The Min­is­ter of Lone­li­ness

The Walrus - - CONTENTS - by Jenny Haysom

has no min­istry––just an of­fice and a phone. She sleeps di­ag­o­nally on cool sheets, her blinds raised to the moon. Morn­ings,

the min­is­ter for­sakes alarms and wakes to the low coo of pi­geons shuf­fling in the sun. She takes break­fast on the go: es­presso

and a raisin bun (how she hates raisins, picks them out, one by one, drops them on the pave­ment where peo­ple step on them).

The walk to work is her favourite time of day, when soli­tari­ness seems the per­fect state: swept air, emp­tied streets––just the way

the jan­i­tor left them––and the odd per­son go­ing about his busi­ness in­de­pen­dently. She strides pur­pose­fully over bridges, past

the pad­locked sweet­hearts with­out a pause or pang, swing­ing her empty port­fo­lio, plan­ning a Fe­bru­ary get­away to some

dis­tant ar­chi­pel­ago. It’s only when she ar­rives that her prospects dim. That grim lit­tle of­fice. The thought of yet an­other day with a hole puncher. Don’t de­spair says a yel­low Post-it Note af­fixed to the win­dow fac­ing the park­ing lot. Once

an at­ten­dant prac­tised his cello there in a nar­row booth. Now you slot your chit in an au­to­mated wicket––and the arm lifts by it­self.

At least the Queen of Lone­li­ness has a king­dom. Some­one joked and called her swivel chair The Throne of Iso­la­tion. For hours

on end she swivels there, paint­ing her nails blue or black, or that minty shade: tristesse. Lone­li­ness

only crosses her mind or desk by way of dock­ets and memos, as long anony­mous let­ters from her mul­ti­tudi­nous con­stituents

that can’t be an­swered. Af­ter all, she has no staff, no min­istry. If mis­ery loves com­pany, she has no love.

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