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by F. H.
Published November 2011
Fierce cold hit Jeremy’s face with hard fists, wrapping his soft and tiny bones into the frost of ignorance and disillusion. A door stood wide open and the sun was shining in drearily at the other end of the hallway. Stony air had begun to pour into the building and with it came the grey molecules of desperate winter - it depressed him so much more. Small limp branches from the naked trees were stretching their rusty skin into the warm stream that was floating out through the open door, as if grasping for the last live-elongating drink of energy. They were waving at him, inviting him to join their lethal-play. Jeremy had to push them aside really hard in order to close the heavy door of the university-building behind him, after he went through. Strong wind started whistling it’s goodbye-tune to the belly of the building, as the rift began to close. Weeks before, he had walked near the edge of the pavement every morning - each smelling grayer as the one before - while he was watching the slow, hauntingly colored death of the leaves in the pale, steadily diminishing autumn sun. Wet cars drove by on the wearily flowing river of tar like forgotten, carelessly spilled drops of happiness. Jeremy liked to walk at the edge because he was excited by the possibility of accidentally falling into the mighty black stream; the fascination of close danger that was lingering next to him. This was why he became so frustrated last week, when he realised that the abyss was gone. All the other things depressed him too: drowsy winter, his dropping out of class and at least the common struggle of life- love. Only black footsteps are following me down the pavement. They seem to glow in the dark. The world is powdered with strange white dust. The street is floating downhill like oil, born out of the cold and hard earth that is trembling with every step of mine. A girl is already waiting at the station near the crossroads. After placing myself next to her, I am able to see how her hair is gradually turning grey, like the sidewalk and all other things that are placed outside. Lucent raindrops start falling out of the dark and colorless clouds. When they touch down, they convert from transparent to lucent grey and paint the quiet world. At the other side of the street a man is waiting patiently on the sidewalk. His glasses reflect white images. I can not see his eyes. I look at my watch and it says there will be still enough time for me. As I look up again, the flame of the man's match lights up and gives the scene a red-burning illumination. An empty bottle cracks. The broken shards of glass begin to melt under the black boots of the man as he takes the first step onto the street. His pace is steady, heading into our direction. The blue bus drives around the corner. Still the man walks across the wide
street, without spending attention to anything. As he approaches I realize that his hair is still dry and that every flake vaporises as it touches his body. He reaches our side of the road and steps upon our sidewalk. Then he places himself in front of the girl. She is standing there with her eyes closed, slowly breathing, maybe dreaming. The Man reaches for her arm. The blue bus is calling me. I step forward to get onto the blue bus. Behind me, I hear the man asking the girl: ‘Who is innocent?’. I sit down at the back of the bus. It starts driving. Then I look back. I see the girl, led by a strangers tight grip into a desperate land. One week before, she had confessed it to him. Jeremy hated her as she, the menacing seraph, had told him everything. About how she sucked his fat dick with her hot mouth, like a starved animal, getting a pound of flesh dropped right in front of it’s wet foaming white fangs. In the same way Jeremy took the bait of willing disbelief, of selective manipulation and false suppression much too easily, because it was the obviously simplest option. He thought it would aid his wounds, that it was the natural and appropriate reaction used by his mind, a solution from the fathomless grave of his body. He thought he could get over it, preparing for a few sleepless nights of emptiness and a blank map of his head. He thought that it had been a one-time thing and that she had been drunk, not remembering anything at all, if it wasn’t for the blurry photographs. Jeremy had seen them and found them ambiguous first, but after the confirmation, the lines on the pictures rearranged and changed forever. After a short glimpse he saw her with different, scornful eyes - forever. First he concealed them from himself, but they rumbled and moaned under the tomb of forgetting. In the end, the pale worn-out skeleton-tablecloth of disgust had found it’s way out of the deep and broke through, smashing the headstone of love into formless dark matter. Another thing he rather felt than knew was his penis - or at least the obtrusive numbness and lack of feeling. It’s absence ensured him that he might have never ever a boner again. When she wanted sex, only four days after opening up to him, he could feel the death-like, coldly numbed void in his loins, only papered by the photographs; never having really comprehended the required unity of sex and discretion, until it lay before him - scattered, crushed and raped. For several weeks he could not masturbate and got no random boner, even in the mornings. At night he lay in bed with empty dreams, flashing behind the curtain of his moving eyes, as if his fantasy had lost the cheering colors, like the trees that had lost theirs to the wind.
For the most part of the time, Jeremy was too tired to think while he watched TV for many hours straight without sleeping. One time it took him half an hour to even realise that the signal was lost due to the heavy snow outside: picture and sound had slowly retreated from the screen and gave way to a muted battle of confusingly hypnotising black and white insects. Only few necessary occasions forced him to get up: eating, drinking, peeing and shitting into a toilette with brown and yellow stains all over and around the dusty grey tiles; going down into the moist basement to gather the coal with his bare hands from the even dustier concrete floor in order to fire the small oven in his room, but which only spat out coughing clouds of smoke every time, hurting his eyes so he had to cry, burning his lungs so he almost had to vomit and after all not even creating a warming flame. He had stopped looking out the window and to care about time: life narrowed down as the lens of an eye in the painful light of a LED-flashlight. She came over one day and wanted to look after him; wanted to hear him talk and whine, but he did not open the door, so she went around the house to look in through his window, where her breath condensed and created sad flowers of broken ice on the window pane. Although she knocked and yelled he did not stir, did not even bother to look around. She was afraid something might had happened to him in the cold of the loneliness and was ready to call an ambulance when steady waves of anxiety rolled over her mind and crashed down on the sandy shores of fear. Then suddenly, scratching his red, wild and filthy beard, he rose from the couch, went into the dirty bathroom and came back after a little while. Lumps of dirt and unkempt greasy hair covered his ragged body. He lay down again. She never came back after that day and never told anybody. It was a secret she wanted to keep, something that mattered to her and him either way despite their separation. Indulgent exclusion was something she owed him after the destruction, no matter if he did know or not. Then there came the night- Jeremy had felt the change. Still, he lay inside the ailing house under his heavy pile of chilling blankets, almost suffocated by the foul air that was hovering around without movement for weeks. When he returned from the basement that night, with his iron bucket of coal and his hands black as death, wind had started ploughing outside. Jeremy opened the small gate of the oven and the unnoticed wind blew so harsh through his chimney that it whirled up all the dead ash of the burning place in a silent explosion and out into his room. It burned his eyes like ice in a storm and made him cough until he cramped exhaustedly
and broke down with a whistle in his lungs, tipping over the bucket in his decline. He tasted the sour taste of death, hearing it in his coughing, feeling it softly on his skin. Then he vomited on the old brown wooden floor in his room. It was the first thing he had felt for weeks. The fresh air had fueled the fire in the oven and it was now crackling happily like melting ice. Jeremy looked at it with clumps of ash and salty tears in his eye, his body still trembling with pain. I hear a crackling. Then I wake up. Sweat is running down all over me. It finds it’s way along my body. I lift the blanket and I instantly feel the cold, waving above the floor, born out of the hollow of the night. Still, I can't see what had happened around me. I can feel cold-burning wind streaming around me. The door is open and someone looks inside. Glasses are reflecting my white body. He tells me to stand up and to get dressed and it sounds like a mission to me. ‘Get up, gather the coal and come upstairs’ he tells me after he has turned. I get out of my bed. Hot wind still pours in through the door which I had locked with the key. I am always hiding it under my bed. Orange light is shining down the stairs. I can see the destroyed lock of the door. The men with the glasses has already gone up. I bow down and gather the coal with my hands. The concrete is sharp and the coal is heavy. My hands are black now. I follow the glowing footsteps on the stairs and reach for the iron handrail on the wall. It is glowing. I cry out because of the pain, burning my fingers. I slowly take the steps while the air it is getting hotter and when I look up, I can see his shadow waiting patiently at the end of my way. I reach the room above. All the windows are dark. A strange white fluid has covered them. The walls are hot and the floor around the man's feet is melting in a yellow, blinding light. I breath the boiling air, which is full of smoke and dust. The man goes to a window and opens it with a wink of his hand, bending his head to the left side as he looks out. His glasses reflect the flames. The woods are burning, the grass, the animals and humans. Everything is annihilated in a white ocean of fire. The man has claws instead of fingers. He has cracked the barrier of my mind, like he had cracked the lock of my door. Still, I can't see his eyes that hide behind the glass. I am naked. Time won't save my soul. I ask him a question, but nothing leaves my mouth. The man starts smirking. ‘The girl is dead.’ The bucket with coal is in my hand. It is heavy now. I throw it out the window into the burning world.
It was this night when the wind changed it’s direction and brought warm, fresh breaths into the cold land. Earth, dry with snow and exhaustion, was woken by this slight touch and began to tremble. Air, damp and loaded with moisture, was pushing in through the countless wormholes and cracks of the barren white surface of snow, warming up the buried molecules. It changed so suddenly, the fast growth of the trees outside Jeremy’s window was visible. They stretched themselves up into the air and pumped energy through their system, powered by a deeply pumping heart of growth, while they were surrounded by the hot damp air. It enclosed them wildly, circled the thick stems of the maple trees and strong branches of the pines and rubbed off the grey and rusty veil of stony stasis and cramped despair. New, strong clashes of moistened virgin winds came and dipped the fleshy bark with a thin white lake of innocent dew that glistened in the shallow light of the distant, but warm, rising morning sun. Jeremy stood at the window, looking out, his face and eyes covered with ash. Countless bits of coal and ash were spread widely across the wooden floor. Jeremy saw long-forgotten things for the first time. A sour taste was revolving in his mouth as he watched the densely illuminated world.