A Head on Their Shoulders

Patience is disturbed by a knock at the door. “Hello, may I call you Pat”? asks a woman in a neat civilian suit, expensive with authority. “No, how do you do.” An obviously junior assistant shuffles foot to foot, looking down the street. “We are from the Office of Transition, and are here to ensure you have made plans, there are only two weeks left, better to be prepared.” Patience surveys their faces, both young, one experienced, the other beginning. She nods and closes the door. David raises his eyes expectantly as she returns to the library; his head among the books between loose piles they have been sorting through. “I heard”. She passes her fingers through his slightly thinning hair, adjusts his position so he can see her and the room. The readers, a computer, and the old oak stand are placed directly in front of him. The curtains are drawn. “Are you still dreaming? I can stop the medication.” He is uncertain. “Will they know”? Patience sighs, she does not wish to cry, “Not until it is too late for them.”

“I hate this job”. Cynthia is accustomed to the nausea of new associates, the tangled emotions the first trips out evoke. She shrugs. “Would you rather do your National Service among the dead, cleaning out for the Office of Retirement”?  “There were only three options, the other was Donations.” She has heard it all before. “Yeah, well your kidney got the better of your ethics. Live with it sunshine.” Cynthia updates the report and pulls another file. Glen checks the detail and signs off, looking back to the flat, no one is at the window. “I don’t get it, where did they come from, and why do they just accept this”? She can’t be bothered explaining how there are different types of them or why. “I’ve got a family to feed and the kids are always hungry. This is how it is, and it’s been this way for as long as anyone knows. You work the schedule, deliver them, cross them off”. She starts the car, and breaks after a few metres. “Listen Glen, do your eighteen months and go back to your normal life”.

Patience puts David on the seat beside her. He is drowsy. “You have to wait until I say.” He nods best he can, being a table top model. She loses the surveillance vehicle because she is quicker, and can scan traffic with a blink. Before they get to Mt Donna Buang, he remembers how he was careful in the beginning, only changing small things, revisiting a first kiss, repeating a sunny day, keeping snow unmoving in moonlight; he got reckless, his mistakes started, and his nights became long reconstructions, he slept worlds. He feels the danger of wandering, long lines of shade cross light, beams contract, burst. She shakes him awake. “Read this, take it in, make it right, make us right, give us real skin”. Patience has prepared notes for a new life. David smiles, departing, taking in the challenge not to stray into different things. On the roof of the old signal station, she places him gently in her lap, and starts to read him A Tale of Two Cities, humming at the same time, in a different kinder place.

Ervin Herth-Loranth Budapest Art Market Contemporary Art Fair 2014

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