Within the cellar of the old house there sat old Tom. He was slumped rather than sat. Slowly he brought his hands up to his face and then his arms round and over his head. He was in a ball gently rocking, gently sobbing. Old Tom himself had no idea how long he remained in this foetal position, or even why he was in it.
Some hours passed. Tom unwound himself and saw the broom leaning against the wall, accusingly. His mind left itself and faded slowly back into the cellar. He recalled why he was there. The cellar needed sweeping; that was all. It wouldn’t even take an hour, yet much more time has been lost whilst Tom despaired.
As soon as he had walked down the steps, flicking the light switch on his way, it hit him. He instinctively went towards the broom, in its usual place, and there and then he suddenly sunk inside. The whole of his being; his physical being: his conscious being: his unconscious being: even his soul, should one believe in such things. It all collapsed, like a vacuum replacing what was Tom from the inside out. Tom himself did not really believe in ‘souls’ and such things. Except now. In these moments. The feeling of being emptied out, swiftly deflating fully, there wasn’t enough of him to explain the depths of this draining away. So there must be something more. His despair, in these moments, was greater than he, greater than the sum of his parts. So maybe there is a soul. Existing solely to torture us more.
Now, however, he stood shakily, he shook his head, took a deep breath and reached out for the broom. It hit him again. The deep deep existential sadness, deeper than the Mariana Trench; hell, the diagrams of that always looked laughably shallow next to the depths of this inexplicable sadness he was prone to.
But this time, he did it. He shook his head, forced his body to move, and slowly, haltingly, swept the cellar floor, the task punctuated with the several moments of crying; tears flowing down his bleak face. Finally it was done. A minor triumph when you find yourself tethered to this haunted head. But it had taken him all day to achieve this simple task; there was no satisfaction in a job done, merely grim regret and self-loathing.