The Minister of Loneliness
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.