I lay in bed, setting fire to pieces of books. The smoke dances around my fingertips as the words dissolve and are set free into the fresh air. Maybe humanity will change, or maybe this is futile destruction. I feel the air waltzing around the hairs on my legs and arms as I dream of stockinged legs, like broken pillars either side of my hips, and the wet, vibrant warmth of her embrace on a humid summer evening.
When we last embraced, her dry lips scraped against mine in the fetid atmosphere of a subway, surrounded by the desperate, depressed, and drunk. In that artificial neon miasma, her curls caught the light like scythes in an autumn sunset.
Taunted and haunted by memory, I feel too depressed to go downstairs and face the world with its textures, shadows and reminders. Instead I stay upstairs in the glow of unattached memory, looking out my window and into the infinity of the sky and the clouds; I listen to crackling old vinyl that smells of time capsules. I wish I knew where I could find purpose. Even the thrill of the chase would be better than stagnation and regret.
When I sleep, I dream about walking in black and white on the middle rail of a five wide railroad with steep concrete walls on either side. An old Diesel train clanks up to me, pulling six coal trucks and a guard van, seemingly empty but filling the air with the stench of dry charcoal and oil. Inside I can hear children playing games, although I can’t see them. The cab is black as a moonless night, and tar oozes from the steps leading in. I don’t see the driver, but I feel eyes staring down at me with disdain and suspicion.
Someone emerges from the van to the rear and stumbles on the ballast towards me as I stand, breathing in the fumes. Dressed in a muddy blue uniform and with no arms, the sleeves sewn up to the shoulders, the Guard waits in front of me and tilts his head as though trying to see under my jaw. I can see soot and dust in the creases of his face, and his jet black eyes reflect back the faces of people I once knew, cramming for attention as though scrambling for the only window in an airtight box.
He shakes and trembles, and as I try to reach out and hold his arm he jerks me away violently, breaking my forearm in the process with a shock I feel down my spine and into my ankles. I stumble and collapse to one side, resting my good arm on the rail of the next line. The guard shambles back into his van; and the train begins to grind away from me, the children’s voices growing in terror and intensity, as I feel the rail under my elbow vibrate. I know something is coming, and I realise that I don’t want to move.