Monday, December 09, 2013

The road to nowhere

By Michael Akerib
Dedicted to her, to Alina

I was looking at the road in front of me and my mind was trying to remember how many bends there where before I would arrive at Alina’s house. It was proving hard to do. The only thing I could think of was how impatient I was to see her. I did not even notice that the vegetation along the road looked different. My desire was overcoming my ability to think, to reason.
The image of Alina’s face was drawing me forward, I was driving at a near-uncomfortable speed. I felt like a knight riding his horse at breakneck speed on his way back from a battle he had won. Won, of course, for otherwise he would not be on his horse, on the road, on the way to his lover. Or maybe it had not been a battle but a solitary duel with a dragon.
My car crossed a bridge. I held my sword firmly. Losing it would have meant death. I could not lose it or be defeated – God rewarded me for my faithfulness to my beloved. And God alone knew the outcome of my battle.

I stopped my car at a fork, unsure which road to take. My memory faltered. Perhaps, I thought, I should consult a doctor – this was perhaps an early sign of dementia. I looked at the map folded on the passenger seat.
A lake – yes, I remembered : Alina’s house overlooked a lake. To reach it I would have to cross a bridge – the very same bridge that appeared on the map. Yes, a narrow bridge – so narrow I had had to get out of my car and cross it on foot the previous time. Will the bridge still be there, I wondered ? Perhaps it was destroyed by the dragon. The dragon that had tried to block the road to Alina’s house. But I had killed the dragon. Or had I?

If the bridge was destroyed, I would have to turn back and drive for another couple of hours to reach the house from the west. The bridge was the shortest route, though. If I drove for another hour and found the bridge to have been destroyed, and then drive back and take the secondary road, I would arrive by nightfall. What was I to do?
I remembered when Alina had taken the decision to buy the house.  She had inherited enough money to make the down payment and took on a rather large debt. She had liked the house and did not want to lose it to another buyer. It was followed by endless visits to furniture stores to find the right elements for each room. She had wanted ‘casual’ furniture.

Suddenly I had a doubt – was that what had really happened? Was I not inventing the whole thing up? I was away when that happened so how should I know? Did she tell me? Too many things had happened, we had talked about many things she and I for me to remember all of them, and in the right sequence.
The universe had been stable at that time and time was continuous. Plans could be made, days unfolded in an ordained manner. They no longer did. Some years were in the present and some in the future. Pre- and post- had become meaningless. One was constantly transported from one to the other.

Apparently space too had started to change.
The house had a massive black gate I remembered. It was meant to prevent unwanted visitors from entering the garden.

I had had too many desires at the time. The main one had been to spend time with Alina, but that never happened. Disappointment, internal unbearable pressure. Other projects came up and we became strangers to each other. There had been a car collision at a major intersection. A fight between the two drivers. He thought he had been one of these two men.
I had become an invalid and all my projects had failed. A bout at a psychiatric hospital. I had wanted to find the other driver and kill him.

Nothing seemed to be of any concern of mine. The speed at which I drove, the clothes I wore, the food I ate.
I looked at the map again. I must have traveled a bigger distance than I thought I had.

The pavement of the road was deformed. The trees seemed to be fading away. The present was sliding away – into the past or into the future. It would be difficult to find Alina, I thought, as I had only brought along a map of the present. Did Alina expect me by the way?
I remembered the outline of the house. It resembled that of a sailing ship.

The sails of a ship. Time and space had become like the sails of a ship – moving with the wind. The wind of change. The change we humans had brought about without hesitations, our mistakes, our mistaken beliefs.
We could have changed our beliefs. We were all too individualistic to do so, however. There was no unity in our society. We all moved at random. Run out of luck – that is what happened to us. We run out of luck.

Our governments had programs, but they thought there was no urgency to apply them. Politicians were actors putting up a play for fools. Our bodies were poisoned – by the food we ate and the air we breathed. Jobs dominated our lives. It was only when we started tampering with our genome that things started changing. We imprinted new memories in both adults and newborns.

It was to change our behavior, we were told; to save the planet. Men turned against men – those that believed these changes were for the good of humanity and those that did not.
It must have been around that time that the first dragons woke up. He could read people's thoughts. They laid eggs and more dragons hatched. They had proved impossible to destroy.

I had desires and wanted to have Alina in my arms. And now I wanted to go back to the past where she had stayed, waiting for me. From there, I would take her with me to the future. The future was a reality, just as the present had once been. That was why I was here.
Although the future regularly erupted into the present, it remained largely unknown. The cycles were irregular and no one had been able to draw a calendar of even the wildest approximation. Total uncertainty.

I tried to take my bearings again. Trying to structure my thoughts. Attempting to recall the points in the horizon where the sun rose and where it set. Forcing my mind to recall when had summer been and when had it given way to the fall. Perhaps, I thought, the world order had been disturbed because Alina and I had broken all conventions. The conventions that structured society as we know it. Or at least as we knew it. We had spent too many days holding each other, not seeing the sun rise. Maybe that was why it no longer wanted to do so regularly. The recurrence of the natural order of things had been broken. Our acts had undermined the rules of heaven and repudiated the laws established by men.

Altering the future, however, remained impossible.

They had talked of global warming and of the destruction of the planet. Thwarting progress, distressed climate refugees, acceptance of humans destroying nature.

I had accepted too – had thought nothing was possible to prevent the earth from losing what nature had taken millions of years to establish. The pyrrhic victory of homo: losing the sapiens by becoming a destructive god. A philosopher had said God was dead. It was expected, pundits said, without explaining why.

Predictions abounded on the fate of the planet. Return to an uncivilized society as if we had ever been civilized. As if holding Alina in my arms and savagely making love to her was a civilized gesture. As if licking her shoulder, her throat, the tips of her breasts was what civilization had led to. Kisses of despair. We have no future I had said to her.

People dying of cancer, mutations ascribed to pollution. Statistics showing soaring number of young people committing suicide. Banning of smoking, banning of exhaust fumes – waiting for the ban so as to be able to breathe.

Street fighting between desperate people who wanted governments to use their nuclear weapons and those wishing to die in peace – killing each other, rivers of red blood in the gutters. The UN organizing meeting upon meeting, representatives showing graphs, making forecasts, all as useless as the previous ones. A gypsy reading my hand and saying ‘You will survive.’

Eventually governments clamped down on freedoms: the press, the groups, the individuals, reminding all of us they had the monopoly of violence. A total ban on predictions. They could impact dangerously on decisions. The gypsy refused to talk.

And me telling you ‘I love you’.
And all these measures to no avail. There seemed to be no future, which is why I would tell you ‘I love you’ instead of ‘We will love each other forever’.

They started culling the population. I think this is when the future and the past started merging. The present had never existed anyway. It was to punish humankind of their excesses.
They had to invent a word for this movement: they called it protempo.

Knowledge was transmitted from the future to the past, altering it. Protempting it. History books were constantly updated.
I looked at the road in front of me. Was it yesterday’s or today’s road, or the road to the future? I could not make sense of the three worlds cohabiting. Difficult, if not impossible, to process them intellectually. Tomorrow was always different from today.

Nothing was obvious any more. The present was substantially different from the past and the future was even more difficult to apprehend. Maps were worthless pieces of paper – I wondered why I had bothered taking one along -  and GPS systems had been stopped years ago.
The only way to find Alina, I thought, was to connect through our unconscious.

She was much younger than me so she should still be alive. Maybe she still taught in the same school, assuming the school still existed. And that she lived in the same house.
I remembered her words – ‘think positive,’ she would say, ‘it WILL happen.’ She thought she was aware of the future. Of what it would bring. She never mentioned what it would take away.

The first thing I lost was my sanity, my awareness of being me.
Standing here I was trying to shorten the past. Pretend all these years did not matter. And indeed it did not matter – I moved from life to death with the swings of time.

How long had it been – fifteen, eighteen or twenty years – since we had last seen each other? I was unable to count. That was before madness and war. Before the hordes of climatic refugees destroyed the civilizations that had been patiently built over centuries.

I had often looked, in the streets of the cities I had crossed, at women which had a vague resemblance to your beauty. But the resemblance was always vague and their voice so different from the melody that came out of your lips.
I was put on a train, sent far away – changed trains more times than I was able to count. Train after train leading me away from you. Trains going at times towards the past and at times towards the future. Trains returning to the same station they had left. Not only time, but space too seemed to have been disrupted.

I was standing by my car, not knowing if it was the scenery that had changed or if I myself no longer existed. That you, Alina, and me, were no longer in the same time warp.
In the long hours I stood there, the sun never set. That is how I found out I was dead. It was a strange feeling, I must confess. A feeling that my body was no longer mine. My sense of self had disappeared. Perhaps it was because you once told me I belonged entirely to you, that my heart beat in your chest rather than mine.

‘You are hallucinating,’ had said the doctor. I was depressed and hallucinating. And taking medication, except I would often forget to swallow those tablets. It did not matter because they only made things worse anyway.
Her hand seized mine. Her hand tried to seize mine. Her eyes looked into mine. She squeezed my fingers.

Her eyes are of a deep blue surrounded by a green aura.
Her body leaned against mine. Her lips poked mine.

We had finally found each other.
The road led nowhere and it did not matter. We were both dead anyway.


Blogger Unknown said...

WOW, what brought this sordid feelings in the first place? I hope it was only a dream and nothing else


December 20, 2013 12:00 AM  

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