Still Life Sunday: An Unknown Demand


13 An Unknown Demand

She sits in her armchair and closes all the apps on her phone that have been opened during the previous hour. Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. She’s checked them all. Nothing too exciting happening on the planet this day.

She looks out from the window, letting her gaze search through the view for something abnormal, something that would awaken her curiosity. But no – not even the nature or the human-constructed streets of this city offer her anything special to witness.

Her eyes jump from item to item inside the one-bedroom apartment she lives in. Everything she sees, she owns. She can do anything she wants! This is her kingdom, her own little authoritarian country where her word reigns over everything and everyone. Except that she’s the only living thing in here (if you don’t count the tiny lonely olive tree on the windowsill). She could as well be a poor beggar or the richest person in the apartment and it wouldn’t make a difference. But although her wish is also the command, she doesn’t know what to do with all her power.

Boredom, the numbing and frustrating feeling that creeps along her legs, up her spine, all the way to the top of her head, makes her jump up from the chair and search for something to do. Anything will do, she thinks and goes to the walk-in closet. There she opens a white box filled with crafts equipment. Her hands feel their way through the colorful construction paper and finally, finds the watercolors and right kind of paper for painting.

She fills up a glass of clear water, sits down at the table and dips the paint brush in the water. Yearning for something colorful to brighten up the otherwise moody day, she picks the color pink to paint with and draws the first line.

But it comes out wrong. It doesn’t feel right, it is not straight or even quite the right color. First determined to not give up too easily, she draws a few more lines. But none of them feel right. Sighing, she gets up from her craft, leaving it to dry and empties the light pink water in the glass to the sink. Then she walks to the book shelf.

She picks up a book she’s been thinking about reading for a while. Returning to the armchair, she opens the first chapter and reads the first lines. But already after a few pages her mind starts to wonder, her thoughts go from the lunch she’s planning on preparing today to all the chores she has waiting for her on a to do –list. Finally, she gives up on the work of fiction and lets the book rest face down on the armrest. She can continue reading it later if she feels like it.


An hour later and she’s tried what seems to be everything: painting, reading, cleaning, listening to a podcast, watching more videos on Youtube and even doing yoga – but nothing feels right. She cannot focus, she cannot get rid of her thoughts that seem to require more of her attention today than usually. Actually, she doesn’t feel like doing anything today at all.

“What is it about gloomy days like this”, she wonders, looking out from the window.

She could be doing anything she wants! Be the beggar, be the queen for the day. Why not be both! But no. Her body and her mind both demand something else, something she hasn’t even thought of.

But what?

She returns to the armchair and sits down. But she doesn’t pick up the book that is waiting for her on the armrest. Instead, she lets her arms rest on the sides.

“I guess I just have to wait for the answer to come to me”, she says out loud to the empty apartment. No one is there to hear her, in her small authoritarian kingdom. No one will provide an answer to the question the queen has just asked out loud.

(Or maybe the olive tree hears her, but even if it does, it’s not very probable it will have an answer to her. After all, it’s only a tree.)

Instead, she lets the frustrating numbness take over her body and tries to learn to wallow in it until an answer comes to her. It might come in a minute or in an hour, it might come tomorrow. She even knows that there might not be any answer at all.

In that case, she’s on her own.


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