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November 15, 2013 / ldejong4

Snowing Leaves

“I had nightmares again, so I did,” he said to her looking down, stirring his porridge in the kitchen before work.

“Don’t worry Don, it’s only normal. It’s been rough and it’ll pass.”

Reaching above him for her cereal she placed a consoling palm on his shoulder. He made no eye contact; he rarely did since what had happened to Brian four months previous. She was aware he’d been struggling since. He didn’t have to say anything but that was the problem now – he never said anything. Only in the mornings did he mention his dreams or nightmares as though his lack of control over them created a safe distance to talk. He’d become a victim of them with a need to accuse.

Jane and Don were flatmates for a year now and she had watched him grieve but this was different. This was despair that was no longer heightened nor was it turning. It was like a damp grey fog looming over his soul, everywhere he went, even when doing the things he loved.

“Did you think about giving Rosemary a call?” she said sitting down to her muesli.


“You know, the counsellor I was telling you about last week. The one my friend recommends.”

“Oh sorry, yeah no I haven’t yet.”

“Well I can organise it for you if you want?”

“No no it’s ok. Thanks though. I’m just not sure I need it. I’m having a few nightmares but I’ll keep busy with rugby and that,” he said, mistakenly opening the fridge to return the porridge oats before realising.

“The lads are having a session this weekend so it’d be good to see them and get out. I’ll be grand,” he added.

“Yeah it’s good to keep busy,” she said.

Inside, Jane was itching to throw advice at him on things she’d heard, books she’d read, movies she’d seen and even philosophical quotes she’d come across on Facebook blogs. I can lend you ‘Tuesdays with Morrie,’ she entertained. Have you heard of mindfulness? Oh maybe Life of Pi would be better. However there was little time that Monday morning to delve into such discussions she decided, watching him pour cold milk to cool his porridge.

“Well let me know if you need anything ok?”

“Thanks, Jane,” he said now looking at her from across the table.

His walks to work were different now. In the past he was always in a rush out the door and found himself in work without a thought other than to change the song on his iPod. Now he was thinking. He was analysing a lot and it frightened him. He thought about the colour of the leaves on the ground and how it seemed to be snowing leaves on the Merrion Road. He thought about Brian and about his brother, the one who found him hanging that night four months back. And he thought about how he’d never receive an incoming call from Brian again. Those calls he took for granted asking him to pick up skins on the way to his on Friday nights.

Life goes on, he thought while observing the streams of luminous vests dash past him and the cars. It was like the Tour de France in Dublin rush hour these days. Everything changes yet it all remains, like when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve. You expect the grass to turn blue and the sky to turn green but it’s all the same, nothing miraculous happens so what’s even the point of it all?

He saw a lady jog by with a beautiful Labrador. Its coat was golden, longhaired and it moved with a zest for life. He’d had one similar as a child, which brought great joy to him and his brothers. Jane was right, he realised. He was truly feeling this misery take his senses over, and it was going to be difficult to hide it from her for much longer. Perhaps the counsellor thing wouldn’t be such a bad idea.


“I wonder about animals sometimes. You know, what the biggest difference is between them and us? Apart from all the hair, sharper teeth and all the physical differences, I sometimes wonder how intelligent animals really are. Apparently pigs are the smartest animals. But what defines their intelligence? Do they have an ability to love? I never had a pig bark at me, begging for love, attention and games.”

“Do you think the fact that we can love makes us human, Don?” Rosemary asked him.

“It’s complex. I think we underestimate our intelligence as humans. Do you get me? I mean, sometimes we can be too intelligent for our own good. And I don’t mean passing maths tests or soaring IQ levels. I mean emotional intelligence or perhaps something bigger. Have you ever had that feeling where your mind is playing tricks on you and you feel almost… afraid of your own thoughts? Well I think that’s the difference between them and us.”

He paused waiting for her response but she continued to look at him anticipating more.

“Animals don’t, and will never go against their own nature of survival. Only humans act on thoughts of suicide,” he added.

“Is it contagious, Rosemary? This depression thing so many of us seem to catch?”


One Comment

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  1. ruthelizabethpowell / Nov 27 2013 3:01 pm

    Love it – and I thought you read it very well last week – see you tomorrow I hope – Ruth

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