after dark

for the third week in a row, i missed the last train of thought. no use waiting in the station, the next train would come by hours from now. long, empty hours. fluorescent lighting sucking the life out of my eyes, wooden benches with stiff backs only a book could sit on with any degree of comfort. three hours of walking to return home, but seven hours until the next train would come rattling in. three hours of walking with a heavy satchel, or seven hours of mindless waiting. i knew the way home, but had never done it in the middle of the night. i heaved the bag onto my shoulder and set off across the deserted parking lot.

as soon as the station lights finally faded from view, the first thoughts started to roll in. little ones, observations such as—“was that a bat flying over the pond?” or—“my shoes are more comfortable than i expected”. i couldn’t will them away. they just peeked in at every opportunity, as if they were made of the very air i breathed. the thoughts began to bundle together, attracting spare phrases and ideas until they were full-fledged beliefs. one of them got very strong, enough to take on vaguely human form and walk beside me. harry—that was its name, as i learned later—started to make sounds with his shadowy throat, just syllables at first: “ammmmmmm plllll mmaaaaa errh.” i encouraged him: “‘am pleased to make your acquaintance’? ‘ample mayor’? ‘ham pulls my earth’?” i couldn’t see him smiling, but i thought i did. he was glad i was making an effort.

[to be continued]

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