1. One

I awake to the roaring hum of life; the looping rhythm of existence, pounding, pounding: igniting my senses, rousing me from my distant slumber.

Sunlight, beams and beams and beams, hemorrhaging through the narrow slit in the curtains, enkindling the compact room. The blaze illuminates simple furnishings - comfortable, but simple - a bookshelf teeming with novels both yet to be delved into - to be regarded with anticipation, as you would a hot bath, a new city, a first kiss - and those that you are able to look back on with fondness; smile, reminisce. A wardrobe. A small desk. A bed. A clock - hammering, hammering, hammering. Plain, yes, but comfortable. Comfort : security : happiness.

I drag myself from bed, the timber creaking, creaking more so every day I continue this monotonous daily cycle- stumbling to the door going downstairs eating breakfast washing up getting dressed leaving the house sitting through school coming home homework dinner, timber creaking - bed. Repeat, repeat, repeat.




It’s a Saturday.

"You look tired today, honey."

When don't I. Tired, exhausted of this constant loop, this perpetual grey hue of droning routine - continuing, continuing.

"Just had trouble sleeping I guess," I mumble to my cereal. That was a lie. I slept fine, well, even. Mum looks at me inquisitively. I glance up, make eye contact, flit my eyes quickly down again.

She worries that I'm suffering from some mild degree of depression. I eat little, speak little to my family, to my friends, spend much of my time reading: escaping. Maybe I am. I don't think so. I just feel there is more to the world than this, more than what we are; that we are all, in the end, meaningless - to be forgotten. I often gaze at the stars and try to fathom the unfathomable, try to comprehend the incomprehensible, the extent of space, of time, of entities bigger than us all. I feel so small and empty, the way a lone cloud must feel, hovering just above the surface of the ground, much like every other cloud around him, Xerox, strong enough to float, yet not brave enough to fly, just like all the others. My inadequacy suffocates me, grips me and taunts me, tires me, exhausts me. My mind, body, heart, dwarfed, contorted into nothingness by the Greater Entity, by the infinite mass of Forever.

I trudge up the stairs, mum shouts something that I pretend not to hear, I close my door and sit. Another long day to blend into the next. Another day of futile attempts to mean something, to leave a mark.

I’d tried to write poetry before; tried to contribute something to society, no matter how meager or erroneous, it would be a tiny imprint on the canvas of civilisation; it would be my microscopic dent. But to write poetry I needed to experience - I needed to live, to love, to feel – to know the world and to know me and to know people and to know life and to travel and to adventure. I gave up after the first try. So there I remain, still, watching the sunlight settle on the carpet like morning dew, those millions and millions of photons making more of an impact on the world than I ever would in their negligible enormity.

If there is one thing I like doing more than anything it’s watching people.

“Mum, I’m going out.”

 “Okay. Where?”

I ignore her.

“Caelen!” louder  this time.

“Out!” I slam the door behind me.

Some may say it’s just hormones acting up. Me, I just think I want to distance myself from People. I enjoy the confinement of my own tessellated mind, and care little of the billions of other brains that surround me. Perhaps that’s just me trying to cope with the frenzy of fear I have worked myself up into; I try to withdraw and seclude myself to avoid dealing with the unassailable fact that all these other beings around me are also trying to leave a handprint on this hulking mass of rock, and in doing that my own print will be consumed by this collage of hopes and dreams and lost forever.

I trudge along the pavement, hands buried deep in my pockets as if trying to reach for something that isn’t there. I eye the blackened wads of chewing gum carelessly trampled into the street, perhaps years, decades ago, there to remain until some poor old sap comes with his stick and scrapes the clump from its – seemingly engraved – position, thrown away, discarded forevermore.

I sit at the counter facing out onto the High Street, hands wrapped around my coffee mug, scalding them, blistering. My coffee, black, black as the melanic clouds above that twist and writhe, threatening rainfall, the smiting of the earth in torrents of tiny spears, threatening, but not yet committing. It’s a funny thing, commitment, or rather the line between an idea and an action. The line is so fine; you can talk about the idea all you like whilst experiencing all the emotions of the action: hope, fear, joy, without facing the consequences of the action itself, whether they be good or bad, which is why I suppose many ideas are put forward but never followed through – People are cowards – it’s hardwired into our system to avert failure, to avoid taking risks.

The only light in the quaint café comes from low hanging ceiling lights, ones that you can bump your head on if you’re not careful. I watch a moth edge towards one, dart away, edge back. It’s a dull bulb, but a bulb nonetheless. It makes me wonder why the inquisitorial creature doesn’t aspire to a brighter glow to satisfy its craving for light.

People stride by the window that dominates the shopfront, each in their own direction, at their own pace. I observe. I sit there, and come to the realisation (as I do every time I behold this mad flurry of life) that each passerby leads a life as vivid and real as my own, that each person that crosses my vision has their own fears, dreams, aspirations and routines, that I am as invisible to them as they are to me – a blur of car headlights, a figure shrouded by a hood, a light turned on in a window at dusk. I just wanted to be visible to one of these ghosts that pass me by, to matter to someone, to cause two imperceptible entities to collide, to fabricate something larger, something more significant.

I go home and straight to bed, the wood rasping as I scramble in.

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