by OWAIN GLYN EVANS
Keith cursed his tepid cup of tea, with a tinge of anger in his feeble voice, “I’m going to live in the country, in a cottage; a wonderful cottage. It’ll have a garden, a thatched roof and maybe even animals.” He was alone, as always, and the disregarded cup of tea seemed to sigh with resignation as he placed it down upon the table behind him. He shook off the cold melancholy that the thought of life had begun to thrust upon him and looked at the city in the window. He moved towards the cupboard above the microwave, within which his baked beans rotated, took out a bottle and swallowed five pills. Usually he took one, maybe two, but he needed more this time. He glided back to window with a smile on his face and stood dismissing the view.
He stood welcoming the view. The house was flat but long and the thatched roof was thick and looming. The small windows hid the inside of the cottage from his view and the front gate was open, ready for him. Keith listened but couldn’t hear. It was perfect.
He walked down the sunlit path loosening his life behind him and letting it fall in the wake of his freedom. The bleat of a nearby sheep stopped him in his stride and Keith smiled before continuing. He was striding, after having never stridden. This was the beginning of a new Keith. He opened the door and closed it behind him to stand in further admiration of the surroundings that happily enveloped him. Dark oak stretched out beneath him from wall to wall and several rugs of fine design positioned themselves across the room in accordance with the proud furniture that posed upon the wood. The far wall on his left was a complete stone face and Keith felt as though he could spend hours admiring what he perceived to be a work of art in its own superior glory.
The cottage displayed every colour of contentment; it gave out every sound of heaven. A tweeting bird on the outside sill of a window welcomed Keith to his new home. Pools of sunshine that gathered by the large glass double-doors massaged his feet as he dipped into them. The air of the building carried a light scent of nature; a combination of the lavender in the garden and the earthy smell of the wooden beams that ran overhead.
He began laughing, just laughing and smiling, like a normal person. Wandering from room to room bathing in the delight each consistently brought with it. He whistled with glee whilst he walked. When was the last time he had whistled, he thought, it must be years? He opened the double-doors to the rear of the house in a state of such bliss that he hardly remembered his prior purpose of shutting out the surrounding world. Still laughing he exclaimed his deepest thoughts of delight toward the rolling hills of green that danced before him in a ballet of pure wonder.
The sun blared down upon him; he could hear the sunlight. It was a wonderful tune, a tune inexpressible in words and untranslatable to musical score. Keith began to dance with enchantment to the shining melody. He skipped and hopped with bare feet into the greenery. The warmth of the grass and the stillness of the air carried him as he danced. His teeth glared from his open mouth and his tongue spurted the most jubilant nonsense. The sheep of the field wandered towards him in curiously infectious joy. They danced around his feet and Keith laughed haughtier and haughtier with every passing minute. The beating bleats of the sheep and the whistling harmony of the birds threw out the song over the neighbouring fields and soon the cattle, the horses, the trees, the insects, the sky, and the earth itself joined in with the blissful tune. It was a carnival of sound and truly a sight to behold.
The earth was alive; it moved beneath his feet. The animals leapt around him as he danced towards an idyllic stream that carved gracefully through the bottom of the field. The water was as warm as the sunshine itself and for all the splashing Keith remained dry and with this became happier. The animals joined him in his watery frolic before the trees lifted him out of the water and threw him repeatedly into the air. Never did he feel more alive.
Keith felt like a King. No, a god! He conducted the orchestra of nature beneath him as he rose up into the sky. Higher and higher he rose until the clouds themselves cushioned his head and stroked his limbs. His clothes dissolved away from him, he didn’t need them. He now had everything he ever wanted. The clouds broke to reveal a host of stars that sung a different song. The animals and the fields beneath him bade goodbye to the man in the sky as the glowing stars praised him; they worshipped him. It was a song of adulation. Keith stretched out his limbs and cried aloud. Tears sprung from his eyelids with an unadulterated ecstasy matched only by the glory of that moment. His arms erect, his head directed upwards and his eyes shut, Keith bounded, with one powerful movement, away from the earth, away from everything, away from life.
Ding. The planet vanished and the song of the stars ended. The air around him was still and quiet. His eyes opened into darkness and a great fear overcame him. Ding. The light faded and the blackness folded over him. His tears now rolled with death and his arms retracted with pain. Ding. Keith shrunk into a ball as a faint whimper stumbled from his quivering lips. He was still, withered in the silent darkness, and with a humble last breath that echoed into the nothingness, he died.
Keith’s beans were ready.