Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A capacity for a better life

Simon rubbed his hip on the rough stone of the hotel building.

This used to be bigger, he said. I'm certain this used to be bigger.

The hotel entrance led to a lobby flattened by strip lighting. The receptionist was a hefty woman with a cigar between her fingers.

This used to be bigger, he said. She looked at him as if he was a scab she had just picked off her elbow.
Simon stood in the lobby listening to footsteps come and go. He brought up a contact on his mobile phone then dialled.

It rang out. He left the hotel.

Simon stood on the street. This used to be bigger, he said as he pressed his body into the side of an ice cream van. This used to be a bigger van.

He stood on the beach .He lay face down in wet sand, the tide lapping into his ears. The sea, he said in a muffled voice. It used to be bigger.
  Simon had a long phone conversation with his girlfriend. You didn't answer when I called before, he said. All he heard back was the sound of her typing, the sound of her shuffling papers and the sound of her eating a tangerine.

Simon stood on a pavement. He pushed his tongue against the glass door of a Waterstone’s. He pushed until it hurt.

Have you got any height charts, he asked the twitching bookseller behind the counter. What's a height chart, said the bookseller. You know, like you have for children.

The bookseller looked sad, as if he was unsure of where he was.

Simon dialled again. He pressed the phone into the side of his head until it became an oblong extension of his skin.

This isn't working anymore, he told the phone. We used to be something else. Something bigger. He looked at the sky, wondered what it felt like. We used to be bigger, he said.

All he could hear was the sound of sucked citric juices and the tap tap tap of a Samsung laptop. She hummed absent agreement. Vague platitudinous vocal shrugs.

(Text updated: August 2012.)

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