He, and Himself Alone
He wandered on that cold night. It was mid-winter, and by midnight, frost had already begun its journey to the ground. The remnants of autumn leaves crunched under him, crisp, coated in an icy glaze that was just visible in the brightest of moonlight.
Despite the cold, he loved nights like these. Walking in the moon-lit world, catching glimpses of the stars, of the constellations he recognised and those he did not. He was alone on the land, the only person awake, the only person looking into that area of dark sky, that area of glistening leaves. This thought comforted him, gave a sense of secludedness that his heart had always ached for. Although, it through no choice of his own. For had no other person to walk with. He had never walked under the stars with a soul but his own.
The world wouldn’t allow that. Not for anybody.
He’d been younger, much younger, nineteen or twenty, if he remembered correctly. He supposed other people had been that age when it had all happened, when it had taken all those he loved away. And yet, he saw no sign of it, no sign of humanity beyond his own skin. And on certain days, he questioned even that.
On that particular night, he pondered things more than most. It was a act that he had side-lined, one he had locked away at the back of the darkest cupboard. Over time he had learnt it wasn’t remotely healthy to dwell on all those years that had passed. And yet, despite this, it was something that had become his best friend. The past held all the pleasure and all the pain, all the wishes and all the resentment, all the love and all the hate. He bathed in all these thoughts. Filling him with all the emotions that had ever rushed through him. Most prominently though, he felt a deep sadness for all those he wasn’t allowed to surround himself with. Those that the world had ripped away without a second thought.
As he walked, returning to his home – not that he called it a home, it was something of a roof, a shelter, a tool – nothing more. He couldn’t give so much meaning to a thing that gave him nothing in return, that merely supported his meagre existence.
He had thought about it too many times to remember. It was something that wouldn’t abate, no matter how irrational he regarded it to be, how insane he suspected it made him. Nevertheless, the notion of giving in, of forcing things to a definite, irreversible end, was an ever-present demon within him. One that sucked at his life, his energy, leeching the things that mattered most. Even if he happened to no longer care about himself in any way whatsoever. Most things he did were simply out of necessity. In that sense, necessity was a bitch.
After a long walk, containing long pensive thoughts, he returned home. The fire flickered through the cracks in the boarded windows and smoke rose from the chimney, everything as he left it, everything the was it always was. That’s the thing, nothing ever changed, nothing ever varied at all. He saw his life as a linear line. An existence without deviation, without ever straying from its predetermined, shitty course. This he resented, he hated. He saw there could be no change, that change in the world had become something you couldn’t even begin to reach towards.
Inside, he sat in front of the roaring fire that staved away the chill from outside. In his hand rested a large glass of homemade spirit. He didn’t know what to call it. He supposed it wasn’t really worthy of a name, anyway. Nevertheless, it kept him warm, and was useful on the days in which he wanted his mind to be silenced by drunken stupor. Lately, that had been a number. He would have to curb the habit, find something less egregious to replace it. Though, he wondered what this might be.
For a second, a face flashed into his vision. A person from a life long ago, a life that had long since been left in the acrid dust of another world. It was Cerys, his first girlfriend. They’d both be almost twenty-seven by now, or was it twenty-six… in a world without clocks or calendars, he wasn’t sure. He found quickly that things merged into the next. Days, weeks, moths, and years, until they meant nothing at all. Until time itself became completely irrelevant. He imagined her eyes, her smile, her legs and body. He thought about all that he had felt, and all the things he had been accused of not feeling. He remembered the way she used to sit, slightly cocking one leg to the side. The way she used to smile at him. And the way she used to lead him onto her bed in her room at university. Times didn’t get better than those, he knew that. Some of the women after Cerys, he scarcely remembers. Most of them he wouldn’t want to.
The thing he loathed the most was knowing that he was never going to meet another person like Cerys again. That he might never meet a person at all… Of couse he was lonely. He had been lonely before this, in those early teen years. Then again, isn’t everyone? But it morphed into something different after what he thought was six or seven years alone. Six or seven years without another soul hearing his own voice, without himself ever hearing anyone else’s voice.
Finally, after downing the last of the spirit, he thought of his mother and father. They had always been there, where were they now? For all he knew, they could be alive,- against all the odds. Though, did it really matter? He wondered if anything mattered any more. Thinking, as always, he poured himself a smaller glass of the spirit.
His name was Ed, and he was more uncertain of the future than any other man had ever been.