Looking back, it has been summer all year long. Somehow the sky has been bluer and the sea greener these days. Nevertheless, this golden world did still exist, without regarding time, to live beyond the surface, ready to let its water flow.
Amongst this eternal landscape in Henley-on-Thames, huge houses seamed the well-groomed streets. Small signs with the residents’ names were to be found in front of each house. In the far distance they looked like a large field of flowers, waving gently in the breeze of the day.
One single house was no longer equipped with a sign for the nature had done its best to speed up the oak’s process of altering.

From the outside, a man might be seen from time to time, passing to and fro behind the old and dusty window. This occurred almost every single hour, when the pale man stood up from the table, which has been positioned right under the barely inscrutable glass. Even the sunrays did not have the chance to enter the house.

Inside, the man wondered whether there was still time to go on with his many notes for they had to be finished before sunset. Dawn would come the very next day, though the time was running out and there might be none left to put life into his writings.
With a cigarette in his mouth, he put the white, unwritten papers into the slot, checking the remaining ink at the same time. Nothing but a small cough and the tapping of the old keys of the typewriter could be heard in the room.

Death dreams
On several occasions it is the sea or the shore – more often enormous, huge buildings or streets or ships, where I often get lost, though I always wake up with a peculiar feeling of happiness & I wake up in sunlight.
Unquestionably all these buildings represent death – even while dreaming I’m almost fully aware of this & these dreams come more frequently, when my state of health gets worse & I start to lose hope. I don’t understand this, since I’m not afraid of death (afraid of pain & the moment I die but not of the state of non-existence), why this thought has to appear in different shapes in my dreams, again and again. It’s odd how –

The tapping stopped. Without further cause, the ash of the man’s cigarette had fallen onto the floor. He had watched the whole process attentively, as if to examine and analyse the downfall of the substance towards the ground. The man groaned.
“Pity the end came this fast. One moment we create it and the next moment it touches the ground, leaving nothing but grey marks. Where was the sense in doing so now that the essence of it is decayed into ash? And all of a sudden.” Another groan followed.
“At least I had the leisure to put life into few of my thoughts. Shame the addiction to tobacco influences our writing abilities.”

After he had spoken these words, a voice sounded inside his head, pushing him back to an other side of his mind. To the man it seemed both close and far away at the same time.

“We defy augury. If it be now, ‘tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come.” [1]

This remark caused a feeling of dizziness and anger inside the man’s stomach. He felt the urge to cough but did his best to defeat it, at least for some time.
How could he have foreseen the dusty ash of his cigarette falling towards the ground?

The other person seemed to sense his thoughts. “The readiness is all.” [2]

“One cannot foresee what might happen in the future. There is no possibility of knowing what life keeps in readiness for all of us. Omniscience would create a power which we are not able to handle the way we should. Intellectual responsibility demands too much of people. Thus truth has to demand pain so keeping something away from society is the better choice.”

“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” [3]

The anger grew, since the pale man felt the truth of his opposite’s statement. Yet he fought the need to cough for a second time within a few minutes. He had to give in, his lack of success broke through the surface. Pressing his left hand to the flat stomach, the man felt nothing but the harshness of bones.
There was no obvious sign of interest in the other person’s shape, whether he took notice of the outburst or not. All of a sudden the sound had gone, leaving emptiness. Calm, as if to express his innermost feelings, the man went on.
“Conscience is reason. Reason is to be doubted. Why else would people believe in death as a redemption? Their realm is nothing but a compensation for the course of life they were not able to follow.”

“Life’s but a walking shadow. A poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” [4]

The man sighed. “It is all about resistance. One has to figure out the facts and see things as they truly are. We have to choose the side of the coin we want to see. Each one leads us closer to the height, though on one side there will be someone up there who wants to withdraw his hands.”

“We, at the height, are ready to decline. And every fair from fair sometime declines, by chance or nature’s untrimmed changing course.” [5]

“Like fish letting themselves float in the great sea. They are determined to follow the current, even if it leads into a tempest. The course is defined by the fitting, though what would their life be with everlasting existence instead of being caught? It is not more likely that walking the path towards the nonentity keeps the balance alive. The end is not adaptable. Merely the surroundings guide it along the current.”
Without a reason, the pale man suddenly pointed at a white flower sitting in a dusty corner of the old house.
“Take a look at the flower over there. Dicentra spectabilis, of the family of the fumariaceae.” He nodded slightly, as if to realise it. Then he quickly added an extended explanation of the term, not giving his opposite any more information than he already possessed.
“I first saw a specimen during my days in Burma. This one is a special species, somehow I forgot its name.”
The man paused for a moment, giving himself time to clear his mind.
“Well, it does not matter anyway. The flowering season is in about half a year, I’m looking forward to seeing it again.”
Though he could not deny the fact that the dicentra spectabilis looked like it was never to bloom again.

Neither did the other person attempt to take a look at the flower nor did he move.
“Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward to what they were before.” [6]
These words made the man shiver, again he felt the reality entering his mind, crushing his insides.
He thought of the golden world of his childhood, the blue sky, and the green sea. Never had they appeared more colourful to him than now. It had to be remembered. He was a part of this world.

“We are of such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” [7]

“True, so very true. The retreat from reality diminishes its terror. No fight is needed while sailing towards the golden times, catching all kinds of fish, and watching the sunset. A lot of pain and sorrow in the world comes from people who feel the urge to be like this.” He pointed at the single flower in the corner of the old house.

For the first time, the other person took note of his behaviour.
“A dream itself is but a shadow. My dream was lengthened after life. Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven. The fated sky gives us free scope, only doth backward pull our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.” [8]

Again, there was no response. The man had the slight impression of the two of them not corresponding any longer but parting in various directions. Suddenly he stood up from the old table and leaned forwards to touch the obscure glass of the window.
Wiping away the thick layer of dust, the man offered the sun a small spot to enter the house.

“When I was a young boy, we used to play a game called Wall Game. We have all been participants, but some guys were sitting on the bench and the game went on right before them, though at any time they had the possibility of joining in.”

“Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall. Men must endure. Ripeness is all.” [9]

“Maybe they haven’t played as well as they could have done.”

It appeared as if the other person smiled benignly. Never before had he directly referred to the pale man himself. Now that their conversation had reached the essence, he did.
“Come, Posthumus, are you ready for death?” [10]
His opposite paused for a moment. He knew the answer already, though he was not sure whether he could bear to give it. After some time, he followed the other person in his dialogue.
“Over-roasted rather, ready long ago.” [11]

Throughout the whole conversation, the man had not taken his eyes away from the glass. He looked intensively at the substance, which showed the reflection of gaunt flesh in a human face. What a small amount of life left. By staring at the wreckage of his own self, the man felt tired.
How could there be any hope left, he wondered. It is like a burning ship with thousands of explosives on it, waiting to reach the end of the fuse wire.

“For death remembered should be like a mirror, who tells us life’s but breath, to trust it error.” [12]

“It’s odd how things, which seem to be insignificant, are the truly important ones. We have time for everything but the things that do matter to us. The circumstances often forbid people to choose their direction. The past is like a harbour with its protective restriction we want to enter. We all make progress, and we are no longer able to turn right.”

Meanwhile the other figure, barely having admitted his honest thoughts up to this point, changed his position.

”A thought which quartered hath but one part wisdom, and ever three parts coward. To thine own self be true – die to live!” [13]

Dreamingly, the man looked outside of the glassy window where the small river in front of the house was covered with ice. According to the prediction, the sun on the next day was supposed to melt the barrier. Suddenly he had the feeling that the dicentra spectabilis indeed longed for water.
It was as if this minor insight cleared the path to transient times. Without regarding time, the nature changed, whether it was by coincidence or merely a simple twist of fate.
In the end, there was nothing to be found but spring. The end of winter and the beginning of the flowering season of a large field of flowers, waving gently in the breeze of the time.

“We get an overall view of reality to give in to the temptation. Throughout my whole life, I always wanted to be a part of the surroundings that guide other people, though they are determined to live their own lives. It is an egotistic wish to be remembered after death. The process of perception, of accepting our own mistakes, leads us closer to the truth. Failing is the greatest virtue of all.” He paused.
“I found out there is a small river with trout in it, right in front of the house. As soon as I am allowed to leave, I am to be found there.”

“But thy eternal summer shall not fade. When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe and eyes can see, so long live this, and this gives life to thee.” [14]

“People need to regard life as a library filled with dozens of books. Some of them have been written by the owner itself, some by other authors. Write as many chapters of your life as possible or else your sense of coherence gets lost. A protagonist would not be a protagonist if it were not for the antagonist. They are counterparts. This has slipped my mind times ago. Mortality is the only aspect which should keep human beings away from individuality. Nothing but the present belongs to us. Cuius regni non erit finis.” [15]

“For there is nothing either good or bad. But thinking makes it so.” [16]

Both men did not miss the urgency of these words.


[1] Hamlet V, 2, p. 1110
[2] Hamlet V, 2, p. 1110
[3] Hamlet III, 1, p. 1088
[4] Macbeth V, 5, p. 1067
[5] Julius Caesar IV, 3, p. 835 / Sonnet XVIII, l. 7-8
[6] Macbeth IV, 2, p. 1062
[7] The Tempest IV, 1, p. 17
[8] Hamlet II, 2 p. 1084 / Richard III I, 4, p. 637 / All’s Well That Ends Well I, 1, p. 259
[9] Measure for Measure II, 1, p. 103 / King Lear V, 2, p. 1005
[10] Cymbeline V, 5, p. 911
[11] Cymbeline V, 5, p. 911
[12] Pericles I, 1, p. 948
[13] Much Ado About Nothing IV, 1, p. 144
[14] Sonnet XVIII, l. 9, l. 12-14
[15] Credo (Latin Version), l. 26 (”Of His kingdom there is no end.”)
[16] Hamlet, II, 2, p. 1084

In: Shakespeare, William: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, 26th Edition, New York 1975 (Gramercy Books).