The solitudinarian known as L. knew that certain things had already occurred. The distant past held L.’s fascination in a detached way, while the more recent past resembled ash. To extend this so-called ash metaphor further, L.’s memory was a cold fireplace with a few embers catching spark now and again. Sometimes L. stirred the ash with a poker. If a fire caught, L. described the pattern of the flames.
[This questionable metaphor has now run its course.]
What more can be said of L. Work, hobbies, home life, all of this is unworthy of reportage. It’s best to proceed to direct observation.
‘The past is constantly shifting in one’s mind. I relish the opportunity to lend a hand in rearranging what actually happened during any given moment. In writing, the published word is a corpse, stiff and deprived of the ability to reshape itself. The need to fine-tune each piece is a compulsion that should not be suppressed.’
L. announced this in the middle of a meeting at work. When the moderator mentioned the inappropriate nature of the comment, L. stood up and replied:
‘I am unconcerned with the proceedings of this gathering. I wish you would take note of that and desist from inviting me each week. Good day to you.’
L. promptly left the room and returned to the alcove in which sat a machine, a table, and two sets of bookshelves. L. thought about being recreated and destroyed each day. It could not be helped. One must take every opportunity to declaim one’s beliefs. Tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow might bring silence. The uncertainty of what was about to happen at any given moment prevented the completion of any work. Concentration was a myth L. refused to explore.
L.’s supervisor O. now entered the alcove unannounced.
‘The moderator reported your outburst at the meeting this morning.’
‘I despise those meetings. Am I not permitted to speak my mind?’
‘Yes, if it is relevant to matters being discussed.’
‘Relevance is arbitrary.’
O. sighed. ‘Please just try to stay on topic if you choose to speak.’
L. stared at the machine until O. left. The first premonitions of tomorrow’s rebirth filtered into L.’s consciousness. Sundown brought absence, where L. waited in limbo for dawn. Only a few hours to go until the bliss of self-destruction. Buoyed by the certainty of this coming relief, L. keyed into the machine and began to type.