Πέμπτη, 1 Οκτωβρίου 2015

OXALÁ

   
 He had torn it from a magazine the last time he visited the dentist. He was waiting for him in the foyer for that filling that he had postponed for a couple of months. He was alone and had a look at a travelling magazine. His gaze was caught in this picture of an exotic forest whose exact spot on the map could not remember now but was impressed back then. 
“Oh boy, so much beauty out there! So peaceful!”
It was just a path in the middle of a jungle but the greenery was so dense that it created a garland for you to cross. He kept gazing at it for long and it felt as if he was there trying to travel through it, with his clothes sticking on his skin from the heat and the humidity, with him being tired and the songs of the exotic birds, the whistling of the insects and his panting breath being the only things that could reach his ears. He got the urge to cut the page and put it in the pocket of his jeans as he was all alone. When he returned home that afternoon with his tooth filled, he took the page off his pocket, cut it straight with the scissors and stuck it at the side of the fridge with an advertising magnet from the grill house of his neighborhood around the corner. 
“Let me see the jungle with my coffee and as soon as I get bored of it, I will throw it away. Let us have the mind travel a bit in the morning.” 
      Two years had passed since then and the picture was still there, just like his life was stuck in the exact same place on his fridge with the magnet. He still worked at the carpentry but the work of course had been reduced and the wages they owned him were far too many. He sometimes worked as a waiter in his cousin’s tavern when they were weddings scheduled and extra help was needed. Once a month, he visited his mother and had lunch together. On those Sunday gatherings his sister with her children would sometimes join in. His brother-in-law would stay home because he was tired but everyone knew that they had nothing to say to each other and they had passed to the next level where you are not supposed to keep up appearances. Between you and me, neither did he have much to say with his family. The older he got, the larger the distance grew between them. His sister was over her children and their anxieties, his mother had her health issues and her concerns.
“John, when are you going to settle down and have a kid? My goodness, time flies, you are not a little boy anymore.”
At first, he got angry at her and got himself in an argument. Just words, some might say, but so many times the bitter truth was heard. 
“Like yourself who won the lottery or Lina who hit the jackpot.” He would now remain silent and only say:
“These things just happen” and end the conversation. 
      He had broken up with Helen about six months ago. Oh gosh, it doesn’t really matters what happened or who’s to blame. He missed her, even though he didn’t admit it to himself. He missed her warm body on his bed and that sense of caring for the everyday life. The house was alive when she was in it, even if that meant it was alive from all their fights. 
One morning, while they had their coffee at the kitchen table, she asked him about the picture on the fridge. “Where is that? Are you on a trip?”
“Nah, no, I don’t remember where it is but I like to look at it.”
“Who knows, you might remember and take me there one day”, she told him and tenderly caressed the back of his neck. 
A long time had passed since then. Even though the fridge was opposite the kitchen table and the side he usually sat, most of the mornings he would not have a look at it or when he did, it was in a totally abstract way. He saw the path, the trees and the light that tore them in half as it passed through them but didn’t actually look at them. Before his eyes another day at work with moaning, tension and begging for his money passed by, numbers being summed up by unpaid bills, the insurance policy for his old car that hadn’t been settled yet and occasionally Helen’s face , sometimes full of anger at him and sometimes ready to burst out laughing at some silly joke of his. Most of the mornings he only felt a burden in him. It wasn’t just the last two years that had crushed him, it was the previous as well that had gone by and left an emptiness in him. He didn’t know what he had done wrong, what kind of chance he let slip out of his hands in order to feel a sort of fulfillment, to feel nice with his everyday garment of himself. 

      And today, as he had his first sip of his Greek coffee and burnt his tongue swearing, his glance got caught up in this image opposite him but he actually looked at it after a long time. He looked at it so intensely that he almost felt the breeze on his forehead and the sun rays burning his eyes. The image was so vivid that morning that took him away. He smiled at his daydream and had his, not so voracious, second sip. A whistle was heard that almost spilled his coffee. Where did it come from? By the time he realized the origin of the sound, a second whistle along with something metallic was heard but it didn’t stop this time.
He turned towards the sink and that was where his cup fell off his hands and broke on the floor. Hot drops stained his work pants and burned his feet a bit. He stood up from the daze. He could not believe his eyes. From the marble sink beside him, plants literally grew in tremendous speed. They came out through the holes in the middle of the sink in that weird, organic sound whom the more he heard, the more it reminded him of his dog while it gave birth to its puppies at their old house when he was still a kid and his father was still alive. The sound of the baby as it came out of its mother’s body had strongly impressed him. It was a wet, metallic, hissing sound. He couldn’t name the grasses coming out of the sink and it was the last thing that mattered to him but he was certain that he had seen them before. When they filled the sink and started coming out of it and pouring themselves with their foliage on the floor, he realized it. They were the plants that he saw for the last two years in the picture on his fridge. He could not be certain whether that late October morning in his kitchen was reality or a hallucination but in a momentary burst of courage, he touched the plants that had already started occupying the floor and spreading behind the washing machine and climbing towards the cupboards. Yes, he felt them real on his fingers. Panic came over him and he tried to cut them with the knife he kept in the drawer. It was his first thought against their expansion. The green leaves started wrapping around his fingers and passed undisturbed to the rest of his hand. He started screaming but nothing more than a roar came out of his terror that had already been covered by the branches climbing up the ceiling and their stronger sound.
His heart was about to burst, being trapped in a room with the greenery having occupied every vital part of the space and his body. Τhe branches rose and tightened his torso. His breath became sharp and the colors had already began to fade away. Just before he became unconscious, he struggled to turn towards the picture on the fridge and forced himself not to laugh despite his tragic situation. In the picture that he had for the last couple of years on the fridge saw himself with the same clothes he wore today in the familiar setting of his kitchen drinking his coffee and looking straight to the camera. Someone would say that the picture itself was staring at him for a long time too and wanted to pay him a visit in its own way. It wanted to enter his world for a while just as he wanted to do the same. His last thought was: “How strange our wishes can be”, or something of the sort. 

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