• Angélica

Six O'clock

Short story inspired by Sikelela Owen, Yui, 2019 currently part of Together, the first physical exhibition since the lockdown at James Freeman Gallery.

10th July -1st August (London - Free by appointment)


Sikelela Owen, Yui, 2019

He watched her as she lay there. His image reflected on what separated them. He wondered what the difference was between the sleeping and the dead. Was she dreaming? Is that the difference? Between the sleeping and the dead? Dreams. Little did he know what she was dreaming about. She wasn’t dreaming about him. He featured little in her dreams these days. She dreamt mostly of strange people and weird things. Alice-in-Wonderland things. Right now, for instance, she dreamt of six o’clock. She dreamt she didn’t like six o’clock. The yellow kind. She didn’t like yellow six o’clock. And the reason for her dislike for such brightly coloured hour was its taste. It tasted weird. Furry. Her tongue got full of hair. Tiny hairs. She didn’t like that. Thinking of it, it wasn’t so much the taste that she didn’t like but the texture. She didn’t like the texture of hair in her mouth. And water wouldn’t wash it off. She had to pick each individual hair one by one out of her tongue. It was hard work. So after she tasted yellow six o’clock for the first time she never tried it again.


She not only disliked six o’clock she also didn’t like where they lived. The little round house where the one, the eight, the two dots (one on top of the other) and the two zeros (one next to the other) lived. Crammed in a divided tiny circle without a communal area. It was dark in there. The only brightness came from the numbers themselves. She didn't like how the two dots stood in the way splitting time, separating the hour from the minutes. The one and the eight never got close to their housemates on the other side of the dots. There was no time even to get to know them and at least one of them would be gone. They saw when the double zero arrived. The one and the eight, they saw it. They'd just moved in together themselves. But when they thought of introducing themselves one of the zeros moved out and a new roommate moved in: another one. So they thought they'd wait a bit until their new neighbour settled in. Only a minute later and the other one was gone giving place to a two. And so it went. Until finally the five and the nine moved in next door. The eight knew that it was time to pack the bags. Another minute and it would be time to go. The one knew it too. They didn’t talk about it, but they both knew. And they each knew that the other knew. They didn’t say goodbye when the time came. When the time came the eight just blinked out of the one’s life giving space to another.


Outside of her dream he was still watching her. Sat on the floor now. Forearms propped by his bent knees. Staring at her through glazed glass. It was hard to see her like that. In a framed rectangle. He wasn’t used to it. He preferred the way it was before. When he could touch her. And she could touch him.

He didn’t know, but she felt his presence. She felt him staring into her dreams. But she was too enmeshed in her sleep to come out of it. So he started to make his way in. He made his way into her dreams. Slowly. Through thick glass. And as he crossed the threshold between real and surreal he became the one. She was the eight. And the two of them had exactly one hour together.


#touchthepainting #sikelelaowen #jamesfreemangallery #london #shortstory #art #artexhibition