This is my contribution to TFE's Christmas Poetry Go-Kart. Observant visitors will notice it, er, came out as a piece of flash fiction, not a poem...
The closer I got, the more curious I became. I just had to know what was inside it. I made my way gingerly over the slippery seaweed that covered the rocks and the stone foundations around its base, and knocked on the large, brown door. It was so substantial that my knock sounded like a mere tap, hardly audible above the breaking of the waves on the beach behind me. Needless to say, there was no response.
I turned the handle and pushed against the door. It was unlocked and fell back easily. I found myself in a low, circular chamber. Just enough light came through a small window for me to make it out. (I had noticed several such windows dotted about on the outside of the structure). The walls had once been whitewashed, but were now tinted green, covered as they were with an irregular film of algae.
I made my way across the stone floor to the window. As I did so, I heard the door swing shut behind me. The window was, as I said, small -about a foot each way- and seemed to be made of "bottle glass". Whatever it was, though it admitted light, it was impossible to see any clear image though it.
Not far from the window, to my left, was the foot of an enclosed spiral staircase, just as you might expect to find in such a tower. I made my way up it, every now and again passing one of the small bottle-glass windows. The staircase emerged in another room. This was very much like the first, though this room was provided with basic furniture. There was a chair, a table and a low divan. The upholstery smelt of mildew and they were all caked in a greasy dust. They had obviously not seen use for a very long time.
There was very little to do except walk around the room and look out of the window. Again, although it admitted light, I could see nothing clearly. There were blue swirls which could have been either the sea or the sky and flecks of yellow that I took to originate from the sand. My curiosity about the tower satisfied -what creatures of instinct we are!- I decided it was time to go.
I made my way back down the staircase to the lower floor. Only, when I emerged at the foot of the stairs I found I was not in fact in the downstairs room but in the room I had just left! I had a good look around me: it was, to all intents and purposes, the same room although now I could see, on the far side of the room, the head of the staircase I had descended only a few moments before. I felt disorientated, slightly nauseous. I could feel myself coming out in a cold sweat. I decided I must have made some sort of foolish error, although I felt sure that since leaving the upstairs room I had always been walking down the stairs, not up.
What was I to do? I had a pencil in my pocket. It occurred to me to leave it on the table and make my way downstairs for a second time. This I did and, when I emerged into the room again, there was my pencil, on the table, just as I had left it.
Sometimes -ever hopeful- I attempt to descend the staircase but the result is always the same. Apart these brief exertions I have been in this room ever since. I sleep, fitfully, on the divan and when I do I dream: I dream I am living my former life. My sister and I sit before the fire, talking animatedly as we often did. Sometimes we sit down to a meal (oddly, all that I need seems to be provided for me in my dreams). Sometimes I improvise on my guitar. I read, I write. I attend to the garden... And then I wake up - to the cold, to the dim light of the tower and to the sweet, mildew smell of the old divan.
5 years ago