47 Random Fragments of Unauthorised Hope and Despair


42


IT HADN’T been possible to slip them in straight away.

People were milling around too much. Somebody might even have spoken to him.

As a result, he’d had to listen to the tour guide’s expert explanations for the duration of the first room.

This one was purchased in such a such a year, that one had cost so much to acquire.

This artist had been made a Baron of Democracy, that one was planning a major work to mark the President’s 60th birthday.

It was while the woman was explaining that one painting of horizontal turquoise lines represented the desire of human society for stability and security that he managed to push first one, and then the other, of his earplugs into position.

He’d drifted to the back. The group were all facing forward. The guide had turned to point to some salient feature or other with her extending cane.

He could still hear that she was talking. But he couldn’t tell at all what she was saying and that was all that mattered.

As the party shuffled into the second chamber, he broke away again - though not far enough away to draw attention - and took in the paintings around him.

Now it was like it should have been. Now it was like when he was a boy and you could walk around the gallery by yourself without a guide - before the threat of terrorism had led to the updated security measures.

There were no more names, methods, reputations, commissions - only explosions of beauty and pain, shimmering seas of memory, moons of longing, creeping dark fogs of despair illuminated by tiny flickers of human hope.

Now, with the earplugs in place, he could hear what the paintings were saying to him.


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