If there was a tree…

by Brendan Strong

If there was a tree, he could have hung himself. The thought occurred to him as he thought about that play by Beckett. At least you could die standing up (if you see what he thought). But there was no tree. Not here, as he plodded like Poldy round Dublin, where the North city had not re-gentrified but instead the middle classes had re-galvanised with expensive buildings, too high to get over, too secure to get into. Standing proud and tall, shrugging off the old, the decrepit, the council-owned. Reaching for the sun during the day. And of course the stars, during the night. Getting pissed on first or at least believing as much.
He was thinking of Godot on account of the fact that he was unsure of what to think of. Despite the hundreds, maybe thousands of lives that walked, avoided and shoved their way passed him. Life. Going on as it must do. Strange to think of all this life, he thought. This city, he thought, is blooming with life. And I am walking round, looking (seeking? searching?) for something. But what?
He had no idea. Not since it all happened. It had started out here, with him like this: walking around. For work, he knew. He remembers one thing – the feeling that they could fire him. The feeling that they held him in their hands and that whatever he was looking for he needed. Without it, he’d be going back to the office to be fired. And that would be no good. Not with all that stuff to pay for. The stuff he’d accumulated in a life with a girl who he lost. Was he looking for her? No. He didn’t think so. He would find her elsewhere, he knew. It was his destiny. Or at least a part of his destiny that hadn’t been wrenched – with the house and the car and the stuff – with his job. It was something. Written in the stars, they used to say at school. If he had a mind, he could try and get in and get up one of those sky scrapers. Read whatever it was that was written in the stars. It could tell him where she was.
She was what he needed. But first.
First he had to find what he was looking (seeking? searching?) for. He’d know it when he found it. And once he had, he could turn his attentions to finding herself. He’d say “Well?” and she’d say “Well yerself!” like she used to and then she’d kiss him. He’d try to apologise and she wouldn’t hear of it. No, he knew it couldn’t happen that way. But he also knew it couldn’t happen at all unless he found what he was looking for. If only he could figure it out – who made it, who sold it, who delivered it?
There were too many questions for asking. And besides, no one to ask, really. Not with all these people passing and bumping and even barging their way through this city to find things they must know they are looking for. Unless they are trying to get to them before they forget. Because, and they are reminded when they see him, he is what happens if you forget before you find it.
Dear God.
If there was a tree…

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