Mark offered to pick Martha up from the office.
‘I’ll be there at six,’ Mark confidently predicted.
But he put the wrong postcode into his satnav and turned up twenty minutes late.
‘You are a complete waste of both space and time,’ Martha ranted at him when he finally arrived.
Sometimes Albert covets other people’s houses. All that space, somewhere to park, spare bedrooms. An office even! More than one toilet. Then he remembers how he hates buildings surrounded by air. Best to huddle together in a terrace, he reasons. Far harder, that way, for predators to pick you off.
They construct the wall and appoint fierce guards at each checkpoint. How impressive they all look!
Until, that is, they notice the clouds gliding irreverently above their heads and the determined ants crawling up and over the wall each night.
Even tiny birds flout the fiercely defended border with impunity.
Albert meets two old friends for a drink. After a couple of minutes, he clocks it.
‘Are you two….involved now?’ he asks.
They both smile.
Then Albert thinks about the word involved. Albert’s never been involved, not really.
Perhaps that’s sad. Sadder still, though, would be trying to involve yourself.
Albert accidentally brushes against a man in the corridor.
‘For goodness’ sake,’ the man complains, tutting loudly at Albert and giving him a cold stare.
And Albert realises something he should have worked out years ago: sometimes offence is something you actively have to take. It doesn’t just arrive, unbidden.
We took our telescope up the hill: his mother had died not long before and it was something to do.
After the coldest hour of searching we finally found it – Saturn with all its rings!
“See!” I wanted to shout, “perhaps things might be ringed in surprising ways after all.”
(Jean Arp – Man Seen by a Flower )
Albert stares at the flower.
What kind of flower are you? he wonders.
The flower looks back at him.
You can label me, specify me, the flower thinks, if that helps you manage the situation. The truth is, if you could truly absorb all my flowerness you’d never speak again.