by Michael Akerib
The girl. She was the girl I had always wanted to meet.
Yes that very girl. The one that held the flowers against her breasts.
She was blonde. She was extremely rich. She was pure. She was Bonnie’s friend.
Which girl are we talking about? I knew who she was even though I did not remember her name.
She looked at me for a very long time, a cold, distant look, like that of a film star, the gaze of a pure girl, who had gone through her teenage years untouched, in spite of all the boys she had dated. She used to take her dog out for a walk; and she also would give him a bath and cut his nails. He had a collar studded with precious stones. And she smiled when her path crossed mine.
‘Karin,’ whispered Bonnie (Bonnie had been her childhood friend). ‘Karin,’ she said louder.
Karin could not smile back. She could not smile back. Neither speak. Karin was dead.
by Michael Akerib
Life was there under his eyes. Moving. Teeming. Reproducing.
She was peering intently at the images the microscope was sending to her.
Switch off the light, she told her assistant in the softest of voices who obeyed silently.
‘Look at all this life. Look at the movement.’
Then she stopped looking and her mind strayed. Into her very self. Into her deepest hopes and fears.
‘Lucy?’ she vaguely heard the voice of her assistant say. She was inviting herself into her world. She shrank back into herself. Into a ball in a void.
‘Lucy?’ the voice repeated. ‘Are you done for today? There is a real world out there – life too in the shape of flowers and children. Let us go.’
None of that can be as interesting as what I seeing here thought Lucie. Primevial life. The starting point of evolution, right there under her eyes. The seed of everything to come, from frightening dinosaurs to killer humans.
‘You can go,’ she told her assistant. The soft voice again. The foreign accent just as what she was looking at was foreign to the modern world. ‘You can go.’
Lucy as as montionless as the life form was active. The world’s uterus right there in the microscope.
‘Come with me Lucy. Come on!’
This could not be the same voice. It was too distant, too little feminine.
It was definitely another voice. Another voice.
It was a full moon. Very white, its features very visible. Very round. The exact opposite of the protozoan life that was taking shape under her eyes. Ever changing shapes. Constantly imagining new forms.
The light was back in the room.
‘Why?’ she asked, but there was no answer.
A very bright light. Dazzling. It had never been so bright.
‘Switch it off! Switch it off!’
‘Off! Off! Do as I say!’
The protoplasmic mass had grown. Its color was changing. Perhaps it would grow to fill the room.
‘Switch off the light, Goddamit!’
The assistant’s voice, suave as ever, answered. ‘Come with me. Enough work for today. Let us go!’
Lucy shrugged her shoulders. Perhaps if she stayed long enough, she thought, she could be absorbed by the mass, become one with her, share the creation of all life forms.
‘Let us go!!!!’
The mass slid out of the microscope, silently. Did it have a purpose or was it a random movement, wondered Lucy. She pulled her eyes away from the screen and looked at the now visible mass spreading on the floor.
She bent and touched it. She spread some of it on her face. Her body would dissolve into an indistinct mass that would created all forms of life. From abstraction to form.
by Michael Akerib
She was slipping gradually into a sleep laden with the same recurring nightmare – a white cloud that transformed itself into a woman dressed in an elegant white dress.
She was flying, Lorella thought to herself, she was flying to the edge of the universe. She remembered the name she gave her in her nightmares: Antonia.
A nightmare, a recurring nightmare. A recurring, frightening, nightmare. It was frightening because Antonia was flying away while Lorella was earth-bound. Was Antonia part of herself, her mind could not help wandering.
Oh no, Lorella thought in her dream, Antonia is going to fly to the edge of the universe. Don’t go that far away, don’t. There was the silence of vacuum. Was Antonia Lorella? If so why did she want to leave this world? Or had she already left it? Perhaps she had ….
A warm breeze touched her fingers, her hands, her arms. She refused to wake up and closed her eyes tighter. She clung harder to the pillow that was wet with her sweat.
Antonia did not seem to be able to climb higher. She was flapping her arms uselessly. Her altitude was still the same. Lorella tried to look at her eyes, but Antonia had closed them. Instead, she had opened her mouth and was singing a lullaby Lorella had heard as a child. Pam-pam-pam, laa, pam-pam.
Lorella saw angels. Antonia was not one of them and actually Lorella wondered if they were really angels. She had never seen any other than in pictures, paintings and sculptures. What if it was a devil, he wondered. The fact that she did not feel threatened did not mean anything at all. It is only a dream – the thought crossed her mind. It is only a dream but she must not let Antonia fly out of her sight.
She could see the clouds open and forming a channel through which Antonia could escape. The clouds opened and closed. The channel was crossable, then not.
Then the clouds took another shape, then another, and still another. Then they took the shape of a face and its mouth gaped. She was lying under the cloud, entirely at its mercy.
Wake up, wake up, Lorella thought to herself, it is too frightening. But she buried her head deeper into the pillow, instead. The channel opened wide. But very slowly. Antonia was trying once more to go through.
Before she could safely sail through the clouds closed again. One of her hands was nearly caught between two white shapes.
Dawn. The rays were piercing through the clouds. The angels were holding onto the rays. They were there to prevent anything bad could happen to Antonia.
When all the saints come marching in. The music came from far away. Listening to it, Lorella forgot about Antonia. Lorella closed her eyes even tighter. One of the angels had spread its wings. It flew over Antonia and encircled her with the tip of its huge white wings.
Deep silence, very deep. The angel was flying silently, Antonia at the tip of its wings.
Amazing feeling of sublime peace. Lorella hug the pillow even tighter.
La-la-lala, la-la-lala. ‘Help me ! Help me !’ screamed Antonia. ‘Don’t let them take me away!’ The angel was rising above the first layer of clouds.
Deeper into the mattress. Buried under the blankets. Not holding her hand out to save Antonia from the angel’s grip.
She extended her hand to the ringing alarm clock but only managed to drop it on the floor.
The angel was now diving toward the ground.
‘Go away!’ screamed Lorella only half-awake. But it was useless, the angel did not listen. As it came close to Lorella, it tore away part of the blanket then flew away.
Lorella stretched, picked up the alarm clock, put it back on the table, and went back to sleep. How easy it was compared to tracking angels.
The angel dived again. The cloud cover was lower and denser, and the sun’s rays did not filter through. The angel dropped Antonia on the bed.
Lorella recoiled and made space for Antonia. The angel’s wings were making a whistling noise.
Lorella’s left hand felt for Antonia’s body. The palm of her hand encountered a very wet stain.
She licked her palm and found the liquid to be sweet.
The blankets dried rapidly.
Lorella rose from the bed. She was glad to be alive.
She looked at her toes and moved them one at a time. She walked to the bathroom.
When she looked back the bed was empty.
She stood in the middle of the room for a long time. Then she started dressing.
When she had finished, she walked out of the flat. She walked briskly down the road, stopping only to swallow her medication.
She wondered what had happened to Antonia.
By Michael Akerib
I am weightless in space. Deep space is dark. Dark without a single ray of light. If light created life, it is well hidden. My legs are bent, I am in a foetal position. Movement. Something is moving. A bird flies. Impossible. A bird, ay life, cannot exist in deep space. No life, no image, no sound. If there is no life, am I dead? Is that why I am weightless? Or is it because my body has disintegrated and I have still not become conscious of the change? If this is the case, then I am really free. I have crossed some invisible border which I am as yet incapable of defining.
Air fills my lungs in a continuous whistling stream.
Another deep breath; another, deeper, whistling sound. My eyes are able to guess shapes again. I see images of flowers and trees – it is a forest, I decide. The bird is back and flaps its wings in front of me. Another deep breath and my eyesight will improve.
Darkness returns. Darkness and light alternate. Whatever happened to my cat? I don’t hear it purr. Has it decided it was time for an adventure?
The darkness is deeper now.
It engulfs me, leads me into a world without objects, without shapes. I strive with my own self to remain alive.
That morning I had decided to take my plane for a short flight. The valley below was a large green patch. Then the winds started blowing. Strong, dangerous, fearsome.
White clouds surrounded my plane making it difficult to see the horizon. Fear grew in me and I started making navigational mistakes. Then I lost consciousness.
When I came to my senses, I was floating in space. Earth was a speck in the distance.
I could no longer feel my body, not a single one of my limbs. I had become ethereal. My mind tried in vain to understand what was going on and how to change the situation. My eyes saw the various parts of my body, but I did not feel their presence. Was this reality or a dream? Was I alive or dead? Was this a fleeting moment or eternity?
If I were alive, then I should feel pain, but that was not the case. If I were dead then I should not be able to think and doubt, but I did.
The wind was blowing. A soft wind that was stroking me into peaceful oblivion. It washed the terrifying images of previous days. My left leg had a cramp. I had to have light to see what was wrong with that part of me. Perhaps my cat had spent too much time lying on me and I had not had the courage to chase it away.
If I was not dead, would someone come to help me? Would the hungry cat make sufficient noise for neighbors to notice him and come to my rescue?
I looked under me and saw the green valley and guessed the vineyards. When would the grapes be picked? Would they see me from down there? Perhaps I should try and waive at them. Or even attempt to shout.
Now there are peaceful images that cross my closed eyelids. I think I am smiling. It is always difficult for it to appear. It builds gradually on my lips.
I should try to get up. I cannot stay in this lethargic state for ever. I remember the pain at the lower end of my back and that holds me back. Was that why I had fallen?
I bent one leg until the knee touched my bosom. I tried with the other leg. What if I turned, I wondered. Would I fall off into the valley?
I am standing now. Not very straight or sure of myself, but standing nevertheless. Not falling at any rate.
Where should I go now? Should I simply stay here, on this very spot? Perhaps I am too weak to go anywhere. I scream. Once, twice. No answer, no help. I realize how thirsty I am.
I also realize how far away I am from any other human being, their institutions, the constraints they impose on others. First aid – I should have called them. But how?
I believe I know what is happening to me now. My cat is next to me, and I am not floating in space. There is a screwdriver inserted into my head. They are disconnecting the cats from my command software.
An ambulance drives by, its siren shrieking, but it is not for me. I have been safely tucked away in the workshop. Tomorrow the engineers will reprogram me. I should not have had the thoughts I did. I should not have thought I could have felt pain. I should not have known death existed. There is no way for me to know the difference between life and death. Only between being switched on and off.
by Michael Akerib
The sun was rising – just another day, like so many that had gone by. She did not want to get out of bed. She preferred to continue lying and looking at the pattern on the curtains and feeling happy to be back home.
It was good to feel happy again – it had not happened for some time.
‘Come closer, Noy. Come closer.’
She did not move.
The silk sheets felt warm against her skin and she did not want to move from fear the feeling of warmth might disappear. The man next to her was kissing her right hand.
‘I love your warm body,’ he said. ‘It is so nice to be next to you.’
‘Really?’ Her words came out painfully. If she articulated better it would wake her up.
‘You are everything I have always wanted,’ he said vehemently.
He was now licking the top of her arm, following the line left by the shadow of the curtain.
‘You do?’ she asked sleepily. She wondered briefly why he did not understand that his futile talk would simply wake her up. Useless, futile words.
‘I want you to be mine forever,’ he was saying now. Forever, another empty word, she thought.
‘I do,’ he replied. ‘I am ready to do anything to have you for ever, Noy. Come into my arms. Come into my protective arms.’
‘Protect from what?’ she managed to say.
‘From harm, from the big wide world,’ he said with great conviction. ‘I will be your father, your lover, your friend. I want to make love to you again. Now.’
‘Are you listening to me?’ he said after a while.
‘Leave me alone!’
‘No, I will not. And please shut up and let me sleep.’
‘OK, if that is what you want.’
‘I do. I do very much. You can see I am still sleepy.’
But he continued talking. Then he got up and sat in an armchair, smoking a cigarette. And another one.
After which he pulled the curtains.
‘Shadows. You like shadows. Don’t you?’
He was standing in front of the window, looking at her. He felt terribly bored.
‘Won’t even bother to answer me, right? You cast a spell on me and now you won’t even talk to me. I should be angry with you.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Shadows,’ he said. ‘Shadows on your skin. They look like flowers. I have been watching one of the flowers growing. It will soon cover your entire body.’
‘Shadows,’ she said. She opened her eyes, threw away the blanket and looked at her skin. ‘It is not a flower.’
‘It is, you know. A giant flower.’
‘Leave me alone. Just go.’
‘No, I will not.’
He sat again and watched until the flower devoured Noy’s entire body.
by Michael Akerib
The day had gone by essentially silently. The priestess dressed in white had told him to stay at home and meditate.
‘You will see that you will better. And stop smoking. You will probably feel isolated but refreshed. The best of you will emerge. Your true nature will take over. Open the right doors inside you.’
‘The right doors …’ he whispered.
‘You may suffer when you open certain doors. Bear with it. You must do that on your own. There is no point in my holding your hand. You must delve into yourself on your own.’
‘I understand,’ he said.
‘I am not sure,’ she said, bidding him goodbye. ‘Do not fall into darkness.’
Darkness was now all around him, engulfing him.
by Michael Akerib
The sun was shining and the wind was raising dust. My mother had taken me to the market and we were walking through the stalls. The fruits looked brighter than usual and the dresses more attractive and I was happy. We would occasionally stop at a stall and buy a few things.
The smell hit me then. Wood burning, a roast. But not the usual pork or lamb. Something more unusual.
Screams filled the air. Screams of pain. Deep, unbearable pain.
The sky was starting to be covered with smoke and the smell getting more acrid.
My mother held my hand tighter – to reassure me or to reassure herself. She led me away from where the smell and smoke was coming. We had to wade our way among a crowd moving in the opposite direction at great speed. My mother did not hesitate to elbow our way through the crowd.
At home they said a witch had been burnt at the stake. My mother said witches did not exist. That they had burnt her simply because she was too beautiful. Being beautiful was apparently a sin.
I looked at myself at the mirror and turned my face away. I had never hard anyone tell me I was beautiful.
I went to the kitchen and took a knife. I felt the pain of the blade entering my skin. I knew that if I cut myself beyond any healing it was obviously because I was beautiful and did not want to end on a stake.
I cleaned the blood that had spilled on the mirror and on the floor. Everything was now clean. Everything was in order.