I am excluded from their company, reduced to eavesdropping on the baby’s contented gurgles and Kristine’s loving croons through closed doors. I step off a low point and fall further still into the depths of despair. There is no rocky bottom to hit; only sharp ledges to clutch at on the way down a misty void to oblivion.
When afflicted by overwhelming depression I tend to wander. One aimlessness walk-about takes me to the freight dock doors. I halt. The truck and its contents are on the other side. For whatever reason my subconscious has brought me here, it probably won’t leave me alone until I investigate.
I open the doors and let down the truck’s ramp to dully look over the gardening supplies inside. Thought processes are reactivated when I step in amongst the contents. These are spoils of my foray into Creep territory? The reason I’d suffered through several near death experiences? Tools, fertilizers, mulch, cement and statues. What a stupid…
…then I see that forlorn, half-dead pine tree. Original intentions as resurrected and the dark clouds are dispelled. The unexpected tool of my redemption is speedily unloaded.
The scope of works needed to earn my atonement is ambitious. I spend many sweaty hours each day in our tranquil little park, building, planting, watering and digging. The hardest sustained work I’ve done in months stretches and tears flabby muscles, instantly soothed with chemical affection. My daily exhaustion is absolved by sensuous blackouts.
I visit the roof often to watch the skies. If I’m not too wrecked, I scan the heavens with supplemented sight. On the occasions it can’t be coaxed out, my imagination twists cloud formations and shades of light into evil fiends. All observations are equally worrying.
The single black tendril I discovered several days ago has progressed from the East across the azure skies, as high, thin and straight as a jet engine’s contrail. A second thread crawls from the northern horizon on a southerly heading. Each day they head closer to our location and eventually collide high above. They commune for a time before departing to continue their straight line journey.
I gape up at the formation they form, standing under a giant, pencil-thin X. The axis of which is directly over my head.
The completion of the garden project is defined by the limits of my skill. When that limit is reached, I waste the best part of a day picking up individual leaves and hiding them under a bush. I use these pitiful, cowardly delaying tactics to gather my courage. The next part of my plan involves inviting Kristine down here and weathering her inevitable hate and sorrow.
Several wheelchairs lie about the building; left awry from past drunken episodes of careening through the corridors, crashing into objects, giggling like a school-girl. One of these conveyances is destined for less mirthful duties.
I search out a reasonably unbent chair and send it to our floor via the shunned lift. Climbing the stairs eats a reserve of energy I should be saving for the task ahead. Upstairs I slump into the delivered wheelie and take a brief time-out, chewing tiny measures of chemical strength.