with every day, a new peek, a new sliver, a new revelation of how bizarre my habits and thought patterns and rituals are becoming. yesterday i used compressed air to blow the dust out of my computer; the can was ice cold after only a few short bursts, bolts(more) of hisses, really, and i was concerned because the can had a bright orange label that politely informed me that frostbite is a possible outcome of interaction with the product. strange. i rolled up the dust into little blue-grey balls and set them in circular patterns on my desk when i was done - constellations.
the swirling seam along the side of my pillow is jagged and sharp at some places; thick plastic threads have unfurled and bared fangs in little curves and corners, patches of violence and hate and injustice. the fabric yellows and tears and wears thin around them. pestilence in a land of promise. the cold side of the pillow stores my dreams and beads of blue liquid form along the underbelly in the same way condensation works, which was something i never really understood but always looked forward to.
i can see you standing on the balcony on the other side of the sliding glass doors, the dashes of bronze in the sky try their best to wrap themselves around you, but the overwhelming grey and blue and black of the night is still hard pressed on hanging onto their birthright. a cigarette at 4 am. i think about how cold it must be out there. the husk of the city.
a blackout, the thudding of bugscreens trying to fight their way past the windows.
the lines of sediment and layers of sand and the flat rocks at the bottom of the river when it runs out.(less)
For as long as I could remember, my aunt's house had this hourglass in the back room that was always running. It was massive, almost as tall as the room was, and the connection between the two containers was made very tight. Only a few grains of sand could(more) fall through at a time, unlike the flow that I had seen in most other hourglasses, but you could always tell it was still going. When I was young, the bottom had but a thin layer of sand, but as I grew older, I could see it slowly filling up.
I was always curious what the purpose of it was, but I never asked. I would sit in silence and watch the sand fall for a long time, but I could hardly tell a dent had been made. It was no secret that the hourglass was there, nor that I would watch it, but no one ever said anything. They never questioned its existence, nor my curiosity. It simply was what it was.
As I grew older, it became harder for me to spend the time I once had watching the sand fall. I began to take on responsibilities, and I could no longer visit my aunt as often as I had in my youth, nor stay for as long. But that hourglass never escaped from my mind.
Eventually there came a day when the sand was running low, and my aunt was growing very old. I came to visit her, and with a silent smile she led me back to that hourglass.
After so long, I had to ask.
"What happens when it runs out?"
She smiled at me and patted my head. "We turn it over and start again. So that your children may dream of it too."(less)
Most days, Barcelona seemed far away. Miles, years- however you wanted to measure it, it was far. There had always been some degree of adventure while living abroad. On the grand scale was the adventure of history and buildings and important cultural education, and on the smaller scale there(more) were family dinners with the locals, joking with the bartender down stairs, and getting lost on an evening walk. But that was years and miles away; the quotidian had replaced the quixotic.
But not tonight. Tonight I was in the company of the people who had taken those adventures with me, great and small. The friends and fellow students I had travelled with had a shorthand of looks and phrases and sighs that referenced all of those things, a language only we could understand. Sitting around the table, glasses half full and plates long emptied, we could have been back in that far-away city. Tonight, dinner with friends would be another small adventure to add to the list.
"Did you guys want to go out to the bars?" Sara asked over the music. It was a familiar debate: stay here with each other, or go out into the weekend crowds. It had been a frequent discussion when we had had dinner together in Barcelona.
"There's still wine," I said, pointing to an unopened bottle. "It'd be a shame to leave it."
"Let's finish the wine," Patricia agreed, as I knew she would. It was part of a script we had all written years ago and we still knew every line. "Maybe we'll go when it runs out."
We opened it and passed it around. We proceeded to top off our glasses slowly for the next few hours, but somehow there was always a bit left in the bottle.(less)
The lights in the living room were off. I was laid back on the couch, waiting for the warning that would, somehow, make my night a little more... Interesting.
The blond guy from the News appeared on the TV and gave me what I was waiting for:
(more) -If you are outside, you should go home. Everyone must go home, the lights are about to be turned off and when it runs out, you should be protected.
And just like that, I was left in the darkness. I put the remote on the little table between the couch and the TV, got up and went to check through the windows. Darkness filled the place, there wasn't one single living soul on the streets and the light breeze made the tree's sheets shake a little. But I remembered the TV guy's command: be protected.
I went up the stairs and got in the hallway that lead to my room. Calmly, I took my gun from my hidden spot and put it on my waist, I would take it just in case. But the weapon that would cause more damage was my baseball bat. So I took it as well and closed my room's door. At least this way I would get to live a little longer.
Seconds went by and that's when I heard it: a loud bump on the front door. Three more bangs and it seemed the door was opened.
I backed away from my room's door and stood in front of my window, still facing the door, bat in hands, waiting for it.
It didn't take long until the door knob started shaking, as if someone was forcefully trying to open it. I had to accept my faith, it was going to happen. Then the door oppened.(less)
“Use up the oil and all that fossil crap, it really doesn’t matter; the planet’s survived much worse. That doesn’t bother me”. The focus in Gary’s eyes were piercing, Xi shuffled in discomfort.
“You wont be saying that when it does” he responded with a generic self-righteous tone.
“We(more) will use water. No, I think about running out of empathy”. Xi felt stunned by the juxtaposition of Gary’s answer and how he dismissed Xi’s feelings. “you know how it feels to be running low on sympathy, when you commute home from a full day of work – imagine you stayed at work for 72 hours. How long until you stop caring about other people’s feelings? When is it OK to angry at others for small and unjustifiable? You’ve done that too”.
“Well I don’t know..”
“Of course you have, everyone has got angry at someone wrongly, it’s natural, and that’s the point”.
“You worry about getting angry at other people? That’s silly. Everyone does that” Xi parroted back.
“No I like getting angry, you prick” Gary laughed, Xi responded with a laugh. “I mean it proves that at some point we get selfish. Ethics gets pushed aside by the easier option”.
“Then how can we say we are good?” for the first time Gary’s question didn’t seem rhetorical. He genuinely wanted an answer.
“Maybe we aren’t good” Xi responded, like a mother comforting her child at night.
“Then how do you explain charities, generosity, patience?” posed Gary, in an odd mix of helplessness and certainty.
“People being good”.
“Ha! But you just said..”
"Who's decided what's good here - God, Hitler, or you?"(less)