Victoria Desponds

The Hours - Clarissa

Clarissa Vaughn, The Hours by Michael Cunningham


There the carrier pigeon flies, a tiny letter is attached to its neck. A woman in her mid-thirties, is sitting on a table in a low and calm concrete niche of a room, which itself, for the rest, is very generous and bright. She observes the bird through the window. It disappears behind the leaves of an old and heavy tree nearby the garden, resolute in direction and destination. Emma, on the contrary, feels a mental storm coming up. Clouds of doubts are slowly darkening her thoughts and she begins to hesitate if writing this letter was the right decision.

Anyway, it is too late to make it change again. There’s nothing she can do to take over control about the situation right now. She has to await the answer.

Emma can feel the tension in her, growing more and more. Suddenly she stands up. She cannot endure this waiting position any longer. She does a step down from the niche into a high space, where the light comes from windows placed beyond the roof - too high to see something from the close range on the ground, perfect to recognise a bird in the sky. She forces her eyes away from looking up and instead she looks down to the floor. A prominent pattern stretches throughout the room and she can see a continuation through the two doors at the end of the room. Step by step she moves through the room, trying to put her feet only on the green tiles. For a short period of time, all her concentration is focused on not touching the reddish coloured tiles. But as soon as she reaches the concrete border at the corner of the room, her worries sneak back into her head. Her nervousity comes back and she can feel forming the first beads of sweat above her top lip. She faces a concrete column. It stands there, strong and solid, pure and smooth. She somehow gets the desire to embrace it, to feel the coolness of its surface on her skin.

By taking the tiny passage into the next room, she stops and finds herself in between the two rooms. Now she’s surrounded by the naked concrete. She stays there for a little while, trying to strip off her impatience to let it behind her. Then she does the first step into a darker and smaller space. It might be because of the colours but she feels cooler here and more protected. There’s another window. Emma slides it to the side and makes it disappear into the niche of the wall due. Something like a roof on the top of the window blocks her view to the sky so she can only look straight into the garden. In this very moment, her heart almost stops beating, the blood in her veins freezes. For some seconds she seems to be paralysed by what is just happening. Emma is completely overchallenged and she’s incapable to keep her thoughts structured. In that very moment she misses the ease to be a kid – dependent but protected, where somebody else is taking over responsibility. But now she’s on her’s own with nobody to help. A tall man with long thin legs in a black and heavy coat is walking straight towards the window. He has a letter in his hand. He is focusing his destination with his eyes. Emma.

Panic resolves her from her inactivity. With all her force she clashes the window back to close the room. As there is no other access from the garden, not even a door, she turns around and runs out of the room and closes the door behind her. And with it, everything that belongs to the other side, too. She finds herself in a little courtyard with a small garden. She feels like having entered a sane new world, a new beginning, a white page. She walks through something like a gate at the end of the courtyard and she leaves.