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Observations

In the illuminated room just across the road, I see a woman sitting on a bed. She eats. Nuts, crisps. Everything is spread out on the duvet, and she holds each nut as if it were a pill. She picks and chooses them carefully. She is not drinking, therefore she is eating. The rehab is just across from my house, I can look straight in. Apparently she doesn’t like drawn curtains. And then all of a sudden she wipes everything off the bed in a wild, impatient manner and switches of the small fluorescent bed side lamp. I eat another cookie, hidden behind my laptop. She never drew the curtains.

It smells of cigarettes, the white shop stuffed with hoover bags. The fumes are dripping from the ceiling. A chubby man with a shiny head appears from behind a door at the back. Dried sweat has left a drawing on the shoulders of his dark blue cotton jumper. A salty jumper. His fleshy fingers smile when they finger through a folder with all sorts of papers. He finds what I’m looking for.

I hear her coming from afar, her voice is shrill, scratched and full of dents. Parents with kids fill the street, it’s drop-off time. Everyone can hear the words she throws into her phone, and we are all looking. Despair hangs from her shoulders but her feet keep walking. Big steps. Her little son, with the blue backpack neatly on his back, tries to keep up. She doesn’t look back to see if he succeeds and the little boy crosses the road without looking, his eyes only on his mom. We all check whether there is no car coming. A cyclist stops for him, thankfully. She is now almost shouting: don’t say that! I don’t believe you! Don’t say it!

One long second, that’s how long I see her. But her image lingers in my eyes for a long time afterwards. She is a portrait, a living portrait in a frame behind glass. On her left a blue curtain, covering a fraction of the big window. An old armchair is turned to the light and she sits there with a book. She reads. A simple beige bra is all she is wearing. Paintings cover the walls, the room is filled with artist utensils: an easel, brushes, cloth. At least, that’s what I think I saw, maybe I am making it up. The second didn’t last long.

Upon arriving home, I see that someone has left something behind in our narrow strip of green in front of the house. A little sculpture in white clay, resembling an entangled couple. The style is similar to a little sculpture someone gave me years ago, which has been standing on the piano ever since. But the legs and arms of this little one lying outside have been broken off, they are scattered underneath the rose bushes. I live close to a rehab clinic, maybe there is a connection there. Emotional adieus are common here. For a few days I just left the thing, but now it’s lying on my kitchen table. It is drying, the legs and arms entangled once again. I’ll place it back in the strip of green. One doesn’t stay in a clinic forever.

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