Sunday, 20 January 2013

The persistence of ideas

She's moving the furniture around the room, all the time. Like some piece of dancing animation where the couches, tables, lamps and variety of soft furnishings waltz across the lounge as if choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Sometimes they settle, as if to take breath, to review and ponder their latest arrangement then of they go again. Responding like the particles set into a kaleidoscope lens, never ending and unreliable combatants that argue with themselves in terms of function and aesthetic balance. She watches this in her head as if it was a movie, light entertainment, a reality TV show that is only real in her imagination. The thrum of the rolling table, the swish of the twisting carpet, the clatter of chair and table legs and the jazzy canvases that attach and move across the walls looking like a vista from  passing by suburbia through a train carriage window.

Then, abruptly into the room steps her future self. Older, respected, strange, as if seen in a dirty mirror glass. All the moves are over now. The furniture is stock still, the cushions are steady, the painting hang with no swinging. There she is moving amongst the furniture like she was at a party. She's holding a wine glass, giggling, perhaps flirting but there is no one else there. Popping a canapé into her mouth and savouring it. She looks confident and successful, she looks happy but she's had too much to drink. So it seems. She has the hint of knowing smirk that her younger self doesn't recognise. She comes across to her, she's going to talk to her younger self.

“You do know that ghosts live before death as well as after death.” She says. “Time for us isn't fixed, we have our peculiar freedom, we have our ways, we have our ideas.”

“I don't believe we've been introduced.”

“I don't believe we need to do that you stuck up, confused, bitch. You know fine well who I am.”

“Ahem, I'm not getting any of this, you are clearly a figment of my imagination and you're interfering with my plans and daydreams. Simple as that...and what's more if I'm seeing you and therefore going mad I'll just simplify things and swallow a few more pills and gins and...blot you out...and don't call me a bitch you...ghost.”

“Your lazy mind can hardly blot out something that doesn't exist. You can't even arrange furniture without getting stuck in a loop and you can't even see that being civil and communicating with me might actually help you...oh and I'm enjoying myself because, well you can't see it but we are having a party here. Right now.”

“You can't hold a party here without my permission, particularly while I'm rearranging the house. I hereby dismiss you. Please allow me to return to my own imagination.”

“I think you'll find that this is your imagination. You're just so far up yourself you've forgotten how to use it properly. You used to, God knows. Now all you do is fuck about with this junk playing yourself, as if the position of a couch or a lamp improved the quality of your life.”

“You can hardly talk about the quality of life, you're a ghost.”

“I'm a ghost but I'm also you. How does that sound? Perhaps you're seeing a bit of an opportunity here? Some constructive dialogue, some advice from my angle, something from outside of time itself, wouldn't that be attractive? I'm prepared to dip out of the party for few moments.”

The two women sat on the couch and faced one another. They talked for some time. To the viewer, had there been one, all that they would have seen was a woman sitting on a sofa, looking ahead and talking to herself. As the light failed the conversation seemed to slow and then the woman flopped back onto the couch and fell asleep. The sleep was a dark, cleansing and anonymous one. An hour later she was woken by the room light coming on and a man entering the room. “Hello darling” said her husband, “how's your day been? Have you been having a nap?” “No, no, yes...but I'm fine, I had a friend round.” “Anybody I know?” “She's an old acquaintance from the past, she was in town and dropped by, a nice surprise really.” He didn't answer but just nodded, kissed her temple and went upstairs to change out of his business suit. She patted her lap and stood up. She thought to herself that the room arrangement looked rather good.

Later they ate together. It was a simple meal, salad, some meats, a crisp cold white wine. They chatted but he was tired and the conversation was wandered and aimless. She also found concentration difficult, it had been an unusual afternoon. As they cleared their plates she sat back. She looked at him, then she seemed to look through him and she spoke but it was not really to him. It was to nobody in particular or perhaps just herself. “You know, I've just realised, death isn't an event in life at all.”

Sometimes you can get yourself so far into things that it's just impossible to get yourself back out.

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