Funny really, I suppose, how life turns on its razor’s edge, on a point made by a knife. When I eventually caught the bus, not the original one I wanted, that would take me home on that Tuesday night, I sat and had a thought. A moment.
At times like this, quiet and still, I look back and remember, trying to work out how it came together. Did I have a ‘big bang moment’? Something infinite, waiting, like an ember, for that breath, like Adam’s body in the Garden of Eden? Did all chess games, all the books of history, philosophy, and other accounts of other things lead me to it? Beautiful Emily. Small footed, but graceful as a ballerina. Had she not turned that corner and dropped all her papers and stuff on the pavement, had I caught the original bus, would it have mattered?
Of course, I had stopped to help her. In that split second of recognition, I knew that I had a chance of a meeting with her, that neither social politics nor protocols could deny nor endure against me. I had every right to stop and help. So I did. Selfish right? That was always something Emily had accused me of in ‘our’ time together. Life is selfish but we have a chance to be selfish to an ‘us’, I used to counter. Never went down well with her and I never understood why. Not until that bowl of chicken soup. Of all things, a bowl of chicken soup.
I was out of breath, as I’d been running for the bus. They never wait. Not ten feet from them I’ve been arm raised like Lenin’s statue, surely a known gesture across the entire verse, yet with a face, seemingly carved out of flint, the drivers close their doors and drive off. You see? Selfish. Must stick to the timetable or I’ll lose my job, they’re thinking. Anyway, gulping deep breaths I stopped, stooped and scooped up her belongings. She held strong to her part, whatever the outcome. We talked for a bit, cautiously, but free enough. She asked whether I was ever going to settle down. Time is always running out.
Was that the breath my subconscious was waiting for? When do things start? When do things congeal? It was a nice ‘coffee moment’, and then I caught a bus and went home.
I was tired, like a lorry driver, in the sense that though I’d not done anything physical all day but play chess, I still was dogged. I took a shower and made myself some dinner. I got Sunday’s chicken out of the fridge and plucked the meat off the bone. Emptied a can of sweetcorn, added some garlic, chillies and squashed a lemon all into the pan.
After a few minutes , I set the whole lot, still in the pan, on the table. Got some bread, made a brew and sat down. It smelled good. I took a deep and long breath. Right then and there I had that “moment” I told you about at the beginning. Chicken soup. Soup from the chicken. A chicken lived and died. And I put it in water and now it’s soup. It does not want anything or fear anything. It only is. It is soup. Its weight rests on my table. Evenly distributed on the four legs that press onto the floor, the foundations of my house, which supports the table, the chicken soup and me. My house presses down on the Earth, the soil, the crust of this planet. All held in place by gravity. This planet is held in orbit by the gravity from the Sun. The life-giving heart of the solar system. One of an inestimable number of systems that make up our galaxy. Which is just one tiny part of an unimaginable cosmic expanse. The verse. The Universe. Life, Existence. All of creation supports this bowl of chicken soup. Which supports me. It gives me life. What should I do with the life that it gives me?
Well, I’ll tell ya. I ate the soup.