Loner and the Glass
This guy had had it pretty hard for a while. People would pity him for his worn and torn impressions, and
his face that had grown heavy and constantly bore that unmistakable essence of a tortured, lonesome
being. But their pity was not without spite; at least from his viewpoint. They had all abandoned him!
Whether they knew him or not, they'd judged him; too self-centered, too much of a mess, could not
understand him, had to ditch him for fear of becoming him... So no one to talk to, no one to love. The
plants had all died and nobody had been round in the longest while.
It was always so cold up there, so still and lifeless as he'd sit and stare absently at the wall up
ahead. And each new day was not a new day at all, but a repetition of the last; waking up during those
precious twenty minutes when the sun's rays could find their way through the narrow alleyways, into his
rotten, forgotten apartment and into his eyes. After that it was all reflected light and that glare from the
television set which would be switched on for sixteen hours a day and would never burn out.
And he would wallow in this state of self-pity and the sense that he'd lost himself somewhere in
time, somewhere in daytime TV. There is no rest for those who succumb to boredom.
But there was that one night when he felt he'd gone beyond boredom and slipped into something
else; something new and with a lot more balance; something inexplicable. It was something so mysterious
and exhilarating that he didn't dare dampen the experience by wrapping it up in words.
For once, he'd switched of all the lights, everything electric, and bathed in the ambience of
candlelight. It seemed to click a lot easier with his new state of being. For a while he just looked around,
tilting his head in all directions, wondering why, when he looked at something, a word for that thing didn't
come to him as it would have done before. And if he did have words for what was going on, he might have
described it as seeing those things for the first time all over again, through new eyes.
He got up and, deciding to flow with this change, switched all the plugs off. When he turned
around only to see that huge pile of disgusting plates on which the food had turned green and grown fur,
stained cups and even a huge bowl of solid, colourless spaghetti, it didn't bother him at all. He walked to
the kitchen area and opened one of the cupboards. There was only one glass in there; a pint glass, and it
was clean and sparkling. He picked it up, held it under the tap, filled it with water and went and sat back
The man no longer felt alone or lost. Even if he tried at that point he could not have even guessed
at what those concepts really meant. No, there was something completely new where his loneliness and
sense of loss of self once were, and what was his name again? It didn’t matter.
He was just sitting there on the sofa, sipping at the water, looking at and thinking about nothing at
all. Without any reason he held up the glass in front of his face in both hands and looked through it. He
pierced the surface of the water with his stare and, even though he held the glass perfectly still, he
noticed there were ripples. He kept on staring, looking through the glass and wondering what it was that
was pulling his attention in.
It was a set of automatic actions, nothing he did consciously; his eyes closed, he extended his reach
and held the glass further away, twisted the top of it with his right hand as he held the bottom in his left,
and a faint smile grew in between his cheeks and he giggled with a single breath. He seemed amused.
Then he brought the glass down into his lap, wrapping both hands around it and interlocking his fingers,
his eyes remaining closed. There, like that, he sat for a few moments in quiet meditation.
Eventually he opened his eyes, still in a daze but aware of himself once again. No control; like a
machine, he looked down at the water, brought it back up in front of his face and gazed thoughtlessly
through it with empty eyes. He leaned forward and stretched his arms until he was holding the glass
about a meter above the small wooden coffee table. Just like that, he let go, except he didn't just let go;
holding the glass from the bottom in both hands, he pushed out his arms just a little more and released it
from his grip in the same way someone might release a bird. He looked on and listened, but there was no
smash, no splashes of water or shattering of glass... The glass, almost filled to the top with water, stayed
there in front of him, a meter above the small wooden coffee table. He stood up, loosened his belt and
went to use the bathroom.
When he came back in the room, the first thing he noticed was the candlelight. It really was a great
deal more relaxing than light through a bulb. Somehow the room appeared alive; the walls flickered and
moved with the flame, shadows grew and then shrunk again. It was pleasant, to say the least.
He sat back down on the sofa and interlocked his fingers again. Realising that, and realising he then
had control once more, he pulled his hands apart, gasped at the sight of the glass and jumped to his feet.
He observed the hair on his forearms stiffening and his knees beginning to quiver and weaken. He could
feel a panic attack growing in his chest as he inhaled and he closed his eyes for a few seconds and opened
them again in hope that what he was seeing would disappear.
A pint glass, three quarters full with water, hovers in mid-air above a small coffee table. A fearful man
looks on in wonder and uneasiness. He swings his right arm over the glass, just to check it isn't hanging
from anything, you know... but the glass doesn't even shiver. The water is still. The man begins to feel
distressed, running his fingers through his hair, sighing and cursing. Slowly and so carefully, he reaches
one arm out to touch the glass, and his fingertips are just about to meet with it when he starts to feel a
near-painful pressure in his heart and a rushing lightness in his head. He withdraws. He sits back down.
For a few moments, he closes his eyes and tries to get a grip; to pull himself together, but he is too
astonished. He shakes with the flames on the candles and grows and shrinks with the shadows. His eyes
open and he throws himself to his feet. Frowning, he stares desperately at the glass as he circles it. He
raises his hand once again and moves in to touch it, but withdraws at that pressuring feeling in his chest.
He sits down again.
The cycle goes on. No matter what mode of conscious thought he plunges himself into, he can not
wrap his head around this phenomenon. The hours pass by, one or two of the candles have burned out
and thus the life they'd brought to the room before has been extinguished. The light is less vibrant now
and the man hasn't noticed any of it, having focused all his attention in one place and circling the same
coffee table over, and over, and over... He's screaming in tongues at the glass now, pulling at his own hair
and tears are streaming down his face. He won't dare touch the glass... It's getting brighter outside,
morning is here... tiredness is setting in. He sits down again, weeping to himself.
That's it! A snap! He's on his feet and he's yelling more, his face burning up and his brain in chaos.
There's nothing to understand... nothing to understand! This time he's got a firm hold of the glass,
squeezing it just to be sure, screaming, shouting, entirely absorbed by his confused, empty rage. He pulls
the glass back and sees the water is still; not a single movement, not a drop, swings his arm and hurls the
glass across the room. It cracks, shatters and falls into a thousand fragments against the wall with a loud,
echoing screech. He presses with the palm of each hand against his temples and scrunches his eyes shut
as he feels they've began to tighten, cramp up and shrivel. The pain is unbearable... He falls to the floor,
desperate to make it back to boredom; how he would appreciate it and enjoy it so much more if he could
just get back to it...
He's broken down and is balling out so hysterically. It's an earthquake in his head, in his eyes.
That echo of smashing glass has beaten its way into the back of his brain and pounds endlessly with a dull,
droning pulse of its own. He's feeling close to death and alone again, holding his head in his arms and
trying to break free; trying to die only by willing it, but fearful of dying there by himself. He's sitting back
against a wall, curled up with his head in between his knees and his arms wrapped around his legs,
tensing his arms and tightening his crushing grip. If he can just cause his skull to crack and cave in on itself,
this pain will spill out all over the carpet and he can rest once again. He's trying his best... just to die...
rocking back and forth... as the water comes dripping down the wall...