The Unilever Series: Dominique Gonzales Foerster - TH.2058


The morning with James

By Christian Kerrigan

James moans a lot but even when you hear him grunt you know he’s got another idea that will change his mind. He is a clever hairy boy. It’s the type of hair that makes his shirt seems to have a cushion of air underneath. You can’t often see it but it creeps to the edge of his collar and cotton cuffs. His hands are extremely cold and the operation on his left wrist begins hurt. It often reminds him of his past; especially at times he doesn’t want to remember.

‘What are you doing’ he asked in a childish query. ‘Haven’t we organised this already?’

Neil is a novelist’ and is slouched back in his chair while his wife is arguing over his desk. Neil is slim, with
yesterdays wax in his hair. He comes across as having a familiar face. He’s the kind of guy who looks agitated when he has been interrupted from his writing, but if you ask him a question about his new book, he won’t stop. Tapping his nails he explains ‘This new book is about Philosophers and Scientists big disagreement on Nature.’

In the corner of the room, a morning news update about the war on weather is playing loudly.

James waits for his response. He looks down at his trainers. He can see his reflection off the marble floor as the cold still seems to be rising.

James has to start work tomorrow. He is tuning the forests that surround London. Controversy means that some people seem to disagree with what’s going on but his main job is to harness nature. Like most of the kids his age, he has an intuitive knowledge of making nanotechnology useful.

A bright painting of pink flamingo’s hang between there faces. The novelist and his wife continue to discuss. James can understand the code of the disagreement but can’t understand their situation. He wishes he could pay more attention sometimes.

‘Where do the flamingos’ go now that the sea levels have risen? James asks himself. He really wants to remove himself from this triangulated situation. Neil’s wife doesn’t like the smell of salt air and often needs a glass of champagne to talk to young people. She doesn’t seem to be able to see past her daily problems but re-hangs paintings all over the place to keep herself busy.

‘So how long will you be here?’ Neils asks, ’well I’m here for a while, I think Professor Schumt said for 3 months but it depends if he spends the fund on wet technology or buying leather furniture for his newly appointed office?.’

“I’m an expert in wet technologies.” James acclaims. “As a scientist, I can make live growth do amazing things,
they’ve asked me to make all the trees in London grow into new structures, as we don’t have much dry land anymore. They don’t want to waste any time with manufacturing, so I let nature do the work.”

“So what type of structures are you growing?” Neil asks,

“They’ve asked me to grow new types of cathedrals throughout the city so we have places to socialise.” 

At that point, the sun came up from the left and shone into the room. The room went quiet, while Neil took a drink from his cup and peered out the salted window. His skinny hand gripped the table top. He seems very unsure of the future.

The news report recorded no changes since yesterday. In the West they have started shooting ions into the sky to steal rain falls. Outside you can see tilted masts and sails billow, as the shimmering fleet move past. The shadows from the ancient light are been harvested by the flocking wildlife. A single long cloud hangs in the sky, a distant memory of the greyscale London which so many of the paintings depict.

‘Ok, we are going to put you in the bronze room overlooking St. Paul’s estuary’.  My wife takes care of the rooms.
Don’t worry its going to have sunshine.’

Neil’s wife comes out from the desk and steps down from the crate where she had been reaching. She seems to have a nervous disposition.

‘Are you OK?’ James asks. He is not sure if she has trouble breathing or if she has trouble speaking. Unsure of a response, James follows her upstairs.

James retraces his steps to the door. The clinic they passed on the landing looks very empty. The glass door
automatically slides open and closes as they pass. James sees a glimpse of a white uniform hanging.

“You should tell your professor that I’m still working from home.” She says.

They meet noise on the last flight. Neil’s wife is out of breath. She really doesn’t seem very well. They turn left
underneath the scaffolding which blocks the view of the sky. Into the raised courtyard her morning vapour trail out searching for James, as she trys to explain where they are.

The part of the building they arrive at has a big green door with a single light above it. There are no visible handles.

‘Is this the door to my room?’

James takes one glance eastwards to see the view. The tree-lined vista of London is breathtaking as the mercury reflections of the partially submerged dome appear beneath him.

James isn’t sure if he should follow her. She opens the door which leads to a large bronze room. The marble steps are the same. The temperature doesn’t seem to change once the door is closed behind him. The room has stained glass as they rise; resin lines track down the side of the walls. Clenching the balustrade, James waits to enter. This place is warmer. The smell of heated metal feels homely. James finds a bed in the corner where he feels quite comfortable.

‘I’ll leave you here, tomorrow you must move rooms, as this is for two people. And you are alone.’ 

James sits on the bed wondering how he is going to explain his situation to Professor Schumt. If he pauses for a moment he really doesn’t don’t know if he should be here. “How much time has passed?” James tries to recollect. It’s the kind of time when he can’t imagine anything else. The floor looks so hard and shiny, a thousand people could have passed through this room and he could never know.

An upside down oak tree hangs above his head. The amber clock is slowly turning .The resin is dripping from a bleeding scar on the trunk into the hour glass below. As the hour glass slowly fills, the forests are slowly moving. He imagines the creaking of the cathedrals as they grow, the languorous groans on the transept filling the live braches of the trees.

James starts moving the furniture and unpacks his case. The desk is comfortable looking but it’s in the wrong place. The chair needs to face the light. The other bed becomes a waste land of unsorted possessions.

Finishing his shower James considers calling Professor Schmut but then decides to put back on the same clothes and leaves the room immediately.

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