Let’s call it:
Once upon a time, I knew these people. And then. And that.
He looked like he was biting something hard inside that mouth but then he always looked like that. Once, perhaps about twenty or so years ago, they said he looked more at ease. Circumstances obviously changed him then. And he knows that. Day after day he concocts various ways on how to escape the current life he weaved for himself.
“Soon,” he thought, “everything’s going to change.”
And it did. After so many years spent on daydreaming, one day he just boarded the plane. He did not tell them when he is coming back. He did not tell them where he was going to.
In the plane, he was seated beside the window. He looked at the stewardess; he smiled at her, then he turned and gazed outside the window to his left.
He didn’t look like he was biting something hard this time.
Her old family said she died for days when she was just a child. Then was a time when magic played a more significant role in the lives of the people. She believes what they said, and her young ones are always fascinated every time she shares with them that story. They adore her. Kids love the fantastic, even the adults, although they are a lot less keen to show it. The other stories though, she chose not to tell. For she knows none of them–the young or the old–would be comfortable to hear it.
Thus, she concealed the fact that from that first one as a child, she has since died a hundred more deaths.
If you would look at this picture of him you wouldn’t believe it was taken just two years ago. Now, he still looks young, yes, but you would not consider him a kid any longer. Although no one really told him, he felt that everyone thought of him as the black sheep. This became a seed, sown, and turned into an embryo that eats its way inside his head. Not long, he believed with his whole conviction that he is in fact the black sheep. At least, he thought, he had a role at last. And he played it too well, too long.
Now he finds himself kneeling, crying his heart out to the replica of a man who was crucified thousands of years ago. And he asked for help so that another life could come to this world, safely as was possible.
That night, or dawn to be exact, he started to play another role.
They’ve been together for seven years now, but they never tied the knot. They don’t need to. What we have is already perfect, he told himself. And perhaps he is right.
But he was surprised to arrive home that night and see her waiting for him. As he closed the door, she stood up. Beside her were her bags. Big ones.
“I’m leaving,” she said. “I’m pregnant. You didn’t really sign up for that, did you?” He had thought those extra pounds were just because she ate more. She heads for the door while he was inert, rooted to the spot.
“I never really had a father,” he said as the door opens. She said, “I know. I never had a mother, too. But does that matter?”
The door closed.
Two cars jammed. Heavy traffic ensues. She was seated in a tram while the noonday sun reigned in tyranny. Her vision sometimes blur at the edges, turning the lines into curves for a fleeting second. Something caught her eye.
A woman glowing with uncommon simplicity crossed the street. She wore a habit. Girls in their teens, huddled in groups of twos and threes, follow behind her, as if she was their mother duck.
Twenty-one years ago, I would have been one of those girls, she thought. Perhaps, she wondered, in that fork by the road, I chose left instead of right.
The car behind them honked.
She thought of her boys. She thought of her. Then she laughed.
Upon setting foot on the golden soil of what you now call Middle East, he kissed it. He arrived when he was in his twenties; a fine young man, free from any anchors buried back home, with a future as bright as an annoying headlight of a car approaching from the other side of the road.
Or so he thought.
She lies on her deathbed.
Surrounded by people either crying hardly or on the verge of tears, she tried to say something. But it was as if her tongue was tied in complicated knots. On her side, a woman holds her hand, putting it close to a damp cheek. She recognized her face, and she remembers. She remembers the love that bore fruit on that boat travelling between the worlds of children and adults, and how quickly that love drowned. She remembers the loss, and the new doors it opened. She remembers the plans that went astray, the dreams that turned into dust. Then she wonders where it has all gone, for just then there was but total darkness.
All that is left are the voices. She could not understand what they are saying, and she feels that this time she is truly alone.
She becomes very, very afraid.
Before everything vanished, even the voices, she recognized one word…
On her black book, she writes.
She looks up to the harvest moon, and she knows that the other thousand versions of herself are doing the same to their own moons.
Inside the mind’s baffling archives, he always has this round belly. Round. He is not pregnant, of course. Even so, she had been always amazed at the utter roundness of it. And from there, unconsciously, she has always equated roundness with something nice, like love.
He arrives every afternoon with little treasures for her, and she has always been giddy personified. For years it went on, The Adventures of Santa and his Giddy Sidekick.
Until they grew apart.
The next time she saw him, the roundness was gone. Instead it was replaced by a boring white rectangle with a looking-glass, one that lets you gaze at the profile of the deflated santa–colorless, emotionless. Lifeless.
And then she fell apart.
Blood ties life.
It creates lines. It fills the heart.
We never get rid of it, not really. Or we could. Then we die.