Ik keek naar de binnenkant van mijn hoofd. Ik zag de mond van mijn dokter bewegen maar hoorde niets. Ik zag enkel mijn witte kronkels afsteken tegen een zwarte achtergrond. Die kronkels bevatten mijn herinneringen, de echte en degene die ik verzonnen had. Mijn emoties lagen voor me uitgespreid tegen een lichtbak en ik was de enige die ze kon ontcijferen. Wat een prachtige hersenen had ik.
Coffee and a cigarette on the balcony. I am glad we’re talking again.
The Long Road to Santiago
I thought about what she said when I started walking home, my little sister, all grown up. I expected her to judge me but there was none of that. She’s the youngest of us three, the one that wanted to have a career. I admired her for it now, because it was something I could never do, buy a house somewhere, a dog, staying with the same man for years, trying to get better at a job until you were the best. I used to hate her for it but when she drank tea on the sofa that morning, I realized she had found peace of mind in it. I told her about my plans, waiting for her to shoot them down but she just smiled, lowering her cup and wrapping her fingers around her drink to warm them up. “I think you should just do it.” She looked at me like she meant it. “You don’t think I’m crazy?” “No,” she said, “why would I think that?” “Every one else seems to think I am.” She repositioned herself. “I think it has been a long time coming and you are finally ready to pull it off.” I started crying. “The crazy shit you’ve been doing lately is just a result of the fact that you’re not made for the life you are currently living. I am sure you’re going to be a great nurse one day, but it’s not something you want to pursue when you have so many other ideas inside your head.” She took another sip of her tea. “So, when are you leaving?” “As soon as I get the money together.” “Okay,” she said. “Okay.”
Waiting for Spring to arrive
I got a voicemail from my best friend that day. We hadn’t talked in ages and when I listened to his message on my answering machine I knew he was drunk. He repeatedly called my name until he sighed and asked ‘where the fuck’ I was. The truth was that I wasn’t quite sure about where I was any more. I went back to my parents’ place but I hadn’t been there in ages and the scenery had changed. It was early May and we were all still waiting for spring to arrive. I found myself walking in the woodland behind the house I had grown up in, something I had been doing every day when I was still a kid. There were horses in the fields behind our house. We had often dreamed about having horses so close to where we slept. The horses didn’t think it was a big deal that they were out there, they were just minding there own business. I took the path that lead up to the lovers’ tree, never had I seen such puddles on it. It had been raining for days, every window you looked out of was equally depressing. I thought about my former fiancée when I passed the spot where we were supposed to celebrate our marriage. The place was overgrown, there were nettles that reached up until my chest, the trees were getting strangled by ivy. I imagined long tables filled with our friends, little lights in the trees above their heads, fires spread across the site. I stood there for a while, thinking about the people I had wronged ever since I broke off our engagement. I thought about you. You had found new love but it had been to early to tell me and I had found out on my own, forcing you into a confession with your back against the wall. I listened to my friend’s voicemail once more because it made me laugh every time I heard his words echo. I decided to call him back. He answered the phone with a simple question. “Where the fuck are you, you mad woman?” He was still drunk as I had run home. I always ran home when things were bad. I had pulled someone from a dark place and replaced it with something even darker, more destructive. “I went home,” I said; and in that moment I really meant it even though it was only for a second or so.
Driving with your Eyes wide shut
“Should I take you to the train station or do you want to stay?” I played with my cigarette, rolling it back and forth between my fingers before lighting it, like a cat playing with a mouse long before it actually died. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I was taking everything he had to offer me at this point in his life, even if it meant not being able to get out of bed any more in the morning.
“You are slowly withdrawing from the world,” he said as he lighted another cigarette and stared directly into her soul. She averted her eyes, tracing the patterns on the kitchen table with her indexfinger. “I just want to go home,” she said. “So go home.” She sat back, took a sip of her beer and looked him straight in the eye. “I don’t know how to get there anymore.”
He made me look at angels and demons in an entirely different way.
Midnight Skinny Dip
He was standing at the shore line, holding on to my bathrobe as I slowly made my way to the center of the lake. It was dark outside, autumn leafs still floating on the black water. My skin was very white, almost transparant, with goosebumps all over my body. When I finally turned back, I saw him standing there, a silhouette in the headlights of his car. I knew I was doomed the minute he draped the fabric over my shoulders, his arms around my waist as he tied the robe together.
Two Last Cigarettes
My middle sister is a caretaker, she is one of the sensitive ones. We’re not very tight, none of us were. We never learned how to be close. I biked to my parents’ place in the rain for an hour after my heart got broken by a man I could actually have loved if he would only let me. My sister’s smiling face is the first thing I saw when I entered the living room. “Look at what the cat dragged in,” she said. I gave her a smile in return, a lopsided one. “The winds must have been just right eh?” I love her big mouth, it’s one of her assets which I appreciate the most. We hugged, it’s always been a little awkward when we hug even though we shared the same womb once. Her smile disappeared when she saw my face. “Have you been crying?” I shake my head a little too violently. “It’s just the rain.” “Like hell it is.” I start unbuttoning my coat. “I don’t want to talk about it right now.” She lets it go. She’s a good girl like that. I take my soaked clothes off, the blue trousers with the broken button, the striped sweater I practically lived in and my roommate’s shoes which she had lend me right before I went out to see him. I was drenched to the bone. “I came to borrow some money,” I told my mom after I kissed her. “I don’t even have enough for the train ride home.” It was the truth. I had wanted to see him so much that I spend my last money on the train to his town. “Oh darling,” mom replied, pressing a kiss against my forehead, “sit down and I’ll make you some tea. You look like shit.” I glanced around the room and realized I hadn’t been there in ages. This is when I noticed the baby was there. My sister gave birth to my niece five weeks ago. I had been present at the birth of my nephew almost two years ago and was supposed to be there when the second child was born, but my niece couldn’t wait for the lot of us to arrive and she had already come into this world before I had reached the hospital. I looked at her, little over a month old, still unspoiled, not a single trace of decay on her. She was sound asleep, her little hands firmly shut and her face like the face of a dreamer. I looked away when I started feeling sad again. “So, how have you been?” I asked my sister. She shrugged. “I don’t know, sometimes I feel like strangling my kids even though I love them to pieces.” She talked some more. Postnatal depression. I felt like an arsehole weeping over a man I could not have while her mind made her feel like shit because she had decided to put another child into this world. “Do you want to go for a smoke?” I asked. She nodded. “Can I bum a smoke then?” She smiled at me as she handed me a cigarette. It was nice just standing next to her underneath the little shelter in our parents’ garden, watching the rain pour down on our father’s old car. We talked about her kids for a while, lighted another cigarette and talked about the man I had said goodbye to that morning. When we got back inside the house again, something had changed between us. I held her baby tight after that, the tobacco still on my breath while the little girl slept on my shoulder. My sister watched me holding her kid. “Wouldn’t it be great to be like her once more? she asked, without expecting an answer. I kissed the child and handed it back to her mother, my sister handed me two cigarettes in return as she started to get ready to leave. “I should quit,” I said, looking at the Marlboros in my open hand. “You will,” she smiled, “these two will be your last.”
Against Better Judgement
I love this house. Waking up in it is so much easier than waking up in my own place, which I still refused to unpack. I am sitting at the kitchen table, staring at your empty chair opposite of me, smoking your cigarettes and drinking the tea I left behind when I moved out. My water boiler is still there, I gave it to you as a gift an made up an excuse about not having any room left in my bags. I play with my cigarette as I take in the room for the last time. The sofa we made love on, drunk out of our skull the first time we did it, the picture of you as a kid, the plant that looks like it’s made out of the antlers of a deer, the books you lend me but I never got around reading because there always was too little time. I stand in the door to the garden and think about all the times I sat down in that exact spot, the wind in my face, looking at the doves in the tree that steals away the sunlight after noon, talking to my friend who also sat down on the stone floor in your garden or talking to you with my back turned against you, not being able to look you in the eye anymore in the end. I button my coat and get my bag before leaving you a note on the kitchen table. ‘If you ever change your mind, I will be there.’ I walk out the door knowing this was the last time I saw you, a knot settling in the depths of my stomach.