In Repair by Michael de Waal-Montgomery


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SUMMARY: Short story.

He was fundamentally damaged but he just didn't know it yet. I'm not sure what would have hurt him more: to know or not know. I guess it depends how you deal with things. Way I see it, we're all in repair. How long will it take you to accept it? Some accept quicker than others. Some never accept. I accepted a long time ago. I think if you accept that you're broken then you can finally start to heal. I've been trying to heal for what seems like a lifetime, but every time my cuts start looking better something happens that opens them right back up again. I've lost count of how many times I almost made it.
But you know what I finally realised? There is no repair. There is no cure for this condition. These cuts are incapable of healing. They are programmed into us, like the software in a machine. So I decided to put on my father's old raincoat and go out for a walk. Why should I let the rain keep me in? For the first time in a long time I breathed in the fresh air under that grey slate sky. I thought about my future, where it was going. I thought about my past, where I had been. Blurred pictures taken quickly on a phone's camera: how I lived my life. I thought about old friends. Where were they now? They probably wondered the same about me. Nowhere, I tell them, as if pre-empting their question. I'm nowhere. Right in the damn centre of nowhere, in nowhereville, planet nowhere. That's nice, they say, and turn to leave, quite unperturbed. Hey wait, I call, what about you, where are you now? They don't answer. They never do. They just look at me with that blank expression. Not so much at me as through me. Everyone always looks through me.

A moon can be seen in the afternoon sky. I regard it for a while and decide it's not my moon. Nor is the sun my sun. Nothing is mine. Why should anything be mine? I don't want any of it. Everything just belongs to itself from where I'm standing. That's the simplest way. Why make things complicated? That's what I always say. But then I see the clouds and realise they are in fact probably my clouds. I'm always saturated in cloud, fogging up my vision, stopping me from seeing clearly. Everywhere I go I can't seem to shake them off. I try to think of a time before the clouds became a part of me. A distant and indistinct memory flickers in the back of my mind like a dying ember about to go out forever. Only the smoke remains. Soon the smoke pervades everywhere. I cough and try to see through to the light but it's no use. The fire has gone out. I feel my way around, hoping to find someone else caught in the same trap. But there is no one. It's only me. It only ever was me. I cry with all my soul. And cough. And rub my stinging eyes. Where are you God? Tears.
Soon I wake up and realise I've been dreaming again. I go down to the kitchen and make my scrambled eggs on toast. Breakfast. I drink my coffee and take my vitamins. They should keep me healthy. Pills, pills, pills. What would we do without our pills? I look out the window and see the sun is climbing high in the sky. I have already forgotten my bad dream. Another lovely day. I'm awake and my rational mind is in control. Away with all these irrational thoughts. I see myself in the mirror on the way to the lounge and stop. Is that me? Is that really my face? I touch it to be sure. Are those my hands? I touch one hand with the other. Where is the real me, I say. Get out of here you liar! Get out you cheat! Give me back myself! Give me back to me! I fall down onto my knees and tears flood my vision. Sunlight streams in through the front door, highlighting the dust that clings to everything. Why is this happening to me? My mind falls away. I just let go. I have to let go. It's all I can do.
I lie sprawled on the floor as the sun melts the snowman inside of me.