The ceiling seems to oppress me. The walls are closing in on me. I loosen my tie and it is still hard to breathe. I tremble as I put my right hand into my pocket, take out the neatly folded handkerchief with my grandfather’s monogram on it and wipe my forehead with it. Schubert is playing in the background, a winter journey. The dark and cold evoked by the music stands in stark contrast to the blinding light coming from that god-awful neon tube that I feel coming ever closer to my face as the ceiling is sinking. There is so much pressure, as much of it coming from inside my head as comes from outside. “Fremd bin ich eingezogen, fremd zieh’ ich wieder aus”. I never got to know any of these people here, never really got to cherish what made them unique. I couldn’t tell you who was an only child or who liked to go to the countryside. Yet the others know even less about me. I reach for my glass of whisky, clutching on to it as if it were my only solid support. Were there ever moments where I let myself be me, let others partake in what I deemed to be essential? I can hardly remember any moments of openness, of trust. Smiles from passersby flash by in what I can only interpret to be memories from moments where openness consisted in sharing that guarding wall of a smile with others who do the same. Impenetrable to others, yet suffused with self-doubt. I am no longer able to hold on to anything solid. The glass shatters on the oak wood table, the amber liquid runs like a river, finding its way over the wavy grain of the oak until it forms a waterfall, drop for drop ruining the rug underneath. I feel hot, too hot and I try to unbutton my shirt. Slowly, my stifling thoughts quiet down as the music turns from background to center stage: “Ach, dass die Luft so ruhig! Ach, dass die Welt so licht! Als noch die Stürme tobten, war ich so elend nicht.”

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