How long

How long would you stay in there at night, with the light on. It is visible from the street and the courtyard. Inside the apartment, with the lamps lit, the rooms are complete shells, the curtains become opaque, and the messy presence of the outdoors withdraws. You feel alternately secure and aware that although you have the shelter of the walls, the roof, the carpets and closets, control over the temperature, the illumination and the tone of the apartment, that you sit, above the street, introverted, surrounded, but oblivious. You are in a shell full of things. Things do not move. You float from spot to spot, touching the painted drips on the corner of a wall, kneeling with your head between your knees on the carpet, sitting upright in a spacious cold chair, the light illuminates discolourations in the wall, where old paint coats muddle through, you sit at the kitchen table folding napkins and at a low glass table lining up spherical transparent pills. Why should any occupation of time be any less than grave. Everything is ordered, in sequence, one after the next in time. Where are you in time. If you turn on enough lamps in the apartment the day will never come. How long is a night. What would fit in one that would not fit in all of them, over and again, slowed until it is no longer moving, with arms on the arms of a chair, you sit timelessly, counting back through the layers of paint, a night, another night, until you have unmade yourself. You stand up to pull the curtain slightly. It is still dark.

The darkness of the night compounds its length. She began waiting for the wan race of dawn over the empty night to prop her head and eyes back to the horizon by turning at sunset back to the east and setting up before the east facing window with a chair, a low table, and an occupation. The window treatments are bound tight to block out the orange scrutiny of the streetlamps and to bind in the incriminating heave of her table lamps and her reflective skin. There is nothing left to do in the halted timelessness of the apartment. She has stopped for interminable gasps, prone on the floor and lit uniformly, shadowless for a long night. She throws open the curtain and turns the blinds to watch for dawn to augur the sunrise. The lit apartment windows over the street stand alone, still with her folded into the light, seated, absently occupying the room. Hanging clipped from the dark, the small figure in the lit window is lit from behind by two lamps, her face is in shade but painfully visible, wrapped in the domed pupil of night. All of the luminance of the city is alone on her skin. She is at the center of a tremendous emptiness. She demurs theatrically. With repeated nods of her head her hair swings longer into the shade of her face. To concede to inspection she puts her hands on the table and begins to occupy herself. You are there. Her hands do nothing. They will not function. They move tracing lines out of the dust on the table. The world swings from her, bitterly sagging from her sun dry skin. When the coming of the day counts on her eyes, her presence, she can only let it. It requires of her her shadow. She can cast one, lifelessly, dust casts shadows. The collars of her dress stand high around the nape of her neck to below her ears, beneath her hair. She is still. The room behind her is sallowed and still, bare shadowless walls frame her dim face.

The street is silver. In between the lamps in the room there is a darkness that is not shadow, it is nothing. In the doorway to the bathroom and bedroom there is no light. The night, as it moves forward to its apex of stillness, its end, flows into those spaces between the lamps. They are not corners, or dead ends, or crooks. They are flat expanses of endless depth. The room does not tend toward evenness as the sun rises. You do not turn off the lamps. The lamplight eases back toward the two lamps, the day falls.

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