John Burnside

‘I’m sorry, but you have to leave now.’ I am in a café. I don’t know the name, I just walked in and found a place to sit down, tired from an afternoon of traipsing around a city that has always been a bit much for me: too polluted, too noisy, too crowded. Now, however, that fatigue is turning into an inexplicable but near overwhelming lethargy, and I am trying to stay, or at least look, awake for whoever is speaking. I labour to keep my head up, my body tenses against the seemingly irresistible onset of sleep, I try to focus on the voice I hear. I don’t know how successful I am being in this; all I know is that, already, I cannot speak and, now that I have stopped walking, my body is turning to lead in my chair.

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