A Meaningless Gesture 

by Moss Quanci

The Count and I were dining as we usually did on evenings such as these—a meaningless gesture. By evenings such as these, though I suppose it does not matter, I mean meaningless evenings, though I do not suppose that I mean to distinguish them from any other evening really.

We were sitting in the darkened room, illuminated only by the light of the bright room that came in through the door opposite us. I faced away from the door, and the Count towards it, though he kept his head down so the light would not reach his eyes. The light from the open door revealed the cracked and dirty beige plaster and the worn gilt ornaments on the wall beside our small, round table. The tablecloth was clean, at least in contrast to the wall—it had been changed recently, though I do not know why someone had bothered.

On the table was a dish with some dark-colored fruits. My shadow fell on them. I am not sure what kind of fruits they were, perhaps grapes or eggplants—it is irrelevant, and I was not looking very closely. There was also an untouched wineglass on the table, filled three-quarters full of a dark wine. And this is what I was contemplating. 

Or, attempting to contemplate.

The wineglass was to me devoid of meaning. And to the lethargic, slouching Count it was probably non-existent. The outside of the glass was completely dry. It might have even been dusty. The base was dry, the stem, the outside of the bowl, the rim. The only thing that was wet, seemingly impossibly, was the inside which held the motionless saccharine liquid.

It seemed entirely anathema to me to put my lips upon the rim of that glass. My wet mouth on the dry, dry warm surface of the glass? Disgusting. And to tilt the glass back? To let the bitter taste of the wine hit my tongue? I could feel my gums recoil from the acidity.

The glass of wine was disgusting to me. A completely pointless object. Completely useless. Irrelevant. Meaningless beyond being an object of the hatred that was roused in me in that moment. Surely, something, something had superseded this glass of wine in meaning? But what else was there? The table with its unknown fruits, the room, my companion (that dozing Count), me? No. And I now felt that even outside this room, in that lighted world in the next room over, there could be nothing. All of that was fake. There was only this room here and now.

Nothing superseded that wineglass in meaning and the wineglass itself was meaningless.

And what was I to do? Nothing. There was nothing to be done. Perhaps I had better let myself fall into a slumber like that Count and hope to awake to bright green fields thriving with new meaning grown fresh as plump grapes on a vine.

But no, but no, there is only this moment this now. I cannot escape. It is all a meaningless gesture anyway.

Jul 2022