Retirement

Publié le 08/08/2016

The English Method

Dear diary,

I’ve admitted to you several times that I am a coward, and indeed I am. Yet, it is very rare for me to feel threatened or scared; my own lack of courage should not be taken for the flaw of a nervous man agonizing over every behind him, for it’s nothing else than concern, constant concern for my own survival, boring carefulness after all those centuries spent mostly avoiding brawls and wars, danger under its ever uncountable shapes. So picture me careful but fearless if you can. Though fright, real terror, the absolute feeling of being stringed then pulled out of myself, the unwrapping of one’s brain till it feels like grey flesh glued on some solid stick over a flame, all this I’ve known and experienced. And those must have been terrible things that frightened me : for I will run away in the face of danger, but as I said, not because I’m unable to back while I rush to a safe distance, foolish at this may seem and a sure way of tripping as well.

So once I was frightened, very frightened indeed, so much so that I had to split my mind in two to survive, and that part that remembered had to forget all my native tongues to keep remembering, for what lives in it now feeds itself upon words and peculiar usages, and devours my attican days, my roman months, my British jubilee and all other matters of unique places and times ambushed by the voracious mouth because of which I had to sever my own mind. But this story I can safely tell, provided I use the ghost limb of my memory to do so.

The night had spread a black tablecloth over the sky, and thoughout moths of lights barely ate their starry pieces; only the vast plate of the moon, though broken to a quarter, shimmered enough so that it was not pitch dark. I lived in the countryside. It was one of my numerous and regular retirements. And I could have been very happy; there was nothing to do but take care of a house that I owned, spread rumours about myself so children would stop trying to enter the garden and steal its fruits. Reading the newspapers would be the business of the whole morning. In a few years, I would feel like a sleeping bat slowly waking up, slightly bothered by its leather touching the foam of its sleeping, drooling tongue, and in a matter of seconds, turning upside down, and spreading its wings to find a meal for the day, after long long fast. But for now, I could hibernate, eat only fruits and play the old man rather than the never-dying middle-aged one I am at my core. And at night that meant sleeping in my room on the first floor, with a window barely open, or just lying in bed for hours; that very night, like all the others, I longed for sleep but couldn’t reach it. For as I tried to close my eyes and abdicate with dignity the power of my awoken will over my body, there was the smallest of noises, as if the wind played softly the organ of the facade windows. Yet this noise had no rhythm to it, nothing to rock upon it, nothing that would allow me to drown it in the background of my ears and have it disappear from my perception; for ten minutes, it couldn’t be heard and as I was going to fall asleep, whoo, whoo, again it piped, then more frequently, up to the point where I rose from the bed, put on my dressing gown and came to the balcony to see what kind of oddity, kangaroo or broken mechanism, caused that insufferable ruckus.

At first I saw nothing. But then in the woods next to my home, that lay at the border of a town that stood at the border of those woods, that were at the extremity of the State, I saw a general movement as if some sort of commando unit was operating over there; I felt that something covert and on the move was happening in the vicinity. I was absolutely not afraid. Obviously, the rumours of mad men, the growing numbers of enemies from the inside, and the general grimness of the news should have coated me sweat, and the usual carefulness I’ve just boasted about. Yet I felt nothing of the sort, just anger and the desire to be left alone while I tried to enjoy my retirement and my sleep. This is why I entered the forest in my dressing gown and slippers and no particular plan in mind.

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