Every night he bolted himself in his room. As soon as he was still he felt the stillness around him and he had to make movements to destroy the stillness, to challenge the alertness of the room and the objects in it.
He was rocking hard on the creaking board one night when he thought of the power of the rockers to grind and crush and inflict pain, on his hands and toes and the tenderer parts of his body. He rose at once in agony, covering his groin with his hands, sucking hard on his teeth, listening to the chair as, rocking, it moved sideways along the cambered plank. The chair fell silent. He looked away from it. On the wall he saw a nail that could puncture his eye. The window could trap and mangle. So could the door. Every leg of the green table could press and crush. The castors of the dressingtable. The drawers. He lay face down on the bed, not wanting to see; and, to drive out the shapes of objects from his head, he concentrated on the shapes of letters, working out design after design for the letter R. At last he fell asleep, with his hands covering the vulnerable parts of his body, and wishing he had hands to cover himself all over. In the morning he was better; he had forgotten his fears.