- Vol. 06
- Chapter 05
ENIGMA OF THE HOUR
She thinks she has lived too much in the paintings of de Chirico, absorbed their disquiet and melancholy into her very being through osmosis. Become one of the hunched figures in The Enigma of the Hour, completely engrossed in their solitary angst like a snail deep in its shell. Baked by the merciless heat and dust of a Mediterranean piazza at midday. The kind of heat that does not comfort, but bears down relentlessly. Forced to run with her hoop down a road towards a statue, where impossible perspectives mean she will never get there.
Looking back, it began when her mother told her she was almost an abortion. The product of a rape as her mother made her way home from a party, she came close to ejecting the unwanted passenger from the mothership, almost cut loose the umbilical cord that joined them. Since then, she has always felt alone, not part of the human race, closer to the series of cats she has had as pets, into whose devoted green eyes she stares with no sense of separation.
Friends she once had used to call her Garbo, after her famous 'I vont to be alone'. Or told her it was a form of egotism to believe oneself to be so different. When she was younger she used to hopelessly try to fit in with what she believed a 20-something should be doing – going to pubs, clubs and bars with friends. When the one-upmanship and jockeying got too much, she’d have to go outside for a while, rub her palms against the soothing bark of a grimy city tree until they bled, listen to that slow, silent heartbeat, before returning refreshed to the mêlée. Her arms for that brief while joining the tree like a cord. Despite her efforts, she was always the one left out of the conversation, so she drank herself into oblivion. Mortifying to her were the fractured memories of having been carried home, the devastation of the morning after.
ENIGMA OF THE HOUR
As she grew older, she stopped putting herself through this particular form of torture. Preferred to engage with human society by viewing it through the safe medium of a window, or listened to the lives of others through the brick walls that separated her terraced house from the ones next door. Revelled in the mystery of an empty sun-baked piazza with its recumbent classical stature, a distant steam train leaving, a ship arriving.
The best time is when she dreams of floating free outside the mothership, alone but still connected by the umbilical cord, with space debris for company; the vista of a never-setting sun, a distant blue-green planet.