Friday, March 10, 2006

A Story of Heartbreak


This time, it's hazy. Five years ago, when he had come here, the sun was shining and the flowers were blooming. The animals had smiled as he had walked by, and the water had a turquoise-emerald shine to it. Now, the flowers had transformed into weeds, and the animals were nowhere to be seen. The water was a ghostly mist, where the lifeless fish dreamed of the flies that used to be. The trees were old and crooked, as though they were listening for a sound from the mud-stained earth, hoping for a whimper to be heard, so that they could calm their own grief.
She walked through the half-drowned daisies and sat down on a sodden rock. She looked up towards the sky. The clouds were gray, no ray of light squirming through them. The scene was a Renaissance once. The girl with her light golden hair down on her shoulders and the sad landscape that matched her mood were as one soul. They breathed the same breath, they thought the same thoughts, they cried the same tears. But the only thing that they did not do together was laugh.
Long ago, I laughed at something. but what was it?, she wondered. But she didn't want to remember. Then why had she come here? Was she just a tired traveller, or was she someone, just anyone, who had lived here before and who had endured a heart pain and left? Who was she? Did she remember? She didn't want to.


It had been a beautiful day outside, just after a spring shower. The flowers were raising their heads and conversing with the sun. The squirrels were chasing each other and the robins were fighting over a helpless worm that wished he wasn't that important. She had been sitting on the footstool, plucking the chicken and singing "My Heart's in the Highlands". He had come with the wind playing with his hair and whistling an army tune. She had looked up and seen a silhouette climbing the hills and had dropped the chicken and rushed towards the cottage, shouting, 
"Mama, mama, there's a stranger coming!"
And her mother had said, very calmly,
"Go and finish plucking the chicken. And when the dogs start barking, shout at 'em and tell 'em to shut up."
The girl stepped outside again and noticed that the man was closer. She could see that he was wearing a kind of tunic made from red cloth. He was carrying a pack of brown, worn leather and, as she sat down again on the stool, he came nearer and asked:
"Is this the only dwelling along the road?"
"Yes, it is. If you are tired, you may stay here for the night. My mother will care for you."
"Thank you. You are very kind."
He had a proper Oxford accent, and one could see that he was from the university. He smiled at her and went to talk to her mother. She was blown away as if something very good had happened, but now it was gone. The way he had looked at her, did it mean anything? Of course not, stop dreaming, and pluck the chicken, she scolded herself. but that scene remained imprinted in her head and she went to sleep dreaming of the man.


Those months that passed had been the happiest of her life. He said that he would come back. He promised. But he never did. She waited and she waited--summers, months, years. And it took her a long time to find out that he had tricked her. At first, it was just a nagging idea, coming through the pink clouds of sunsets. And then, it grew and grew, and she finally had to tell herself the truth. He was never going to come back. 
And now her she was, five years later, at the same place. She felt like she had no reason for life. He had taken her heart and tore it apart. She looked towards the cottage. It was a ruined heap and the family cemetery was covered in weeds. She walked slowly towards it. When she arrived to her mother's grave, she dropped a rose, and whispered, 
"I cannot see my grave. Where is it?"

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Once Upon a Time

You sit on the sand and try to write a story. "Once upon a time..." is a fairy tale beginning. Once upon a time, there was a king. There's always a king. And he has three daughters. The youngest is always the most beautiful and all the boys want her. Once upon a time. There's too much wind, and too many voices. Voices and voices and voices...speaking, whispering, shouting, screeching hysterically, laughing. Always laughing. They never keep quiet. You write a name in the sand. Of course it's your name. And then you wipe it with your foot. You gaze at the sea. Will you drown? You don't suppose so. You stand up and walk towards the water. It laps towards your feet. You test the temperature. Just right. You step in and go in deeper and deeper. Now the waves crash up to your waist. Oh, bother. Your skirt will be wet. Wet and salty and clingy. It's all right. It will dry out. No reason to despair.
Look, look! What was that? It jumped. Look, there it is again. Fish! Fish in the sea! Of course, fish in the sea. Where else would they come from? Look, another one! And another! Do you see them? No?! But look, it's there! How can you--Look! Why are you staring at me like that? I'm not mad. There are fish in the sea! Why don't you believe me?
You stalk away angrily. You come to the wet sand. You find a stick and trace your name. A-L-I...Oh, now, how annoying. The letters are gone. No use writing anyway. The tide will take it away. Where? Where will the sea take your name? Far, far away in lands of green and seas of blue?
The sun is setting and your hair is red. Oh, how beautiful it is. The light is shining on your hair so beautifully. Oh, how splendid. You walk to where you left your notebook. Once upon a time, there was a girl with red hair...You wonder if it's true. Of course! There are millions of girls with red hair. What kind? You mean orange hair? You've never seen a girl with red hair before. Oh, well, it is a fairy tale. Nothing in it has to be true.

You walk to school on a hot, humid morning. It's the first day of school and the anxiety that's been with you for the past seven years comes again in your stomach: butterflies. You hate it. You absolutely hate the first day. Of course, there are your friends who are there to say, "Hey! What's up? How was your summer?" And you to respond, "Oh, it was OK." When it really hadn't been, because the only thing you had done was listen to the radio and read and write. You wrote and you wrote until you thought your hand would break. You wrote so that the imaginary magazine would be satisfied with your stories and give you enough money for a week. You wrote. You wrote about death, depression, love, sadness, happiness, children, teenagers, adults. You wrote and wrote and suddenly you had achieved twelve stories in two months, each one a small novel. And you read. You read the same books over and over again but you didn't mind. The Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, The Little Prince, and your own stories. And after the summer had passed, you had begun to wear eye shadow, only it wasn't eye shadow, they were real circles. But nobody noticed because you covered them up. You covered them up with a smile and a laugh and saying, "Oh, yes, my summer was all right", and going on with your life. But at the end of that horrible day, you would go home and cry and you would remember the faces of the girls looking at you in disgust. Oh, how horrible it was! And then you would talk to yourself, telling yourself it would be all right, and thinking that no one heard you, but the walls were paper and the neighbours were listening with their ears glued to the wall. And they would hear you, but there would be no response, and they would know. Yes, they would know. And the news would be all over the city that, Oh did you know, did you know, that Alice talks to herself? And everyone would say, Oh no, I didn't know that, and laugh quietly and they would tell their daughters and then you would be made fun of. But then you would smile that smile, the smile that showed your teeth, but your eyes were dark and full of hatred. And they would leave you alone.
You would go home again and write and write and the ideas would be pouring from the sky--ideas not rain. But you would write and write but the page would not end and you would cry in despair, but the words would flow from your pend and would not stop.
You would go to bed and wish that you would not wake, that you would sleep forever, but then morning would come and the birds would begin to sing. Oh, how you wished you had a gun to shoot them. The day would start and you would go to school again and you would steady yourself by the wall, because you felt a bit faint and then... would wake up because it was all a dream, but yet it wasn't because you remembered that you had gone to school yesterday. Or was it last year? Yesterday was such a long time ago. And you would look at the clock, expecting to see it was 7:30 A.M., but instead, it would be 5:00 A.M., and you would shake the clock and think you were dreaming. But you weren't and after five minutes of reassurance, you would get out your notebook and begin to write. You would write because you had nothing else to do, and because you needed money. You desperately needed money, but the editor would say, "I'm very sorry, but we're looking for something modern." Modern. The modern stories were about tea parties and ladies that would gossip and talk about fashion and gentlemen who would be gambling and losing. Your stories were about craziness and fish and fairy tales and paper walls. Your stories weren't modern.
And you wished you could scream but it was 5:00 A.M. and you just couldn't. You were losing your sanity and you needed to cling to a piece of reality, a little piece of something that would tell you that you weren't falling into depression. So you ripped the walls and you screamed and you smashed the mirrors and the windows and you bled and you bled and you screamed and cried and laughed. You laughed. And the people came in swarms and fell back at the blood and the ripped wall and open mouth and the eyes. The eyes. Those cold, blue eyes. And you told them, "Once upon a time she laughed." And they thought you were insane. But you weren't because once upon at time she did laugh. She laughed at the world.