploded, the eyes of my pink shirted companion revealed a depth of understanding that would not be matched down the length of the train. First class would not experience such end of life companionship, I pitied them. I savoured the last taste of bubblegum and mint before all banal life was evaporated, a curious turn of events.
The night’s effervescent darkness, the rumbling silence which penetrates beneath the skin and seeps into bone matter, is punctuated somewhat by the dim orange light which creeps between the blinds and echoes the vomiting noises of a thousand Saturday nights conducted in the vicinity between the bakery, the pub with the claw machine, and general backstreet fornication.
This evening however I am woken by internal unrest, tectonic shifting in the layer of moisture between the bedsheets and my own flesh. The red of the fire alarm, though mute, blinks life into a scene of inarticulate destruction. My face is pushed deep into pillows stained with blood and toothpaste, natural bedtime leakages on account of maturation, yes and hatred. Sheets are replaceable. It was not as though our souls had been shed into their fabric (too much). Drawing my hand down my leg I am reminded with kindness that such inarticulate destruction competes with the coldness of cadaverous nerves. Moving my foot against the damp sheets there is sensation against the skin, and resonant emptiness within. The blinking red light gives credence to the art and the echoes in the streets become steadily more present.
We only have the one set of bedsheets. Without them our skin rubs against the mattress, and the duvets, and the inside form of the pillows. The previous sheet which stretched across the mattress had a hole ripped directly in its centre. We did not find the cause. We slipped back to sleep.
There was a kerfuffle; black and white dots through a transparent visage defiled the notion of lack of movement. It was too late to care of course, but the conversation was sporadic and exacting and momentous. A newly formed collection of skin moved its hands over a glass panel and its nails traced the edges of the ceiling. My skin crawled with the enthusiasm of dehydrated bees. Heir to all matters Pedestrian I smiled back to the camera and looked forward to my sandwich.
During the disjunction blossoms interspersed with surfeitedness and more blossoms. I had departed from all remnants of unstable, nauseous hope, and instead was inclined more towards the sycophantic misery of medical investigation. I cannot feel, and there is progression which I cannot feel. Numbness graces my soles and tongue alike. I do not desire things to be great as razor wire is wrapped around my veins. We are full-circle and stretch the line into a divider to mark the discourse between everything and everything invalidated. I stand on the latter side.
Perhaps the progression will yield rewards, and the inability to feel joy may cushion the ability to feel despair. We relegate ourselves to the emotionless segment of the supermarket.
‘Great,’ I said.