Think: It's a building, probably a church. He's sitting in the middle row, a moderate height young man. He has very long brown hair. He's overweight and looks depressed.

Think: It's a young woman, devilishly attractive, goes and sits in the row in front of him. Brown wood and stained glass. Blue and green light. Blessed are the blessed.

They exchange greetings. Polite, no more. No intimacy. No life.

She doesn't care. He does. He cares. Careworn. He is looking at her all the time.

Watch her ignore him.

Think: At the end, he asks to talk. He says something. She says nothing. He says something. She says nothing. He buries his head in his hands, then walks out rapidly. Rubber on stone.

She sits.

He walks into my office, flanked by two policemen. They gesture him towards a chair, and then in turn respectively sit in two chairs in the corner of the room. They look at me. I clear my throat.

"You were meant to be in school."

No reply.

"Why weren't you?"

No reply again.

I begin to get angry. "Why weren't you in assembly? You are in sixth form now, you should be responsible for your own time to a great extent. You should know how to manage your time, and that does not include mucking about in town when you should be in school."

More of the same vein, the usual lecture, the usual routine. Happens every week. Bored. Dull. He and I both. Police too. I finish, then silence.

"Have you anything to say?" I finally get a reply, of a kind. "Have you finished?" he says.

When I can trust myself to speak, I give another lecture. A more impassioned one, about the nature of respect and so on.

"As a member of this school, you ought to respect me more than that," I finish.

"I'm not sure I am a member of this school any more. May I go? I have an appointment to keep."

"No! What appointment?"

"An appointment with my father, the affection of whom is worth more to me than yours."

It takes me a little while to decipher that sentence. While I am doing so, he walks out the door. I feel I'm unlikely to see him again.

I keep telling myself it's not my fault that my current serious girlfriend had a sheet-metal fetish; but nevertheless it was perceived as my fault, and led directly to my dismissal from my first job.

That's life, I suppose. I mean, I can't even remember why she was in the office. But there she was, and there I was, and it was after hours...

We were bored. We must have been bored. Otherwise she would have never suggested making love on the filing cabinet. We looked at the filing cabinet. It was an incredibly large one, which was in this office for no very good reason. It was rarely used. We were both limber, so I suggested that we made love inside the top drawer.

I didn't mean it to be taken seriously. However, suffice to say we did end up in there. She was rather enthusiastic about the idea. So much so that the filing cabinet rocked, and we were both glad nobody else was here.

The filing cabinet rocked. On its back feet. We were in the top drawer.

It shut.

We finished what we had to do. After that, it was funny for about five minutes, until we worked out there was actually no way of opening the drawer from the inside. It was not something that the manufacturers had thought necessary.

We waited there for about twelve hours. The janitors couldn't hear us when locking up. She cried on my shoulder. I tried to reassure her, but wasn't entirely confident myself.

When my nosy boss opened the drawer the next morning, the expression on his face spoke volumes. It is still etched on the inside of my eyelids, and it keeps me warm on bad nights.

I was dismissed more or less immediately. Shortly afterwards, upon getting another job, I proposed to her; she agreed.

The happiest man alive. But then, they all say that.

It was a lovely funeral. As she had asked him before she died, she was put into a black sheet-metal coffin. Some murmurs of disapproval.

The sun was out, and it was a lovely day. The birds sang in the trees, and Easter was near. Resurrection didn't seem so far away.

It probably did for him, though. He didn't cry throughout; that was odd, as I remarked to some of my friends, sitting together in the back. There were neither friends nor relatives of his present, since he had expressly forbade them from coming; but her friends (of which we were some) were everywhere. Many were in tears. All showed marks of grief.

He didn't. He sat there, face impassive, eyes empty. He didn't speak throughout the service. Heaven knows, we tried; "Glean what afflicts him," Claudius said, and that's as helpful now as ever it was. But he wouldn't say anything. Not a word.

Everyone sang; he didn't. Everyone prayed; he knelt, but again said nothing.

Then we went outside for the burial. The coffin was laid in the ground, and he picked up a clod of earth and sprinkled it on gently. May the earth lay lightly upon her.

We all went inside; then we had tea. He didn't.

He had taken a chair, and went and sat by the grave. He sat their for 24 hours. It rained in the night. Dewfall. Cleanliness from heaven.

The next morning he was taken to hospital by ambulance with hypothermia.

*** logging started at [12/04/2001 21:30] 
<@aPhRo> You downloaded all those mp3s yet?
< Iactus> No, not yet.
<@aPhRo> OK.
<@aPhRo> How's the writing going?
< Iactus> He's killed the "creative process", going on about variety in art...
<@aPhRo> :-/
< Iactus> But it'll be ok.
<@aPhRo> What are you actually writing about atm anyway?
< Iactus> Guess :-\
<@aPhRo> Still miss her?
< Iactus> Yes :(
<@aPhRo> :( Still love her?
< Iactux> Yes :((
<@aPhRo> Pulling that stunt with the chair was bloody silly.
< Iactus> It wasn't a "stunt". Don't you know about funeral vigils?
<@aPhRo> Yes, but...
< Iactus> No buts. It was necessary; don't deny me that.
<@aPhRo> Why?
< Iactus> It's an ancient custom. It's always been done :-/. I owed it to her.
<@aPhRo> I didn't say you didn't...
< Iactus> *sigh*
<@aPhRo> Iactus?
<@aPhRo> You there?
*** Iactus has left IRC ("I wish I could wake from this dream")
*** logging stopped at [12/04/2001 22:13]

It's a remarkably simple little machine. No wonder the French liked it. Actually, I've had this in mind for some little time. Efficient and elegant, the way I like it.

It took about an hour to find it, rummaging in the shed, in the garage, and in all the other places old storage equipment goes to die. There was a box somewhere with a very stout frame and very flimsy walls; I had made it especially. Eventually I found it.

I took it inside and began to make the necessary adjustments:
... a nail here
... a nail there
... a pulley
... and so on

Regrettably, a letter has to be written. I don't want to apologise, don't want to blame. Life is just too difficult. Restore thou them that are penitent.

After that, all that needs to be done is to wind the rope cunningly around the apparatus, wedge the cleaver into place...

Put my head in the hole...

And pull the rope to put an end to

It was a lovely funeral. Simple, jet-black.

He oughtn't have done it. Nevertheless, I am... I was not so attached to him that I can say he didn't do it well. It was how he wanted to go.

Self-decapitation is difficult to pull off neatly. The target on the opposing wall was in questionable taste, especially as he got a bulls-eye. A ruddy mark on the paintwork.

It was a very quiet affair really. His family were there. To my secret surprise, her family were there too, as were their friends.

And I scattered the earth over him. May the earth lay lightly upon him.

He didn't want to be buried with her, said in his letter that she wouldn't have him after he had killed himself because of love. Her family begged to differ. They lie side by side.

We all went to tea, that callous meal, but after I remembered his vigil. And I put a chair by his grave.

The next morning I went back. The seat was wet with dew. One thousand crystal drops.

Nobody sat a vigil - that still haunts me.

Nobody kept a vigil.