Monday, June 22, 2009

I do not exist, she said

Frances, she said her name was. Twenty five, perhaps twenty six; I didn't know anyone so young with that name. She came in the room, she had something to say to the person who was with me. We were all lying on the enormous couch and she snuggled against me. 'We have met', I said. Possibly. Her lips seemed to form the words 'However, I do not exist'. I asked, had she said something? No, she hadn't. She was now wrapped in discussion with my friend, but still snuck against me, my arm around her shoulder, never looking at me but letting me know she was aware of my presence and contact. And then suddenly she had to leave. I stood up and walked to the wall, where a paper was stuck with an email address, ''. The 'something' was just a couple of letters and numbers.

I woke up. It was a hot sweaty night, I was uncomfortable and restless, worrying about the situation of my trying to buy a flat, which seemed to be getting nowhere in ever more intrincate, coruscated ways. Then her image struck me. No, I hadn't given her the face of someone I knew, or had seen on the streets. She was as real as life, except she wasn't.

And at some point I found myself in the large room again, on the same enormous couch, sorting out bits of paper, when she turned up. "Hello. I'm back", she said, and lay next to me, looking at the bits of paper that I was dealing with and which I eventually gathered in one bundle and put aside, turned to her to see her clear eyes fixed on mine. I knew it wasn't real, she was not there and I wasn't either, but such is the nature of existence anyway. Our small story is brief, a flash of lightning between two infinite voids, and while we are here we ask questions so much bigger than ourselves, do things good and bad and then.. it's over. I was in that room knowing it did not exist and I was not there and I would be thrown back in my dingy North London room soon enough. I touched her hair, she felt real enough. "I'm only dreaming of you", she said... "but it doesn't matter".

At some deep, deep level, way beneath the surface, in the darkness the tide was beginning to change and rise and the current to fill the channels with tireless dark waves. But that was quickly receding as the world was becoming less indistinct, the fact that I'd left the radio on, the world service and the grey light of dawn slowly forcing themselves on to me. I called out, "Frances? Where are you? Who, what, are you?" but the light was coming through the window and the radio whispering news of the war in Afghanistan and the urge to empty my bladder were beginning to take over.


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