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Fiction by David Hay

A Sadness that Sings

The spectral light that haunts train station walls, sings with such a bony sadness that a heart too accustomed to grief can barely withstand its melody.

Most days I lose myself. The idea of departure, of a fresh start, sends electricity through my blood. I always decide on Glasgow. I love Scotland but why Glasgow I couldn’t logically explain. Its charms seem to deepen when helplessness blooms. I see the next train to the heart of Scotland. I imagine myself boarding. I imagine my first breaths of northern air — it’s invigorating — life invigorating — fictional.

I walk past the train symbolising so many irredeemable futures and get into my regular workday train. It’s like drowning in a thick grey puddle. Kind of pathetic — kind of funny.

Sleep, the cherished child of death is the main goal. Sweet, black sleep. I rarely remember my dreams. I become silence; wear it like a dressing gown; consume it like a Maccies at 2am on some lost Friday, drunk and full of that terrible loneliness that’s so sharp it would not be a surprise to see its teeth were mini samurai swords. I am comfortably fucked — teenage smile into a high school toilet mirror, knowing instinctively that everything stinks of shit, so what does it matter kind of fucked.

When the sky opens, I will fish my angel wings from the nearest bin, brush off the capitalist debris and fly straight for the vortex where once the sun posed all day long like some insufferable influencer. See I am an old man now. But none of the wisdom, no blade of truth tempered by the tears balding middle-aged men their lips stained with Stella, to cut away at the whispering darkness — just the flab gathering around the belly from the many Maccies and beer I have given myself up to.

I read that certain scientist think that the sun is conscious. God help us if it is. Surprised it hasn’t exploded already. But consciousness has become a drag, I’m sure it doesn’t need to be.

Sometimes when I’m alone and am seconds from being led to slumber by the jolted rhythm of an aging northern train, my grief strikes — this phrase isn’t choking on well-intentioned hyperbole — it pounces upon me, claws through whatever armour of distraction I have managed to duct tape to myself in the few hours I’ve been awake. A living ruin — motivational sentences swirl round my mind in thick white text before sliding sickly to my godless gut — word vomit.

Anyway, when the full force of my thirty-three years bitch slaps me — I am aware this is nothing in the grand scheme of nature, or even in the brief scream that anoints humanity at birth. I wouldn’t, however, say my reaction to this realisation is dramatic but more like a dull profundity. An obvious truth, to those more experienced in years. But important — grounding. Worms rise to the surface when it rains, kind of vibe. Vibe=vomit.

Anyway…anyway as I lay my head against the window, knowing that this position is going to hurt my neck but too depressed or lazy to move it a group of young people’ with various bits of equipment occupy all the seats around me. You can tell they are students — it isn’t their arrogance, though one of the lads has an air about them as they say — not sure what it is — hope — satisfaction, a world of increasing opportunity not narrowed down to a few doors all peeled and the same brown hue that can only awkwardly remind you of excrement. They reflect me but I hope I don’t reflect them. Too sad.

The ones in front talk about the girl’s boyfriend. He makes her croissants and brings them to her at work. It makes me sick, how beautiful, how otherworldly little gestures can be. I can’t remember the last time someone made me a cup of tea — this is middle aged unappreciated wife of twenty-years talk makes me want to cry. I am unreasonably fragile this morning. Could they help me? Could I run away for a day with them — flee work, help them do whatever project, some tight-suited, thin- lipped Lecturer with an unforgivably debonair moustache assigned. I could bring my life experience, my broken ego, still fracturing to touch, would bastardise any stage, set, scene they could throw at me. They are all posh — southernish — beyond. I have intrusive suicidal thoughts. Snapshots of mutilation.

Any, anyway…anyway the point of this, if there is one — wink — wink, is that for the first time even in my imagination I knew I couldn’t be one of them. The distance travelled is far too great. I knew that that my youth wasn’t just slipping by, but it was gone, and I had been too dumb to see it. There is always a sadness that sings or some shit. I wake up, they are gone.

David Hay

Twitter: @arched_roadway

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