Monday, 5 September 2011

Gib ein kleines Zeichen

Courtesy of Nathalia Terza

He started with fairytales, these little stories he’d make up for imaginary children, younger versions of himself, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t maybe try doing the same. Just begin with wonder, begin with unformed dreams, and work your way back: this, I suppose, is the first thing I learned from him. I’m not sure if the image is his or mine anymore, but I see my beginning, here, writing this all down, rather like digging in the undergrowth, getting at the roots underneath. Or, just as likely (this one is definitely his) closing your eyes underwater and, in that darkness, sensing the magic play of light, groping for it.

There was something in the walls of the house. I’d only been there a night, maybe two, when I decided there was something creeping through the wall space, in those underappreciated gaps between one room and the next: a flutter along the hallway skirting, a thump inside a cupboard, whispers in the ceilings and hardwood floors. Infrequent but noticeable, these weren’t even sounds so much as sensations, shifts in atmosphere. There was something invisible in the house’s anatomy, I realised, more than just the usual insulation and plumbing, and it was shifting around. It seemed to follow me around the house. I imagined, at times, the wallpaper rippling with goosebumps. I’d be sitting there, alone in this big empty stranger’s house, and I’d suddenly get startled by some little change in the room’s ambience. I’d look up from whatever I was doing (reading, most likely, struggling to absorb words on the page) and I’d wait. I’d wait like anyone does who’s about to be caught. It was like some sort of private seance: I’d stare up at the ceiling or over at the bookcase, just waiting for whatever was inside the walls to come out and reveal itself. I’d sit there listening, and in that re-focussed silence, that distillation of quiet, I always thought I could hear something or someone listening back. Then, just as quick as it had arrived, it would disappear, and the silence would again lose its flicker of personality. 

The first few times it happened, I forgot about it, as anyone would, putting it down to old houses on the edge of the city and returning to my heartbreak, my dizzy spells, my reading, my whole nervous enterprise. But it kept on happening. That invisible presence kept returning, kept sidling up on me unawares. It was frustrating. I’d hear its little noises, my awareness would bridle, and I’d look around desperately trying to locate it—but still, nothing. Just this tight-lipped house, and the tail of a Felix the Cat clock in the far off kitchen ticking away. The eyes, I'd imagine, going back and forth, back and forth.

 Courtesy of Nathalia Tereza

No comments:

Post a Comment