Safe Space

by George Pringle

I go to take the cup from the table and I notice something unusual about the surface of the wood. It has had something dug into it in biro. I look closer as I wipe the crumbs onto the saucer. It’s my initials…Someone has taken a biro and written ”GP” with a heart underneath it. I stare, momentarily transfixed.

Yes, that was one of my lyrics…”I carved your name on my desk”. This had to be a fan…Only a fan would do that. All of a sudden, I feel plain spooked. This person who has this knowledge, that I work here….they might have heard my conversations behind the counter. The counter, that was the biggest stage of them all.  No wonder I felt so comfortable. If I threw my voice a little too far, you’d hear it, you’d have some nugget, some little piece, to take away and stick to my face…create something around me.

We all did it, I’d noticed. We all hammed ourselves. Otherwise, how survive this cabaret life? Be a bigger version…that’s what it was…Being a bigger version was all I really knew. “George Pringle” could be a waitress too. In fact, I’d just give them that. What a sequel! The Waitress, in an apron.

What a fantasy.

I look at all the “readers” of this city sitting around me, worried it could be any one of them….reading their books…typing on their tablets, feigning their analogue sensitivity. I want to grab them all and say “You know it’s dead! It’s all fucking dead!!” To just grab the laptop off the desk and throw it across the room by now, in my head I’m reeling around like Isabelle Adjani, laughing in a crazed way…“Nobody cares if you sit in a dusty old chair. Hahahahahahaha. Nobody cares! Nobody cares because it’s dead. It’s dead! It’s all fucking dead! You won’t make a difference-you won’t make a difference. Hahahaha!”

Suddenly a young woman gets up from the table in the corner. She walks across the room, slowly before stopping at the water station at the end of the counter. She pours the crystal fluid slowly into a tumbler. She lifts this elixir to her lips, as she does so the lamp catches it.  Backlit by the terrace, it is divine.

She opens her mouth:

“You know, it’s not technically the end. You know, there’s some really great initiatives going on at the moment. The world is changing. We’re all recycling and experimenting with the way we order our lives. We’re all investigating the post-truth of our own identity and discovering that we are much more splendid than we ever thought and the power of our incredible and enlightened identity will change the world which will, in turn, save the planet from all imminent harm and so, through this curation of our knowing and conscientious actions, we encourage our own deep-learning of one another and in the process, achieve a utopia that is not victim to the hands of capitalism or corruption or climate change.

We will all be fit, clean and intelligent. The strongest minds will survive. We will learn to channel all negativity away from our brains and in the process become better human beings. And wearing this very clean, fresh lycra, it’s easy to feel…the change…and streaming these movies on our laptops and having this pristine sex with our own hands, alone in our bedrooms and only travelling in Ubers and choosing the self checkout and when we go home only chatting real talk with lovers on messenger (before we switch them off) and when we are done with the day we will feel yes, we successfully got through that day without having a negative impact on the world, on others and yes, this really is a safe space. We have been mindful. From the sky…we can see ourselves as though we are another planet. And we can say, safely, “it was good.”