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Illustration: James St Findlay

Colin slumped in the lone mid-century safari chair in his barely furnished living room. Thoughts escaped him or dwelled too long, forming a string of airy non sequiturs.

He scanned the room through the amber lens of whisky as if he was inhabiting it—inhabiting himself—for the first time. He noted an itinerary of lines in the parquet flooring, cracks in plaster, and cobwebs in high up corners, tracing them at a distance with his fingertips. Alternate waves of anxiety and elation coursed through him as the walls seemed to contract and swell in rhythm with the dilation of his pupils.

Yes, best stay put for a while, he thought to himself.

He sat there gazing at the ceiling, night melting into early dawn, and thought about laburnum trees and how he had not known how poisonous they were until someone casually mentioned it in conversation; every last minute holiday he went on with any number of ex-lovers, and how none of these entanglements had survived those sunkissed trips of late summer; the assignments he had yet to write; the pizza he wanted to eat; the polar bears he had not saved; God, he really needed to do something about his toenails, and all the people expecting his call. To distract himself from these lamentations he composed a shopping list of things he could get from the corner shop, reconsidering when he realised it would mean getting up and getting dressed and walking down several flights of stairs and all the way back up again, possibly bumping into that curious neighbour, Eli Knecht, who had a penchant for taking and signing for every package delivered to the building regardless of circumstance.

Immovable, Colin watched the curtains catch on the draft as the streetlights blinkered and a brief silence sung before sunlight struck morning.

He suddenly became aware of something brushing against his feet. At first it felt feathered, gently sweeping; however as it moved along his shins and past his navel it became more punctuated. A cold sweat broke over him when he felt it crawl up his neck and follow his jawline before burrowing into his right ear canal. Before he could do anything about it, the same sensation repeated in the left, the chalky vibrations making his bones itch. He panicked, realising that if he tried to expel whatever these corporeal intruders were by tilting his head, gravity would almost certainly exacerbate the problem in the other organ.

He woke shaking his head feverishly from side to side, disturbed by the phantom sensations still tickling his eardrums. He caught his reflection in the bedroom mirror; a gormless fiend, all chest hair, no composure.

A good few hours later, he resolved to go out and take his shadow for a walk.

Rebecca Horn, Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma, 23 March 2018 - 14 October 2018


Suzanne van der Lingen is an artist and writer currently based in Nottingham. She guest edited ‘Footnoting the Archive’ with Claire Walsh (MAP, 2016), and served as a committee member at EMBASSY Gallery (2015-2016). She recently completed a year-long studio residency at BACKLIT (2017).