There are times when she can feel it passing by. When the TV is muted and
there is a sudden unwanted silence hastily obliterated but not before the
second handís ceaseless rhythm can creep into her mind and she can feel it
merging with her every breath. And for her, that silence is her personal
moment of reckoning. That can surface at any given time when her carefully
schooled impassivity is stripped away and she can feel a hand slowly
tightening its grip around her chest with icy fingers one by one.
And people come and go and she watches them. She who was so comfortably
ensconced in her saggy chair is now temporarily roused from her lethargy by
the feelings they stir in her. Because when she is alone she deliberately
avoids thought: peacefully vegetative, open-mouthed and glassy-eyed in front
of the television screen. She is supposed to be not listening and she
suspects she has passed the point beyond which their pity becomes
exasperation. And even as she listens to them alternately cajoling and
threatening she knows that it isnít their fault for not realising that
beneath her token resistance, she agrees with them completely. But what kind
of person would so betray themselves as to admit something like that. You
need to realise that everything isnít a battle.
She wants to tell them that she is just momentarily inactive. That this
is just one instant in her whole life because you see, instants arenít
measured in units of time, they are measured in what has been accomplished.
But she doesnít really know how that could in any way console them. Because,
by that logic do some people live their entire lives within the boundaries
of one single moment? People that drive to work every morning and find
themselves thinking of the same thing only the road signs have been reversed
and they are driving home.
When paint tubes dry up, they begin to curl, and when you squeeze them,
they explode from all sorts of places. It has been so long since her hands
have been slick with the feel of paint. Brushes become hard, and if youíve
ever tried to rescue a brush with cotton swabs soaked in turpentine you can
understand first hand how a rhinocerosí horn could be made of hair. Endless
aimless doodles. Deliberately decimating them like a spoiled child. Maybe
thatís where all your creativity went. Finding more elaborate ways of
avenging herself on the hapless sheet becomes an hour-long occupation.
She draws a little girl one night. She reaches as far as the hair and
she realises she could draw with her eyes closed because she remembers the
textures so well. The contours of every finger as she holds it within her
own and the bumps of each stubborn knuckle. But this child has no mother.
She is standing amidst the rubble of a burned down building and her skin is
hard because it has never been touched by someone who wanted nothing more
than to feel its softness. This child clutches a sack in her left hand and
her foraging has probably been interrupted by the camera because she looks
shocked and more than a little frightened. But she canít draw any further
because of the eyes. Oh the eyes pierce right into her. If you canít
think of anything to draw let your hands do the thinking She doesnít
want her hands to do the thinking because her hands do not understand. They
mindlessly generate the images familiar to them that she would so much
rather obliterate forever.
She remembers a summer day so long ago when she made the two of them sit
still for her. A child and half-grown German Shepherd. She deliberately
prolonged so much time into one moment and now it looks like play-acting.
Because as everyone knows you canít make a child or a dog sit still. It was
an entirely fake attempt at spontaneity and she had compressed hours into
that one frozen second. The child with her arm around the puppy and his head
tilted to one side. To call an animal Ďití is to equate it with an object.
He is much quieter now. They say they sober down with age. Back then, it was
hell to keep him still enough to even photograph him -- heíd be after the
camera in a second, teeth bared in a silly grin and tongue lolling out.
But he remembers too. Because sometimes when they walk together in the
cold morning air he turns and waits for a second before shaking his head.
Shaking away his own personal ghosts and she wonders what it would be like
to see them. Blurred black and white images seen through canine eyes. Ghosts
everywhere. Maybe every fly is a ghost. Settling on your arm, and you watch
spellbound as it moves its legs up and down in slow motion and that huge
compound eye enthralls you as it is dissolving your skin.