CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Then I could hear footsteps in an adjoining room and I started following them or trying to. I was passing from room to room, from corridor to corridor and the steps always seemed to be receding from me, as if deliberately shunning me. I turned into a darkened room and it was full of the sound of those steps, echoing. The sound diminished and I noticed a single picture, from which the steps seemed to be emanating. My eyes followed the sound of those steps deep into the picture, which seemed to consist of nothing else other than the sound of those steps always walking away from me. My mind listened to the picture as my helpless eyes stood by. But then I turned to another wall and saw a silent picture. I saw Jonathan’s face looking at me. And there was nothing that either of us could say; all we could both do was stare, helplessly, as we both knew that we should be together but were now parted for life and in another picture, nearby, one which I recognised had been painted by myself over the years since our parting, I saw all my mistakes laid out, the wrong paths I took, and the so obvious things I should have said to avoid this, this silence, the enforced dumbness, and this, his staring face, his heart connecting with mine, from deep inside his body, that knowledge within both of us, that we should be together, if only I had done those obvious things, and not been driven by my own deformed impressions. I saw his face, looking back at me from within that picture and heard those footsteps receding from me.
I turned to another wall and saw a tunnel, its path disappearing into the distance, as though tunnelling deep into a dark hillside, though I knew that it was, in reality, tunnelling deep down into my own heart and I realized, with alarm, that the name of this room was ‘My True Loves’. It contained my most treasured, yet most feared pictures. These were the remnants of the men who had become lodged deep within my own heart. Next to the tunnel, I saw another face, the face of Lee. He was staring up at me as he hung over a cliff’s edge, his fingers desperately gripping the ledge. Our eyes, again, watched each other helplessly, and in my mind another gallery of mistakes played out its images, each of them a lifeline that Lee could have grasped, had I not mistaken it for a rejection and tidied it away into my grave where one day I would join it and lie there alone with those tattered, misunderstood ropes, my only company.
Then the air in there was suffocating; I could not breathe; I had to get out. I fell towards a wall, for I had lost my balance, and I was then in a new room. This one seemed to be outdoors, for I could feel grass beneath my feet and in place of walls, there was an orchard—its trees burdened with tempting fruit, which I dared not pick. I looked closely at the glossy surface of a ruddy apple and noticed the reflection of myself there. I was buying furniture to make a home but I could not decide between this fabric or that. Then an assistant walked passed behind be, angrily tearing to shreds my favourite clothes, saying, “If you can’t decide, you’ll have nothing.”
In the goldfish bowl, Bruce and Sheila Softly were hovering side by side, gazing out into the living room.
Sheila sighed.
Bruce glanced at him, then looked back out to the living room and said nothing.
Sheila sighed again.
Bruce continued watching the living room and said nothing.
Sheila sighed yet again, then said, “Don’t you ever get bored, Bruce, just doing this all the time?”
Bruce said, “Doing what?”
“Just hovering, Bruce, in the same bowl, day in, day out.”
“No.”
“But you must do.”
“Why?”
“I do.”
“Bored?”
“Well... not bored exactly, just—”
“—Just what?”
“I just feel there should be more to it. All we ever do is hover round this bowl all day long—which seems remarkably like the shape of a human’s head, if you ask me—we hover round this bowl like two disembodied consciousnesses, and convert… convert whatever such consciousnesses feed on, into… into something else. There has to be more to life than that.”
“But we’re goldfish, Sheila; what else is there to do?”
Sheila sighed.
Bruce watched the living room, was quiet for a moment, then said, “I mean, you could think about this for days and days, Sheila, only to decide you wanted to be a bus driver.” He looked at Sheila and said, “And I can’t really see you as a bus driver, Sheila.”
Sheila continued watching the living room, slowly breathed in as deeply as he could, then sighed the deepest and longest sigh he could manage.
Bruce said nothing.

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