"The stars shall fade away, the sun himself grow dim with age, and nature sink in years, but thou shalt flourish in immortal youth."

Monday, October 24, 2011


Story by: Wennes Wouters

Am I really that closed book on the top shelf accumulating dust? It must be so. I haven’t been read for years. I wish I could go down a couple of shelves. Promote myself to eye level in this huge library. Am I able to do so? Perhaps I should analyze the pages of my life before somebody else opens the cover, flicks through the thing, and takes a glance at the last few words of the final page.

I have always been in awe of the beauty and the forces of nature. I stood on Friedrich’s cliff a fair number of times, peering into the foggy distance, contemplating on something and sometimes on nothing. My trusty cane prevents me from plunging to a certain death. It is not my will to tumble into the icy water, I am just that overwhelmed by it all. One is easily distracted by these smells, sounds and images, by these wonderful impressions. And when you close your eyes, the feeling infiltrates your entire being.

It took me a long time to experience such a feeling after moving to the big city. At first I was at a total loss about where to look, what to hear and which scents to inhale. The overwhelming sensation was there, as in nature, but it had changed into something vile, something putrid. Yuck! I even noticed the expression of my face starting to turn. At first I felt my lips curling into a disapproving smirk that motivated my nostrils to stand outwards. Soon after, my brows were rapidly closing in on each other, creating an area of ripple marks between my eyes. I was in shock when I saw myself in an empty shop window.

I roamed the streets like this for quite some time, growing grimmer with each step. But then I noticed you. I see you in bars, on squares, even in packed churches. You are not one person. Sometimes you are blond, sometimes brunette, ginger or black. You are tall, you are small, fat, skinny. Sometimes there are many of you. You move in packs, happily chattering among yourselves. Whenever I see you I am back on that cliff, now without the support of my cane. I close my eyes and pretend to smell your skin. My knees shake. With fear of drowning I open them again and see you are gone, around some corner. But there you are again. You just popped up from behind another corner, as an epiphany on high heels.

My days are brighter now. I found overwhelming nature in myself, maybe too much. If I don’t act quickly it will overtake me and there will be a flood. I am full of nature trying to burst out. I want to meet you, talk to you, make you smile, be together, make you mine, but how? Why do you keep looking at me like that? What do you expect from me? My mind is about to pop, pondering on a possible opener. And then it happens. It is you who comes up to me.

‘Hey, are you ok? It looks like you’re worried about something.’
‘Nah, I’m alright. Thank you.’
‘Are you sure? It seems you’re lost.’
‘Err, well, I was... It’s kind of embarrassing, but if you must know, I was just thinking. It has been a while since I had somebody I could really talk to, you know? And, well, I was just thinking what to do. Where to go, to meet new people I mean.’
A beautiful smile.

‘You know, I know how you feel. My best friend just left to study abroad for six months. I’m really starting to miss her. Hey listen, considering we both need a conversation partner, would you like to go for a cup of coffee or something? Just to have someone to talk to?’

She smiled ever so sweetly. I agreed and we went for some coffee.  She was really easy to talk to because she did all the talking. After this first session we exchanged phone numbers and said goodbye. I immediately ran to the bookstore to get some romance novels. Of course I wanted to see her again. I had never gotten this close to a meaningful relationship. I needed to know all the tricks in the book to keep this one. So I read. I read four whole days before I texted her.

After three more sessions, eleven cups of coffee, thirteen biscuits and a piece of apple pie I finally dared to ask her over to my place. I had made all the arrangements, even cleaned up the place. Key in front door, held it open for her, took the lead in ascending the narrow stairs and opened the door to my small studio apartment.

            ‘Oh, this is cozy!’

She sat down on my bed.

            ‘Would you like something to drink?’
            ‘Just some water please.’
I went to the kitchen, got two glasses from the top cabinet, filled them with bottled water and sprinkled the white powder in both of them.

She smiles as I come back to the room. I sit beside her on the bed and hand her a glass. We drink. My cane slips.

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