Small droplets run, pause to reach another drop, join it, wobble a little, run again. Night’s rain has stopped, its calming rhythm disappeared with the dawn. Now tentative early rays of sun push the rain’s remnants against the window until the droplets are forced to move, run and chase each other down the glass. From this side, they are flat shapes. They giggle as they slip down the other side. Ha ha! Wait for me! I’m coming to get you…
East-facing room. It is very quiet; the boiler has not come on, the neighbours are sleeping. Augustus is curled-up on the dark blue chair; his paw neatly curved over his face and tucked in under the other arm, as though to block the light.
Like the cat’s paws, the walls occasionally curl close around the sleeping subject, and then stretch to release the eyes tightly shut.
When the paws are released, the length of the space fits the rhythm:
One and two and, three and four and. One and two and, three and four and. Rachmaninoff Second Piano. Right foot plays the orchestra. Step across to the door in time. Back towards the window, humming, left foot heavy on the downbeat. Never reach the door, suspend the note and turn around.
Shift in time.
Width feels more in threes. Brahms Violin Waltz. One two three, two two three. One two three, two two three. External wall, away from the sleeping neighbours. Back.
Step quicker, follow the clock: Bach Double Violin. One and two and. One and two and. One and two and. One and two and. Sing to it. The space is the concert. Draw the space like music. Rostropovich’s note, Haydn’s Cello in C; if the walls were assimilated to his notes just at the point they met the silence, the room would be the piece, and life in the room would be life within the piece.
The neighbours begin to mumble, duvets shifting, reach the door.
The water droplets on the window have formed a moustache at the bottom, lingering before they drop to the ground.
Dreamer in Nacht und Träume, sits in a dark room, hands on a patch of light. Beckett’s take from Schubert. In a cycle, Dreamer hums Schubert to call for night to consume him. The sound of his ritualistic humming recreates and segregates a new space for his dream; so that the dream is seen in parallel with his sleep.
Hold that note, hold breath, hand against the wall. Hold it before it slips, like the rain, down the other side of the window. Ha ha! Wait for me!
The boiler is on; pipes make a sharp ticking. Augustus takes a deep breath, purrs, and curls up all the more tightly. Circle the space again. Often the wall refuses to give; it is cold and smooth, like a lifeless marble cheek. But sometimes, hand against the wall, waiting for that note to hold, the wall gives, and allows the pressing hand to feel its warm malleability. At these instances, the walls reveal their permeability, their capacity to absorb, to have ears.
Shift in time.
Different walls, different ears. But the cry haunts many insentient wall, blank pages that have invisibly absorbed tear droplets. Unlike the window, where the rain droplets slip down the other side, laughing and running, the walls hold these tears dropped in the release of various emotional tensions.
Those two Tudor boys, Henry Howard and Henry FitzRoy, spending the nights enwrapped entangled by the same “void walls eke, that harboured us each night”. FitzRoy dead at seventeen, Howard imprisoned between the same walls. The inanimate stones gradually force themselves upon Howard, whispering in echoes of past winter nights where with “sweet accord, such sleeps as yet delight; / The pleasant dreams, the quiet bed of rest;— / The secret thoughts, imparted with such trust”. His skin assimilates with his dead companion, the temperature and colour of the walls: “And with this thought the blood forsakes the face; / The tears berain my cheeks of deadly hue”. He screams at the stone, lifeless again:
‘O place of bliss, renewer of my woes
Give me account, where is my noble fere,
Whom in thy walls thou dost each night enclose,
To other lief, but unto me most dear.’
Echo, alas! that doth my sorrow rue
Returns thereat a hollow sound of plaint.
Shift in time. Something faster. Take the length again, wake Augustus the cat.
Nathan Milstein playing Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto Three. Loud diagonal step: hollow sound, skipping up the single string, every accent a heavy bow. Step backwards back down the G string, triplets running right to the top of the E, right up the neck. Pushing the parameters of the sound space. Broken chords, hit against the wall, fall close to the floor. Pause as the invisible orchestra chases. Against the window, pause, wobble a little, run again, but never stop. Ha ha! Wait for me!