excerpt from a manuscript in limbo

Attar sits at the table staring at his daily calculations. Sweat drips from his brow onto the parchment, mingling with the still-fresh ink, causing it to run and distort into grotesque shapes that seep across the page. Attar absently runs his index finger through the dark fluid, further smearing the neat figures into an illegible dark blot. He considers with disinterest the resulting negation of six hours of work. Crumpling the parchment he throws it on the floor, which in uncharacteristic fashion is now littered with the detritus of a listless life.

Attar’s head feels heavy, like his neck might soon fail to hold it up. With great effort he stands, shuffles to his cot and collapses upon it. Staring up through the skylight he tries doing calculations in his head but the numbers resist his manipulation. He rolls onto his side and fades into the little death.

The next morning he rises early at his usual time, feeling unrefreshed. At the oval window he stares into the garden as the morning sun burns off the remaining wisps of night mist. It will be another day like the one before it. Turning toward the table his gaze falls upon the neat stack of parchment, the pen, the inkwell. An image of Nasef as an inkpot monkey passes through his mind, causing a vague smile to grace his lips.

After breakfast Attar walks the grounds, despite his anxiety over being outside for so long. But he must at least make some effort to look for Nasef. Now is also a good time to survey potential locations for the sentinel towers. Though he cannot leave the grounds in search of Nasef he can at least commit to build those towers. And once they are built he will be able to see Nasef coming from a great distance away. For Nasef will indeed return one day. He feels certain of that.

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