Dong Eun Tae

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An oil painting of a person sleeping with a yellow soft toy
Sleeping, Oil on Unstretched Canvas, 2022

An oil painting of a gas worker in a chicken shop.
Gas Man/Dear Lewisham, Oil on Stretched Canvas, 2023

Leftover chips, crushed beer cans, empty cigarette packets, two empty bottles of Coca-Cola and a bottle of Buxton with only about three sips left. Sitting in front of a black desk, on a wooden chair of the same shade, smoking Gauloises, I drink what is left of the water and close my eyes. I remember the summer, the park we went to. Lying on the pink towel with a light purple border, you are reading Dubliners. I realise I’m smoking there. With a Menthol cigarette, trying in vain to hide from the long-awaited sunlight, I observe others in the park.

The book I brought with me is still in my bag, I can’t remember which book it was. There are little kids running around, committed to their play and making loud noises. I’m not interested in their play, just worried they might step on our towel and leave footprints. I open my eyes and return to my black desk, my wooden chair.

I’ve been thinking about cleaning my desk for several days now.

Here, there is no soft pink towel, bright sunlight, kids running, or you lying on the ground reading. Just me, sat still, alone. My room becomes an entirely different world. Because I am alone, because I am in my own room, I am routine-less, plan-less. Solely driven by instincts and impulses, in this alternative world, I spend time mostly doing nothing.

I put off the cigarette and return to my bed with a brown duvet, placing myself around the scattered cloths. I realise my desk lamp is still on. I try to get up but realise the washed clothes on the bed are piled up just high enough to hide the light, so my effort ends there. Diligent joggers, or really anyone with an ordinary job, would be up and about by now, but I feel indifferent towards the prospect of starting the day. The waves of emotions and grand questions that made it impossible to fall asleep just a few hours ago have disappeared now. Ignoring the mess around my feet, an unfinished book and the pile of clothes, I stare at the soft toy you left here, then close my eyes and watch as my today goes by, between day and night, between day and sleep.