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0004 | fluff – a thousand fragments

0004 | fluff

A tiny scraping sound coming from the ground. I stop, take my weight on one leg and examine the underside of my shoe, expecting to find a leaf or paper wrapper caught between the ridges of the patterned grip, but there is nothing. I start off again and now the sound is gone and its memory evaporates almost instantly too and I can recall only a blunder of mind or ear. It’s cold and my naked hands have no choice but to seek warmth, and so it is that both find shelter and industry: picking at lint from the insides of my coat pockets. Each one seems to harvest an almighty store of it. To tease it out from the corners, I have to push my fingers firm against my leg for resistance. When a good-sized lump comes away, I bring it out to examine, and each excavation brings cheer. Foraging deeper, then right thumb and forefinger emerge holding a pyramid-shaped bluish-grey wedge of fluff. I deposit it into my left palm and return to the right pocket to reexamine the cavity that remains, and it suddenly feels like a new space; deeper, smoother, and it’s a ridiculously simple pleasure to savour. As I’m doing this, words come into my head: ‘things went right and things went wrong.’ I repeat the sentence over, wait for some other link, some other rhythm to give these words context, but it doesn’t come. These words alight but are as alone and disconnected as the scrape of the paper wrapper that wasn’t there at my shoe, earlier. I repeat them one last time, still digitally active inside my pockets and my gaze surfs to the homeless man opposite who is turning out the contents of the street bin across the road. He explores and then throws two empty burger cartons to the ground. The twice-discarded boxes cartwheel a little and hit the wall behind him, their form now tragically more forlorn than his own. Melancholy overwhelms me as I find my reflection in the window behind the tramp. There I am. My hands in my pockets, his hands in the bin. There I am. I see my foot leave the ground and find it again. No wrapper. No leaf. I ball the fluff tightly between finger and thumb. In this mirror of shop front, just found, about to be lost, I find my own gaze and both recognize and don’t recognize myself. There and not quite there. Between us, two fingerless-gloved hands lift aloft a drink carton, and then in one downwards movement he gauges contents and weight and stows it into his coat pocket. Glass gives out to brick and I’ve lost the version of me before we could properly become acquainted. The scrape lost too, such that I now can’t recall its sound or rhythm at all; and the words allowed to flee too, for I could find no ballast to register them properly. My fingers turn over the ball in my pocket, grip it like it’s the only certainty of the morning I have. I find the corner once more, push it back there, firmly, nesting the pressure against my leg.

Reader Comments

  1. Matt, I have a confession: I have just this evening read the first few of your fragments. Sorry it’s taken me so long.

    Why am I sorry? Because they are beautiful, and I wish I’d made the effort earlier.

    The benefits of arriving late? I have read four, and know I have another 42 lined up ahead of me to enjoy.


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