the robe of dog days
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As I must remain
by Martin Friel


I hadn't been looking for it. I was going for a shirt. I hadn't worn one in a long time but as reached for the shirt, there was the other. It hung there, beautiful, insolent and taunting. It had been bought in the days, those brief days, when money was easy.


Money had ebbed and flowed but it had its own consistency. It always came back. Like a dog. I laughed. Yes, like a dog.


It hadn't been back for a while. For me, money was a stray. I wished it had got lost and missed me, waiting to be reunited. Waiting to come running back to me but deep down I knew it had found someone else. It was done with me.


Yet it hadn't left me completely. It had left a memento, a silky skin, shed a long time ago. And there it hung in my wardrobe. Languid in its form but real. Truthful.


That silk dressing gown had been there three years. I wanted it, craved it but i daren't touch it. Wear it. It was too good for me. And it knew it.


I dared myself to touch the sleeve. I raised my hand, index and middle finger reaching out, expecting the smooth connection. At the last moment I pulled back, withdrawing as if from fire.


Who was I to touch this beautiful garment. It was mine. I owned it. I payed for it. It lived in my wardrobe. Yet I felt unworthy. It came from a place and time when I was a real man. When I could eat when I felt like it. When I dictated the hunger in me. When I controlled my body and its demands. When I was in control. Control.


It came from a time and place when I earned. When I earned my position in life. When I earned self respect.


But those days were gone and all I had left was this silken robe. This extravagance that sang softly to me from behind its wooden gaol. How could I bring it out, wear it? Expose it to my inadequacies?


No, it must remain where it is, untarnished, untouched, untainted. It must never brush against my unwashed skin. It must remain unsoiled. Perfect. A symbol of my past success. It must remain.


As I must remain.




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