SHORTLISTED ENTRY IN STUDENT LIFE’S SHORT STORY COMPETITION.
He then goes on to explain to us how he will fix the country, laying out his manifesto. He knows exactly how he will save the NHS, how to fix the housing crisis, how to make better trade relations with the rest of the world. But I am not going to tell you anymore about it because what he actually said isn’t important, and one day you might be able to read his manifesto for yourself before you hit the ballot box. What is important is this; he fixed the city from the living room floor. And as he talked about how he would fix it, that is exactly what it felt like was happening. For all we knew, as he spoke the entire law system was being rewritten, the Houses of Parliament changed brick by brick, the Thames begun flowing in a different direction.
And then Paul tells us how he’s decided he believes in Jesus. He tells us how the feeling that this can’t be it led him to start really taking it seriously: ‘Because if everyone in the world is asking themselves if this is all there is to life, then there must be something we are universally missing. And I’ve found that missing bit in him.’
And he goes on to tell us about the future that he has discovered, about how God is working towards a utopia and he’s going with or without us, and I make a mental note that maybe I will go to Church with him on Sunday, because his eyes are lighting up and I can see how this really has given him something valuable and I’m a little jealous.
In the daylight, David will tell me behind Paul’s back how he thinks this religion stuff is illogical, but here in the floating world anything is possible and so he considers it for a while.
Now it’s my turn.
Normally I would say something kind of radically left wing, provoke some kind of politically charged discussion. But tonight, I have something different to say. The thing about the floating world, is that when the sun comes up and it disappears, a lot of what has been said disappears with it. It doesn’t go completely, it leaves whispers behind, but it takes enough that you can say anything and still expect the world to go back to normal in the morning.
So, with that in mind I say, ‘I am going to leave soon. I don’t know when, and I don’t know where. But I’m looking into options and ways out. Ways to go and do something meaningful with everything I’ve learnt in another place.’
Neither of them say anything, but I feel David nod in understanding next to me. If I had said this in the day there might have been more emotion vocalised, a stronger reaction. Probably talking me out of it. But because we are here they understand, they feel the longing that I feel- the pull to something greater.
I take the chance to look at them both, really look at them, and I’m overcome with an intense feeling that this is the start of something. It is as if, in that moment, I can see past their skin, into their hopes, dreams and fears. I know that they are going to do amazing things. I really believe in us. I believe we can change the world. I believe we will fall in love, and get our hearts broken. I believe we will laugh and cry, we will climb mountains and get lost in valleys. And I know that’s cliché, I know, but it’s how I feel and nothing else needs to be said, because we are all thinking the same thing.
In the morning I wake up in my own bed, with the same yellow sheets, and open my eyes to the same once white walls with my battered cello propped upright, begging to be played. I remember that last night was important. I remember we had some breakthroughs somewhere; but I don’t remember what they were exactly. I get up and shower, make myself a cup of tea and sit down to go through my to-do list before I head off to finish my paper at the library. But something makes me stop for a moment, and I write at the bottom of my list:
8: Look for an internship in China.
The floating world phenomenon was first recorded in the 1600’s Japan. That means for at least 400 years people have consciously slipped in and out of this night-time world. How many of those people have found a place in it, whether that be in the bed of a prostitute, or in a living room, or playing cards in a bar? And how many of those people have chosen to take something out of the floating world, and examined it in the daylight? I don’t know the answer. But I do know, I want to steal something from that place and make my life around it. I want to be the architect of my own floating world, and through it, make my life worth more than this.