Black Matter & Living in the Present


Last evening, in bed, while abseiling down my wife's back, I was suddenly struck by a childhood memory. I remember my family had cocktails before dinner. The table would be set, the lights dimmed. We would wait an eternity for dinner to be served. However, we never had a bite to eat. Sitting at the table was a charade. Subsequently, my father and mother would feign tiredness, yawn, and say, 'Time for bed.'

Back then, I was afraid of everything: barnacles, ear wax, rumbling stomachs, parking places, fluttering butterfly wings, and that the universe was comprised of 80% black matter. At nightfall, all animals on earth descended on our home. And it wasn't for food. My innocent body trembled. I endured sleepless nights. The slightest cough could elicit strange odours. Alas, it is history, now.

*    
A writer, with a new book to promote, is talking on the radio. I listen with a serious face; my ears are outside playing on the garden swing. My first reaction is confusion. The writer espouses: 'Time passes more quickly, now', 'The past is all around us, now' and 'That's a good question. Can I give two answers, now?' It confirms my view that one should never talk about one's writing, or, on any account, recite a short passage unless one has read it first. It is embarrassing to the listener, and has a tendency to induce a wretched fever, even in those fortunate not to hear the ghastly broadcast. I have forgotten the author's name. I wonder if she resides in black matter? One can only guess. Perhaps, she always did, and will?

*    
The only real kind of happiness is youth. After that, well, you must adapt, or run the risk of being laughed at behind your back. I remember being told by my paternal grandfather (in a soft, almost mournful voice) that 'the past, or the future, do not exist for any living creature, only the present.'

'You haven't changed a bit,' a soft voice whispered in my ear. 'Do you remember Rula?'

I half closed my eyes.

'She was killed. The shutters on her shop dropped on her head. She was still so beautiful. Time certainly touched her with a gentle hand.'

I stayed silent and entered a grieving period. The night grew thicker, darker. I wept with all the simplicities that surround silence. All I could picture was Rula not breathing. Yet, she was fresh air, itself; warmth, beauty. Why had she stopped breathing?

'It was a stormy evening,' she went on. 'Poor creature ...' Her words suffocated me. 'Poor little Rula ...'

She spoke without emotion or tears. Her departure left a bitter taste. I cursed the beginning of love which draws you into its erotic-mystical river only to leave you stranded on a muddy river bank. A prisoner of the present, not the past. I remembered the soft, almost crying voice, that sprayed saliva as it spoke, 'The past, or the future, do not exist for any living creature, only the present.'

*
Reflections: This week my wife lost two pounds in weight just by cutting her nose hair and toe nails. I believe she could lose another two pounds by trimming her small hairy feet (which scare the hell out of children at the local swimming pool) and removing six of her teeth.

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