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  • Panashe Ndou

In Benjamin’s Room

I spent the night in Benjamin's room. I didn't want to, or rather I didn't intend to. Even though I was alone it felt like he was there, it had his smell: the bedsheets, the pillows, the clothes, even the books — you'd think the books would still smell like books, but they smelt like him. That smell he has that seems so natural, like fresh moss, like he was birthed from the fog of an early Autumn morning.

That room — it's like its own dimension, like it exists in its own little pocket, adrift in endless nothingness. I didn't turn on the lights, I just let the moonlight pour in from the windows, and it filled the room with dreams, with stardust. I question whether or not I even fell asleep, whether my eyes remained closed or open the whole night.

I don't know why I was in there, I shouldn't have been there, it's like I was being called, like an arrow pierced its way through space and time to bring me to this place of being. This moment of existence. To the room of the first boy that made me realize boys can be beautiful. If my whole body were sketched, stepping into that room was like stepping into my outline, everything behind me was erased, forgotten. I went from clay to flesh in a fated metamorphosis. Does a butterfly ever think of its life as a caterpillar? Is it possible to remember our past lives in more than just glimpses? Maybe this was just my cocoon.

He had clothes in his closet that I had never seen him wear — he always dressed comfortably but I never saw him in the same outfit twice. Maybe I'll never see him in any of them. He had a notebook in his closet where he wrote colourful notes of all the films he saw. For some reason reading it felt more intimate than a journal. They were his thoughts, feelings and impressions about art that affected him. He was speaking to himself, reflecting on himself, and I got to see his reflection, his own work of art.

There was a saxophone case in the corner. I wondered if he'd play Careless Whisper or the theme from Taxi Driver on it, probably both. I think I heard it. His lips and his fingers orchestrating the most beautiful euphony that impregnated the atmosphere. The soundtrack to midnight.

When I stepped over his carpeted floor it was as if my feet sank into it like sand at the beach. Sand that would stretch out to the edges of the earth and spill right off, cascading into a void. I'd let my whole body sink into it if I could, if only to be part of this room, part of him, before I too drift off into that very same void.

I shouldn't have gone there. The things he does, who he is, make me want to grow closer to him. I don't know if I'll ever see him again. I probably won't. I'll never get to spend another eternity in Benjamin's room.

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