Saturday, January 24, 2004

The banging

Banging went on about me. The TV was still on, mumbling in the background. The light overwhelmed the shoddy blinds and saturated the sweaty room. I woke up three times before I gave up trying to sleep, each time less and less sleepy and correspondingly more and more tired. The sweat had clung to me and made itself into almost complete suit, a suit stained with shame. I got up. Things couldn’t be this bad.

At first they improved, but gradually my eyes and head felt more and more pressured by their duties, and they began to complain bitterly. My belly called for food while sharply warning that nothing could be guaranteed secure tenancy. My skin crawled with its perspiration, which seemed to have developed an acidic property. I slumped in a chair and waited for things to change.

The TV continued its irritating mutter, like a man whose confidence is not up to the speech he wishes to make. Incapacitated by the light I was forced to leave it, temples pressing now, teeth calling for redeeming.

There is the banging. It comes from above and below me, in concert, around me, beside me. It follows me around as I swivel my head in blind malaise. It stops, mercifully, long enough to remind me of silence then is restored with even greater vigour.

I try to cry, but the effort defeats me. Instead I sink into myself, retracting as much as possible away from the sources of pain – the light, the noise, the shame. Each one prods me in its own manner, one after the other, like bullying cousins gathering for their daily fun. Emboldened by the success, they redouble their effort, seeking any uncharted angle from which to attack. My head vibrates with their symphony. My body hungers and contorts simultaneously. I consider vacating my body altogether, but they are too clever for me, deliberately containing their assault to within ordinary excesses. There will be no spiritual redemption from this, only an eventual withdrawal, once the enemy has plundered all that it desires.

Knowing this, I feel comforted, despite the savage rage that continues about me. This will come to an end, I think. This will finish, it shall not be the end of me. As if by magic a missive arrives from my guardian. ‘Water,’ it says, and no more. I grab the chance. Hauling my corpse from its coffin, I make my way to the kitchen where the light is worst of all. But now, with my chance in front of me, I am not derailed. I grab at the tap, half-blind, and crack my skull on it as I dive for the flushing water. More pain rings my head, yet the banging quietens, and more water dissolves it entirely. Through wretchedness I savour my windfall.

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