Peach flower

We are alone in the universe.

It is very relaxing.

Why even bother wearing clothes? I get up when I want, eat when I want. The universe stretches down the hallway, to the bathroom and the kitchen. I do have enough room to swing a cat though, but she doesn’t like that.

I like to switch all the lights off and watch the windows across the street. I munch on Hula Hoops and see the fleeting movements of a family of shadows on the yellow curtains. One time, the curtains parted slightly and I caught the fraction of a face and the glint of an eye for a hot second. That was brilliant! Yes! I noted it down in my little book, then put it back under the loose floorboard. I crack open a can and a packet of nuts, chuckling to myself in the dark.

I have a recurring dream during this stakeout, where I walk to the far wall and gently press my hand through that wall, all the way in, up to the wrist. I turn my head around to look at the opposite wall, and there, wriggling its little fingers, is my very own hand. Thats how small the universe is.

Waking up suddenly in my vantage point one night, I realise that the cat is attempting to stick both of her paws up my nostrils, and also, someone is pelting something at my window.


psst pssst psssssssssssst

Groggily, I drag myself through the dimly lit room, past the cat who has now curled up on the floor licking its own feet, towards the window. There was the most peculiar little crowd gathered just below the tree in my garden. A group of black-clad individuals armed with wads of paper which were clearly just a moment ago being pelted at the glass. In a time of chaos such as now, you can never be too careful - especially if you’re of the disposition to stay out of it all - but that’s what made me surprised, they were clearly harmless. Were they peaceful protestors? Were they lost from the main group? Why would you group together in black hoods sneaking around empty neighbourhoods if you didn’t want to arouse any suspicion?

These questions were answered quickly when another wad of paper forced itself to be read by colliding straight with my eyes.

“Sorry man!” yelled a voice from below.

I glanced down to see the black-clad group shifting uncomfortably in their shoes.

“Really fucking sorry!” he yelled again.

“Um…” I stuttered “It’s ok…no harm done”.

I glanced across to the house across the street that through my voyeuristic tendencies I had come to know as well as my own. Their lights were off, well I guess it was 4am. But by the light of the dilapidated streetlamps I could see that another group was slowly approaching our block.

“Hey man!” another voice yelled “Read the paper and read it quick! We don’t have much time”.

The wad was fragile but crumpled, clearly the work of someone in a rush. Were they escaping the authorities and trying to play nice?

I unraveled the package as quickly as my fingers could do it carefully

What in the -

I glanced back down and the group was gone. They were across the street. They were the crowd walking up the street. The black crowd had walked through the wall and returned. The universe was small and making itself known.

Yesterday my fingertips could touch—if I really stretched and if I really tried—all the wallpapered corners of my life

This morning a ray of sunlight came to visit through the window I had forgotten to close.

The breeze woke me up, maybe three hours after I’d drifted off, holding the piece of paper in my hand. A brief fretful sleep I willed myself into as a brief escape from the dilemma at hand. I would stare out of the window in the direction the group had moved for another coupe of hours, aware of dehydration and body odour, delaying action. I sat at the bottom of the stairs, my feet felt alien wearing my trainers for the first time in weeks. Eventually I turned the katch and walked out into the now empty street, in the direction the group had disappeared earlier this morning.

Did I imagine that? A flash of something familiar, a flutter of a near-forgotten thing that my mind cannot name in the moment, a childhood memory, perhaps, or an echo of some dream.

Of course, I imagine everything, don’t I? This…place, this moment, they are imaginary, reflections of my own senses, a woven mesh of the reality I want to impose. I am comfortable with this knowledge but I wonder if others are, if they feel madness seeping in when they think about it. Then again, I cannot even be sure there are others.

My father was color blind - if he existed at all outside the compact memories I have of him - his reality was in different shades, stitched together from reflections of the only colors he ever knew, different fundamentally from my own understanding, a language difference that cannot be overcome, a different reality…

Where is that cup I left? It is not in the space around me, a space I have not left, I think. But perhaps I did leave, maybe while I slept. I think I travel when I sleep. Sleep is just another state of consciousness, I think…maybe. Do memories of dreams mean the same as memories of not-dreams? Is there a fold in time where the awake and the asleep overlap?

I smile at my wondering. What other being can imagine the failings of its own perceptions, tangling itself in the unknown as though it is there, opening up a new universe in the space of a moments thought, like painting with the palette of billions of years and an infinitely wide brush.

I will make this my own, then! But I cannot explain the cat.

“nice thinking”

Who said that

“Down here buddy”


“Down here!”

The universe was not just small. The universe operated on Disney clichés. It was the cat. The cat was speaking. Ask me a week ago, I’d have been surprised but with the walls breaking down, the cup disappearing into hammer space and the crowd of black hoodies returning in a stretch of infinity, I was ready to bite.

“Stop thinking that. it’s insulting. I’m not a cliche, clichés need to be used to the point of losing power, to the point of people finding it boring. Do you find me boring?”

“No, I guess I don’t” I replied “it’s still new to me”

“Say sorry”


“Sorry for…”

“Sorry I called you a cliché”

He meowed.

“Sorry?” I replied

He meowed again.

Oh dear. I must be imagining things.

“Over here idiot”

I turned around and just like the black crowd, the cat had played the same game. He was no longer beneath my feet, he was on the bed and speaking.

“And next I’ll be on the chair. But a watched pot never boils!”

Turning again, he was indeed on the chair.

“A great melancholy” he purred “like that anime you watched as a teen”.

“The cause of this madness is not the universe, it’s you. This is your universe, and also the universe of the universe. Welcome”

During lockdown, I have managed to keep my figure taut and sinewy with the incredible amount of curtain twitching there is to be done. Up and down I get. Restless leg syndrome shakes my body as if I’m being fucked by an invisible lover while I’m trying to concentrate on the t.v…. And one, two, three, four, step up, twitch those curtains! Get those bingo wings moving! Step down! What’s that noise? Step up! Who’s that?! Nothing to do with you// postman// woman walking dog// girl laughing at her phone//

One midnight, I hear howling and cursing below my 2nd floor window. I look down and see a young woman with a narcotic fidget. She is distressed to vibrating point. I can’t see who she is swearing so poisonously at, but I hear a man’s deep, disagreeable grumble coming from the corner of the cul-de-sac. Suddenly, out of view, he throws an entire pram at her, containing a newborn. The woman screams, the man storms off under my window, and in the opposite direction, she runs towards the river, ramming the pram further and further into the dark.

What would you have done if you were I, dear reader? Police? Run down the flights of stairs and chase after the screeching woman to see if she’s okay? I say something like “oooh, fancy that,” to the cat, but she has broken up into different dimensions. Such iridescence.

We are where we are, I say to myself, remembering being in a pram once myself and seeing my father’s hands around my mother’s throat.

I sit down with the remote control and resume shaking my leg.