The Dead Man follows me and unearths my unhappiness like a mad gardener. Draws attention to my mistakes and wants me to know where I went wrong. Talk me through it like an accountant, pen in hand, or a high school teacher. Diagrams of the way things might have been. The paths we may have taken. Is always just on the peripheral—like vendors of roasted chestnuts on Paris streets. Or a man, a vandal, who is slowly dismembering a very old tree. Appears when I least expect him, when I am unprepared, mind on other things so I stumble on my words. I see his face in the reflection of the sunset in office buildings and in my dreams. He unearths my sadness, muddles it as if it were a cocktail. Knows when I do and don’t need to talk, at least, because so much time has passed and he knows me well. Keeps me company when it’s dark, plays that song we like. The Dead Man smiles but I see his eyes and feel remorse – I am sorry, I tell him. I am sorry, as if admitting guilt. His clothes fit poorly.
Imagine you grew old and became a painter. Imagine that. Large canvases of sweeping blacks and whites.
We both lace our shoes with kite strings, like cowards.
Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.
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