Fruit Tree

The light is slowly leaking out of the room, sucked away with the sun`s retreat behind the bleary blanket of a waning winter afternoon sky.

The light left gives an autochrome-like graininess to the air in the one-room flat. Its towering ceiling is easily twice a man`s height.

Long white curtains flow softly down from three tall windows. The shades are drawn down two of them, and halfway down the middle one, where one can see, through the irregularities in the glass, the roofs and sides of other London flat buildings against the colorless clouds.

The door rests in its fluted Victorian molding at one edge of the wall opposite, and at the other is Nick`s mattress, jammed into the corner as much as possible, as far from the light as possible.

Nick`s eyelids feel light. They blink. He keeps them closed for a minute longer, and then allows them to open up. From his bed, he scans the expanse of the wooden floor, and lifting his eyes up slightly, he looks at the magazine reproduction of Watteau`s “A Voyage to Cythera” on the opposite wall. Its details are lost in the graininess of the dim light, but Nick knows them all well.

He lets his eyes sink back down; he surveys the arrangement of his possessions on the floor. The fire in the stove is dead, but the bed is warm, so he dismisses the task of relighting the fire.

Further away and toward the open window lays Nick`s guitar, put away in its case. He has not played it in over a month, and though he has started writing a couple of new songs, he does not feel ready to try them out. An unopened copy of his record lies against the far wall, bent from being left there so long. He has no record player.

Nearer the bed is a pile of papers and an open pen, doubtless dried out now, and a dog-eared collection of works by Gerard de Nerval. Beyond his feet, Nick sees his black corduroy jacket, which lies in a crumpled heap on the floor.

He turns so that he lies facing up, and he stares at the crack in the ceiling directly above the bed. It is the only crack in the ceiling, but it runs to the center of the room, where it tapers, then stops abruptly.

Nick`s eyes trace the tributaries of the crack, and then follow it back to its delta at the wall`s edge above him.

He remembers an afternoon of his childhood. It was a Saturday in the middle of May, a picnic with his parents. He had left them chatting with the company, and had found a boat at the shore of the lake. He was lying in the bottom of the boat, looking up at the brilliant blue sky and the wispy white clouds floating across it, and feeling the boat rock gently in the waves. His parents would later rush out to the boat, worried their son had drowned…

…but Nick isn`t concerned with that, he`s just staring at the clouds moving from one edge of the sky to the other, changing shape as they go. His eyes are full of clouds, so he does not notice his eyelids shutting again.

…and he drifts deeper into the ocean of sleep, away from his room with the light leaking out, to where he can no longer see the white curtains hanging like angels` wings by the windows.

Nick Drake died on November 25th 1974.


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