I am watching a quietly spectacular sunset slide away behind the busy London skyline. It is peachflushed and golden and rosy and it fades into a scintillating silver-blue thread on the horizon. I can even watch it as I sit here typing because I can see it reflected in the huge cheap mirror in my lounge, a reflection so warped it looks like water; London turned to Venice as the peach turns to bronze and the blue to violet.
Yesterday I stood out on the balcony with Minusbat and admired the dusk. And he noticed an optical illusion, the way the car headlights reflect briefly in the windows of the apartment blocks and makes the buildings look like they are sparkling. Minusbat often notices things that other people don't, even when he's not really Minusbat, when he's had 72 hours in chemical-induced existential hell.
Yesterday I watched him pottering about this room, using his black cable of doom, some cunning and a Swiss Army pen-knife to work electronic magic that enables my computer to come out of my stereo, and all the other things I don't know how to work properly to come out of it too. I watched and listened to a not-quite-Minusbat, struck by how diminished he seemed even though he was much better than he had been, still mono rather than stereo, faint and a little fuzzy.
But I can conjure, at least while I'm breathing and my brain works, a hundred Minusbats: a teenage one with a harried expression, a puddingbowl haircut and clumsily elegant hands, kind enough to scrub graffitti about me off the walls of his school toilet; an assortment of dancing, drunken, drugfucked minusbats from 15 years and 15 weeks ago; a skinny, hairy recently gothicised Minusbat delighted at the gift of the bat necklace which gave him his nickname; a gleeful and delighted Minusbat-in-love, laughing down the phone the phone and telling me, 'women really do taste of honey when you kiss them. Well, it was probably sherry, because she's been drinking sherry, but it tasted like honey to me'; a dreadlocked Minusbat in mirror shades, pulling up in the rain outside the Barry Island funfair in his open-topped black sports car and greeting me with a deliciously absurd, 'come on Barbie, let's go party!'.
I read what he wrote earlier and watched the sunset and thought how strange it was that when he was cursed with a horrible sense of the fragility of identity and how easily it can fracture and dissolve, I was struck by the stongest, most concrete sense of who he is, at least to me.
Of course when I die, or go mad, or senile all the Minusbats in my head will disappear. Eventually I too will fade or rot into nothing, and in a 100 years or ten years no one will know, still less care, that an ordinary woman stood on the balcony of her ordinary flat and watched the unlikely beauty of a ravishing sunset and thought about her extraordinary friend. What of it? All flesh is grass? There isn't any magic that separates us from the animals. There isn't even any magic which separates us from the rocks and the seawater. All of what we are is merely the patterns formed from the emergent behaviour of a complex mass of chemicals. No more wondrous than patterns stirred up in dead leaves by an autumn wind?
But I am different from the rocks and the seawater. I am different from the dead leaves stirred up by the autumn wind, precisely because I can wonder at the pattern they seem to form, because I can see their beauty. Is that magic? It is to me. But then modern electronics are like voodoo spells to me, so what do I know? I know only this:
We are everything you and I. Remember that. Everything. If only for a moment.
* I loved therefore I was. At least I hope that's what I've written. Please do correct me, classicists, if I am wrong.