Darker With The Lights On

David Hayden

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5 Fragments (saved in 2017)

What was once fully there, absented itself over time in tiny increments, each one unnoticed by me. I recall now a fragment of something hard and white in the sink, something soft torn and vinegary in the bedside waste-basket. A tooth, a stockings, what I remember least.

Ellen’s voice has gone. First, I lost what she had said, all those everyday weaves of words that make one belong or angry or lost. Then I forgot how she spoke: the pitch, the timbre, the rhythm. Maybe she was one of those people whose everyday statement rises querulously at the end, suggesting that everything is in question. I say something aloud; I think I might have forgotten what the human voice sounds like.

Following the beautiful or ugly animal necessities, pretence is how life comes about. Pretence shaped by the pretence of others, pressured by time like air weighing on a lake, or rock saddled on rock, or great, impermanent expanses of nothing grinding away on nothing. I told myself I had governance over the passing objects, some of them personas. I acted part of a part that was necessary. I read enchantment in everything dead. How fresh and lovely is disbelief, flowering in the mind. I faked enlightenment. I made a flicker. What exactly? Mush in the head. Thinking, thinking.

Play is not fun. It is what we must do in order to live. If I win I might live well before I die but, nonetheless, I experience the aguish of playing the game. Anxiety is the primary condition of play. Our smiles are grimaces. Our laughter: the sound of rage surging up from out guts. Most of you people are the product of a mentality that see idleness as the enemy of material progress.

Disenchantment is how the game ends. The rules become, not just apparent, but the only visible part of play; the spirit has departed, the players are brought low and what was spontaneous and jubilant — the broad, chaotic joy — becomes cramped and weakened until the last, fading, playing soul, palms held out, voices the breath of a cry saying "peace, peace" but meaning "end me".