Guy Haley — Outside

A man sits in a dark room. He is wearing a heavy coat and two sweaters and fingerless gloves. His hair is lank. His beard is into its second week of growth. His clothes are dirty. The slow whir of a ballpoint pen across paper is the only sound in the room. A bottle of whisky stands, half empty and open, close to hand; its glass is smeared and greasy. The occasional bang from outside or a scrape across the roof makes him look up once or twice. His breath plumes a little quicker in the candlelight, but he does not reach for his gun. Instead he waits, then continues to write, stopping from time to time to rub the biro between his palms, or to blow upon his naked fingertips. Otherwise he is absorbed in his task. This is what he has to say:

“This is hard for me. But I have to do something. Sitting around in the dark, it makes being alone worse. I’ve been here ten days now since it happened. I don’t know what to call it. There’s a lot I don’t know. I doubt anyone will ever read this, but it might help me get things straight if I get it down. If you’re out there, if there’s anyone left after this, perhaps it will help you. If not, it will help me. Talking to myself is better than talking to no one at all.”

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