15 oct. 2011

Sunset Park

Paul Auster

- Ellen Brice -

She is standing in the front porch of the house, looking into the fog. It is Sunday morning, and the air outside is almost warm, too warm for the beginning of December, making it feel like a day from another season or another latitude, a damp, balmy sort of weather that reminds her of the tropics. When she looks across the street, the fog is so dense that a cemetery is invisible. A strange morning, she says to herself. The clouds have descended all the way to the ground, and the world has become invisible - which is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, she decides, merely strange.

It is early, early for a Sunday in any case, a few minutes past eleven o'clock, and Alice and Bing are still asleep in their beds on the second floor, but she is up at first light again as usual, even if there is little light to speak of on this dull, fog-saturated morning. She can't remember the last time she managed to sleep for six full hours, six uninterrumped hours without waking from a rough dream or discovering her eyes had opened at dawn, and she knows these sleep difficulties are a bad sign, an unmistakable warning of trouble ahead, but in spite of what her mother keeps telling her, she doesn't want to go back to the medication. Taking one of those pills is like swallowing a small dose of death. Once you start with those things, your days are turned into a numbing regimen of forgetfulness and confusion, and there isn't a moment when you don't feel your head is stuffed with cotton balls and wadded-up shreds of paper. She doesn't want to shut down her life in order to survive her life. She wants her senses to be awake, to think thoughts that don't vanish the moment they occur to her, to feel alive in all the ways she once felt alive. Crack-ups are off the agenda now. She can't allow herself to surrender anymore, but in spite of her efforts to hold her ground in the here and now, the pressure has been building up inside her again, and she is beginning to feel twinges of the old panic, the knot in her throat, the blood rushing too quickly through her veins, the clenched heart and frantic rhythms of hear pulse. Fear without an object, as Dr. Burnham once described it to her. No, she says to herself now: fear of dying without having lived.

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