Almost

The sun rises slowly in the winter. It inches, lazy and luxuriant, across the floor, illuminating and animating the drowsy walls. I doubt it will reach this corner of the room. The perfect view spot, a dark blemish on the sunlit dream. I find that I withdraw more into the dark these days.

Have they melted yet into weeks? I can no longer feel the sun on my face, except as a memory of something far off, like water running through my fingers so that I live it for a second, a moment of the happiness of children, who face no touch of mortality, perpetual .

I dreamt of Hampstead these last hours of fitful rest.


A man sits by a bed. Straight-backed and austere it contrasts with the room, where autumn sunlight through the leaves of a tree at the window shed a ruddy light, as this man contrasts to his brother who lies, already paler than death, somewhere between exhausted sleep and fevered dreams. His arms shake with a cold that exists only in his desperate eyes.

The other sits. A book is held loosely between his careless fingers, forgotten now for many hours, hours of watching the sticky, dank skin of the only person he has left within his world. His face is taut, bottom lip bleeding gently where he has torn away at it so long, a subconscious penance. His lips shine crimson, ironic, that he would give every drop of blood that leaks through his veins, frozen with fear for this dying boy, every drop just to see him laugh again, and sleep easy. The boy coughs, rasping and bleak, it rings through the room. Leaning forward, the man supports his brother, white linen pressed to his mouth, praying, always praying that this time, this time it will remain unsullied, as bright as the snow that lies outside. The boy's choking is cut short and he falls back, seeming to collapse within himself, defeated.

The linen is clenched, blinded, silenced by the man's hands, its ruby stain seeming to drench his mind, glaring against his pale hands.


The steps are beginning to fulfil their function. The artist's models lie, lethargic and sensual, languid and somnolent, long bare arms stretched out indolently, and laid, with a professional eye, to their full advantage. They shine oddly in the sun, unnatural against the ecclesiastic steps, sun-glazed skin against frozen marbled whites.

They set the square ablaze but it seems so contrived, against the faint noise of the barca in the square. And here I am, eyes fixed through the window on the sky, flat and blue, so intense its not the background of the view, it becomes the view itself, a carefully arranged tendril of cloud, as posed as my burning crowd on the steps, curling gently across the rooftops.


A man stands against a tree. He leans with it, fingers curled against the roughness he rubs between his fingers, back bent with the withered trunk, leaves obscuring all but flashes of a distant face and cloud-brimming eyes, with which he gazes, far off, over everything to a chilling sky.

White, entirely white.

And bruised looking, somehow, the grey, drenching, underside of the laden clouds seeping together, spreading like moss across the burning blank. He seems to take life from its intensity and his fingers, long and ink stained, move constantly, as do his lips.

The girl moves a little closer, from the side, he does not see, would not see her, even her, if she had been loud enough to wake the dead. She stands a little way off, knowing too well he would not see. She stands praying, always praying that this time, this time someone will remain unsullied, this young man, who gambles his health against a vague hope, would win. But the house always wins.

His face contorts, shoulders juddering into movement and bursts of dry coughing, like retches of machine gun fire, rattle out across the silent ground.


They come everyday. A constant stream of letters I know that I will never open. They say, perhaps when you are better, when you are well, when you return to England. I never shall. I should not open them even had I the strength, I cannot bear to read again 'When you are better'. And the little pile, growing steadily, from her. Alone in England. I will not answer them, I shall not!

She shall have no false hope, nor shall she have anything to remember me. Better that she remember only the words that I wrote for her, for her only. Her letters will die with me, shall be buried with me and that will be the end of it.

And yet if I am so determined why do I hear her voice in the soft dusk? Why is it her hands, cool, fingers tracing a cheek bone that I feel upon my face every hour of tormented rest?


She watches them, her only child and a man who is dying. Bittersweet, they walk, arm in arm, slowly, through the gardens. The trees bow their heads to cover them, long weeping trails of autumn caressing their heads. He, laughing, plucks a leaf, golden orange against the shiny chestnut, from her hair, adoration in every movement, the sky a gentle bluish purple which lifts from the trees a scent of apples and woodsmoke. The clouds mix with the sky to a thick, warm softness of texture, like a veil.

Only she watches, and sees the pall of darkness fall on them, and the musk of graves and flowers left to cover the dead.

The light from the lamps outside leaks and flows through the window. Many coloured, it seeps through the panels, mixing and blending smoothly like wine, or oil. The smells of Rome whisper through the window, left ajar. That scent, elusive as always, fills the room, fills it so that I can almost feel alive again. Almost with my grasp, the beauty of the skies, and the wonder of the seas, almost alive again for you, my darling.

The harrowing begins again and the fevered dreams are out onto the dark streets with the bitter candle smoke, to be had for a wish and a little whimsy.


I'm not sure about the ending, maybe its a little abrupt? But noll likes it so I'm trusting her judgement.Its about Keats although that's not really important to read it.