Balliol College

He got tired from walking. So he sat down at the bench in front of Blackwell Music, facing Balliol College. It was a warm summery Oxford afternoon and he was already tired of walking around. He felt sad and he couldn´t explain where the sad feeling came from. He sighed silently and shook his head. He was tired of life. He had been for quite a while and he didn´t know what to do about it. Not that it mattered. It was a little while till the cold would come back. He hated the winter. But now, stretching and holding his face into the sun, he thought that he shouldn´t be tired of his life. At least now there was some sun.

He opened his eyes again to find that a young woman had sat down next to him on the bench. She had reddish hair that sparkled in the golden sunlight. She wore sunglasses, but he could see behind the glasses from the side and she had her eyes closed and enjoyed the warm sun on her face. He wanted to lean in and touch her face, because her skin had a glow to it that he wanted to feel with his hands. Knowing how inappropriate this was, he crossed his arms in front of him and continued to just stare at her. The strands of her hair that were circling her face swayed lightly in the summer breeze and he watched as the sun put sparkles in her red hair. She opened her mouth slightly and sighed. He believed to have distinctly heard her sigh and it made him feel like an intruder interrupting her private sun bath. He looked away and was embarrassed as his head turned around to face her again not a second later. She was beautiful. He had seen beautiful women before, but sitting so close next to one made him uncomfortable. He thought that he wasn´t worthy of being in her presence.

So he closed his eyes and turned his face toward the sun and as he was feeling the warmth on his face, his mind calmed. He sharpened his senses and tried to embrace what was around him with his mind. He could feel the sun glowing on his skin and he felt the warmth tickling him through his clothes. He smelled gasoline from the cars that drove past him, yet also the flowery perfume of the young woman next to him. Her smell was by far the one he enjoyed more. As he stretched out his arms and rested the right one on the side rest of the bench, he could feel the still cold iron cooling the lower side of his arm, while the upper side was caressed by the sun.

He opened his eyes and saw people rushing by. A woman pushed a buggy in front of her while trying to sip from her coffee. She was wearing high heeled shoes she couldn´t walk in and he thought that it was good she had the buggy to steady her. A couple strolled past him, entwined in their conversation, only seeing themselves. He wondered what they were talking about, but he couldn´t hear.

Suddenly, he felt at thump in his body as if music was played live close by him. Not seeing the source of music in front of him, he spun around to detect a travelling musician sitting in the door frame of the blue door next to Blackwell´s, tuning his guitar. Impressed, he watched the man play a few cords. He saw that he closed his eyes and for a moment there he felt the peace that must surely be rushing through the musician as well. As the musician began to play, the man felt the music in his body. It was emotional music, with lyrics about love and passion, so he thought. Even though he had not heard a single sound in years, he imagined the music to be powerful and expressive, the lyrics to be heart touching and honest. He watched the man play for a while, leaning his arm on the back rest of the bench, his head on his arm. In that moment he wished so much that he could hear the musician play.

Once the musician had stopped after the first song, the man turned around and wiped his moist eyes angrily. There was no point being sad about being deaf, he told himself. The other voice in his head told him, though, that he knew oh too well that he just wanted to be able to talk to someone again. Someone, who understood him. Someone he could understand.

He had to busy and distract himself from the thoughts of self-pity, so he looked at the young woman beside him again. She was leaned forward, writing on a postcard she balanced on her legs. As he followed her bend posture with his eyes and stopped at her hand that was quickly filling the postcard with her words, he wondered what she was so excited about that she felt the need to tell someone. Was it the warm weather? Had she just been on one of the walking tours through the colleges? Had she been pacing the grand hall at Christ Church? Had she just bought a good book or a new record? Was she a tourist, travelling through the UK or was she just someone, who still wrote postcards to loved ones? As he was still coming up with questions, she got up in one swift motion and walked away with bouncing steps, the postcard in hand. Following her with his eyes until she vanished in the masses, he thought that it must be exhilarating to be like her; to be full of life and strangely eager to explore the world.

With a strange feeling of numbness, the old man got up. As he walked past the College, his ears deaf to the birds chirping in the trees and the mumble and chatter of all the people around him, he asked himself, if being tired of life was just being tired of not being able to take part in life. But as he was only able to hear his own thoughts on the matter, he got no answer to that question.


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