Snowcase #14 • 15 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Hannah G. Davies is a freelance arts journalist living in London. She has never knowingly misplaced any friends or family members. Statues is her first novel.
Kate has misplaced her father; Alice has lost her best friend. This is the story of their search. Statues
Kate wondered whether her neighbour knew that she intended to kill him. She hoped so. The idea that he could somehow sense her hatred was comforting, as if there was a connection between them. She disliked feeling alone, and sitting here in her kitchen at four o'clock in the morning, she was dangerously close to loneliness. Her neighbour's music was thudding off the walls, ricocheting off mugs and glasses that were so neatly arranged on the shelves, and periodically slamming into her brain. It had been this way ever since her first night in the flat, but she had not wanted to kill him then. She had felt that there was a chance of resolution, if only she could make him understand how loud the music sounded inside her flat, how much it was impacting on her carefully thought-out life. After forty-eight days she realised that it was not that he did not understand; it was that he did not care. Thirty-two days after this revelation she decided that he had to die. Kate was aware that many people would insist that she did not have the right to decide whether her neighbour lived or died, policemen and crown prosecutors being the most obvious dissenters and the most likely to impinge on her life, post-murder-of-neighbour.
Perhaps, Kate occasionally reflected, she ought to consider the philosophical implications. After eighty nights without sleep, however, that was as far as her mind would take her. She accepted that there were philosophical, not to mention moral, questions surrounding her decision, but she was frankly too tired to consider what they might be.
Of course, she was not interested in a purely practical solution. Were that so, she could have simply moved out before the lease was up, and swallowed the resulting financial penalties as a price worth paying for the recovery of her sanity. The point was that Kate also wanted revenge. Her neighbour had embarked on an eighty-day programme to dismantle her personality by brutal noise terrorism, and she could not allow him to walk away. City life, she had thought - before enforced sleep deprivation rendered thought impossible - brought with it responsibilities. Jammed together on trains and buses, inhaling each other's recycled breath courtesy of the office air-conditioning, pressing together in sandwich shops at lunchtimes, walking shoulder-to-shoulder on the thin routes home, and queuing, queuing, queuing all of this, all these connections, required a delicate sense of self and other; respecting the otherness of the other while tending to the selfish needs of the self. Anybody who could not understand this, who could not live amongst others without imposing himself to an unacceptable degree, must be punished and removed. The removal would constitute the punishment. Or, to put it more simply: Kate's neighbour was making her life hell, and so he had to die. She should not have to sit alone at the stained kitchen table at four in the morning, with this hell in her head and in her heart. All routes led back to this.
She felt exposed to the elements, as if the music had, howling, torn the roof from her home.
Hannah G. Davies
hannahgdavies [at] googlemail [dot] com