• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 11
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The Tyranny of Light

The ghost of my grandfather was always present in the glass jars of desiccated insects he would collect. In amongst his specimens, lined in supreme organisation on a shelf so perfectly straight the room looked crooked, were rows of empty jam jars, vacant for the specimens that were planned for them but which never came. Their glass distorted my face in comic ways that made me pout and gurn like a toothless old man; I imagined myself old and fragile.

An impossibly long legged spider crawled above my head and a woodlouse scurried around my feet and I felt like a god, in a workshop of creation waiting to be animated, and sent into the world to work; beetles of semi-precious green and blue, moths and butterflies like falling handkerchiefs, handfuls of crickets singing like drunks, and then the flies bumbling into windows like idiots, incapable of escape.

In between the wall and the corner of the shelf, a blaze of quite dazzling colour caught my eye and I knew this must have been his prize: a beautiful butterfly with gold, blue, red and orange for wings. I had no idea what it was but I took it as my inheritance and placed it above my bed, its glittering gemstones filling my head with spinning light; it glowed in the dark with a bioluminescence that made me think of being in a cave.

I hungered for colour but the world looked pale. I could only find peace in the colours of the butterfly’s wings. I could no longer leave my room because the grey state of the world left me depressed. Food looked and tasted bland and soon even the sun looked dark in comparison, a black hole absorbing colour, taste, sound and feeling, leaving only a vibration in my head like the vibration you feel when laying your ear on a desk, or the muffled sound of wing beats sealed inside a glass jar.