Monachopsis n. the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach – lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, huddled in the company of other misfits, unable to recognise the ambient roar of your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home. As described in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The train screeches to a halt. There is a pause of silence before the driver’s voice drones into the carriage, barely stirring the sleepy, crumpled faces of the crowd. They stand with eyes averted, brows furrowed, rolling into desperate sleep, bags bumping against one another rousing quiet fury. Ladies and gentleman, we’re just waiting for the train ahead to leave the station and then we’ll be on our way. The disconnected lurching of bodies stops for a moment and everybody waits. You sweep your eyes across their faces. You are together like this, all of you. If the world were slightly different perhaps you’d all fall into one big sleepy embrace. Perhaps you would all huddle together bravely in a last ditch attempt at unity before the day snatches it away from you. But you feel so very far apart from all of them. A thousand million miles from home, wherever home is. You haven’t figured that out yet.

You walk out into a boxed in street and begin to flow down it. But not like a quiet stream flows or a piece of delicate powdery silk flows in a soft breathe of air. This kind of flowing is far more callous, like it was predetermined for you before you even woke up that morning. You try not to fall behind but you know you shouldn’t be here. It starts off as a subtle bubble in your chest, a small recognition of being out of place. But as soon as you let it grow and ache inside you, you forget how to walk among them. You forget what to do with your hands and how to stop your mouth from seizing up and tightening. You try to push it away, to stride through like this is normal, this is life and this is exactly where you should be but the call is persistent. It rises and jolts through your bones and your insides bump and rear and balk like a bull about to be mounted. You think only of how to get out or around a corner or to some place high and wide and soft.

Those places exist like a patchwork of sounds and colours in your head. Those places where you’d know exactly what to do with your hands and how to sweep them through your hair. Where you wouldn’t think of each movement as one in a series of precise, methodical steps but rather as things that take hardly any effort at all, like the rise and fall of an undemanding breathe, like the brilliant naked truth. But the colours disappear and you are still here and you are waiting, waiting, waiting.


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