This story was not inspired by my life events, just so you know, though felt it is quite relevant to Cape Town right now (and much of the world for that matter. I grew up pretty insulated from the bad and the ugly, however there are those quite close to me who came in for more than just a bit of a scrape.
Although I must add, the reoccurring dream - that's mine.
The White Line
His stare wasn’t empty; instead it was filled with years and years of what was best left forgotten... Every red vein in the former milky whites of his eyes though, which over those years of abuse had turned a faded yellow, told of a more material ruin, like glazed windows that would never again reveal what lay in the shadows on the inside.
His dried crusty lips quivered. His gaze fell down, catching sight of his own trembling hands. And then the deep familiar hurt welled up in his chest. His mind drifting to the thought of a woman he once knew – who once called herself his friend – and how she’d hung on in those final minutes. He wondered about that; what hanging on to life must feel like. From where he sat, it was all a little sad… a sad quiet; no more talking, no more pleading, because a life had been terminated, swept aside, and there was little fan fair, little commemoration. So anticlimactic...
As if someone had asked him “… may I live?”, and he’d looked down and answered: “No.” But instead of that word, he’d used his hands.
The stare, the coffee table and the R381, ‘Oh yes, that road…’ he remembered it all now – was it the right one? Just like the hurt brimming inside, so came that old guilty feeling, settling like foam. He knew; he saw and he knew what would make it all go away. It came to him like a dream; ‘oh yes, that dream’ he remembered that too now… it sometimes happens that way; you’re thinking of something else and then suddenly fumes of recollection of a different world wafts in…
It was about time running out, and of course, just running away… I suppose it’s always something like that, isn’t it? A gravel, dead stretch of road, somewhere in the Karoo, wait, no, there was grass, so it had to have been further north, closer to where the flowers grow and bloom in spring… or was it south, the R353 maybe, from Leeu Gamka. Only, this time there was no flowers, and it was in the dark, at night. Sometimes I’d pass by a windmill – just the silhouette mind you – funny that, since there was no moonlight. In some of them there’d be two lights heading directly toward me, growing brighter in the darkness. In those ones I’d always wake up just before the light engulfed me; just before impact.
Mm, there were never any stars or moon in the sky… that’s how I knew I was dreaming, even in the clearest night sky: nothing, just blank, every single time.
One of his greatest fears arising from the unseen depths within him, percolated to the surface every so often. This was all he was good at, and, it was the worst part of him. It was a way of getting in and getting away at the same time – his only escape. It committed those around him to believe they knew him, “his kind” – whatever that means. But the few he trusted believed it was a necessary evil. Once he’d even tried liberating himself with Muti – he didn’t believe in it mind you, but when you scrape bottom, you’ll be willing to try anything once, sometimes, just to get a leg up. When you’re down, you’re really down. Sometimes when your brain is on a ‘go slow’ it can convince you of the strangest things. He knew the lie he was living had matured over years and taken root within a hidden truth – one he kept very secret. A small confession he betrayed only to himself, and only in the darkest, lowest moments – the truth that he actually liked it. Was it really a revelation? No, it’s not like he was alone in this struggle. Be it lines, holes, rocks, pipes, money, smoke; everyone has their fix, governed only by the tick of the everyday clock.
He looked down at his watch… the hands of time ticking away as always. Time. He was beginning to make sense of it again, slowly, the same issues, the same old habits. Time. He’d lost quite a lot of that.