Hank Williams Died At 29

The Tilled Field, Joan Miró
It seems to me that right now, especially, life is terrible, meaningless and miserable, and from that I find that I am becoming apathetic, that I no longer care. I find myself being dragged along by life, and rather than fight it or swim through it, I float and stare above. I will not always be so apathetic, mind, but I am so apathetic right now, and so, with very little left within me, I seek to withdraw some joy—any joy—from my dire existence, even the tiniest amount may be extracted from the minutiae of my survival whenever and wherever I can.
    This morning I arose and pushed my fingers through the blinds. What hour was this and how dark everything has become! I remembered it was the first day of autumn, and the date had completely escaped my attention. It seems no time at all since the sun was up with me when I first went back to work, but it has been seven weeks—as long as I was furloughed—and that is time indeed if I count it on my hands. There was nothing to be seen outside of the window, and my eyes had had four hours to acclimatise themselves to darkness. In the shower I thought of what song I wanted to listen to on my walk to the train station. I have imbued such decisions with a great deal of importance—all about starting off on the right foot. Walking through London to the office during rush hour would dictate a different choice in music, but a sleepy seaside town outside of holiday season had a mood of its own. I guess that I should not complain, I love you still, you win again—I sung under the suds; decided; the song had been in my head for a number of days, becoming a kind of anthem. Afterwards, I probed between the blinds again; now it was a tad brighter. The timidity of daybreak! Even dimly, one could see a thick fog over everything. It was all fog. Immediately I became excited to walk out into it. The feeling of cold morning fog after a hot shower. My father was awake and doing the washing-up; he offered to drive me to the train station as he had to pick up some tickets. I declined politely—‘The exercise is good for me. I want to walk.’ As I got to the main road I saw an apparition darting through the fog. It was one of the cats that frequents my parents’ garden. Nobody knows the cat’s name, and it is collarless, as timid as the daybreak. Yes, it darted across the road, crouching lowly, moving with such speed and so smoothly that one could have mistaken it for riding a skateboard. I smiled at the nameless cat, and having understood the scope of its territory a little more I felt as though I had been witness to something Attenboroughesque.
The fog held back the daylight. The fog brought the day breakfast in bed—‘Take it easy for once, lay in’—and we, what few were awake, were left waiting. I lit a cigarette and narrowly evaded a speeding automobile. How visible was I, how awake were they, did they not see my glowing tip, had I become so invisible? Did I belong to the fog now? There were three sunflowers peering over a fence: a mum sunflower, a dad and a baby sunflower; each a different height, each facing the same direction, posing for a family photograph. In the fog they swayed. The family of sunflowers nodded at me as I passed, bravely clinging to their colours at the edge of autumn. All the streetlights switched off at once. It felt like a starting pistol from the local council, meant to urge Monday the twenty-first of September out of bed; she rolled over, she was not ready yet. The fog was so thick that one could not see halfway down the road. Buses loomed out; first their headlights visible, then their destination in orange lettering, and finally the dim windows of four-dozen empty seats. This must be what it is like to walk amongst the clouds! Next to the pavement was a small table and chairs for children, wood painted white that had turned grey—or was it the fog? There was a sheet of paper tacked to the top: FREE. Had the children grown? Pausing, the table was so pristine, unmarked and unstained, that it would be safe to assume that the children were very well-behaved and took great care of their possessions. Maybe the children had never used it, I thought. Maybe the children never came. Dew dropped from the tree limbs that overhung the edges of the pavement, creating lines of puddles. A pear tree had shed its fruit on the pavement, too, and its fruit had rotted and been smeared by footsteps, dragged, pulped brown and mucky in slippery straight lines. The morning shift for the care home was beginning—at six-thirty—and tired-looking young women walked towards me from the train station—or dropped off by mothers-partners-lovers—went to the front door, rang the bell, and waited, looking up & down the street at the fog.
    Now the fields have been tilled it looks like nothing will ever grow there again. They are so perfect and flat. They are flawless. They are the texture and colour of manila envelopes and the slopes of the hills are emphasised subtly in the expanse between hedges and ditch. Every trace of its golden crop is removed; the quilt it spread on the landscape withdrawn; the lumbering machinery that chugged across the soil swept up behind itself and even its own presence was scrubbed away, instilling a sense of serenity on the viewer. I pull an apple from my backpack: a braeburn my mother picked up in the supermarket yesterday. My mouth was dry because I had let it dry because I had wanted my mouth to be driest when I bit into the apple at its sweetest, crunchiest, crispiest part. Studying the colour of the braeburn’s skin, the cloud of red colliding with green, to determine which part was the sweetest, the crunchiest, the crispiest. Having settled on an exact spot, I bit in. The juice quickly covered my tongue. I had guessed right; it was undeniably the sweetest, crunchiest, crispiest part of the apple.