On otherwises

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Imagine how it would be to find yourself lying on a bed in a hotel room. The hotel would be a nice-enough hotel, perhaps four star, in a nice-enough European town, where the streets are clean and the culture visible.

The hotel room would look out over a courtyard – again, nothing untoward – other windows rather than, say, dustbins, old mattresses and an unshaven sous-chef sneaking a quick cigarette.

You’d be lying on the bed, on top of a yellow eiderdown, and you’d be staring at a large flat screen television, which would be turned off. Beside the television would be a desk, and you know that if you opened the drawer you’d find a Gideon Bible and some stationery, as if you might have an important missive to pen that you would drop for posting on a silver platter at reception, on your way out to an appointment or a restaurant.

You’d have seen the packets of tea and coffee, taken note of the minibar’s extortionate prices and resolved not to succumb. You might have called down for an extra pillow.

And then you’d have got to reflecting on the bed beneath you, and the ways in which it might have been previously occupied: the obvious lovers, the less obvious businessman with a cough, or the woman here for an appointment at an anonymous clinic. The elderly couple here for the funeral of a college friend. A couple, half asleep in uneasy dreams, half awake in silent resentment.

Your thoughts would move on, of course, because all that you would really be aware of, as evidenced truth, would be the weight of your body on the bed, the late afternoon light filtering through the half-drawn curtains, and all else that is unquestionably only here and only now.

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