Last night and this morning’s future – or – Goodbye Pigeon

One of you will be sitting at a carpetted booth.  I will hear you say “Excuse me.  Excuse me.”  I will turn around and you will say, “Sit down.”  I will slide into the booth and sit across from you.  You will lean forward and say, “You think you know about the future?”  I will not respond.  You will say, “If you know so much about the future, how about this?” And you will reach under the table and I will see that you are getting something from your bag. And then you will bring your arms back up and you will have your hands cupped around something that is moving.  I will see that you are holding a pigeon, and the pigeon’s eyes will be very wide and moving quickly.  You will let the pigeon go. Over the sound of fluttering wings I will nearly make you out saying “I bet you didn’t predict that.”  And as the pigeon will be flying you and I will remember the moment in the show where I did predict that, and we will stare at each other.  I will not know if anyone noticed the pigeon or how the pigeon left the buidling because you and I will be staring at each other, although I will hear a yelp that will not sound particularly urgent but that I suppose could have been caused by the pigeon.  I will say, “Nice to meet you” and I will get up but I will not want to shake your hand because you will have just been holding a pigeon.  You will hold out your hand.  I will shake your hand.

It will be time to go back to East London and my friend will ask me if I’m going.  I will tell her I’m staying here tonight and I will offer to show her my room.  We will walk under the red shoes in a hoola hoop, I will punch in a code at a door, we will walk down the white hallway, through another set of doors, and I will punch in the code of my room saying, “This is the “Where the Wild Things Are” room. It was designed by two artists I know when they were expecting their baby.”  We will walk into the very dark room and I will turn on the overhead light, although that is not the best lighting to show off the room. She will see the bed, which is tall, resting upon a canopy, and suspended.  The bed is like a boat that rocks back and forth, suspended from tall hooks.  I will show her the cubby hole underneath the bed, turning on the fairy lights that light it up.  She will swing the bed back and forth and she will ask if it’s safe.  I will say I don’t know, but I think it probably is.    She will say it’s very cool but creepy.  And I will be upset that she said it was creepy because I will be aware of the fact that I have to sleep here tonight.

I will walk her out and thank her again for coming and then she will take the East London line home.  She will meet a man on the train who it will turn out is her neighbour and they will go on to be friends.  I will go into my room, and I will  change into my only night gown that I will worry is too short, I will call my husband and our conversation will be the kind of sweet nonsense that I will be glad nobody else can overhear.  I will sit in the corner and stare at the floor which is concrete painted blue while we speak to eachother, and he will say goodnight, and then I will turn off the main light and turn on the light which hangs off of one of the suspension cords and it will sway back and forth.

I will climb the ladder up into the bed without brushing my teeth. I will stare the the hook and the suspension cords that suspend the bed.   I will turn to the window and I will say a prayer, just like I do every night, quietly, in my head I will say “God bless all my friends and relations, thanks be to God,” And then I will cross myself, even though I’m not religious or anything like that.  I will turn around and as I do, the bed will begin to sway gently, like waves that rock against the sky.

I will wake up in total darkness.  I will be gently swaying.  I will turn over.

I will wake up in total darkness to a door slamming and feet running up stairs.  I will remember I am not signed in and out in case of fire because the sign out board does not have a working pencil.  I will think how easy it would have been to replace that pencil.  I will realise there is no fire. I will turn over and the bed will sway.

I will wake up in total darkness.  A plane will be wooshing overhead.  The aimless pleasant sound of birds.

I will wake up in total darkness.  A piano will be playing above me.  The building will be awake and I will feel guilty for not waking up earlier.  The base melody of an emphatic voice speaking will be either above my room or next to my room.  I will wait before stepping onto the ladder, afraid of the loud noise the bed makes when it rocks too far to one side.  I will sit in the bed for a moment.  I will need to pee.  The bed will make a loud noise as I step onto the ladder.  I will throw a shawl around my shoulders, I will consider how short my only night dress is, I will prepare myself to walk quickly and not make eye contact.  I will grab my toothbrush.  I will walk down the hallway, not see anyone.  I will notice the floral carpet on the wooden floors, skewed over to one side.  I will look in the mirror and note this wrinkle.  I will remember when I had been warned by a friend’s mother that I would get a wrinkle there if I didn’t stop furrowing my brow.  I will remember I was seven years old then.  I will spit my toothpaste into the sink.   I will come back to the very dark room.  I will have trouble opening the curtains.  I will pull them to one side, and I will twist a broken curtain around the string, as I figured out to do on the first day, so I will have a little sunlight.  I will climb back into the bed, which will make a loud noise as it rocks to one side, and I will think about the show.  I will think about this performance, and then I will think about the next performance.  I will wonder how I am going to write a new script, and I will worry that this project will burn me out.  I will look at my computer, glowing gently with its little light of a heart beat.  I will yawn.  The bed will make a loud noise and jerk violently to one side. I will step back up the ladder with my computer.  I will think about my friends who made this bed and I will think about their baby and I will wonder if they will ever make their baby a bed like this one.

I will open up my computer and it will already have a document with this present script open in a document titled BAC 2 the Future Friday.  I will look at the script that I have already rewritten once.  I will feel warm sitting in bed with the computer, like a child who is home sick from school. I will begin rereading. I will not be able to stop thinking about Thursday’s script, gone forever.  I will think this is a stupid idea for a show.  I will notice the places where I re-used particularly well written sentences. I will wonder why I am doing this.  I will think about how I once showed promise as a writer, and I will wonder if this project is my attempt to kill that promise once and all, to really burn myself out on a project that never ends that nobody will read that the audience may even at times find boring.  I will click on file, I will write “Save As” and I will replace the word “BAC to the Future Friday” with “Saturday.” I will begin deleting.  The first line will read “I will say “the length of a breath” And as soon as I say this you will clap.”  I will delete the words  “the length of a breath”.  I will continue reading.  I will see that many of the details really should be left the same, although I will take out the part about the baby gurgling because I will not be sure that there will be a baby on Saturday night.  I will be sad when I get to the part about the pigeon, because I will miss the pigeons.  I will replace the pigeon with an acrobat who will do back flips down the grand stairs.  I will look forward to the acrobat although I will know it won’t be as funny.  I will realise that I am not staying at BAC that night, and so I will begin to write about the tube ride home.  I will be tired of writing about public transportation, I will have already written about it for nearly every work in progress of this show, it will be almost as tired and repetitive as when I am actually on public transportation, and the moment I will write the words, “I top up my oyster card” I will decide that I feel hungry. I will step out of the bed. I will unwrap the curtain and I will change in the dark – clothes off, underwear, trousers, shirt, sweater, I will keep my socks from last night on and I will hope that I get away with this. I will bring my laptop, climb down into a scary basement, and  I will pass a hallway in the basement with a board game called “Worst Case Scenarios” and I will think, “Only in the Western World.”  I will see the Portuguese family who don’t speak English cooking in the kitchen in the basement. I will want to say goodbye to them but I will not know how.  I will put down my laptop on a wooden counter and I will go into the fridge and unwrap the half grapefruit I saved yesterday.  I will put as much sugar as possible on this piece of fruit.  I will sit at my computer and begin eating, double click on safari, and type the words “face” into the searchbar.  The blue and white screen will come up, I will feel comforted and empty.  I will scroll through the newsreel.  I will read a witness report posted by Ramin Mahmood on the very long Iran-Iraq war, and then I will read a list posted by Janet Stacey detailing the Walkmen’s ten best songs. I will look at my clock and an hour and a half will have gone by. I will be panicked. I will walk up stairs to the café and I will order a coffee,  sit at a table and open my laptop and close facebook.

I will see I got to the part about getting on the tube. I will begin typing.  I will not feel like I am writing well but I will keep writing, keep pushing through on a trip that will feel nearly as monotonous as an actual tube ride and eventually, I will get home.  I will see the part in the script that reads “Music” and then I will realise that I need to rewrite the second day and that I will need to delete and rethink the very long part about rewriting the show because I will not need to rewrite the show on Sunday. I will worry that Saturday night’s audience will not appreciate all of the rewriting without this part of the show.  I will wonder what I will even do on Sunday and I will realise that I will probably just go see Les Miserables.  I will copy and paste all of the lyrics to the song, “One day more.”  They will copy and paste awkwardly into the document and I will reformat them and change their colour and font.  I will read them back –“One day more, Another day, another destiny, This never ending road to Calvary; These men who seem to know my crime Will surely come a second time, One day more…”  I will hear the melody of these lyrics and I will think, “Why make art after this” and then I will realise that I risk alienating most of my audience and so I will delete these lyrics.  I will decide to write about going to the market.  I will write, I will wake up and I will decide that to go to the market.  I will keep typing. I will remember someone from my PhD saying, “It’s like when you write a great email and then it gets lost before you send it.  You can never write another email as good as that first one was.”   I will not know how to make my Sunday interesting, which I will find worrying on a personal level, and then I will remember, it doesn’t need to be interesting, it only needs to sound feasible, and  I will doubt that I can make it sound feasible.  And then I will remember what I read about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  – that sufferers have over active doubt and guilt.  So I will realise what I am doing because of the way my brain is wired and I will doubt my own doubt and I will feel guilty.  I will continue writing.  I will get to the end of my Sunday and I will think, that actually sounds like a pretty good Sunday.  I will think I should plan my Sundays more often.

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