For Thomas, there was an indescribable fascination with the movement of the pen on paper. The familiar pressure as the nib traced his name, over and over, claiming the blank spaces as his own. He was getting distracted again, digressing from the tedious task at hand. Yet the harsh lines of the pixelated computer screen stung his eyes – tempting abstinence. He liked the irony of his abstinence from work, this active defiance, it made him feel as though, in his procrastination, he had turned off from the highway momentarily, to watch languidly as his colleagues passed him by.
He sifted absently through his emails. The words blurred into one another on the screen, drifting momentarily, leaving no impression upon his brain. As if in imitation, outside the office, the rain ran in eddying streams down the window. It reminded him of that day, years ago, when he and his sister had been caught in a thunderstorm on the slopes of Skiddaw. He was grateful for the office then, enclosed within the white sterility of the walls, shielded from the elements. Yet… that insistent tentative yet. There was something exhilarating about the thunderstorm; as they crouched, pressing themselves against the rocks, the deluge surged around them, cold water biting naked skin. As the lightening ripped, a jagged glare, across the sky, he felt that rare numb panic – that complete vulnerability. He remembered that moment when he turned towards her, face streaming with water, eyes brimming with tears that weren’t his own. He could see her shouting, but no words reached him. In this moment of lost communication, unable to move for fear of being caught by lightening, there seemed a sudden hilarity in it all. He was laughing then, standing up, reaching up to the sky in reckless abandonment.
Absorbed now, in the window, he watched as a group of boys jostled against one another on the pavement. Their faces were indistinguishable from distance, yet he could vaguely hear their voices, washing over one another in an attempt to be heard. He revelled for a moment, in their ignorance that he was observing them. He wondered ironically if, when one of the boys glanced at the window, he too was centralising him in an unspoken narrative. Their anonymity inspired his curiosity. The cans of beer that they were swigging gave it away, he thought, they were probably on their way home from a game. He could remember distinctly the warm sensation of the alcohol; the drifting of long hazy summer nights into a contented oblivion. Hands outstretched, hesitantly reaching towards the heat of the fire. He glanced across at his friends faces, candidly caught in the amber glow. Their laughter ricocheted back to him and he was awash again in the unaffected naivety of youth. When the path stretched as far as the eye could see, dipped in the rosy hue of the sunset. No longer able to distinguish their features, his vision was blurred by the tides of time. As the light faded outside the window, replaced by the encroaching darkness, he avowed to make changes to his life tomorrow. To step outside, to reconnect. Yes, it would happen tomorrow!
Yet, half-heartedly he recognised the emptiness of a promise that would never be fulfilled. Fated to be caught perpetually behind the window, always waiting for that elusive tomorrow.
Image Credit: Justin Lim