Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It is the exact same hallway he walks through everyday. White, plaster walls and a beige carpet that reaches up and tickles into toes and wet socks and cotton.

But it's dark today. At least, I think it's day. The hall doesn't have windows and there are clouds outside and the windows in the adjoining rooms are frosted over. So maybe it's night. Or afternoon. Or whatever is between all that. Clock hands. Second hand without the first.

But it's dark. Too dark to see a foot in front or behind, though he generally likes to keep his shoes right below him. That's a good place to make steps, except he forgot how many it took to get through the hallway. Was it twelve or twenty seven? Big steps smalls steps medium steps. How many skips would it take him? Maybe he should just lay on the floor and roll all the way through. Or maybe he should just lay on the floor and hope the ceiling doesn't fall onto him.

He places a single finger on the wall. His left hand, the one missing the finger. It is his guide but how good could a guide be without a map or a flashlight or constellations to point him north? The plaster is smooth, new. He can almost taste it in his fingernails. Powdery. Five steps and a doorway to black. There used to be a girl there. Smiles and laughter and sweat. Six more steps and another doorway to black. This was where the girl left, where she packed her bags and stormed out into the cloudy, frosted-window day.

And another three, four, three and a half steps. No more doorway. He is through. His left hand with only four fingers has no more wall to guide. Constellations blink out.

It is the exact same tunnel he walks through everyday. It's just that things look different from this end.

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