Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Walk of Life - Chapter 1

They say that the best things in life are always fast to come to an end. Sometimes they don't even get the chance to begin. So people say. And they are right. Absolutely. Since the best moments of their own lives, the few that they really enjoyed, came to an end that was abrupt but not unexpected not so long ago. An abrupt end designed by other people. Those others that for some unspecified reason always seem to know, or at least think they do, what's best for us, which person or life perfectly suits us. She doesn't exclude herself from the latter, or their victims in that matter. She played the blame game in the past. And she's been a victim of the rules of normality. She's been spineless, a puppet in their theater of fear, a soul who's been sacrificed on the altar of security, social or otherwise. She's angry with herself. She's in tears and she blames her weak soul for everything. I have lost him, she thinks and weeps; I have lost him because he was what I always asked for, what I eternally lusted after, a man of integrity, a real human being, so real in fact that he seemed fake.

Now she sits all alone in a loveless sofa and tries to enjoy in a half-hearted manner the remembrance of his existence there, right alongside her. She mourns his loss, while trying to deny it. She punishes herself by whipping it with guilt. And she dives into the shadows that now seem to mock their once common life and desperately seeks the thread that used to bind them, in a futile effort to try and make him come back to her.

But why would he? He left because she was not longer herself. He told her that: I'm leaving because you are not you anymore. She knows he was right. She knew it even back then. And yet she could not admit it. So, she let him go. She did nothing, not even the basic minimum, to stop him. Up to that day she loved him blindly, she trusted him completely, she loved him and she feared him. She was afraid of his power, of his authority over her, and of the way he could read her like an open book, how he could guess her thoughts and almost divine her secrets without even trying. He'd been able, from the very first moment they met, to read her eyes, or rather the thoughts hidden behind her gaze, and anticipate her every reaction to his words. It was scary. It was as if he entered her brain and treated it like a manuscript being written at that very instant. He saw it all. And he understood it all. Every time. Though she insisted that he was mistaken. Always. And that would make him smile, a half-ironic half-tender smile. Do you know how frightening it feels when someone invades your inner world and makes you feel as vulnerable as a little child without their mother? That's exactly how he made her feel, defenseless, as if in a castle that had no high walls and no gates whatsoever. He didn't do it on purpose, he'd say time again, but that gave her no comfort. I could always swim in the eyes of others, he explained, and that scared her no less.

Whenever anything remotely bad happened to her, and that occurred very often, she used to run and hide in his embrace, to exorcise her fears and feel better, to get over whatever it was that was bothering her. But her port was at the same time a place of disquiet because ever since he's entered her life she never felt alone, even in her own head. It was as if he was hiding behind her thoughts, sometimes their creator but most of the times their silent observer. Crazy, right? And that's exactly how she feels right now. She feels crazy for driving him away. But, she drove him away for making her crazy. And because she got tired of him. She got sick of the power he had over her, and his silent self-admiration. He was so proud of himself, the fool, she knew it, though he took care not to show it. But, alas, the worst things were that most of the times he was indeed right, and his courage to admit he was wrong when that was the case. Nevertheless, she couldn't take it anymore. His almost constant serenity enraged her. And so did his capability of guiding other people's thoughts and his merciless self-sarcasm. She got sick of everything about him. And all of it she now painfully misses.

She misses the special moments they spent together before the glass of their relationship cracked, his tender smile and understanding eyes, his leveling humor and the way in which on some beautiful summer nights, he would paint in her inner canvas a parallel, fairytale world. She even misses his flaws, since they also were an integral part of himself, and herself also.

And now he's gone. So close and yet so far. He took his backpack, his camera and a few books and rode his bike into the sunset. Or, to be precise, he boarded a ship with it and sailed to Crete. I'll leave but I'll never abandon you, he said instead of goodbye that sorrowful day. She lost him, but they had not lost touch, just as he promised. He's still there, right next to her, in a way. He's caressing her with his letters, full of memories as they are of their common past, and rich in descriptions of his new life in Chania, the city he'd always in an inexplicable way loved. She meets him in those letters but also in the pathways of her own reminiscences that once they come to life they tend to haunt her for days at a time. And then she encounters the shadows of his being in the streets of the graceless city she lives in, which she walks for long every night while listening to music and trying to avoid the voices of people, the sounds of vehicles and bars and night birds that mingle in a devastating cacophony of sorts. She meets him in a river of tears, and her hateful and miserable self. She meets and she hates him. She hates the fact that in his letters he doesn't sound miserable, and because he never proposes that they should bring their solitudes together, to become one again. She hates him because after all they've been through he seems to be completely calm, even serene,  while she's still struggling in the waves of the stormy sea that ended their time together. Why doesn't he just sit down and try to analyze things the way I do? she wonders. Why doesn't he apologize or offer an excuse? anyone will do. Right now she even hates these letters that arrive in infrequent intervals and which have turned her life into a waiting room, full of anger and pain. She hates him and she loves him. She now loves him more than she ever did when they were together. She loves the idea he's out there, somewhere. She loves him for all that she's given her and taken from her. She loves him and hates herself for that, as she feels like she's losing her mind. She's delirious.

Life itself seems delirious to her these days. She no longer likes anything. Nothing touches her. She lives in her memories, she feeds from them, and hopes for a tomorrow that she skillfully and full of rage has stopped from ever coming. She wants him to come back. That's the only thing she's certain that she needs. If he does they'll catch once again that shredded thread and glue it together, and it will work like magic; that thread on which they weaved nights of love and love-making and days of silence. Come to think of it, that thread was never cut, it just went into hibernation, but it still has a pulse, it comes to life every so and then through their story, which he's started narrating, piece by piece, moment by moment, in his letters. Perhaps that's his way of exorcising the demons.

With those letters she sweetly lets herself drift into sleep every night, and with them she bitterly awakes each morning, missing his warmth and his scent, but about that she tells no one. Who could she tell, anyway? She no longer has friends or even someone she can talk to. Truth is she never had friends, she only always had acquaintances and admirers, sweet-word whisperers and not listeners. It took her a long time to realize that. She was stupid that way. She believed in what people said. She never was able to see what was left unsaid. And now she's all alone. Betrayed by those she once thought of as friends; those that followed her with bright fake smiles on the way up, but left her with crooked grins when she started to fall. They fell in love with her image for a few fleeting moments. The image that made them look good, that made them feel valued. They loved her celebrity status, the wrapping that she never really craved, but which they convinced her that that was what she actually wanted. People, and their good intensions, what a travesty!

Nicolas, only he loved her deeply and truly, for what she was hiding behind her carefully selected words and her silences, in the big trunk of her soul. Yes, she was beautiful, she still is, but that never mattered to him. He saw the chocolate, he couldn't care less about the wrapping.

She'll never forgive herself for her many mistakes, the ones that have pushed her to go and lose what she considered most of all her own, she knows that well.

Now the only thing that she's left with is a chance at redemption. She must settle the score with her past if only to receive a glimmer of hope that she'll be able to walk the pathways of the future, invade the sacred space of tomorrow. And there seems to be only one way to do that; his. She will sit down, day in day out, and write down this story, their story. She feels that she lacks the means, the talent to do so, but she will anyway. She may not know much about how to tell a story, but she does know better than most how to feel. And their story is full of emotions. Joy and sadness. Ups and downs. Triumphs and… Never mind. She'll steal excerpts from his letters and wander aimlessly down memory lane to try and bring back to life an epoch, which seems as distant as eternity, that feels as close as her own breath.

Will she make it? She doesn't know. Besides that doesn't really matter, not to her. What matters most is to empty the well of yesterday and pour it onto the pages, to get rid of the bitter feelings that weigh on her and lighten her soul in order to rest, wishing to be reborn. What matters is him. And her.

I love you desperately, he once said to her, and he laughed. And she laughed. Then. Today she loves him desperately too and hopelessly on top of that. The wheels of fortune did their trick on her.

But, it's time for someone else to come in and introduce himself to the reader. The one that loved her more than anyone ever did. In his company we'll enter the time machine and travel back to their sweet yesterday, and its fairytale inception.

An excerpt from one of my own books which I'm now translating to English.

The image was taken from here.

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