The pale fluorescence of a monitor’s artificial glow cast the room into the illusion of a cavernous dungeon. In the opaque darkness two squares shone brightly, hiding behind glass the frustrated eyes of the man trapped in this nightly cell. He sat almost completely still, save for his hands and yet even they moved sparingly. It was not by choice that the man’s fingers skittered reluctantly across the keyboard seeking the right letters. The world had to be redefined, rebuilt in ways that made sense of the senselessness of the man’s reality. It was one of those nights. He used the only tool he had ever had any success with, words.
He was seeing very little of that success tonight though. Shadows traversed the man’s forlorn face as a car drove past outside, the light more intrusive than a comfort. It smelled too much of gold. He was not a man to whom things golden sang like they tended to sing to others. Silver was his preference, a more elegant alternative, subtle and graceful when placed next to its sister’s oppressing radiance.
I know how you feel, the man thought with a sigh. I imagine the moon feels the same way about the sun, in spite her court of stars. He had always been fond of the moon. Her light was a reflection, an imitation of her sister’s and so much more beautiful for it. Things that were too real tended to sting in the eyes of men and women.
Fingers skittered momentarily, swift in the way of fair promise and good intent. However, as with most things the man did the stop was abrupt and inevitable. He scratched his chin and when that did not help he ran both hands through his hair, but to no avail.
In the deceiving light of his ambition and the soft murmured hum of his computer the room melted away in favour of the illusion he had been pulled into. Who am I to say what is real? he thought and looked away from the poor excuse of progress glaring at him from the monitor. Of his carpet there was no trace, the wooden floor seemed more like stones covered with hay, worn and stale by exposure to human presence. The couch, his bookshelf and his bed seemed to have vanished as well. The only thing he could discern in the gloom was the desk at which he sat, or rather was chained to if someone asked the man himself.
The shackles that maintained his self-inflicted deception were forged in the fires of frustration and quenched in the cold waters of self-doubt. His resolve, his will, was not made of steel hard enough to break them. The man did not know that in the chill of winter shackles of cold iron does not bend. They break.
The hour grew late as it always did when he found sleep an elusive mistress, however, the slow pace at which they passed was torture. He endured, as was his way. Sturdy was how he was built, strong and resilient. When his eyelids eventually began to grow heavy he had not written more than a few token words. That the near-empty document stared back at him didn’t bother him, he was used to its judgemental scrutiny by now.
Melancholy eluded him, for some enigmatic reason he could not fall into despair. Hope was a fragile thing, a growing organism that needed tender care until it took root. Such roots ran deep and strong if allowed a chance. A smile found its way onto his lips. It puzzled him at first, he found himself wondering what it did there. He caught himself and decided to leave the study of such arcane knowledge to others better suited for such things. Finally, his bed beckoned.