Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Marley stood up on a train

Marley was slowly becoming aware of certain widespread thought patterns. He thought these could even be said to be universal. Recurring phrases and expressions he had heard were bouncing in his mind, he could see some faces, faces looking at him in disgust for not understanding the "only true way of living", irritated accusations by people, "live a little", they said, "you need to let go of your emotions", "be carefree". He could not separate the word "carefree" from "careless", he could and would not. They were one and the same to him. The girl with "Carpe Diem" tattooed on her ankle; did she understand? Was she seizing the day, or justifying her lack of understanding? Did she feel the weight or the weightlessness of mortality? He did not talk to her, he daren't. He was afraid, amongst other things, of not being able to repress his indignation; he wanted to lecture her on what it meant to 'seize the day', he wanted to tell her just how she was terribly wrong, wrong about everything, from the most general ideas to the finest details of human nature. Two eyes were staring back at him. He remembered he was on the train. His therapist advised him a few days before to try and engage in casual conversation once in a while; it would create opportunities for meeting new and interesting people whom he might like and maybe share some experiences with, she said. The therapist. What a flat, lifeless character she was. Still, he decided to heed her advice, just this once.
'I apologise, I didn't mean to stare, I was just thinking about a thing.' Marley said to the girl sitting opposite him.
'It's ok, it happens to me all the time. To be completely honest, I only just realised I was staring at you.' she replied.
Marley didn't know how to continue from here, so he didn't. He simply smiled, because he was told that people like smiles. "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you", so he looked around, at all the grim looking faces on the train. Did they need to know what he was smiling at to smile with him? He wasn't aware of any unwritten rules of smiling. Why weren't they smiling, then? "Laughter is contagious!" and he laughed. Not one of them got infected. Maybe if I stand up, he thought.

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