A blog by Nikki Dudley about the gaps in everyday life...


Friday, 13 November 2009

Ellipsis- chapter 3

Hi all,

this will be the last chapter I will post so enjoy!

Chapter 3 THE NOTE

Highbury and Islington station. 15:30 Sunday.

It is Daniel’s handwriting. Thom recognises the way Daniel crosses his T’s with slanted lines, the way the top of his zeros never quite meet. Not meet, met. Daniel won’t be in the present tense anymore.

At this, the note in Thom’s hand starts to shake and he buckles onto the bed.
Thom supposes he should know better than to snoop in Daniel’s things. Looking in Daniel’s things is similar to how it had been trying to relate to him in life. Thom feels like he is swimming against the current and he has found a small piece of flotsam but it instantly falls apart. This note could be written in Chinese, all the sense it made.

There are so many drawers in Daniel’s room, small ones for tiny secrets, large ones with small compartments inside; large ones ordered in such a way that no one would dare touch a thing. Thom can smell Daniel’s authority. Invisible foot soldiers are standing guard around the room, willing to die in order to protect his classified information.

Yet here Thom is, having been compelled by the only drawer half open, like a partly opened wound. He shouldn’t be in here anyway, as Aunty Val and Richard haven’t even managed to open the door a crack. He is trespassing because he knows Daniel won’t be able to stop him. He wants to see the magician’s secrets that have bemused him for so long. He has poked around in this drawer and his hand has seemingly come out dripping with blood and sticky with pus, and all he wants to do is stuff everything back inside and close it up.

He refocuses on the note.

This is the time and place he died.

Thom shivers and tosses the note away at the thought. Yet moments later, he slowly leans closer to it and re-reads it at least ten times. He is a mouse tiptoeing around a mousetrap. What do these words mean? Was Daniel meeting someone? And were they involved with his death? Was it suicide even? Or is this merely a coincidence that he wrote down this time and place, when they just so happened to denote almost to the minute, his death?

Thom feels his stomach groaning in part shock and part confusion. He rushes to the toilet and vomits. This has happened before, only a few times in his life – well, the worst times if he is honest. However, although he has clearly vomited up most of his breakfast, the questions remain inside Thom like ulcers, nagging and ugly. He washes out his mouth with cold water and makes his way back to Daniel’s room.

The note is still there. Thom doesn’t know why the note shouldn’t be there still but perhaps he would prefer if it would disappear; leave him alone to be sad about Daniel. The last thing he needs is more questions. Whenever somebody dies, there are enough questions anyway. All he can think about is the last time he’d been in the hold of this endless interrogation, when he’d just turned twelve, and both his parents hadn’t come home. He’s vomited then too. A few times in fact.

Oddly enough, this room is where Thom was transported that night. He vaguely recalls Aunty Val kissing him goodnight whilst Daniel watched from the doorway, having been evicted for the night to the sofa. Thom felt unsettled then by the clatter of the railway that ran behind the house, but over the course of his adolescence it became as natural as birdsong.

In this moment however, the sound of the railway makes him feel sick. Although thankfully, he has nothing left to eject. He looks down at his suit and seeing a sick stain on his left cuff, rubs at it anxiously. If he turns up at Daniel’s funeral covered in sick, surely he may as well smear it over the coffin. After all, they were more than just cousins, yet not quite brothers.

Now that Thom thinks properly, he wishes he had known Daniel as well as he did Richard. Although, he and Daniel were the same age and even shared the same birthday, it seems these things merely gave them more reason not to bond. Instead, as soon as Thom arrived after his parent’s deaths, he and Richard, who was two years older, fell into a closer friendship.

Thom tried with Daniel, yet Daniel didn’t seem interested. Whenever Thom pictures their shared birthday parties, Daniel is set back in some way, a step further from the table where everyone was singing happy birthday or at Christmas, Daniel waited until everyone else had torn at their presents frantically and only then, he carefully chose one to begin with.

And what is the last thing he had said to Daniel? He searches through his memory and can only come up with a brief conversation at Richard’s last birthday party. Daniel was standing by the front door. They exchanged pleasantries about general health and jobs. And what is it that Thom said to him? His last proper words to his cousin; face to face?

“Daniel, do you know where Aunty Val is?”

“In the kitchen”. He nods towards the house. His smile acknowledges what they both feel; a need to find an exit as fast as possible, a sad knowledge that they will never linger with each other. Aunty Val is their only real bond.

“Thanks. Speak later”.

Yet Thom didn’t speak to him later. And he never would again.

Thom wishes now he had tried harder. If not to be closer to him in life but for this moment, in order to understand this note, to understand why Daniel wrote it so precisely and left in the only half open drawer in the room, as though he knew...

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