Saturday, 29 October 2011
It’s a fine line between spending time in one’s own company, contentedly, and loneliness. Johan had never understood why some of his neighbours seemed to pity him: Perhaps they were the sort to feel an unbearable sense of forlornness as soon as a day, or a stretch of hours announced themselves free of engagements. Not him. Sometimes he positively looked forward to days that were left entirely to himself. So when he got up that saturday morning in late summer, so late in summer, in fact, you would probably have to consider calling it another season, he left bed with a lightness of spirit and the hint of a smile. The apartment was small, but familiar. He had been living here since 1964, when the blocks had just been built at the edge of a big square. The trains were going past in regular intervals, he could hear their rumbling progress and the occasional screeching of metal on metal when it hit the curve just before the station. It had become a comforting sound. He put his rucksack on the brown and green corderoy sofa to pack it. It was big, just what he needed today. He double-wrapped everything in plastic bags before he carefully stored it, checking every now and again whether he could still lift the bag. It wasn’t too bad, he could walk slowly and take a break if needed. Before he left, he made sure all windows were shut, the fridge was empty of any easily decomposable food and everything had the air of general tidyness. In the narrow corridor to the lifts he ran into his next-door neighbour. No more than a quick „Morning!“ that day. Well, it hardly mattered. He felt alive, he felt up to his mission, up for the train ride and a brisk walk. On the way to the station he saw his own shape reflected in the window of the still-closed supermarket. The rucksack looked bulky. He should have taken greater care packing it. At the station, he barely had to wait three minutes for the train, now it was only a good hour until he would reach his destination. The sun cast odd shapes across the seats opposite, the flickering light made him drowsy. On getting off, he recognised the way immediately, even though it must have been twenty-five years or more. He took the small street leading off the main road at the end of the village, soon the neat little houses with their scrubbed patches of front garden gave way to a dirt track. Some older houses with stable doors ajar, bordering onto the fields, their plaster crumbling in places, swifts flying through a brick hole in the barn gable, then the landscape was open, a line of trees to the right keeping him company. He kept walking for almost an hour, past an abandoned farm. There was an old tree with a halo of walnuts lying on the ground beneath it.
He left the dirt track and went into the woods. His back began to feel sore, his neck and shoulders stiff. Not much longer, he was certain he was close to the spot at last. Another half hour – he had to wipe his forehead with an old handkerchief repeatedly. And then he was there. Yes, it most certainly was here. Just as he remembered.
He put down the rucksack and untied the laces underneath the flap with the old leather buckles. Johan sat down on the stump of a tree. He unpacked the old aluminium pot, a small gas stove burner and a tin of ravioli. Set up and lit the flame.
He felt an utter sense of accomplishment.
narrow // alive // reflected // walnuts // swift
thank you, sylee
p.s.: i'm so sorry for being far behind with blog reading and commenting. i'm trying to catch up. happy weekend, all!