Travelling 2.0.

The compartment’s door closed, and with it all noises were left outside. Slowly, everything around me toned down, and only the rusty wheels kept ringing in the night, carrying us to our destination. The night was still, despite the wheezing sound of the train and the gentle snores of the passengers.

I could never sleep while travelling. I get too excited, but a feeling like something bad is going to happen creeps out on me. I mostly day-dream: of losing my bags, of forgetting something behind, of getting off at the wrong station. So I sit in silence and wait, analysing my fellow mates in their sleep. I become a guardian.

The only problem is my mind. Lack of sleep attacks it and it starts producing weird images about those around me. Right now, the tall guy in front of me has something crawling under his shirt. A bulging shape, like a snowball, moves restlessly on his chest, sometimes jumping, sometimes just vibrating stronger and stronger until it comes to a sudden stop. Then it resumes its movement. Of course, he does not feel anything. And I cannot wake him up and tell him that his shirt has gone haywire, he would think me insane.

The rest of the group sleeps. I hum silently, keeping the nightmares at bay. From the corridor, a bit of light comes in the compartment, and the window becomes a mirror. I see my ghostly face, blank eyes looking behind. I can see limbs and clothes scattered on the benches. There are six of us here, in this cramped room. Five teenagers and an adult. The teenagers were drunk. The adult was being responsible. We were all singing old songs, songs that we learned from our grandparents, songs that now are mostly unknown. And we drank.

The girl’s hair has turned into golden daggers. They float around her head, hissing like snakes, turning into a dangerous halo. One of them touches the girl’s forehead and blood starts spilling. Not much, it just gets into her eyelashes, and on her cheek, and then it drips onto her blouse. Magnificent. It has such a lovely colour. The daggers stop for a second, watching the blood flowing down and then, with a hiss, they attack the girl’s face. Now there’s blood everywhere.

I remember having a conversation with the adult. There was not much talking, more body language and I thought he must be a lovely person. He seemed caring, charming, grownup. Something I was not. He took care of us, explaining how the world of trains was going, how to remember when we have to get off the train and things like that. He was civilized and mannered, looking as if he lived in a book all of his life. I guess he lived surrounded by them, seeing as he had several books in his bag and he talked about them with such fondness that it was almost scary.

A spider touched my shoulder, telling me to pay attention. I looked in the mirror and there it was, legs all over the place and eyes that were spinning fast in his head. He sheds more hair than my three cats put together. Is it normal for a spider to shed hair? Is this something I will see only once, just because I am on this train? He taps my shoulder again, urging me to face him. So I turn around and stare and he stops moving, just breaths in and out. All of his eyes are closed, but a dim light comes from underneath them, and it is warm and peaceful and it makes me want to reach out and touch it. I want to live inside that light.

I have always suffered from insomnia. Nights are just not made to sleep. I am not made to sleep, when all of these great things happen at night. Most of the time I am walking around aimlessly, surrounded by darkness. Sometimes there is the moonlight, showing the trail I have to follow. I rely on hearing and smelling, my other senses are paralyzed. The only thing I can do is walk and I know I have reached my destination when there is this warm feeling growing in my chest and all my senses come to life. I do not reach home, but whatever makes me feel safe now and then.

The adult in front of me has his eyes wide open. There are no pupils, just a milky white substance. He sits crossed-armed in his chair, his face paler than the moon. He talks to me, or towards me, but no sound comes out. His purple mouth is blurred and unfocused, but it moves quickly. The strong smell of earth surrounds him and everything starts smelling the same. It feels like we are travelling in a wooden box beneath the ground. Yes, my friends… a coffin indeed. The only sound I can hear now is the buzzing from his whole being, vibrating within the walls of the compartment. The screech of the wheels cannot be heard anymore, limiting my perception of the road to the adult in front of me. In a moment, the others are gone, only the adult and I sit face to face in a cramped compartment, white eyes starring into brown ones.

A rattling sound comes from outside the door. The coach attendant passes by, rushing towards the end of the coach, aiding one of the passengers. Something weird is happening, since at this time at night we should all be sleeping. Then again, as I boarded the train, a young couple with a baby took their places several compartments to my left, so I do not think it is curious that they had a problem. Babies cannot restrain themselves, so they become restless and loud if certain arrangements are not done before.

A soft weeping sound can be heard as I doze off, facing the windows once again. It is soothing, but alarming at the same time. Behind me, my fellow travellers sit still, not one of them moving. They are enveloped in a heavy mist, looking almost dead, as they accept their slumber with utmost precision. The weeping grows louder and louder, finally becoming the cry of an unknown bird. I think it is a bird, although it could be a wale or a cat for all it matters. The darkness does not let me see clearly. I can sense one of the boys moving in his sleep. His hand rests on his stomach, a fist tightly wrapped around the blouse. The compartment suddenly reeks of iron and salt. I do not know from where. As I watch him closely, he turns his head towards me. His hand reaches out for my face but stops mere inches away. Sharp claws gingerly touch my cheeks, leaving trails of blood under my eyes. The weeping cry never stops.

            A bottle of whiskey falls down with a clank. We all jump, but they do not wake up. I remember drinking from that bottle, thinking that it is the only thing I can do while I am away from my parents, from the stupid rules they impose just so they can control my life. The bitter taste still lingers on my lips and a headache announces its visit. I try to forget about them, turning to my old friend, the window. The rising sun lights up the way, warming up my face and controlling the shadows that were my companions all throughout the night. Now, I can finally relax. In a few hours, I shall reach my destination, leaving the nightmares behind. I fall asleep for a few moments, thinking about the fresh air I will inhale once I leave this train.

The coach attendant wakes me up. I have less than five minutes to gather my luggage and make my way to the door. I thank him and look around to my companions. They are still asleep, ghostly smiles perched upon their lips. I leave them alone, knowing that they will protect those who choose to travel by train the next summer. As I make my way through the train station, five empty pairs of eye sockets stare down at me through the dusty window.

Anunțuri

Wasted

Looking from the distance, one could say that the sun was the only thing keeping the town alive. From a large distance, the idyllic town shone and glimmered and reflected the sunrays from thousands and thousands of hot rooftops. A slight hum could be heard, from the distance, making one think “oh, it’s alive.”

However, once one came closer to the town gates, one could see that the bright sun that governs over all mankind, did nothing good for this particular town, for it lay its unforgivable rays upon its ground, turning everything to dust. The yellow dust was patched, here and there, with darker spots, like grass had been burnt, or like blood has been splattered everywhere. The almost shiny rooftops had holes in them, and bore the dangers and the horrors of events that have long ago happened, and now it looked like the sunrays were a burden they had to carry until the end of time. Everything was rotted, the wood, the concrete, the asphalt, the steel, fruits and vegetables and people too. Upon it, like a sentence given by the old Gods, a dusty memory hung around, screaming “decay” at everyone who dared step closer to the gates, or had the misfortune of crossing them. The old railway screeched and puffed as ghost of past trains carried through time the same old, same old whisper: run…run…run…

Looking from the distance, one could always say that it was a punishment those people had to pay for what they did. Up close, the ghostly people knew that what had happened to them was no punishment. They looked through dirty, smashed windows, hidden behind torn drapes, at the street below them, where the same thing happened over and over again, like it was put on repeat, or like a record that was scratched by listening to it constantly. They were in a time loop, or so they thought, but they never knew why. They understood their so-called punishment, but why did it had to be this? Surely some other form of “punishment” could’ve been given to them, and not this barbaric display of the past, right? I mean, what is the point of moving forward, if you have to relive your worse memories with the precise of a clock?

Hope was all forgotten. Redemption was a taboo no one even wanted to think about.

So why was it that when he came, everything started to fall back together? He was nothing but a mortal, so why was he so special? The ghosts could not tell.

And neither could I, for that matter.

Everyone saw him walking on the street, far away from the gates, almost reaching the Town Square. He took every step with precise consideration, almost philosophizing whether he should make that step, or go back. From where he stood, he almost looked like one of those ghosts: no hope of redemption ahead of him, and no place where he could safely return to if he decided to turn around. I guess, the only motivation keeping him moving was the water. The sweet, cold, energizing thought of finding water, of washing his face, of calming this wretched thirst that was still laughing at him, although he desperately tried to ignore it. If the human body is made out of 70% water, then his supply was steadily and undoubtedly going down. One could say it was his destiny, to run out of water in the middle of this desert and find this old, forgotten town.

He could see only water. It rose out of the ground, in 15 meter geysers, or swirled on the ground, fumbling over dusty, almost non-existent stones, or, at some point a few steps before, dancing around him, splashing his face, as water demon fairies drove him mad. Oh, how he longed for that water.

Slowly but steadily, he walked and walked and walked until he reached the Town Square. It was just like any other Town Square, with empty food stands, and stands where trinkets were sold, and carpets and animal stands, a paved, broad, stony street with multiple arteries going up and down the city, following the lines of the houses, like a big flower that let its petals run amok in the wilderness that was the town. In the middle of this old, forgotten piazza, an old, forgotten well stood tall. Well, not that tall, after all it was just a well, but it was big nonetheless. And it looked just like any other ordinary well. Only, there was a problem with it. It held no water.

The man should have expected that. He hurried towards it, anticipating the moment the water would touch his lips, the sweet taste of fresh, cold water travelling down his throat, rejuvenating his powers after the long hours wasted in the desert. He leaned on the well, wanting to take a good look at its contents before the bucket started its descend. He mechanically threw it in the well and waited for a splash that would not come. He swung the rope up and down, to the left and to the right and after a while, he brought the bucket back. Inside, only sand covered its bottom. Old yellow sand that held no memory of humidity, of water, or even of animal body liquids. He could not drink sand.

The man sat down and took his head in his hands. He wanted so desperately to cry, but he was afraid the tears would dehydrate him even more. So he sobbed, he used his voice to give life to those tears that wouldn’t come out. Pathetic.

A brown hand reached for him and lightly touched his shoulder. It shook him until he looked up. A mane of curly, short, brown hair, with a halo made out of light gazed upon him. He could see a child, a girlish child, sitting in front of him, the brown mane and the brown hand and the light halo being the only things that he could clearly see. If he thought about it more, maybe it was a boy next to him. Or a middle-aged man, a sort of midget like he once saw in one of his grandma’s picture books about Lords that hunt the barbaric uncivilized men at the end of the world. The silhouette could have been the water demon that taunted him not so long before.

A staccato voice filled the air around them. He realized the man-child before him spoke, but he could not see his lips moving. Is this some kind of sorcery, he wondered. He realized he was being asked a question. The annoying voice repeated … what are you doing here … again and again until he had to answer … water … but the man-child only looked at him with feigned politeness … there is none … until he looked away. The light was just too much for his dry eyes.

… look around you and you will see … The man-child clearly wanted something from him, but he was just a passer-by, he had nothing, hold nothing, his mind was blanc and so was his soul … see what, there is nothing here … because for too many years he wandered the planet in search of that which was lost with his childhood … just look, and you will see … and now this damned desert with its lack of water turned the imagined oasis into a nightmare … fine … he’ll do anything if it’ll make the man-child turn away and leave him be.

His eyelids were growing heavier and heavier by the minute. He laid his head on the pavement just as the sun changed its colours. The bright, sterile cerulean sky morphing into softer shades of pink, orange, and purple one would most likely see on the walls of a nursery. And look, bunnies and bears started dancing in the sky as well. A brighter shade of red invaded his vision. Dust rose from the ground. Sounds could be heard everywhere near him.

The man opened his eyes, and found himself in the middle of a party. A traditional dance took place a few meter in front of him, multiple couples circling the Town Square and himself at the same time. Flowers fell from the sky and perfume scents enveloped every human around him. They all looked clean and fresh and perfect, with perfect smiles plastered on their face, with broken laughter coming out of them. It was like he was trapped inside a rusty music box. The particular sound of water splashing the ground caught his attention and he looked to his right. Fifteen meters geysers erupted from time to time here and there. Under one of these geysers, the man-child stood and looked smiling and him.

The man started laughing. He laughed and laughed until his stomach hurt and he bent from the middle. Tears started rolling down his face and he covered his middle with his hands, fearing he would soon break half. He kneeled on the yellow pavement laughing and laughing and laughing and ignoring the sudden coldness of the water that showered him for two minutes straight.

If one would look at the city from afar, one would see the sun shining brightly on the freshly cleaned rooftops, the dusted pavement welcoming travellers to spend the night in.

Once the town gates came closer and closer, one could see a ghost of a town, filled with dust and memories. White-backed vultures circled the town for their next meal. At the centre of the town, where the old Town Square used to be, a white circle, resembling a light halo, can be seen near an old, dust well.

And everywhere, from the town’s gates to the lower city, the wind laughs and laughs and laughs.

Desolation

Stop it, stop it, stop it!

You are wrong, you don’t even exist. You just want me to be sickened by my own thoughts. You only care about yourself, even though you’ve been pretending you are my friend for so many years. You are still a part of me, but it hurts so bad that I want out. I want to stop feeling, to stop being hurt. You are the only way of doing that, but you are killing me. You are killing yourself. Please don’t die, please stay with me a while longer. Keep me alive so I can continue feeling, so I can continue torturing myself. You said that I was broken, that nobody could heal me. But where does that leave you? When I bleed, you bleed, and if you hurt me, you will suffer too. Don’t you get it? You are no bigger than me. Your attempts of feeling powerful are just as real as that piece of shit you like talking about. They stink and nobody likes them. So stay with me. Be still as I change myself. You will only gain things from this situation. And another thing, my cage is the most majestic thing I’ve seen so far. You know why? Because you are here with me. Forever!

I Often Sing to My Monsters Too

Titlu: Last Night I Sang to the Monster

Autor: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Oare cum arată monștrii noștri, cei pe care îi trimitem la culcare odată cu venirea zorilor și pe care îi întâmpinăm cu brațele deschise când se lasă întunericul? Câți dintre noi suntem destul de puternici să privim aceste făpturi odioase, numite SINE, în față și să le cântăm până adorm?

Dacă întrebările de mai sus par confuze, atunci nu veți înțelege această carte. Mie mi-au trebuit câteva zile până m-am reobișnuit cu tăcerea din lumea în care trăiesc. Și alte câteva zile până mi-am făcut curaj să vorbesc lumii despre această carte. Într-un fel e extrem de personală și îmi era teamă că dacă spun întregii lumi că există, aș spune și că sufletul meu există. Dar am hotărât că cel mai bine e să nu ascund suferința.

Romanul este undeva la limita dintre ficțiune și realitate. Ficțiune pentru că propune o realitate prea dură, realitate pentru că realitatea ei este prezentă precum aerul în lumea noastră. Ficțiune pentru că personajele sunt prea triste, realitate pentru că personajele sunt exact adolescenți, tineri, bătrâni, oameni din societatea noastră care strigă după ajutor, deși nimeni nu îi aude. Ficțiune pentru că suferința este prea detaliată, realitate pentru că suferința îți ia pământul de sub picioare atunci când crezi că ți-ai revenit. Ca să te detașezi și să vezi clar linia dintre cele două trebuie să îți păstrezi rațiunea intactă, lucru pe care eu nu am putut să îl îndeplinesc. La ce bun? Îmi acceptasem soarta încă de la primele pagini. Chiar de atunci îmi spuneam că voi suferi, voi nega orice conexiune cu viața mea, îmi voi pierde luciditatea gândurilor în cuvintele fără de farmec. E un roman pe care nu mai vrei să îl reciteși decât dacă vrei să îți amintești lacrimile curse involuntar în autobuz, la facultate și în orice alt loc unde te afli; pentru că nu e un roman pe care să îl citești în intimitatea camerei, e o ficțiune pe care o citeși înconjurat de viu, de certitudinea că oamenii din jur sunt la fel de anoști ca în fiecare zi. E o oază de liniște în marea de imbecilitate și de neglijență.

Subiectul său e simplu. Un băiat se trezește într-un ospiciu, singurele lucruri care îl țin în viață fiind teama de a-și aminti, dar și colegii de cameră. Zack nu vrea să se trateze, frica de a spune ce gândește și cea de a retrăi suferința suportată când era acasă rănindu-l din ce în ce mai des, deși nu își dă seama de asta. El trăiește doar pentru a-și ascunde monstrul tocmai în adâncul inimii. Neagă toate amintirile plăcute, toate dățile când cineva l-a numit „frumos”. Viața lui e împrăștiată în bucăți de hârtie aruncate pe podea.

În ajutorul său vin colegii de cameră și psihologul său. Ei sunt singurii care îl „văd”. Zack se teme ca cineva să îl vadă, de fapt se ferește ca cineva să îi spună acest lucru. E singur și trist și plin de amărăciune. Limbajul său denotă o anumită sensibilitate pe care doar oamenii care au trecut prin multe o pot avea. El este bătrân și tânăr, este singur și înconjurat de oameni, este blocat în trecut și pregătit să înfrunte prezentul.

Zack se deposedează de singurele amintiri care ar putea să îi înlăture monstrul. El nu caută pacea și nici empatia celorlalți, ci singurătatea, speranța că cineva îi va înțelege această nevoie prin care crește, prin care depășește momentele grele. E ca oricare alt om atunci când simte că i-a ajuns.

Finalul are multe sentimente amestecate, care te fac să plângi. E o furtună de sentimente care te lovesc necontenit la fiecare al doilea rând. Poate că pentru cei obișnuiți să citească povești de dragoste de duzină nu e prea mult, însă rămâne impresionant pentru cei care văd realitatea din spatele cuvintelor.

Ce pot spune la final e că autorul a reușit să îmbine fantasticul imaginar pe care mulți ne dorim să îl lăsăm liber și realitatea grotescă pe care încercăm să o ascundem, chiar dacă de cele mai multe ori acest lucru se dovedește a fi fără succes.

I have this storm inside me. It’s trying to kill me. I wonder sometimes if that’s such a bad thing.
I know about storms.
I’m tired.
I just want to sleep forever.
Maybe I should tell the storm to go ahead and kill me.

And they were all really smart. I know people think that druggies are really nothing but a bunch of losers. But the truth is that the smartest kids, they’re the ones doing the drugs. We’re thinkers and we don’t like rules and we have imagination. All right, so we’re also all fucked up. But hey, you think sober people aren’t all fucked up? The world is being run by sober people—and it doesn’t look like it’s working out all that well. Just take me and tear me up.

Lectură plăcută, guys!