There was a block of flats which called themselves apartments because there were long hallways lined with doors and through these doors were dwellings or flats or apartments.

The residents or inmates or people didn’t see any reason to close their doors on this hallway, so as you paced its length you would hear and see all sorts. Most of this was not from the people through the doors but from the people inside the TVs inside the apartments.
You could walk up and down for hours on end, watch through a door for an hour, and no one would notice. I lived in the hallway for over two decades and my presence didn’t seem to be intrusive. Even when I watched on as a teenager tried to slit his own wrists, was calmed down by his mother, given his first drink and asked important questions like ‘would you like another?’ to which he’d respond ‘of course’ because he couldn’t say ‘I don’t care’. There would have been more questions so he didn’t have the heart for apathy.
It was a funny place to live, this hallway. So many voices gave no conversation because answers that mattered didn’t matter here but silence wasn’t tolerated.
I was content for a long time living here but I left to see what conversation was like. People who keep their doors closed can be much more interesting, I’ve found. But some people make me wonder if their doors are just painted paper.


An Ignorant Foreigner

An Ignorant Foreigner


I just wanted out of the babble. Fresh air, a nice walk, left to my own ideas. I always found that I couldn’t put my own ideas into conversation anyway. Even if I could, they always held their own opinions too strong to even consider anyone else’s. There was no real point to the ‘debate’ in my mind.

Religion. Everyone has to have a standing point, don’t they? Whether they just can’t believe, or they believe a little too much. It’s not the belief part that I have problems with; it’s what to actually believe in. I’m agnostic. So many people are. It makes sense to me.

I didn’t realise it was cold. I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t seen that I had sighed. I was almost at the park though. My little retreat. There was a movement around my bench. My bench. I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. People are so possessive. It wasn’t a dog, someone just sat down. Of all nights. I’ll pass by to one further on, I suppose.

On passing, I saw that it was a boy a little younger than me. Was it a boy? I think it was a boy. A simple nod in his direction should suffice to make neither of us feel awkward.

It felt strange having to walk past my own bench.

I sat down at the neighbouring bench, which is a sufficient distance away from the boy to still feel like I had privacy with my own thoughts. Oh god. He was walking towards me. I hope he’s passing.

“Hello.” He sat not next to me, but before me on the grass. It was the accent that puzzled me most though. Where’s he from?

“Hey,” I replied. I didn’t want to ask. I wanted him to leave. “Why are you here?” he asked. That accent! What is it? And what kind of question was that as an icebreaker? “I like this place” I told him honestly. “I have never been here before” he said in a strange tone. Was it sadness? I can’t read emotions well. I didn’t really care.

His accent sounded muddled, as if he didn’t even know what he was supposed to sound like, though. “Where are you from?” He wasn’t leaving soon, I could just tell. I might as well satisfy my curiosity. “Just outside here” he said simply. I actually made an effort to converse, and he gives me that? He annoyed me. Also because I knew he wasn’t from around here originally. I’m sure he knew that I wasn’t asking where he now lives.

“It is late” he said after a few minutes silence, “Why are you here?” I knew what he meant, “I wanted a break.”

“A break?” He responded quickly.

“Yeah…” I knew I’d have to explain what the break was actually from, “My friends were arguing about religion. It annoys me.”

“Religion?” Again, he responded quickly. A little bit too quickly though. Maybe he’s just like them and wants to express his opinion too. I really don’t care though. I’ve heard too much. There isn’t much more I haven’t heard.

“Yes, religion. Everyone seems to want to put their point across these days.”

“What is religion?” His expression wasn’t inquisitive, or joking, or… anything really. Actually, he had a constant blank stare. Did he blink? It’s probably the dark that’s not allowing me to see. I laughed a tad awkwardly, assuming it was a joke. Of course it was. Why did I doubt it?

“What is religion?”

He was serious. He was a weird kid, I could tell that to start with, but this? Maybe he was brought up without any influence of it. Does that happen? He certainly made me think so.

“Well…” am I seriously about to try and explain? “…it’s hard to give an overall description really…” His gaze was definitely making me more comfortable about trying to explain something. If he really knows nothing, I’ll give him what I’ve tried time and time again to portray to my friends. My view on religion. I didn’t feel the annoyance I did with the others and I felt comfortable that I wasn’t the non-intellectual in this situation. For once.

“Well…” I repeated, his gaze still intent on me, “We’re better off without it, I think. It’s organisations, really. All with different views on things and depending which you’re a part of, you’re expected to follow certain rules, worship certain things and live a certain way… but a lot of the time, these rules, worshiped things and ways of life conflict with each other and this leads to entire nations fighting and killing each other…” his confused expression took me off track. But how could I make this more simple?

I started again. “Imagine a cube.” He seemed to comprehend this well. I’d imagine so, but then again, I’d imagine he knew what a religion was. “Well, this cube is the centre of everyone’s belief. Everyone worships the cube, which has different coloured sides because people came and painted each side a different colour. But depending where people stand to worship the cube, they will see a different colour. These people talk to each other about the cube, one says “It’s blue!” While another says “It’s red!” They are both so sure that they’re right, because, they technically both are. They only know what they can see. It’s not really their fault.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes, I do. I would like you to continue, if there’s more.” He didn’t seem slow. Just that he didn’t understand a lot of how people are.

“Well, because what the different groups of people believe the colour of the cube to be, they begin to argue and fight. Even if some agree on certain colours they see, they still see the cube at different angles, which makes a different shape. They are all so sure that theirs is the correc…”

“Why did the painters paint this cube different colours? Why did they not paint it one colour which would give everyone the same perspective?”

I was startled by his questioning. It made sense though.

“I… don’t know.”

He simply gazed at me, expecting more.

“Well, there are people, myself included that don’t believe this. We believe that there is something, but we’re not sure what it is. Imagine that this something is simply a grey sphere. It will always be the same, not matter what way it’s viewed. It’s a grey circle to anyone who believes in this instead of the cube. It can’t vary, so these people can’t argue with each other about who is right about the shape or of the colours. But they believe there is something, which is what the sphere represents.

“There are also people who don’t believe in any shape of any colour, yet they argue with the people who believe in the cube. The more fearful of these people make hypocrites of themselves when it comes to them passing away, disregarding all their claims of believing nothing and becoming one of the followers of a certain shape and colour of the cube.”

I didn’t really know what else to say. I portrayed my view how I wanted to. How I believe it is.

We sat in silence for probably five minutes.

“I understand.” He said, as though answering a question I never asked. “These people that painted the cube do not realise what they have done. If only it could be re-painted and re-shaped. I have to go now. Thank you for talking to me.”

He stood up and turned to walk back the way he came. “Hold on!” I found myself raising my voice, my annoyance returning. “Where are you from, I mean, originally?”

“I am from just outside of here. Goodbye.” He walked quickly away, and eventually faded from sight. It had gotten quite dark; I should probably go back to the babble.

No. I’ll go to back and reclaim my bench. My retreat from the babble.