Sunday, 14 March 2010

UNEDITED! (I just poured it out in one go. Gimme another minute to fix it) story worthy of Karen Eiffel

Knowing perfectly well that something this tragic isn't music for anyone's ears, I've - following the tradition of the Battling Bard of Potidaea - expanded my dream, again, into a short story. It's ridiculously sad and yet not really... Who am I kidding, it's absurdly sad.

Okay.. So basically

       "It is both a tragedy and a triumph for a bullet to find itself a warm place to die..."

A young woman, wearing a light blouse and a touch of lipstick, only because all daring ladies in Rome-regarding movies do it, is grateful she has a chance to visit Italy again. She hasn't done it since college and although the passion for art history has never really left her entirely, she hadn't had time. Life got in the way of childhood dreams. Not in a bad way, though, she's been enjoying her job immensely, it just had nothing to do with domed chapels and old temples with the 'groteska' murals and frescos portraying limber young men hunting down extravagant menagerie. Italy was one of those places that could easily be portrayed in smog and hustling and pollutions of tourists, but in the cracks of all that realism were the strange echoes of the past so easily accused of art and lust for life. She has always liked that part so much! Where Greeks felt aloof in philosophy and drama, heavy for a tourists' taste, Romans felt leisureful, decadent and fat. 
             She wasn't going that deep into it, though, she just liked the feeling this trip presented. and the distance it took from what she knew in and out. Some people take their getaways to beach chairs and sound of the sea-line, she liked the stench of damp old ruins and masses in lines of museum tickets. First loves never really go away. 
             This temple was less crowded and strange in some sense that it was almost impossible to place, temporally. Architect didn't seem to have any respect for tradition and so the dome felt romanesque, the shape roman, the material Greek and the purpose somewhere around the tombs of Charlemagne, so the exact meaning of it was an enigma written on the plaque by the door - in Italian. She was peeking for clues into a fireplace-like niche when four more people followed the invisible line of tourist catwalk. Two people, however, were out of place. 
              If she had to guess, interrupted in her surreal tour, they were less vacationers and more one of the maintenance workers and his daughter. He was a large, fat man so tastelessly dressed in jdirty eans that his stomach hung out from underneath a stained undershirt and his hair and thin beard were greasy. He was pulling the teenager around as if trying to find a place to shake her out of sight of sightseers and as crying as the girl was, she didn't try to escape too insistently. Only then did the young tourist notice the man was holding a small dark gray revolver in the hand that hung by the side of his obese frame. The way he was holding that arm was saying the gun weighted a ton.
               Something very instinctive turned a switch in the woman. It would only later on clarify itself to what it really was. Everyone else fled the chapel and she felt like she is perfectly welcomed to join them, for the man's violence wasn't going to take long and the fact that the teenager wasn't hysterical it went to say she's been through this before and wasn't really in any kind of terrible danger. Her father was a brute and a brainless thug, but the child was used to it by now. The trouble she was getting herself into, probably involving boys, was her only taste of rebellion from a heavy trap she ever dared defy.
               The young tourist was guessing all that with her back to the door and all it would take to get out of this situation once and for all would be to make the next few steps. She knew that if she interfears, she will get hurt. She just knew. But the man began to hit the girl with the gun and the girl fell to her knees, screaming timidly and sobbing and defending herself with her thin arms. The young tourist hung herself onto the man's arm, suceeding in putting him off the aim. At first he was surprised, having been interrupted, but one woman was like any other and he pushed the stranger away and turned back to the offspring, although by then the worst has ben said. Something mean and yet grateful passed from the daughter to the stranger via a moist glance and then the ridiculous molseter pointed the ugly little gun to the tourist. He did it as if the gun was empty, as if he only ever used it for hammering the kids. His daughter tried to run out of the chapel on all fours at the opportunity and he barely just caught her by her foot. Pulling her up, grabbing her hair, he shook her and got angrier still and whatever he was hissing and spitting and cursing at the tourist, didn't come through, until he said, in a strangely self-liberating-from-a-lifetime-of-corset voice, heavily accented: "I wasn't going to hurt anyone today, but if you insist.." and pulled the trigger.
              The whole thing was in fact very noisy. There was even some powdered mist around the gun and a dull thud into her chest, almost directly in the middle - something she observed with twisted admiration. There was a scream but it was already leaving the temple and right after people's bodies blocked the light from the entrance frame, so did the violent blaze blink and make the whole chamber brighter once they were gone. 
               It was going to be a few moments before people start rushing in. Those moments were nice. There was a little bit of fear and some uncertain worry, but the sum of all emotions was almost magnificent. The woman looked down onto her chest, saw the nice summer blouse, white but for some gentle pattern, punctured just beneath her chin, between the breasts, in the middle of the sternum. A very dark and very thick, almost cartoonish geyser of blood spurted the first hiccup of mess and as well as she could - all this while she was falling like a cut down tree, but very slowly indeed - she cupped her hand over it. It seemed to work, because as much as her palm became warm and sticky by the time she hit the ground, no more of the blouse was ruined. 
              With her face to the ground, she was amazed at how neat the floor actually was. It was polished concrete, dark and ice cold, the kind you get if you walk on old clay for a very long time, in some ancient French vine cellar. No spit or gum or cigarette butts that she could see  were bothering her and the smell was of roads and cold earth. People who came rushing in came like dancers, their feet and knees blurred in the sharp contrast of the sun-beam protruding  from the door and although that day wasn't very hot and the chapel was cooler still, the ground's hard void of any kind of alive warmth was soothing and nice. Despite the fuss everything was deaf. She realized  her face has turned so that she was almost smiling. The gun which was left tossed away was within her reach, so she pulled it to her by her other hand, one she could see to be very long and pale, and slowly, carefully  and with much effort she pushed it into her back jeans pocket. She probably wasn't thinking very clearly, but something little about keeping snakes and spiders and things like that bite you, to help doctors fix you, was going through her mind.
               This was so unfamiliar. Only word she could find to describe the emotion filling her top to bottom was 'life'. Luckily she had skin or she would overwhelm the whole temple! This must be what 'life' feels like.. What 'life' sounds like, a distant heartbeat and people in strange languages, never quite near but never quite very far either. What 'life' is like when it's beginning (and when it ends). The matter in her palm pressed tightly against her chest reminded her of a handfullof chocolate pudding,  an analogy as absurd as this whole happenstance was. Warmer than her hand to the touch and so preciously held against her that if she made the slightest wrong gesture, try to move it or fix it, she's make an irreparable disorder, so she just held it there and it was good. She would say to the people who began to kneel down and fuss around her that she's fine, (better tha fine!) but other than the hand to her chest no other part of her body belonged to her anymore. The lips were quiet and smiling. Gravity was strong. Tears running from her eyes onto her hair were happy tears. They really were.
               How she became two people right there, she couldn't tell. There was an odd sense of urgency, but other than that nothing felt wrong. For as good as she was feeling she could just as well have been dancing over a field of sunflowers. There was no need, though, right there in the chapel she felt just fine. One part needed to be someplace else, though.  easily she could expirience both. For exaple, she mused on how stiff and cooperative her whole body was, when they pushed her very slightly onto the hip, pushed a plank underneath her and rolled her back - and she could, at the very same time, muse on how nice it is her hand doesnt fall alseel always placed in the same possition when she's still cupping her wound, sitting on a bus which is taking he home through the night. 
               In the hospital, all she could see were the ceiling lights and mostly up the people's nostrils, although when they cut the corner very quickly, the civilians first replaced by medical workers and medical workers replaced by surgeons, all running, all looking worried and detached, she caught a glimpse of a patient in a pale blue, old pijamas, younger then her, a lot more tired than her, but somehow more used to all this, laying in  agurney of her own. The other girl was on her way to surgery also, but sudden gunshot victim cut in. However serious her condition was, it could wait another few hours. She's been here for weeks. 
                The bus arrived and the city slept as the tourist returned home, going first to the parent's house which was closer and somehow felt appropriate. They would still be in bed, but waking them up wasn't a problem. Light sleepers both, they were the sort of ex-party-goers that being slightly crusty while making coffee-on autopilot and listening to their daughter's trip to Italy was completely traditional. Dogs and cats woke up too and sister came to see what's up and then went to bed to take another ten minutes of her ritual. Mother put on kettle to make tea and father was in the bathroom and dogs were jumping. She managed to pet the both equally with the left hand, the right one still firmly holding the wound pressed down. It's been so long she's almost forgotten why else she'd use it. Because being shot was by far the most emotional expirience she's had, she kept wanting to bring it up, but because her family couldn't fathom it, she first had to explain all about the temples and Italian traffic. 
                After the surgery began, even though there was nothing physical about it, she was wholesomely there, watching the surgeons' hands and instruments twist around in the chest, all bright red on pale green canvas, bubbly organs being pushed this side and that and funny urgency that made them all unnecessarily sticky. She was worried only a pinch, in a curious way, that her heart might be in trouble, considering that despite what they learnd in primary school, how heart is supposed to be on the left ide, it was actually in the middle. What little she knew of guns, she knew enough to add another negative thought to the cornucopia of exhilirated ones, namely that smaller callibers - and that gun was very small - make more mess as they bounced and ricochet off bones. Perhaps those were all the reasons why surgeons looked so serious. 
               Somebody came into the OR and warned them about something. The heart patient which was outside and would have been operated on instead of this emergency, went into a fit. Well what were they suppose to do that they weren't already doing?!
               At home the description of all the pretty places was starting to go in circles. Everyone was up already, excpet the sister was groggy and grumpy and was suggestively led towards the bathroom. tea was ready, some food came up and someone was already unpacking her suitcase onto the dining table to display small gifts, scarfs and some tour books. Dad and dogs were playfully fighting over breakfast and mum wanted to test the daughter's knowlege of art history and made her really burrow through old interestes to comke up with all the names of renaissance craftsmen that made all the great things she saw.
               In the hospital the girl outside the operating room died of heart failure. It was a foolish conicidence and there was no way of knowing her condition suddenly turned so serious, but as soon as doctors heard, they began to slow down a little and intended on saving at least one patient. For the tiniest moment the young tourist though she could see the ghost, if she turned her head towards the brightest part of the operating room, but she couldn't turn the head due to anestesia and besides, everybody knows there is no such things as ghosts.
                In the home kitchen, the young woman began to have a distinct suspition this is actually a moment she needs to savor and make her peace, because it wasn't really real. There was no way she could have made it all the way from Italy on such a shor notice and although everything her eyes saw and ears heard and mouth tasted, as the family finally settled down to a decent breakfast and less hectic conversation - her heart was tuned to a different reality. Her heart wasn't beating.
                It semed quite strange that this would be her final hour, because just to look at it, it didn't come off as spectacular or dramatic at all. nobody was having and grand speeches, there were no desperate hugs or profound silences one might expect from people parting their way on death row. Food was so boring and so familiar, the just right amount of butter on just right enough not-fresh croissonts and too hot tea and dog salivating onto her thigh while she tried to push it away with an elbow. The urge to share the most exciting news - the news about the shooting - gradually gave way, because although she would selfishly enjoy the shocks and startled expressions and the downpour of questions and histeria, she found herself being better than that and just allowed the others to tke over the chitter chatter and listened instead. Some family holiday way coming up obvioustly, because there was strategic preparations for the shopping of it, which was always at least as much fun at the feasts then in the end. The journey to Italy was almost entirely forgotten by now, everyone was glad that she was home, but a new day was beginning and jobs were waiting and could she walk the dogs today instead of dad for a change? That's a good daughter, hehe. 
               It wasn't working. In teh hospital, in the surgery. The surgenons' effort wasn't working. The hardness of the operating table and the cold were becoming a harsh reality superceeding the warm wattery embrace of the anestesia. The pain in fact became so fresh it was the most obvious example of two things being ripped appart - and that was dying. She died long before the surgeons realized it or noticed it or agreed to believe it. In fact she felt like she was being rude for not being able to stop their hardship, their sweating bodies trying to keep up with the fevered tired minds. She died, amazed at how little sadness and regrets she's actually feeling, although all she should have been feeling were regrets and panicked struggle, for life is so nice and bright and the end of it so very ... nothing at all.But she was feeling nothing bad at all. Only 'life', gaining distance slowly on her like an old friend leaving, happy they've met after a long time. 
              Realizing that the breakfast and the time in which she should have gotten her good-byes in order was so unspectacular, was because every day she's had, even the bad days, were all in all so lovely, she didn't need phamphares to walk out of the playground. Her family didn't need to be told that she loves them, because she knew and she lived her life so as to prove it to them every day. Every day she did what she liked and never learned hw to truly regret and be afraid of death, because she was a good person and didn't blame anyone for now owing the world. Whatever this was, the life that she had, the least significant span of tie in all existance, the least significant cog in all creation, was only hers and she got exactly what she thought she should have. Without any ceremony at all, not even a feeling that she's holding back any tears for reasons known only to herself, dark and ugly, she kissed, with smiles, lips or glances her family and dogs and food and books and childhood toys and left, half in a hurry into the new morning after she was done with everything fussy families impose on briefly visiting daughters living two streets away. It was all so funny and so cute and she could do absolutely nothing but smile on her way down the empty alley - again sensing she should probably have wories and regrets because it felt like a polite thing to do. Respecting life. But no. She was just happy. The street eventually vanished and she felt like she was either drifting someplace or faling asleep, fading out of color and warmth, though nothing "special effects" as you would think. Her only real thought, separated from all that the remained of her - emotions - was of a girl she's never met (a girl in some Italian hospital, on a guorney just outside the operating room, aiting for yet another surgery to maybe save her condition this time, a girl nobody realize will die if she gets pushed aside this exact hour), so before her body even hit the ground in that unlucky historical chapel temple, she pulled the hand away and all the blood that's been held in place and may have fooled the doctors she's worth wasting time on, pourd out and down the shirt and out of the body, taking the life with it right then and there.