You Look Up

You are looking up. What do you see? Different shades of grey, some faint blue, some streaks of yellow, a thin lining of cloud about to break. You have to squint. Then rays of sunlight burst through. You feel instantly warm, an uncomfortable dampness, an itchy feeling all over as sweat is pushing through your pores. You want to scratch your back but you know you can’t reach, not now. Your newly shaved face feels sore and swollen and dry. Your shirt collar is too tight. Your knitted tie, intent on bending its backside forth. You have a feeling the detergent you use is making the shirt-fabric irritate your skin. Your hands feel heavy and swollen. You make a fist and it feels too tight, like you’ve put on ten kilos overnight. Your trousers are hugging your thighs, the belt constricting your breathing. Your feet hurt in the leather shoes. You have a feeling you couldn’t even bend down to undo the laces. Something would tear. Worst case, a major artery, the spleen, your pancreas. Alternatively, a ligament, the trouser seams, up near the crotch and down to the knees, the jacket lining over the shoulders. You stand in the square of a French provincial town. You are shifting the weight of your body from leg to leg. The smooth paving stones are already warm, you feel, through the thin leather soles. The stone’s edges push into your already sore feet. Your thin socks shift and chafe with each minor movement. You look up again, at the massive spires pushing away into the whiteout of the bursting cover of clouds. You trace the shape of the façade down to the nave, down past the elongated stone sculptures, the characteristic shape of the arch above the doors, the point and the tapering away of the weight, the stress, down to the paved stairs leading up, down into the ground.

Flickers of a dream appear. You see glimpses of something vague. It feels like your mind has lifted the duvet aside from the morning and the night is still there,  still within reach, the dream comprehensible if you could only hold on to its pieces, the fragments of emotions. But it fades, as your eyes notice your colleague coming out of the café, her eyes focused on the mobile phone she is holding with both hands. A large black computer-bag hangs around her neck, rests on her right hip. She has tied her thin turquoise sweater around her waist. She is wearing a short-sleeved white shirt. Black business trousers. A simple gold chain hangs down between the sides of the opened shirt, three buttons. You adjust your tie, for the fifteen thousandth time that morning. You feel your boxer-shorts riding up your back. You try to adjust it by sucking in your stomach and casually putting both your hands in your pockets. It doesn’t work.

You are thirty two years old. You pretend not to be looking for your father, but you are, all the time, at every street-corner, in every newspaper, on every website, seeking what could be, his face.