Every January, he would pack up and leave his city apartment and stay in his winter place. In a small village on the outskirts of Gottenborg in Norway, he had purchased it with a modest inheritance and 20 years of mortgage. It wasn’t expensive when he got it - but now it was worth much more. The area had become desirable though it’s solitude. The block, built by a famous Brutalist architect, stood 8 floors tall and overlooked a park with tall trees spaced sparsely to keep the light from being blocked. The one-bedroom flats were small with a single long thin room which served as kitchen at one end and living room at the other. A bathroom and toilet squeezed into a space hardly large enough for a toilet and one small bedroom - large enough for a double bed. The bedroom looked out towards the park and onto a balcony which ran across the end of the living room. It was perfect for one. Perfect for solitude. It was simply decorated. A rich fuchsia on the walls felt opulent, the floor a light wood parquet. A mid-century sofa and chair, a rustic small table with one chair where he worked. No radio. No TV. He didn’t have, nor want, internet, but mobile data worked and this suited him fine in an emergency. He spent his time looking out onto the peace, writing, drawing, reflecting on the year that had been and the year that was to come. Staying for two whole months, he felt lucky. The arrangement with his work was such that this regular sabbatical was now written into his contract. The relief at which he felt as he turned the key in the lock on January 1st and the dread with which he turned off the gas and water and electricity when he left on 1st March were in stark contrast. He had written the best part of a novel here. Never truly happy with it, the characters he invented lived here with him, like old friends. The story centred around the building and its inhabitants. They were all fictional, of course, he didn’t know anyone, bar his direct neighbours, in the block. He would rarely venture out. Instead, bringing the meagre supplies he needed. Today it had been raining. The wet drops peppered the windows of the balcony. He had the door open slightly to let in a little cool - the heating system, built into the flats, was always too hot in winter and the only choice was between sauna or fridge. The fresh wet air was a comfort blanket of pleasure to him. He was never bored here. His days were neither long nor short. He felt no pressure to stay up and work, or even to work at all. It seemed like, here, he could be who he really was. No need to make phone calls, keep up correspondence, no need to attend meetings or attend cultural events. No need to see his mates for a drink or keep up with his diminishing family. There were no excesses. There were none needed. This flat, this view, this peace, was all he needed to regulate himself. He felt like a monk at times in his austerity. The only riches he brought were those in his mind, those which he conjured from his imagination. He wondered whether this could be a whole life. Whether one day he would quit his job and his life in the city and just come here to live out the rest of his days. No-one would know. He would affect no-one. No-one would affect him. He would want for nothing. But was the contrast what made this place so wonderful. Would he simply be bored and yearn for the City were he away for too long?
Another one of the 15-Minute writes. I should say that the place mentioned in the story does not actually exist ( in case you are googling it! ) The building I imagined to be something a little like the picture above of the Alexandra Road Estate in Kilburn, London by the wonderful Neave Brown. Taken on the Nikon d750
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