A book at bedtime

Three coins appear in the ashes as the book burns, their dull glow offset by the blackening pages, settling into the hollows that their heat digs for them. The bright slick cover is almost entirely consumed, leaving behind acrid smoke and little strips of colour, light yellow and brown. A tiny fragment, undercarriage marked out upon it, floats further free on a thermal thrown of by the charcoal grill. It lands on the floor of the balcony, surrounded by a light grey snow. The wind from over the plaza stirs them up again, little vortices throwing remnants of sentences up into the air, zephyrs pretending to be David Bowie. As they settle to the earth it starts to rain, its diagonal fall pinning them to the ground, concrete poetry.

Behind the glass, looking out at the lights of aircraft between the neighbouring tower blocks, Interval Drinks sips, a mug of cocoa warming his hands as the rain splashes through the open door to the balcony. It‘s a foolish concession to a climate that could only be pretended at for a handful of weeks in the march of months, but he likes it. It gives him somewhere to burn things when his art demands it. Before the chocolate is cold the coins have worked their hot way free from the last of the pages, resting on the mesh above the foil tray. The rain, obligingly, turns from solid drizzle to heavy downpour, the surging wind creating a shield between the door and the rest of the world. The last of the ash is kicked up, muddied and held fast by the standing water.

Interval picks up the coins carefully, freshly unwrapped sterile tongs seperating him from their heat. He drops them six times upon the grill, the gaps in its surface stopping the coins from bouncing and rolling overmuch, robbing them of force. He reaches into his pocket; he pulls forth a small leatherbound book, and quickly finds the relevant hexagrams. He returns inside, shutting the door behind him, finally, leaving the coins sitting, slightly warped on the blackened mesh, surrounded by the remains of the sacrifice. The results need careful interpretion, not only because of their vagueness but because they have been, thanks to ritual, guaranteed more true than is perceived.

You can find the complete version of A Book at Bedtime in issue 45 of TBD.

Andrew Robertson