• Karim Gamil

Midnight Toil

Black. A dim light,

more yellowish than white.

Eyelids open.

Another sleepless night.

I wake up. I sit up straight and I think about all the pages left. I go to my desk and I open the book. I realize the book contains empty pages. I panic. “Where is the work?”, I think to myself. “Where is the work?”, I repeat, this time, out loud. “Here is the work.”, answers an unknown voice. “Who is there?”, I speak into the darkness. Nobody answers. I skim through the book. White, empty, pages that turn to sand in my hands and fall into my lap. My lap is covered in sand. I stand up and the sand falls into the floor. The floor is wet sand. Before I turn back to my bed, a wave comes crashing down into my chest and pulls me into the water. I try to find a solid surface to balance myself on. I find a rough stone. I grab onto it and I cut my finger open. My finger is wounded, but there is no blood. Instead, a cold wind breezes out of my finger and against my hair. The sand becomes solid, and my feet are buried in the sand. I try to pull my feet out of the sand, but they turn to bricks. I need to build a wall, so I grab a brick and some liquid sand to build myself a wall. I want to build a wall because it’s a sensible thing to do. Working at night might not be pleasurable for everyone. I do not want to be too loud and wake the neighbors. I hear two voices through the wall I built. One loud voice singing a song. One quiet voice which echoes the first. My fingers brush against the wall and look for weak spots. “There’s no time for fun until the work is done!”, I repeat out loud and I mean it. I find a crack between the third and the fourth brick in the bottom row. I push my fingers into the crack and go through the wall. My fingers are cold.

A dim light, more yellowish than white enters through the opening. I try to bring my eye to the opening. My fingers are stuck in the hole. No use trying to pull them out. So, I grab onto the book and read the empty pages out loud. The voice starts echoing my reading. I ask it to stop so that I can finish in time. It does not listen, and it grows louder. I rip out a page of the book and the voice stops. I investigate my hand and wonder what lies in my closed fist. Using the wall, I pry open my closed fist. A piece of paper falls out of it to the floor. I try to reach it, but another wave comes crashing down and pulls it back into the water. I try to go after it, but my hand is stuck. I rip out another page of the empty book, roll it into a cylinder, and put it into the hole. My hand is free, but the hole is closed. When I try to pull out the paper from the wall, all the bricks come crashing down into my chest and we are pulled in by the tide.

I take complete responsibility for my actions and realize that such an event may only occur in the absence of the necessary protective precautions. Having failed the completion of my task, I accept whatever consequences are deemed necessary regarding the aforementioned event. “However”, I take my hand to my chest in a sincere manner, I look up to the present members and strike them with a rather pleasant smirk, “if no work gets done, how do you expect me to work?”. My speech is interrupted by loud applause. I can see each pair of hands moving in a varying inward-outward motion. I praise them. How much good could be done, if all these hands are put to work? I repeat out loud, “how much good could be done if all these hands are put to work?”. Sudden silence. The last clap echoes in the dark. I search my pockets and find an unused match. I light the match against one of the bricks at my feet.

A dim light, more yellowish than white begins to fill the room. It starts getting warm. The light grows stronger each second. I anticipate its moves. I predict its convolution in space and attempt to counteract it. Without shifting my gaze, I suddenly raise my left arm to grab the empty book. I fail. The light has already consumed my book with empty pages. I can no longer see. A strong light, more yellowish than white fills my gaze. I stand in awe. Never have I been prouder of my work. Nevertheless, work is work and in an unforeseeable manner, I position my feet correctly and make a second attempt at grabbing the book. This happens in a spontaneous movement, which I would like to compare to a leap of faith. I predicted not the position of the book, but the indescribable fulfillment it would present me if I succeed. And succeed I did. I am not afraid to close my eyes and say what needs to be said. “The work is done”, I utter in complete confidence in myself. I open my eyes to my dim-lit room, and I praise. “Good job”, I say as the voice echoes in support of my actions. Everything is in its place, as it is supposed to be. I am sitting on a pile of bricks in a candle-lit room. My brick house is complete and what a work it is! I take my book to my side. It is closed. I do not wish to upset the mood, but I am certain. I am most definitely certain of what I will find, should I choose to open the book. And indeed, I actively choose to do so. I open the book and it is immediately clear, that I was not mistaken. I clear my throat and sit up straight as I begin to read to my admirers, “the results achieved today are in no way to be regarded as the consequences of the acts of a single person”. I reach to my desk for an unused pen. I open it for the first time and correct the last sentence, “the results achieved today are in no way r e d u c i b l e to the actions of a single person”. I continue reading out loud, “what we must praise are the collective efforts”, at this point I look up to make eye contact. “the collective efforts”, I repeat rhetorically, “of each and every single one of us present today. Every single member has deserved praise and so, I raise my book to you in praise of our work!”. I am very satisfied and sleepless. And I am covered in a loud voice. It has a beautiful color, indescribable to say the least!

I am covered by a dim light,

more yellowish than white.