“How’s the world treating you today, sir?”
I was at the kiosk again and not quite knowing how I got there. That’s the thing with mornings, if you’re not careful they all dissolve into one. Perhaps it’s early onset of something to do with my mind. These days, it’s not working how it once did. I find it almost impossible to locate those things called memories. The here and now is up and gone before I even get the chance to notice it. And then there’s that thing in my apartment, that sense that there is someone else sharing it with me.
I looked at the kiosk owner and he looked at me. He knew something.
“Am I the only one who you greet like this?”
There was a touch of sadness that ended in a smile.
“You know, you have been coming here for an eternity and that’s the first time you have ever mentioned others. Little steps, eh?”
More nonsense. I was turning away when something stopped me.
“Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Again, a hint of a smile.
“What do you want to know?”
I was fixed. His question had pinned me. The world was a glass case and I was trapped within it.
“Why do I come here?”
It was the simplest of questions, almost insanely simple. And yet it made sense. It felt as if I had been coming here forever. I wasn’t just passing the kiosk, I was actively approaching it, seeking out the inanity of rehearsed exchanges. Things that happened again and again without change.
“You’re looking for answers. You are what I call a semi-skimmed. You’re not quite fully gone yet.”
“Semi-skimmed, fully gone? Is this a dairy dialogue?”
He laughed. And, after a moment, so did I.
“Laughter is another little step.”
My laughter was continuing, a tap opened. It was begining to flow faster.
“Laughter is good. It’s a shared activity, best enjoyed with others. It is a form of communicating and this place has not heard it for a long, long time.”
There is something about tunnels that amplifies sound. My laughter was in the process of bouncing off the walls. And ceiling. And floor. And…
“Look around at your laughter.”
“Do you notice anything different?”
At first, no. Then I started to see the shapes in the shadows more clearly.
“Not just faded patterns on wallpaper, eh?”
My laughter was slowing. Amazement took its place.
“Have they always been here?”
“No. They are only there when you notice. Like the person in your flat. Like your memories.”