Monday, 14 January 2013

Eleanor Rigby

Ah, look at all the lonely people. Ah, look at all the lonely people.


I never really noticed that there are people who live in the houses that flicker past the carriage window. I wonder if they would invite me into the house to drink coffee at their breakfast bar, or if they have any Kafka in their bookshelves. They must have read at least one book that I like. Suddenly we have a conversation and they invite me back again the next week, this time to sit in the lounge room. Making friends is easy because everyone is doing it.

            The girl sitting across from me is reflected in the carriage window. Each house passes through her head like a thought then disappears.


Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where her wedding has been. Lives in a dream.


She is watching the window too. Her eyes are heavy with mascara to hide the wrinkled lines of fatigue. She is imagining the end of the world. The sun falls out of the sky and the water climbs out of the sea and the lounge rooms and rumpus rooms and living rooms and family rooms all crumple into the ground.

            And still this train keeps moving to wherever it is taking her.


Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door. Who is it for?


I know where it is taking her.

            It’s her second year since high school, her first job. At the call centre, today is the day she will be fired and she is excited. She will tell the customers that she doesn’t care how they’re going. Then she will tell them about the company’s competitors. If they are still listening then she will ask if they are lonely.

She has made up her face and undone her top button for someone. She doesn’t know this person yet. She looks for him in the street or around the office or on the chat forums when she should be working.

Tomorrow she will sleep in.


All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?


But meanwhile the world is ending. She watches God rain judgment on the people of Earth. She thought God had forgotten about Earth since he’s been building the universe.

            Instead he is opening fissures filled with fire.


Father Mackenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no-one will hear. No-one comes near.


There is a boy sitting next to her, about the same age. It is impossible to tell how much time he has put into choosing his polo shirt and shorts or arranging his hair, but his eyes are heavy and his cheeks are shaven until pink and his skin is dry like dead leaves. He picks at a scab on his knuckle. His eyes remain on the window.

            He cradles a backpack in his lap. Padlocks remain on the zippers from some lonely adventure.


Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there. What does he care?


He is going from his mother’s house to his father’s house, but somewhere along the way he has forgotten where he lives. He is going to the city to walk through the busy stations of white and grey people brushing and pushing but never touching each other, appearing and disappearing behind buildings until it looks like they are not moving at all.

He will move through the crowd and search for memories, painful memories preferably, directing him where to go, and losing himself in the depths of his head where he can finally be alone.


All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?


But he won’t get there. He will notice her face in the window, will see how long she has taken to make herself beautiful and assume she is taken.

But he will try.

He will mention the copy of The Bell Jar closed in her lap and how much he loved it when he read it in high school. But he has never read it. She works this out quickly. It’s cute.

He will ask where she is going and she will tell him about the call centre and how this evening she will be fired. He will ask why should she wait until then? Why not skip work and have coffee with him? She’ll smile and show off her pretty teeth that her parents paid for in time and her in pain. She likes the effort he has or hasn’t put into his appearance. She says yes.

By the evening they are in love.


Ah, look at all the lonely people. Ah, look at all the lonely people.


Except he doesn’t notice her. They simply watch the townhouses and diorama gardens and letterboxes flicker by.

            There is no apocalypse either. Now that she thinks about it, the whole idea seems silly. Why would God create life if he wanted to destroy it?

I watch a house, small and single storied and containing a small single storied family with a dog named Spot and a Corolla and a mortgage they will have paid off in three years and a copy of The Trial on their bookshelf, and I watch it slide across the window until it hits the frame and simply disappears.


Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came.


Something moves. It is his reflection, his head then his lips. Something about The Bell Jar? She laughs and turns away from the window until they are simply staring at each other. He takes his hand from his side and places it on her knee.


Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from her grave. No-one was saved.


He leans forward until their noses are almost touching and their lips come together. She pulls closer and opens her lips, letting him inside.

            When it is over he holds her in his arms.


All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?


She buries her head in the cradle of his neck and together they stare at the city flickering past. Or maybe they are staring at themselves. People who are looking for love tend to find each other in the end.

            Or maybe they are watching me.

No comments:

Post a Comment