Sitting in the cafe, Arthur, inspired by the passage of text he was reading, was overwhelmed by despondency, by a sense of the past and mistakes made. There was a connection between what he was reading and his life it seemed. What was it? this feeling. It didn't seem to convey objective reality and yet she knew his life intimately, this writer who long ago drowned carrying pockets full of pebbles.
It was the same feeling that emanated from the city, the city of a thousand and more lost nights; terrible, oppressive nights that hung in the air and clung to the everyday fabric of noise and movement - even the buildings were afflicted. She was everywhere he looked. It was enough of hell as one could take.
Arthur resolved to atone; he wanted to live again, but he knew it was impossible as long as he knew the dearth of his feeling might be shared. What was the answer? He had thought for over two years on that without any serious illumination...
... He thought he knew but he walked in a cloud, a thick grey haze of confusion; when the skies intermittently cleared he was cogent, lucid: did she feel the same as he? He was sure she did; he wanted to know, but how to broach the subject? Was it worth bringing all that up again? Could he ever really know? He had to, because without knowing he would never be able to connect to another human being again.
But then, as he was limping around the city alone, always alone, in madness, the greyness would descend and he would forget his condition, would live it through the scarcity of his actions. The amorphous crowd disappeared and he floated above them and his guilt in a perfect pitch of clarity. That guilt, the walking personification of which still tread the earth, binding him, always, shackling him to the concrete below, dragging him down to the ghost tracks of his former life, and the vain ablutions he enacted daily in attempts to fend them off, waited for his return, bright-eyed and anxious.
He decided (a rare departure from indecision); he would have to go back to the centre of the problem, to where it happened. Moreover, he would have to go with her, he would have to create more of that old feeling in order to set the fleet of humiliation free; to get right, to crush the ghostly tip tapping of her feet behind him into a million teardrops that would eventually dry up. But how could he do that when he didn't know where she was, she had disappeared long ago. She wasn't dead, he was sure. He resolved to find her.