Κυριακή, 4 Οκτωβρίου 2009

All Kinds of Strange Animals

Mother makes the decision for me as I am in no position to do this myself, ever. They fling me onto a hospital bed and as the drug works in my blood they plug it out of me; from underneath me. She is there, watching over me as they eat away my flesh, as they suck my second soul out of me. I hate her for that.
*
Mother is odd. There is no subtle way to put it. Honestly and bluntly: odd. They say that character runs in the blood; it is carved deeply in every single cell, pasted in the innermost and secret corners of our bodies. All traits, every single characteristic are predetermined in the DNA. There is no escape. I’ve never had a father, never been told of one. “Never needed one,” Mother said.
Sometimes, when my mind drifts off, and this happens quite a lot lately, I allow myself to theorize that Mother and I are just amnesiac extraterrestrials spurted by the universe on this small blue planet. My husband never realized. He doesn’t even suspect. He doesn’t understand.
Light flashing from passing cars delineates the corners of his face for brief moments in time, making him handsome, and then it’s darkness again. Animal, our cat, is busy with his toy-mouse in his kennel-cab. In the back-seat, next to him, Mother is finally dozing off. This is a scene that repeats itself on our every monthly trip to the bungalow by the sea. The bungalow has been roach-infested since the last time we were there.
The voice on the radio is just a solemn lull which suddenly breaks and trembles and shrivels away into the silence of the car. We don’t usually talk. We used to. Now we speak different languages and whatever has once connected us is now lost in translation.
He struggles to tune into another station since the lull has now evaporated and the shroud of silence enveloping the two of us is ornamented with the fragments of voices, and utterances, and confusion.
“What the hell’s happened? We can’t reach a single fucking station,” he hisses, battling with the tuner still.
His stare, though, is firmly fixed on the grey lane in front of us. No, we are not going to have an accident. He is always too careful. Always!
I cannot be bothered.
Careful when he drives, careful when he cooks, careful when he fucks. Careful when he checks our gooey condoms right after fast sex for any possible impairments. He never wanted to have kids. I, somehow, went along with it.
The radio emits a cacophony of sounds like untamable electric current penetrating my bones. I tell him to shut it up, open the sunroof, and he does so. A subtle buzz tares open a neat square on top of me. Dots of light are scattered haphazardly in the dark blue. I look up, melancholically, awaiting for something—anything! We are being swallowed into this strange, almost eerie night. But again, all nights can be strange and mysterious if you really want them to be.
I think of the cockroaches swarming the bungalow, their flat mucilaginous bodies moving fast on the kitchen tiles and in the cabinets, their antennae rubbing against the labels of dusty cans and jars of Mom-made preserves. I run my sweaty palms up and down my arms vigorously till my skin burns.
“Do you want me to close the window?” he asks.
After five years of marriage he still cares, I think to myself. Once, there was love.
“I am not cold,” I say to him, “I don’t want to go to the bungalow . . . the roaches . . . I want to stay outside on the beach. The water will be so clear and invigorating.”
“Hmmm!” he says.
I take in a big breath and the quantity of oxygen relaxes my brain making it malleable. I light a cigarette and lean back. The warm night glides among the pine-trees and onto my shoulders like a fragrant velvety shawl. One hand, holding the cigarette is daggling out the window and the other is rubbing my husband’s thigh. He acknowledges my caress with a faint smile and a slight rise of the brow. I miss him. I want to give him that mesmerizing feeling. I want him to want me so I let the tips of my fingers glide softly back and forth on his thigh. I can almost feel that he is getting a sensation in his groin. I suddenly wish he would stop the car, park among the tree-trunks on the side of the road and make love to me on the hood of the car—like we used to, then, when there was passion—no condom-checking is understood. Oh! What the heck? Not even condom use.
Mother snorts loudly, and stares at the two of us. Her eyes appear larger than usual, they are big and phosphorescent just like Animal’s. She swipes the drool from her chin with the back of her hand, mutters something incomprehensible, and goes back to uneasy sleep.
Mother and I, have always had a peculiar relation to animals, that is, any living breathing, usually edible creature. She is not to be trusted.
*
“Mommy are you going to let me keep him?
I am four. A bunny is suffocating in my loving arms. His breathing is quick and rhythmic making its long, silky ears quake.
Mother quits whatever she is doing, dries her hands on a towel, lowers her head and squints behind her glasses to have a better view. She stares straight into his pink eyes as though weighing an ambiguous situation. “Oh! Well, sure honey,” Mother says, “as long as you take goooood care of him.” She grabs little Bucks by the ears and raises him right in front of her face. She examines him meticulously, rotating him slowly from one side to the other. His plumb body hangs limp from its nape.
The little fellow finds a home with us. I feed him crisp lettuce and celery, carrots and water-melon for a couple of weeks and then I get bored—like every kid does. After all, the little one was just a rabbit who showed no signs of affection whatsoever to raise any maternal instincts from the depths of my girly soul.
A few weeks later, my rabbit became rounder and plumber; and then we had it for dinner—not invited for dinner. Of course, I was never told, but when I reached adulthood I somehow understood.
*
I dump my cigarette butt out of the window and I know this is not the right thing to do but I cannot resist—I like watching it fly like a comet, like a shooting star, tumbling and falling from the darkness onto the earth. I lower my head for a better perspective from the rear-view mirror, and—
My head clashes violently against the glove-compartment as he hits the breaks—a powerful jab right in the face—tires screech on the asphalt, a cloud of dust rises as the car slithers on the gravel by the side of the road; a thud is heard against the bumper—“Good Lord!”—and we stop.
Before I’m sent crashing into the back of my seat, breathing fast, rubbing my throbbing face, my brain, which should have been pulverized by the collision, is processing different kinds of hypotheses. One: He hit the brakes because he is suddenly a fanatic environmentalist. Two: He has read my thoughts and he is just delighted with the idea of fucking me on the hood of the car—the chances are slim. Three, and most possible: a stray dog, deer, cow, a kid, I think with terror, is crashed under the wheels of our car.
I press my cheekbone as though this would ease the pain. My heart is pumping blood fast into every single petrified molecule of my body.
“Jesus Christ—”, is all I can hear him articulate, the rest of what he says is muffled behind the door as he slams it shut. He vanishes into the cloud of dust which has not yet set.
Mother and Animal are fine. Their humongous phosphorescent eyes are fixed on me expecting an explanation. Mother opens her mouth in an attempt to say something, but her jaw remains hanging.
I somehow make it to the front of the car. There is some sort of creature standing in front of the bumper. It seems to be in one piece. Painfully small and vulnerable—the size of a toddler—it stands casually in the headlights—a glowing, diaphanous being, as though made of jelly. I am amazed by my apathy. It feels just like when a relative knocks on your door one night unexpectedly. You can’t say that you are very happy to see him, nor are you annoyed. You merely accept the fact.
My husband, kneels on the asphalt, stares at the creature, clutches the sides of his pelvis as though checking if someone has stolen his wallet. He looks frightened and ridiculous.
The creature turns its back at him and looks at me. It’s got two humongous almond-shaped eyes. Maybe that’s why I am not surprised—I’ve seen those eyes a billion times. Black eyeballs, with no pupils to indicate the direction of the stare, but I still know that it is looking at me. I observe the creature carefully as there is plenty of time. It doesn’t seem to have a nose, but I detect a small lump where the nose is supposed to be. No nostrils, though. No mouth. Just eyes swallowing gluttonously every new image, processing vigorously every bit of new information.
I wonder how it would be like to touch it. Silken. Like a dolphin.
My husband’s body is making convulsive movements as though he is about to throw-up. I carefully step around the diaphanous creature, making sure that I won’t scare it away. I don’t want it to leave—not just yet. I reach for my husband’s quaking shoulder hoping that my touch will bring the ease and comfort he seeks. He gasps as though the air has thickened, as though it has turned into liquid and he is choking.

I know how he feels.
I know exactly.

The diaphanous extraterrestrial is standing between us.
“What is it? An alien?” he whispers.
“What do you think it is? An alien,” I answer naturally in the same way one would say: “An American,” or “A European.”
“An alien kid,” I add.
The alien kid walks toward me. Its steps are small and quick. It raises its arms as it walks, like a toddler—to keep balance, I assume. Unwittingly, I squad and spread my arms toward it. It is as though everything inside me that was meant to turn me into a mother rushed out in a split second.
It places its palms softly against mine and it feels like touching a warm balloon. It takes another daring step and passes its arms around my head. It catches me by surprise but I boldly abandon myself to it. It cuddles me! I am being cuddled by an alien! It sinks its face in my hair as it rests its head on my shoulder and I feel my soul sinking into a warm sea. I almost want to cry. I stand up, and it’s still holding me tight, its legs wrapped around my waist.
He is almost weightless.
He speaks to me in ways I never thought possible. In ways nobody understands. His glow melts on my skin like drops of golden tenderness. He touches me on my surface and on the depths of my vacant soul. He finds that long forgotten dark place in my heart and brings light to it—warm yellow light, which, slowly turns white making me squint. The dark place becomes lighted and clean. I can hear the echoes of my heart against its walls. The dark place in my heart is now bright, clean, and dry. And there are songs, and happy voices, and laughter. In there, I can cuddle my little alien all I want and the light is so powerful and brilliant, and the laughter vivid—darkness and silence are banished forever. Where all this love’s come from?
It all comes naturally to me—instinctively. I never held a baby before, but somehow I now know how to do it. I place one palm under its small behind and the other holds it snuggly by the side of its tiny ribcage. I can feel its heartbeat against my fingertips. Its warm hand is now on my cheek
“We are taking him with us,” I declare.
“What are you doing?” Mother says, clutching her chest. “You cannot bring this thing with us. It can hurt us! It could be contaminated with radioactive material. Look how it glows!”
We are already in the car—my husband and I and the glowing creature. Mother’s voice sounds as if it’s coming from a place far away from me—from a place where there are no drugs which can make me powerless and no devices to devour my own flesh, to suck it out of me.
Animal is hissing in his kennel-cab and Mother is still mumbling something. My small glowing alien is making dolphin like noises in my ear.
How has he managed to locate me in the vast universe? How did he know how much I needed him?
When we reach the bungalow, Mother—with Animal in her arms—rushes inside. Vanishes behind the creaking door. I kind of want her to stay outside with us, I kind of already miss her, but she chooses to disappear into the roach-infested, God-forsaken place. I step outside the car. My little alien is still pressing his chest against mine so tightly.
My husband, with our luggage dangling by the sides of his legs follows Mother toward the house. I remain there, staring at his back. If it weren’t for my little alien, I would feel cold. But his steps become uncertain. He stops and turns towards me.
For a long moment we merely look at each other. And then we speak. We speak without voices. Words have become one with the sea and they caress the shores of our beings with every wave. They swivel and foam and are swallowed by the sand. They become salty with tears we’ve shed without knowing. But they are words with meaning, pieces from the puzzle of a mysterious dialogue which should have taken place long ago.
My small alien spreads his arms inviting my husband towards us, luring him into our brightness, into our warmth. He dumps the luggage on the ground and walks towards us—slowly at first, as though hypnotized. Then his steps become certain, firm and fast. We are together, at last.
We sit on the cool wet sand next to each other. Our shoulders brush. The breeze is dense with fragrances and joy. We dig our tows and fingers into the moist, salty coolness. As our small alien squeaks like a dolphin and splashes in the water, his fingers clumsily stumble on mine. His caress has a sandpapery feel to it. He looks at our little alien and smiles a genuine smile. I do the same.

1 σχόλιο:

  1. I think it is the most modern and interesting short story I have ever read! Erato mou, this is a hundred years in front of uour age! It is not written like a simple fiction story, and that is what it makes it so precious! It must be published, asap!
    God, how well out of proportion you shook me with this one!!!

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