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A Drink by Edward McLaren

I rise from my screen and enter the horizontal darkness above its frame, itself over the river I do not see. Why is it that when I attempt to do serious work I am always accosted by something miraculous I wouldn’t see in leisure? Two adjacent torches in the distance, not glowering out of plastic but real fire, oppose each other in the night I am looking through. They are angled perfectly for me to see and be unable to discern whether they dwell in two windows of a cottage or in the hands of wanderers sisterly going their way along the hillside. 

Even when they remain in place I can’t be sure if when one dims slightly a fire is going out or one of the prospective figures has climbed up steps. If the steps are there, I cannot help but assume they are leading up to the brow of an ancient mound and perhaps to a temple there. This is how fairies worm into the world. They travel through the excess of a mind, from knowledge to projection, hill to square, and go unobserved until they are believed in. 

Suddenly I am imagining two girls climbing into a bed of grass, blue in blackness, as a coven of two. They have danced with fires a little in their time. But now is enough. They are already going down into the roots of birches by the moment I glance them. Their eyelids are overgrown in rich weeds. They are strange and apocalyptic although their sleep will certainly keep them safe. I relax my eyes and turn down to the screen. One light is left. Two have gone. It demands I read, and type, and contribute work. 

I have wasted a certain amount of my time and yet what was I doing before I did? Geese I am unable to see siren in the massive emptiness over my head. Umbrellas folded stand like hooded figures about the bank. Lights around me pulse like lighthouses at sea. I am working here. I am trying to work at five o’clock at night reviewing books, analysing Greek plays, in the middle of Winter. Perhaps I’ll order a drink. 

But before I stand I have the realisation that when I was dreaming, or whatever I was doing, the only lights that seemed around were the torches and screen. No lights, no lighthouses and no buzzing headlamps seemed to pulse behind me. I was caught up. Or rather, now, at my laptop, typing this, I have been caught. The beams in the distance were shimmers in the web that tightens presently as I struggle to leave. 

Is there any reason I am mesmerised more by my recollection than the event itself? Maybe this moment will also seem unimportant when it goes by and a more interesting thought supplants it. But that won’t alter the fact that, right now, I am aware of the felt significance of the present. It is no stretch at all for me to say that what I feel about this feeling, or remember about this particular memory, is instrumental like the fabric of the soul. 

That is perhaps the wrong word and yet it conjures up the transparent sheet that I am thinking about. The thing that lives in devices of consequence, and things with meanings, I know looks like that. A watery orb that sloshes with bubbles and bellies, and a topaz tone inflected with emerald. That is the being my looking back at my dream exposes it as. 

It is itself. It must be. It is the world and life, and because I myself am alive I cannot deny it, no matter if I later deny the form it appeared in. Even if I revoke the sludge, and do away with the lakemoss, and everything belonging to the black lagoon, it will linger like a ghost, the ghost of a ghost. It will be a fading image and an image. Polaroid, then vector. But each one on the same material before my eyes, conveying the same absolution independently. 

Yes, I will have a beer.

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