Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Mrch pictonaut - Another Walk

Ok. I'm a day late. But only because I was on holiday. And this time I stuck to the remit - only a little over 1000 words. An easy read, or is it?


You take a walk, stretch your legs, shake off the cobwebs, get some air in your lungs. But I take another walk.

You've got a new fad, a health kick - trying to get fit, to be a better person, to be all you can be. But there is little health where I go, the people I meet are all they'll ever be. No more, no less.

So you walk to work now, with a half fat latte, warmth, comfort and a buzz. A few pence change for the tramp, perhaps. Another buzz - charity, cheap and easy. But it is cold where I work, and though people try to find comfort, there is little to be had. I might come find the tramp tonight, perhaps. For now, I'll follow your warm footsteps with my own.

Where you work, there are endless people; a throng of life and activity. It is a friendly, affirming chaos. I prefer my peace. You might, too. You hope that the great density of population will afford you some anonymity, but there is always someone who knows you for who you really are. Where I am, nobody knows you. There is nothing to know.

You are called, at work, to a specific place by a specific person and your heart sinks. Judgement is coming and all of your failures will be listed in turn, your successes overlooked completely. But I will judge you not. In my place, there is no success, and no failure. Hearts do not sink and cannot rise.

In a moment, a decision is made - to abandon stability, fortune, prestige. In the face of this little man, dragging you down beneath him, you choose not to face him, to give up, to step aside. Stability I do know, I know too much of it. For I cannot quit. I must walk on and pass people by. The tramp, your boss, yourself?

So you walk out, as I walk out, and you step into a world of promise, of possibility. You don't know where to step next. But mine is a world of certainty. Every day I step the road I must, to the place I must, always the same. The same day, the same events, different places, nothing special.

You want the familiar, you're panicking and want to surround yourself with the comfortable, the routine. Would that I could remove myself from my routine, how I might be remembered then, how I might be loved - by some at least - for a time at least. So you head home, to a place where you could walk blindfold, filled with objects of histories well known. I am blind, yet always know where to tread. I have a history, too. But it is remembered by others, not by me. I know not my own history, as I know not yours.

Play with your cat. That will please you. What is it like, to have a life dependent on you, to have such power over another living thing? You might have thought I had such a power, and that you had none. But we always blame those we think we can ignore. You'll realise the truth soon enough. For now, you can while away the time with your little plaything, then casually disregard it, as it might you. You'd cry if it were gone though. It would not.

Evening falls and you change your face. I don't understand why, but then, when I see you, you all wear the same one, maskless, empty. Without your make believe, you don't really have much else. Tonight, you'll pretend you're not alone, pretend you're happy, pretend you care.

You step out tonight, in a more traditional sense. In the sense that requires two sets of footsteps, walking in tandem, or maybe one just behind the other. I have never known such companionship, although I meet so many. I'll see you all eventually, but so very briefly, there's just no time at all.

At the restaurant we find our common ground. Each face you see seems the same, alien, lifeless face - just as I see them. Even opposite you, a man desperate to get your attention is making soundless noise from a sightless visage. You hear the pertinent words, understand their meaning, but lack comprehension. He gets frustrated. It doesn't sink in until long after he has left that you are alone. Like me.

Home again, remove your mask, remove your clothes, bare yourself to the unpopulated world of your fifth floor apartment. There's nothing left now but yourself, that's all you have. And no one can see it but you. You move to the window to show yourself off to the world, all your perfections, all your faults. Nobody sees you. Step closer, they still can't see. One step more and they'll see more than you ever did yourself. One. More. Step.

Here's why I take over, as our paths cross. Just for a moment, we take the same walk. Allow me the liberty of explaining a few things to you here, to correct a few misconceptions you may have. Please do, for we won't have the chance later. I shall be honest. It is not mine to lie, I never have.

Should you fall, I shall catch you, but this is all I will do, all I can do. And all you can do is be caught. You will not walk with me, nor see with my eyes, my secrets shall not be revealed unto you. I shall not judge you, nor give you peace or suffering. Nor warmth nor cold shall you know, not punishment or reward. You shall not be reunited with those gone before, nor left to dwell over those yet to be. This is not nothing that I hold and pass on to you. It is less. I shall know an eternity of moments like your own. They are brief, they are final, they are not eternal. They are the truest end. For one flickering instance alone will we share our paths and then, while mine meanders on, yours must necessarily cease. You cannot tread a path where there is no ground to tread.

So please, walk your path and let me walk mine. They might both continue should they never meet. Think not of me and you, in turn, shall be far from me, with still a path to walk, still a step to tread. You have caught someone's eye, and they in turn have caught mine; a large man below you on the street, perhaps even lonelier than you, enjoying the show. He made his choice a long time since, his path has been edging ever closer to mine with every second dessert. Tonight our paths shall meet. I won't say cross, as that implies continuation, which I am sure you've now learned would only be half correct. Permit me to collect his moment alone tonight, his cannot be prevented, yours can. Take a step back, take a walk away from here, away from me. Follow your path, one leads not to me, and I shall take another walk.