Caught, trapped, wrapped and woollen bound in a complete whiteout, a winter wonderland of sorts, with my fingers little more than a faded monochrome mere millimetres from my face. I can almost believe that nothing else exists — that nothing else ever existed — beyond my protective wall of rusting wire.
The ever-buzzing hive, the thriving labyrinth of boxes upon boxes, has been reduced to a hushed silence. The city’s bells are muffled, drunken and slurring. Even the sirens are distant, rushing to the scene of a crime committed somewhere way beyond these mists, while a peal of laughter and a sudden, inebriated holler can seemingly carry for miles through this foggy, slow-moving picture.
Yet this is not what I want. Not in the here and now, not in today’s rotation of our spinning world. Yes, minutes and hours may have paused, but I need to stop all the infernal clocks and watches: remove each and every skeletal hand from their dials, pluck them from their circular misery, and gently entomb them in the softest bed of tissue for the foreseeable future. Only then would I breathe anew, afresh, as if for the very first time.
My desire would be for the skies to open up and throw down a snowstorm like never before, carpeting the rooftops, the sills and the network of irregular lines below, so that I could retreat behind the iron and peeling paint of my window frames, press my face to the glass and smother my skin in my own breath, frosting white upon white upon white. No reflection, and no time for reflection because the ticking of time has ceased to be.
Tell me, first, what would you see?
Footprints in snow, stretching in every direction away from my anonymously numbered door in a rush of still life. With so many different horizons on offer, I would neither know nor care about which pair of tracks to follow, and would instead follow none. With leave to remain here on high in my vanishing air, I would watch for the distant outlines that dared to walk against the furious dash of humanity, moving ever closer and transforming themselves from silhouette to skin, from memory to flesh and bone.
Tell me, second, what would you hear?
Footprints in snow, rhythmically crunching in their crystal clarity, uncertain rather than confidently striding. I would hear every gasp of air and every frozen intake of breath. Every choked laugh would ricochet against the brick walls, transforming in a single beat into the sound of child-like shrieks bursting forth. Most of all, I would pay hushed heed to every whisper, to see if I could make sense of the indistinct mysteries being imparted to me in the dusk, in the dark, and in the stark white morning.
Tell me, third, what would you touch?
Footprints in snow, crawling along and placing my hands, one after the other, in the curved impressions before they faded in yet another frosted flurry. I would embed my palm in every heel, caress my outstretched fingers against the upper curve of every sole, and touch where you had walked. Maybe, in the shape you had left in your wake, I would discover where you travelled before finding your way through to the threshold of my hideaway.
Tell me, last — and with the few wintry words you have left before your voice disappears into the thinnest air — what would you be?
I would be enmeshed. I would be found forever up here, as much as lost forever down there. I would be footprints fading back into the paving stones. Snowblind now, becoming snowmelt later.