Daylight creeps over the mountain. I awake with a pool of spittle smeared down the side of my stubbled face. My arm is numb – pins and needles. My back and neck are stiff. It takes a while to mobilize my body. The first thing I see is the note.
I have an appointment with my physiotherapist. She’ll arrive in a few hours. Must erase the signs of the previous day. Without thinking, I tear up my letter to Mandla, and wheel myself to the bathroom. For a moment I hesitate, then flush the letter fragments and the contents of the phial down the toilet.
I run a hot bath with aromatic oils, and while holding the crumpled note between my teeth, I lower myself into the comforting warmth of the water. I lay back. AAhh. The dusky-pink stenciled border that Mandla likes floats into focus above the white wall-tiles.
Clutching the now soggy note, I make up my mind. Later, I’ll call for a taxi, after I’ve dressed up in the clothing I laid out the day before. I’ll treat myself to lunch at a fine restaurant. On the way there, I’ll stop at Exclusive Books, to pick up some travel guides, and while at lunch, I’ll plan that vacation I’ve been promising myself for years.
I read the note once more. I don’t believe in coincidences, but it seems tailored to my circumstance. “The view from outside is cold and bleak, but inside there is a perspective that adds warmth and individuality – call it a personality, or even a soul.” I ponder the words for a while. They were probably written about a building, but they apply equally well to a person. From the outside we are fairly insignificant. But from inside we have a view of ourselves and of our relationships with others, which brings some meaning to this chaotic world. So what if it’s an illusion? Perhaps that’s all we can hope for.
I crumple the piece of paper and let it sink to the bottom of my bath, its words indelibly imprinted in my memory.