How he arrived at the park, he did not know. But he was there now; crude consciousness shone in the lingering mist of memories and momentarily dispersed them. It was dark, well into night, and he was alone. Only two hours ago – and here came memory battering again – he was with the one towards whom his life had been directed for the past months. After a week of insufferable silence, he had visited her in a desperate attempt… It failed, as he knew it would. What else could he have done?

He sat on a bench and let his sunken face fall into his hands. The cold wooden seat felt good on his body worn out from sleeplessness and malnutrition. Nothing lent itself to order in his mind; the more forcedly he sought a clear corner of thought, the more keenly her person pervaded. Not again, he thought. Not again. Abruptly he stood up, as if rapid departure might trick her image into staying behind on the bench.

He walked and walked until he reached a bridge. He stopped at the midpoint where the water would be deepest. Resting his elbows on the railing, he stared into the heavy darkness below and was overcome by excruciating restlessness. He envied what lay at the bottom of the river. He went so far as to picture himself down in the sand, the water pressing on top of him, enveloped by the even dark blue; waves might roar at the surface, but everything would be quiet at the bottom, so still, peaceful as a fossil. Then again, he viewed everything from the perspective of eternity.

The thought of the water calmed him. He was still contemplating his body submerged, now in some distant ocean, when he tasted her perfume on the back of his tongue. A great sickness welled up inside him, and he let it go into the river.

When he left the bridge, his head ached. He wished to rest it somewhere. When she noticed he was tired, she would take his head into her hands. He shook them away. Now all he felt was open space. Suddenly, he was struck by a memory from when he was a boy. There was a documentary about the life of monks. To his mother’s amusement, he had pointed at the television and declared, “That’s me when I’m old.” He let out a sharp laugh. What a vision.