other people

Crushed with an almost literal depression and floundering itchy boredom, Will decided to go for a walk.  He hadn’t had a physical conversation with another real life human person for a week, perhaps more.  He didn’t count, “can I have a regular coffee please?” or any orders or statements of thanks, as conversations.  He’d been out, not infrequently to coffee shops and a pub to watch the football, to the cinema – where he imagined he’d caught the headlice he found that morning.  He didn’t count the brief embarrassed chat with the pharmacist either.  “Hi, I um.. think I’ve got nits.  What do I need to do?”  That had been a great way to start the weekend: that strangely persistent aggravation while dozing in; then after a shower, finding those white blobs under just washed hair; a bitter, angry what-the-fuck?! jog down to the pharmacist.  One bottle of something, a demeaning self treatment which recalled the memory of a forlorn looking, fleabitten dog.  It was gone now anyway, he thought, pacing another pavement.  You couldn’t tell.  He just wanted to move, walk, see things, offer himself up to the opportunity of life, of something happening to him, rather than just sitting in his flat.  Nothing did, but still he walked, plodded without aim.  It seemed to Will, that the higher the concentration of people, of strangers, then the less inclined they are to communicate with each other.  A village, small town, a country lane, crossing paths with strangers; you might nod, say hello.  In a city like London there is no chance of this.  In cities, people have their people already: their friends and their family.  Otherwise they can become lonely and sad, grow bitter and fester.  Because other people are what it’s about for 99.999% of people.  And the remaining percentile are unlikely to live in cities.  That’s the point and the meaning of it all, Will figured.  Sharing, being with, living with, conversing and learning and interacting; growing and experiencing.  Living exclusively inside your own head is unhealthy and exhausting: giving yourself little treats and incentives, beating yourself up over the smallest of things, not bothering to eat properly, pathetically craving attention via Twitter (ghastly, addictive Twitter), being tired when you’re so miserable, having only art to stimulate (books, music and film), and football too of course (how much worse would he be without football?), not daring to offer yourself any real downtime when you’re genuinely switched off.  Aside from sleeping of course.  Beautiful sleep.  Then you worry that you’re so attached to sleeping, that bliss of unconsciousness, maybe that’s the answer.  If you really do enjoy unconsciousness better than waking life, if waking life without any basic human interaction is generally miserable for you, it’s been that way for a considerable time and shows little sign of changing: why not take it permanently?  Is that so irrational?  If he gets a car, the options open up to do it quickly, not harm or inconvenience many other people, wrap it up as an unfortunate accident: he was drinking, lost control, nobody else around.  He’d walked miles now, right into the centre.  Not far off, all that grand white building affluence.  Will wondered what the difference is between being sporadically hit by these waves of profound sadness, and enduring a clinical depression.  He had never seen anyone, talked about it or taken any medication; although people do, he’d known some who had, people you might not expect to, the most secure seeming people.  They said it was a clear chemical imbalance that had to be corrected, to maintain them on a solid stable path; not to waver one way or the other but remain constantly aligned.  It sounded frighteningly scientific to Will, unnerving: yes, ok, please control my brain.  How could it be so effective when everything depressed?  The people, or lack of them, the city, the news, still losing at that stupid fucking iPhone game however many times he played it, ale tasting vinegary when it shouldn’t, sneers, prices, crooks, the internet.   Ok, so this was a particularly strong one, but surely he’d be sucked out of it soon?  Slipping.   Will’s mobile phone slipped through a widening hole in the lining of his pocket and dropped down his leg, hitting the top of his shoe and skidding fast on it’s stainless steel back along the concrete bridge.  It impacted with a half full can of Fosters beer, lying on its side, and the device flipped in the air as if alive, but its momentum carried on, finding a small gap in the bridge wall.  He looked over the side in time to make out its falling arc and a tiny, tinny slap on the surface of the river below.  Will sighed, looking down at the small ripples.  He breathed deeply, in and out, trying to keep everything in.


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