Thursday, 1 March 2007

At the British Library

Sitting, trying to rummage my way through an article on a Frankfurt clinic's work in abortion and contraception advice, sniffing my way toward eugenic theories and racial hygienic motives, through a slog of no-end German words, a loud 'click' and then the lights went down at my desk and that of the man across from me. Long hair tied back in a ponytail, thin face sucked in at the cheeks. We both glanced up, our eyebrows raised simultaneously, and we looked quickly away. And then around. We avoided looking directly at each other even as we were aware of each others' movements, even as our thoughts slid along the same trajectory. What had happened to the lights? Would they come back on soon? Was there a switch, perhaps behind the long desk that an overtired worker would trudge back and flip and then, enlightenment once again? Our eyes shifted left and right. Then he reached forward, pressed the light on his lamp, and it turned on. A moment later I did the same to mine. It turned on. It was a moment and then it was over.

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