This was just another normal day for me. I was about 43 years old back then, still a handsome man I could say. But I was so damn lonely. I would put a new tie every day, arrange my mustache, use the most expensive perfume I had – but for whom? No one would come and visit me and I would never get out of the house, except for going to shopping, once in a while.
I kind of got used to seeing the living room every day. Mr. Muffins and I were very serious about our ritual. Mr. Muffins would eat her breakfast and climb on the window and sit there half of the day. From time to time, she would turn her head, meow at me and ask for attention. But I think she was perfectly content with watching humans passing by our house. As long as my existence was concerned, coffee was and is still playing an important part of my life. I would spend as much time as I could enjoying the bitter taste of a dark coffee. Delicious, calming – always a pleasure.
I would then read a few lines from a different book each day. To be honest, I don’t think there is a single book in my library that I’ve managed to read it from start to end. I would get scared that if I finish reading all of them, I would start to prefer one to another and so on. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I knew it very well. People would rather spend their time with other more interesting and socially adequate people than with me. Maybe because I wasn’t laughing at their jokes. Who knows? I knew the feeling anyway.
So, I would read and write each line in a notebook while drinking my coffee.
I didn’t even notice how lonely I was until one day. That day. I went in front of my house to take the rubbish out. I usually do it in the morning, so I don’t have to enter a sudden conversation with a stranger. But this little kiddo just appeared in front of me, holding his skateboard, all sweaty and happy.
– Sir, may you give me a glass of water, please? My home is quite far from here and I am really thirsty.
At first, I didn’t know how to react. This tiny human was the first person to talk to in 10 years. Yes. It has been 10 years. But of course I asked him inside and gave him a glass of water.
– Thank you, sir! You have a really big house! Why is it so quiet in here?
Again, I didn’t know what to answer. For me it was a perfectly normal silence, I wouldn’t thought it would draw the attention of any other being besides my cat. But this kid observed it and somehow triggered something inside my mind.
– Are you alone all day sir? What do you do all day?
– I read, paint, drink coffee, clean the house.
– Is that all? Don’t you get bored?
The kid was looking at me with such a bright face, he didn’t know how painful these questions were for me. I eventually told him that it’s getting late and he should probably go home and so he did.
After he left, after I closed the door, something felt different. The air was not the same anymore. There was a slight track of another human being’s perfume in the air. Mr. Muffins knew there has been someone else in here. Everything changed. It’s like a sacred space has been invaded. Since my parents died in that accident, I rearranged everything and lived here. This was their house. They left me a fortune and this house. And the cat. But now…that tiny human made a huge change in the house.
I laid down. I could see every shadow born from the fireplace dance on the walls. I could smell the dust inside the library. I never even noticed before how big this room was.
Completely lost in permanent contemplation, I noticed that the walls were not well-painted and there were stains from dead mosquitoes on the ceiling. The cat was meowing at the fire. The empty cup of coffee was still emanating a strong essence of Lavazza. I walked to the window – the floor was making a short, sharp cry – and saw myself reflecting, my eyes staring at my yellow mustache, almost as yellow as the window frame.
I liked to smoke a lot. I still do, but not as much as before. I liked to see the smoke slowly choking everything in the room, except for Mr. Muffins, who, when smelling cigarettes, would immediately run to the kitchen. The smoke was so dense, it felt like the living room was a filthy bar on a corner of a street, always lost in smog.
In years, the smoke turned every colour to a yellow-ish shade. How could I not notice these changes? How could I not see the little holes in the bottom of the curtains, created, of course, by Mr. Muffins? How could I not see that this cat was almost as old as I am? She can now barely move her body; but indeed, we are still alive.
I have always been alone, to be honest, but I didn’t know how lonely I was till that boy appeared in front of my house. I never even felt lonely before, I didn’t know how to feel it, after all. But then I understood. There was no one to share my coffee with. No one to discuss the book with. No one to smoke with. No one to sit next to the fire with. How did I…not see it? All this loneliness? I have lived thousands of days like this one, but God, I swear I didn’t notice…