A round chocolate truffle stood on the glass shelf. It seemed alone, but it wasn’t. There were others with strawberries and pineapple slices and whipped cream. This one looked ready to crumble. It wasn’t a chocolate truffle. It was gingerbread. A voice in my head said it. I listen to the voices and the noises in my head. It did not look like gingerbread, although I know gingerbread only from glossy pictures of gingerbread homes. But I love ginger.
There is something about its scent that transports me to wet earth and dry winds and an underwater freshness. I like its shape, all askew. You can never tell what a ginger looks like, for it looks like nothing in particular. You can imagine people in it, animals…you can imbue it with emotions and behaviour – is it waiting, is it sitting, standing, does it want to leave? Sometimes, it looks like a sculpture. It has an abrasive skin and when you peel it even the knife can feel the bumps on it. While chopping ginger the skin burns a little and you are already driven to its tanginess.
But this is about the gingerbread that looked like a chocolate truffle. This is, in fact, not even about gingerbread that looked like a chocolate truffle. It is about a library. For, as I go to pay for it there are quiet books lined up; I see no readers. Lots of benches and tables are arranged like in a church and I reach the head where a man sits at a sloping desk that has a white top. I hand him the money to pay for the gingerbread and he says, “You must go to the cash counter.” I tell him this is the cash counter. He says, “No, that one,” and his hand moves behind his neck; he does not turn.
I return to the glass-topped shelf and see that the gingerbread that looks like a chocolate truffle is still there, although I thought I had bought it. A crumpled note is in my palm. A woman appears, a librarian-looking woman, very serious and scholastic, with books in her eyes, and she shrugs.
I seem to have a flat round thing in my hand that is gingerbread that looks like a chocolate truffle but it is still on the counter. There was only one when I saw it. It weighs heavy as though all the tubers in the world have been sowed in its moist muddiness. There is silence around.
I wake up listening to my breath.