Wednesday, November 18, 2009

White Night Stones



I
Why do I get so nauseous whenever I find myself in here with my parents, among the most distant relatives that anybody has ever been asked to acknowledge? I’ll tell you why, girl. Because they are so far from your experience that you don’t feel the slightest connection to them at any level. Actually, this place is so unfamiliarly crowded I almost get the sense of floating unevenly on running water, something like having boarded Noah’s ark; oh, but I am no Noah. If I be on this ark, I am probably a small sparrow without a mate, and in the next cage two sparrows are paired and Noah’s wife is coming to catch me uninvited and throw me on the waves to wet my feathers so that I can’t fly back to the craft. As if I wanted to be here in the first place! Nausea, cages, and rings. I don’t know you, Miss, you says you are my second cousin, well, you might as well be.
‘Funny thoughts tonight, eh? One of those nights, girlfriend, let’s see where it will take you this time. World! Fear!’
Here, not in a club with friends having the time of my life or in the field with the fellow fans shouting. Only here, in the tavern where everybody celebrates the love matching after the noble ceremony am I depressed.
Why? I’ll tell you why! Because that’s all we ever do with my parents as back as I can recall! That is how we socialize, as if this is all we are. The Wedding Guests! Nice title for a Hollywood comedy, eh? What do you say? You know, like The Wedding Planner or the My Best Friend’s Wedding. A new movie, it will be about a family who spend their lives visiting weddings, following the catalogue of the guests they had in their wedding, to attend the ceremonies of their own guests’ descendants, until they realize they did not have a purpose in life and stopped. No, too lame for a Hollywood scenario. I should add some murders, or, if it’s gonna be a comedy, I could add an obnoxious daughter.
That would be me.
‘I say, reminiscence, so selective and self-centred.’
Why so much denial? What is it, my parents all over me, or the sight of the couple getting married? The fearsome fictional projection of me onto the elevated stage?
I mean, girls my age’ve got so much to learn before they set their minds onto the target. Mom says, ‘The man who’ll pick you up, girl, from all these candidates in here should not be of the winds. He should be of the land, and, dear, do cut his wings early, before he builds other nests than your own. Always be aware, have scissors in your pocket; new wings grow every three years!’ And as she is saying this, Dad is on the dance floor dancing; he’s just finished talking with his uncles, tables away from ours.
Scissors, every three years? I‘ve never figured out exactly what she means; I mean, she must be using some metaphor, or an old proverb, I don’t know. Whatever the case, every time I start asking, Dad’d just pop out of nowhere, and she would stop, as if they both wanted to hide something.
There he comes, another evening out, questions put off, buddy. I give an answer to the scissor question myself, and I hold onto that.
Dad is of the winds, and Mom holds the scissors. I don’t wanna tell her I know, gonna hurt her or put them in a new fight or something. Keep my heart calm, that is. Mom is a sufferer. Dad must be having crises of infidelity. Perhaps this is typical of man, but it must be brief, temporary in my dad’s case, but reoccurring, too; they are always together despite the fights and the constant flying jabs they tear each other with every disagreement. All their decisions are taken in frenzy, except when it comes to me.
They always know how to talk to me, as if they can see a flaw. Something pitiful on me, so obvious that they only need one tool to remove it, not fix it, to rip it off me!
Hmm, the tool. Hands are tools. Tongues are tools. Soft like Mom’s or a priest’s, rough like Dad’s or an ascending cyclist’s, the bones will break. The tool, the key to my locked heart.
‘A chalice full of holy wine, Mister, you get me drunk, and I will give in!’
Damn, this voice coming and going in my head, how can I make it leave me?
What was I saying? Ah, my parents, yes. They don’t have it, they don’t work together, distant; in such different time and place they try incognito, hiding from each other. One uses the key, another brings the chalice. Another week one talks, the other sleeps, the third just moves a hand, the other turns a whole back with one muscle. Do I run, do I stay?
I know, too, it’s hard to change, to do things, to pull yourself out of the vortex. It’s so obvious what they expect of me to change, but I won’t. I told them, I warned them, they stood back for some time. Today they are coming onto me, aggressive once more; they gradually give me less, when I need even more, but today the wall is too high, the edge is too far to run round and reach them!
Frank always asks why must I ever waste my fresh mind or spend my precious young seasons at such obsessions. Well, I do; I get these thoughts and have fun in and out of this misery. They have the tool. When Lila secretly goes out with her gang saying that it’s only of girls, and then gets caught talking to her boyfriend with messages on her mobile, hell opens! Detentions, beaten by her mother, they even talk to her teachers. And I, I am the good girl and my folks don’t want me to be! They push me to quicksand sweetened with a thousand smashed sugar wedding delights. Boys, sweetly pierce through their eyes and focus on love reflexes? Never!
Don’t say, I see how incredibly marvellously the bride is dressed, my aunt that is, in that ornamented silver silk gown and the mere girth of her waist. She seems so much taller than I remember; hmm, high heels probably. Me in her shoes some day? I don’t know.
Nigel next to her kinda shouts, ‘No other could be here but me,’ so handsome he is in his black tuxedo wear, the black bowtie is a perfect match with his black full back vest. Has he rented it? Has anyone else ever put a dirty scarf in one of those side pockets with the stylish trim? And his matching cummerbund, so little it hides of his superb bum. Dad said, ‘She is gonna get lucky tonight.’ I wonder, how big are Nigel’s wings? Is Cecile really into all this fairytale?
‘My parents are perverted! Help! I really have to go out from here, some fresh air, people, please!’ The words are digging my glued jaws from the inside to escape.
Dad comes strongly. ‘Stay here, love, where, what are you up to this time? Not another run away! It’s dark outside the tavern; home is on the other side of the town! I’m not giving you the key, I know you wanna go home and watch silly action movies. But no! Not another leave-them-alone-here-to-live-their-memory reaction! We are here for you! Can’t you see your mom is sinking into it again?’ Did he actually utter all these in one breath? Wow, how strong these words were, how… enlightened! Dad!
So much defence against me just getting up, I wasn’t expecting, they must’ve been expecting my runaway ever since the moment we congratulated the couple, me not kissing Cecile when she bent downwards, did they see me blinking at the camera limelight? Perhaps they thought I winked to Nigel? Shall I smile to this idea?
‘You should listen to your dad. Can’t you see they are watching us? They have their eye on you from now, girl, from this age, it is not too early for them relatives, they wanna see how you will be later, when you are ready,’ says Mum, and I just wish I were that girl who would smile to them, with that perfectly happy, anticipating grin.
I really wish I had the will to look receptive, to meet their expectations, like other girls I see here. All modestly posing, sitting on their hands under their dresses to look taller and pretty, to pretend interestingly looking at the grown-ups shaking it folklore-wise on the dance floor. I straighten my shoulders before she tells me, and I make my hair before she touches me.
‘Too many people smoke in here, Mum. Can I go out for a while, get some fresh air, please? I’ll walk straight, light as a princess, I promise,’ I tell her, and Dad nods ‘ok’ to her, but not to me.
She has to take the responsibility of releasing me; he is the strict one and he can’t show consent. They know I need no more an answer than that signal. Off I go.
I know they are rightful, my parents that is, but not the others. They are fooled to think I’ve been reserved for their sons.
Let us put a large piece of bread in my jacket pocket. I might find cats and rats to play with.
What is this now? I am sensing one of those strong magnetising eyes on my left side. Shall I pause? Abandon this extraordinary parade I involved myself into to escape my parents’ observation unharmed? Let me turn my neck just half to the left, hand on my waist, the eyes will understand the intentions and give up. Hmm, too womanish, don’t wanna do that if it’s a guy, who knows how he might interpret it. Gotta sink it in my left pocket, just like a boy, how funny! What if I tight my fist in there to create the manly effect, show that I might, one in a million, possibly, have a bulge?
‘Ha! Ha!’
‘That would shock him right!’
‘Him?’
‘Shock who?’
I don’t even know who is staring, dear nature! Who was it that created so much alarm to me? I don’t usually mind their looks! They are flies on my shit!
‘I’ll turn my body full and abruptly, surprise him!’
Table close here, no, everybody has their heads on the dance floor, there? Not, talking indifferently.
Those tables over there between the flowers and the stage? Nothing.
But I still feel it! Everybody’s heads are turned to the dance floor and the couple. The couple! The direction of all the heads so much directs my eyes.
First Nigel, not, he is saluting someone there, now the look is getting more intense. Dare I look at her? Cecile is the only one left. She must be the one of the entire feast staring at me so intensely, even now being kissed by yet another cousin from the long queue congratulating her on her new start.
The queue, the human line like an arrow pointing at me, a rattle tail slapping me.
‘Ouch!’
And the look. Bride eyes. My wonderful aunt staring me in the face so angrily. Such bright eyes! Could this be happiness? Did she notice my weird reactions? Was it a proud look that turned to wild? Is that a grinning now? Approving? No, she must be embarrassed by me posing like that, or perhaps leaving. Aha! Yes, leaving the wedding already, that’s it! She thinks I am bored of the celebrations. Is it an insult to her if I retreat early?
Too late, I’m too close to the exit to change direction and head to the toilets and pretend. I’ll just make things worse, show that I wanted to sneak out and I was caught and I tried to fool her, and she’ll tell my folks, and they’ll be embarrassed in their turn, and everything will turn against me. No case for me.
Here’s the exit, one foot out, she’ll forget all about me tonight, Nigel is a rock of a man, he’ll please her all right, he is gonna drain her brains of all bad memories of the night. Oh, how deeply fulfilled I fell being a bad memory of this night! And then they’ll count the money they’ll have made, do it first if they would not, and selectively they will love everybody that came.
‘Plastic joy, for lifetime, and every three years the scissors, remember, Cecile.’




II
It’s dark outside here, but so clear. I can now breathe. The entrance is half over my head, and everything that happened in there is behind, inside. That’s how I forget, only when people see my back disappear, sneaking out. I don’t have to look to my right and left for car danger. Here in the parking lot no cars are moving; in the middle of a wedding feast in our places nobody dares to come too late or leave too soon. I am guilty as sin.
‘Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.’ I exhale like a stupid girl.
‘What the...’ I bend my head to avoid the flying wedding ribbon hanging from the welcoming flower gate. Some hair is pulled, not much.
‘Hey!’ A detached ribbon probably full of pearl-edged needles is always a threat.
Right, well done, girl, this is exactly what I mean. It’s so much calmer here. The music from the orchestra inside seems so distant. My ears are struggling to get used to silence.
Did I just say, ‘Forgive me, Father’? That last confession two years ago, no! ‘You have to stop the thoughts!’ He was…
‘Oh no!’ Not that again! He was disgusting.
‘No!’ That itching feeling down between my thighs again…
‘Ignore it!’
‘Disgusting!’ But I feel...
‘Not!’
‘Dis-gus-ting.’ No! ‘Forget it!’ The itching…
‘Obnoxious!’ Oh, here’s the word now, this one always holds the agitation down, today it buys me time again.
‘Hands on the bread!’
‘Hey, dudes, is anyone hungry behind there?’
If I throw some on the tree up there, hmm, could there be an owl? Or a scared cat, perhaps? Here it goes!
‘Aha! What was that black shadow flying in the dark that attacked the piece? It can’t have been a moth, too big.’ Let me throw another one.
‘Hey! What are you? Come out, come out, wherever you are!’ ‘Boohoo!’ Nothing.
‘C’mon, girl, you know, no doubt they are bats.’ Frank told me he saw one the other day.
‘Hmm, play time!’
Here’s another one, and another piece, and here’s some more. Oh! They are plenty hiding back there!
‘Awesome!’
‘Hey little fellows, show yourselves!’
But how can they see the small white bread balls up there? Each one I throw goes much higher than the light line I can see as the windows of the tavern illuminate only three metres higher than my head. Sometimes one or two bats dive lower, but they manoeuvre so fast I find it impossible to believe they just use their eyesight. No matter how accurate that can be. They are cute, seducing, so different, these creatures. They are no birds. Frank says they are mammals. Like us! They don’t give birth to eggs, they have a womb! Do they grow tits like I did? Let us check.
‘Hey, bride, here’s a bread ball for you. I’m not gonna throw it high; come closer, hey, you are too fast!’
I wonder, can creatures like these be faster thinkers than human? No wonder so much myth and terror surrounds them. I bet bats up there in the Transylvanian castles must be huge. And even if they are not, I imagine peasants are terrified big time to watch them attack flying objects so aggressively, so terrified that they think they are evil spirits, undead, unborn, and insatiable.
Do kids my age throw any food up for them? Or do they throw it against them? Stones, perhaps, I bet they throw stones to torture them, break their teeth to smash their deep fear.
Stones! Now there’s a good idea! I haven’t thought of the bread smell! What if the bats have smelled the starch so far, along with seeing it? I’ll throw some white stones to see if they spot them the same without smell.
Here goes one nice, small, white stone.
Iiiitchtch.
Oh! She’s hit it, but the terrible crack that came out from the bite and the screeching scream she left out flying away gave me a hell of goose spasms! Heavens, that bat must have cursed me big time! I bet it smelled my scent on the stone! Tonight they are all gonna come and suck my blood, drain me!
‘help!’ the word has finally dug through the glue sealing my lips around my jaws and now it is all out!
‘I hope nobody heard, I can’t explain all this stupidity!’ The fun in there is at zenith; nobody has heard.
‘Don’t worry, child, once we conclude the confession, all your sins shall be forgiven.’
Oh, go off you bloody words, you stupid tranquilizer! Why do I hear the priest’s voice in my head? Gotta get the black loose clothes like flexible wings of hatred out of my system!
I ran that day; I ran far, I didn’t conclude the confession! The bastard went and told my parents but he didn’t say where his hand was!
‘I say, selective narration, so full of deceit!’
Behind Dad’s shoulders as he was telling him, he looked at me with flaming eyes, the asshole, and I felt so small and powerless.
‘You feared, you fool!’
Oh, off you go, you stupid thoughts! I have business to run now, it’s a new discovery, I know, I feel it.
No bats are coming tonight, unsubstantiated fear, nobody is coming tonight for my blood, I don’t need God everywhere!
‘You hear me? You let me and I let You! I won’t go about talking against You and Your workers anymore, if You take the memories of that beast who still serves You away from me! Away from me! You know what? My friends don’t go to confession anymore, I told them, do – you – hear?’
Hey, I says, the bat just before, spotted the stone it did! Without smell! Really, can white be seen in the dark? Let me throw another white, higher this time, deep in the dark. See if they still attack; see if white can show in dark.
No, I can’t see the stone!
Iiiitchtch.
There goes that awful sound again! It hit it! But how could it see the stone in absolute darkness? No moon tonight, the sky has been cloudy for hours, I don’t see any stars. The white stone couldn’t have been seen, it’s not emitting its own light, it’s hetero-illuminant, just as the moon is, but there’s no light in this parking lot to be reflected by the stone! Let me take it a bit further.
I’ll throw a black stone. A very small one. I’ll take it with my fingers covered under my sleeve; my smell must not go onto it if the experiment is going to work. Gonna throw it high, very high, and make no noise; only move I’ll make is move my hand and stand still looking up; see if the bats still attack.
‘Now!’
This stone has flown vertically upwards, faster than before. Killers! Killers from hell! I heard it!
Iiiitchtch.
Another, lower pitched shriek; it must have been an old, bigger bat, perhaps their mother! I hit the spot! It saw the stone and...
‘No, no, no!’ Impossible, it can’t have seen the small, black, scentless stone! Even I lost sight of it up there.
‘Im-po-ssi-ble!’
There must be something else! And if I don’t accept the existence of a spiritual world and I have no knowledge of, therefore, no theory for extra-terrestrial life, then I have to proceed with strictly scientific calculations. What did I just say? Can someone tell me why I ever start these funny thoughts, sounding so formal for my age, so severely sovereign when I should be in there dancing with my cousins?
Why, indeed. And when you have an answer, please also tell me why I always turn my angry voice to a superior creature and spend breath talking to Him, and why does a capital H caress my forehead like I am reading an autocue just before I curse and then call His name and then remember to tell myself, ‘But you don’t believe, stop calling Him God!’ And the H is always there, haunting the noble and humble personal pronouns of our kin. This fictional world of spirits, it is buried so deep inside me, I need to find another pair of scissors to cut it off. Dear Frank, dear Mom, Dad, I will come out of the closet, I will.




III
‘Hey!’ I feel the look behind me again, the same like before when Cecile was staring at me or something, I dunno. But from the opposite side, up high, from among the dark tops of the eucalyptus trees. How strange was that look from Cecile! Like it wasn’t a look; it was as if she was sending sonar beeps on my back, like dolphins do. Frank told me about them and their sonar, but I’m no fish! She can swim her life underwater as much as she likes for all I care, but not I.
‘And Cecile, remember, the scissors, every three years. Dive as deep as you like, he will still fly.’
Sonar? Where did this thought come from now? Does it mean something? Is it one of those messages that come to make you start your thoughts right from the start? Sent by dear godmother?
‘Sonar?’
‘Yep, sonar it is then.’
A wild thought has just crossed my mind. What if that’s what bats do in absolute darkness? Send sonar beeps to all directions? But how do they conclude the position of the object so fast? Why don’t they bump on walls or branches? Dolphins send sonar sounds to the sonar receivers of the other dolphins! Frank also told me that whales do that too! But bats, if they use such an organ, which I assume is not impossible, must have a way to get the sonar beeps back, perhaps through those extra-extra large ears, disproportional to their tiny bodies and heads, just as their wings are. And if they can do that, then it is probable that the reflected sounds draw maps of the environment in front of them! Yeah, it all sounds so logical! Could this be the way they avoid flat surfaces? Perhaps that is also why they can attack so terribly fast anything small that is flying; they do it mechanically and instinctively. But enough with all this scientific stuff.
Let us have some fun, too! If I might just tie the ribbon from the gate on this fat oval stone, will they still attack? There, one knot, a second one to secure it. Hmm, why don’t I make a bow with the two edges to make it look like a wedding treat? Success! There you have it! A treat for my flying friends! There you go, sweet stone, fly to them!
Iiiitchtch.
Iiiitchtch.
Wow, this was louder screech, and longer! I think it was a double one, too! Two bats attacking on the same target? Wow, this is deep!
Sonar? Beeps? Hmm, I just can’t get these calculations out of my head; they are haunting me right now as I am playing!
‘Off you go, alien thoughts, I can’t answer you, don’t ask me anymore!’
But then again, it is truly amazing; the stones were moving too fast, they were too small, and absolutely invisible at the height the bats were attacking. How accurate can that sonar be? Dunno, but if they can send hundreds of beeps in a second, that could be fast enough for anything.
‘Couldn’t it?’ Who am I asking?
‘Stop it, girl, thou art deceived!’
All this game I played with the bats cannot be trustworthy.
‘Facts have not been proven, data is insufficient! You ain’t no scientist!’
Frank would have known, he would have bragged of such an outrageous piece of knowledge! And he would have told me! But he never did! So all that can be happening is that he doesn’t know, or that I made an important discovery! Or, that I am totally wrong and the bats were squealing to warn the others of possible danger. They might have thought that I am attacking them! Who knows, perhaps they were watching me throwing the stones! How silly of me to have made all those scenarios for nothing!
Frank knows everything. No, I am wrong. Nobody can reach a scientific conclusion so stupidly, throwing stones at night outside a wedding feast.
More likely to be right to the point where I will never be, me, a stupid girl, are the Transylvanian peasants! These creatures are little devils with sharp teeth!
‘Oh no, dear bats, apologies, accept them, you are so amusing, so unique, it was just a thought, they shouldn’t fear you for drinking some blood! I mean, mosquitoes really attack us on the open, but nobody creates myths around them!’
‘Bloody myths! What myths! Now, girl, you know the speed of darkness? Remember, you have just witnessed the attack!’
The bats, little geniuses, like black brides attacking on beige and black wedding costumes and wedding delights, smelly or not; they attack them all. Then they eat them or reject them, screaming all the way, sending their magic beeps, scissors on their membrane hands, life is like that.
Frank will never understand.
I’ll just go back inside, sit, on my hands that is, and look un-clever to my parents, look pretty,
‘Fancy some little girl blood?’ Only three years to eighteen, patience, girl, you know your life has changed already.






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