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Sunday Times Books LIVE

Richard de Nooy

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Home Invader

The lady upstairs – nearing 70, fuelled by vodka with a dash of juice – is stumbling blindly after her lover, who crawled to his grave.

Her apartment is packed with externalised memories – hers, his, her mother’s, his father’s – crammed into boxes or washed up on tables.

We found her in bed around noon. Beached amid the flotsam and jetsam of her boudoir, we didn’t dare touch her, stood shouting and calling.

Beating the closet like a funeral drum, I looked for signs of life, a rising chest, the flicker of an eyelid, a finger twitch, but saw none.

When I set the lights ablaze and dared to touch her toe, she rose from the covers like a screaming banshee, severely testing my sphincter.

As I sat consoling her, she cried and mumbled that she didn’t want to live like this, howling at the mess, as if she’d only just noticed it.

Then she slid towards me like a frightened child across her wall-to-wall bed, and I could almost feel her willing me to hug her to death.

Whispering platitudes and consolations, I tried to make something of her life, shed a little sunlight, remind her of forgotten dreams.

Writers really are the worst neighbours. They will invade your home to steal your shit and mould it into figurines to be displayed in boxes.


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