nthposition online magazine

The wretched of the earth

by Robert M Smith

[ fiction - april 05 ]

"but if the salt have lost his savour... it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
(Matthew 5:13)

I am sitting here, in a café, having the most wonderful croissant, and the most delicious coffee, writing these notes to myself, on a sunny spring day. No one here knows me or the fact that I am dying of AIDS; in the Caribbean they call it "the skinny disease", and I guess I am wearing thin. My blood count is atrocious, and I may only have a couple of days left to live.

Everything looks bright and lively, as though there were light within each flower I see blossoming, within the furniture in the restaurant, and I feel everyone is in love. I especially feel touched by the tremendous expressions of mercy of those around me, the nurses, the doctors, my gay friends, my family. At the same time, I feel as though I was under the wrath of God, for the mere reason that I am a human being, condemned to die soon of this painful disease. I feel there is a cloud above me, like a stormcloud. And somehow, the fascists are right, damn it, they are right, and it is their god that has prevailed.

Meanwhile, I feel like weeping, because I don't want to die, and yet I appreciate every moment, every second. Time is so precious, and if people only knew that life is so short, they wouldn't be killing each other in insane wars; they wouldn't be running after money the way they do. I see a rose in front of me, in the vase on my table. It is so intricate, that I could never fathom who created it, who made it so beautiful.

Here, the waiter smiled at me, as he passed by. For no reason, he gave me a smile, and I smiled back. Hey, why not? Life is so short.

I feel like Jesus, I have to carry the sins of the world. No, I don't identify with that image. But why am I dying? Did I do anything wrong?

My friend Neil died a few months ago, and I feel bad for him, because he died worried. He was in such agony towards the end, suffering from the same awful affliction that I have.

I am glad about one thing, though - at least I am dying sober. Oh, it would be a horrid mess if I was drunk right now. And my AA friends have been so good to me in these last times.

Well, that is it, it is the end. A couple of days more. I have no regrets. I just wish I could feel this beauty forever, this appreciation for every little moment.

There is really nothing to worry about. I have already paid for my funeral. A closed casket, and no ceremony. No goodbyes, it will just hurt too much.

A couple of days, and it will be summer. The summer is coming. The summer is coming.

 

Written with the financial assistance of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.