Category Archives: Elements

Spirals

I have to slow down to blow my nose. The napkin bill is going through the roof. It’s the time of the year. I’m on a two-hour drive to the sea-shore because I had to get out. The house is too small sometimes, the city too loud. My mind clogs together with the decor of my days.

The roads are narrow and curvy. Red and grey rocks lay spread over the landscape. Some edgy pinnacles rise out of the surface, giving testimony of more violent times. All that grows here are lichens and dry shrubs, stuck close to the ground to seek protection from whatever dangers threaten them. Plains are alternated by enormous rock formations as far as the eye can see.

As I drive, my mind wanders off, back home, where my habits and shield me from the fact that nothing is for certain. I am suddenly aware of the dusty corners of the house and visualise cleaning them. It presses on me now, but there is nothing I can do. The relationship with Isabella has taken over five years. The past week hasn’t been good. Strange fights over the least important things. Where the Indian cuisine originates from for example. Or whether we should or shouldn’t exchange the forks with the spoons. I saw a side of her I did not know so far. Childish, irrational, as if some force has come out that had been locked in there for years. It’s a new burden.

A tree, lonely in the barren landscape. It grows sideways, as if pushed down by an invisible hand, punished for its continuous urge to take more space from the vast and endless nothingness, which it mocks by its presence alone. Its print on my mind’s eye keeps ridiculing this whole site in the same way as the appearance of Isabella’s new face mocks her infinite beauty. How did this tree get here? Were did the seed come from? Was it blown from the outside? Has it always lingered, awaiting the moment where the rocks were softened enough by the rain? Perhaps there was a forest here before.

Shots of thought rush through the space in my head. The fights were disproportionate. They opened up paths to some long forgotten sides of who we are, pulling the rug from underneath our feet. We fell. The extent of it is still as unclear as are the consequences. The red stones around are merely observers of these whirling motions in my mind. They don’t know what’s going on, let alone do they take part in it. They’re old. Lay there, serving lichens and shrubs that eat them away in steady, painful perseverance. I wish they grew upon my mind, undoing it from all the random crap I don’t need. Perhaps they do. Maybe I should just water them.

Meandering, the road carries me further and further away from the inhabited world, nearer and nearer to the place where the land meets the sea. I turn on the radio, but all I hear is a distant and distorted version of the Ride of the Valkyries. I turn it off again. A pull on the wheel makes me hold it stronger. The fight goes on for a while, until after a few more bends, a fire tower stands out on the horizon. It has diagonal red-white stripes painted over it. It says: “here I am! Do watch me!” At its foot stands a little stone house with broken windows. Its brown wooden door is rattling. Some of the roof tiles have disappeared, revealing light wooden grid-like structure that once held them up. I park on an uneven rocky spot along the ending of the road. I grab my coat and my hat, and open the door which instantly gets pulled away, and I’m standing outside in the storm. It takes an effort to close the door. My coat flies out of my hands and gets stuck behind a rock, 33 meters ahead. I run to get it. Pulling the sleeves over my arms turns out to be no less of a hassle, but I finally succeed. I grab the keys out of a bush and walk back to lock the doors. I wonder why, but do it anyway. I don’t let go of my hat.

It’s hard to tell if it is stormiest inside or out of the run-down house. There is a broken furnace here and a gas bottle with a hole in it. A ray lights a closet. A bush grows through its bottom plank. Its branches eagerly try to reach out for some more sun in the room. Its roots hold on to the splinters of the broken pots lying around. The memory. Sudden flapping wings make me jump, and I see an owl fly off through the hole in the roof. “Odd. Its daytime” I hear myself think and a cloud casts a shadow over us.

I too go outside. The hair blowing in my face stings me a little. I try to get to the tower, but blasts of air hold me back with irregular force. Breathing is hard when the storm squalls into my throat, or when it suddenly pulls the pressure away from me. When, after battling the elements, I finally reach the towers door, I feel victorious and exhausted. Stairs spiral up, and I follow them to the lantern room.

“You always make me feel like shit” pierces her voice through my head. I see spit shoot out of her mouth. Disgusting. That issue wasn’t even worth mentioning either. Some conversation about the medicinal use of Melissa. What followed was increasing tension with accusation after accusation, reaching a scale that I couldn’t oversee. I tried to search for truth inside her words, but was blinded by the anger they conjured. Despair about her, about us maybe, and myself. The thought has taken hold of me. I cannot release the dark look on her face, as if she deliberately wanted to break the trust we’d built in all these years.

Near the top, a new gust surprises me, taking me back into the struggle of this place. The sea stretches further than I can see, though I have to close my eyes against the stingy air. I scream from the top of my lungs, but a new blast pushes my voice back into my throat. “You cannot get me!” I scream once more. For a second, I look the elemental force straight into the eye. Then, the fence I lean on gives way, and I am on the fastest track back to the rocks. My fall leaves me no time to think of any plan, and I would crush if it were not for the twister that captures me right out of the air, pulling me back up in direction of the sea. While my limbs whirl and twist, I am not sure if this unexpected salvation is fortunate or not. I try to pull myself together and move along smoothly, but the storm keeps shaking the confusion into me.

I can reorient when I reach the top of the twister. I am now well above the tower, very hard to tell how far. The grey red endless landscape looks less meaningful on the majestic blue background of the sky. I have no time to ponder that because I’m interrupted by a changing pressure, launching me further away from the land. In a glimpse I see that my car is lying on its side. That worries me. My face gets wet and cold in the moist I’m pulled through. I don’t understand why I don’t fall. It seems as if I’m going up instead.  Whatever I try, there’s no chance that I can steer. I’m subjected to the will of the storms. So I fly.

The doors of my house are open. Windows too. The furniture moves through the living room. Papers fly all around and so does the laundry. Plants in pots are either ripped or they have scattered on the floor. The cat has disappeared. The scene disrupts me. That mess was mine to clean. Then again, who am I to speak, I’m up in the air. A snap. I spread my arms. It dawns on me that I have never been this high in the air on my own. It may be cold and unnerving, but the view is beautiful. I feel a wave of respect for the thunderclouds that roll in my direction. Isabella’s insecurity feels easy now. Cute, even. There are no other pressures than the movements of the tides. I am weightless as a feather, dancing through the wind. A shoe spins through the air. It used to be mine. Just like that coat over there, with the napkins. Is that my hair circling around my head? One moment, the sun is up, the next, there’s sea above me. And then she’s down again. I can’t keep track. Different parts of me each take their own direction, whirling along with the motions that carry it. Words, feelings, body parts, sensations and thoughts fly by. None of them attached to one another. It tingles.

The lack of radio signal on the Actarius II caused some trouble on the open sea. It took a few hours before someone was bright enough to inspect the antenna on deck. A complete outfit covered it, the owner of which was never found. The clothes were taken to a farm, where they still serve as a scarecrow.

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Couch at sunset

The doorbell makes me jump. I should lower the volume one day. One of those things I keep postponing. Standing up as slowly as I can helps me tame the excitement this bell forces upon me. It’s something I’m vaguely aware of. In the meantime, my steps show that somebody just made me rise out of my very comfortable chair. Well… as long as I feel in command… I open the door. It’s a girl. A woman. She is standing thirty-three centimetres from the threshold. She has natural red hair. Green eyes. Some freckles accentuate her cheeks. Pointy chin, elegant jaws. Fragile neck, I’m quite sure I could break it. A little hole between her collarbones. Her waist, her legs, her breasts. Oh, her breasts. I recognize her.

My smile reveals my teeth. They could cut her tender skin. I imagine drinking her blood. She smiles back. Her teeth could cut mine. There’s silence. It’s filled with charge. I look into her eyes. She pierces mine. Fearless.
“Hi.” she says.
“Hi.” I say.
Silence.
“I’ve been travelling.” She says.
“Have you? Where’s your luggage?”
“Lost it in Paris…”
“Oh… How did you find me?”
“Intuition”
“Intuition?”
“Yes… Intuition.”
“Why don’t you come in?” I ask, and step back into the house.
“Thanks.” There’s surprise in her tone. I remember Nurielle from a trip I once made on Hawaii. I had felt alone for years.
“Wine?”
“Please”
I invite her to go and sit outside in the sun. You can see it set over the fields behind my garden. They sowed wheat this year. A yellowish orange glow. She looks around.
“Sit down, if you want to”
Her light green dress looks gorgeous on the Bordeaux leather couch.
“How’ve you been?” I ask.
“Do you really want to know?” she doesn’t wait for my response “It was a terrible idea not to exchange contacts”
I agree, but I strongly disagree, but she’s completely right.
“Cheers! By the way”
The cling of our glasses is a great reason to look deep into her eyes.
“You said you lost your stuff?”
Another silence.
“I was robbed…”
“Oh”
“With a gun”
“Oh…” I feel sorry that I wasn’t there to help.
“He left me my documents. And my clothes”
“Beautiful dress, by the way… How do you feel now?”
“All I knew while it happened was that I needed to find you”
Just below my belly button starts a rushing force. It burns right through my heart, swishes in my ears and shoots upwards. My mind is turbid.
“Did you go to the police?”
“No” another rush “I don’t trust them”
The orange light of the sunset casts a sensual shade over her lips. The reflection in her eyes directs me to something inside her. It pulls my heart out through my throat. My stomach feels like a knot. I’m sure there are drops on my forehead that were not here before. I take a gulp of wine.
“How did you get here?”
“I asked some drivers. They were very kind.”
“I can’t believe you’re here…”
“Me neither” she smiles. “I never expected to see you again.” Another silence. “Not even when I rang this bell. There’s a different name on it. I just needed a place to sleep.”
“Why this door?”
“I know… Isn’t it scary?”
“Yes… But not at all… No…”

Orange turns into blood orange while the sun approaches the horizon. In the distance, we see a dragon roast an eagle in the air. He catches it before it hits the ground.
“Beautiful view.” She says
“Thanks. The wildlife here is great”
I take another good look at her waist. Then, following her curves, I look back up at her face. I see she has been following.
“Are you hungry?” I ask.
“I don’t know. Don’t think so.” That smile again. More softly this time.
“Olives?”
“Yes, let’s give that a try”
She moves a leg. My god.
I walk to the kitchen in a trance. I open the cupboard. It smokes at my fingers’ touch. Pot. Open. Bowl. Fork. Olives in bowl. Turn. Don’t faint. Back. When I walk outside, I gaze into the sun. Incredible. I fetch the little mahogany table, put it front of the couch and place the wine and the olives on it. I sit down, my knee near her hips, and lay my arm behind her. For a while, we slowly talk about our lives after we lost sight. My memories now find their way into her gratuitously listening ear. I listen to her stories and feel the purpose of our joint past loneliness in the second meeting of our worlds. I’m not even aware that my fingers are curling around the far side of her neck. They slowly follow her collarbone, gently reaching as far down as they can and back up. She talks about her days in the highlands of Nepal, where she was freezing in the cold dark sky. While a group of guides did everything they could to make her comfortable, she still had felt alone. Not here. Not now. We are not cold.

It is halfway down. The sky is purple. My fingers work their way into her hair. Twelve candles in the garden around us light up.
“Must be the heat”, she giggles. That sound in my heart makes me smile.
“Must be…” I answer. “It never happened before…”
“Good” she says, and she closes her eyes. “Reassuring…”
I follow the top ridge of her arm until my hand meets hers. I hold it from behind. They fit deliciously. Hers turns. A flickering light sparks off our touch. An electric current draws our other hands together. With a whoosh, we shoot apart.

For a few seconds we sit puzzled, looking at each other, each from one edge of the couch. The table is lying somewhere further away in the grass. One glass broke. Then, as if driven by a single force, we jump up and crash into each other.
“Ouch!” she laughs, holding her cheekbone with her fingertips “what was that?” We are both sitting on an edge again. While the sun sets, the candlelight intensifies. Their warmth radiates onto our skins. Her pupils light up dimly. She brings her left strap over her shoulder, and lets it slide down her arm. Must have felt nice. She bends forward and slowly crawls towards me. The couch sizzles everywhere she touches it. When she reaches me, a flaming ball flies right over her back. I try to catch it but it whirls around my hand and sinks into her lower back. I see her face relax. Her lips reach for mine. I put my hands upon her back and pull her closer till they touch. The couch catches fire.
“Don’t worry about it” I say, while I let the other strap down, and push her dress over her back in a massaging move.
“I didn’t”, she says, “not with you around”. It’s this melting cheesiness that I like about her. The flames reach out further while we kiss, and sparks shoot away from us. They take hold of the rack I built for grapes, last spring. I don’t care. All I want is to take off her bra and work my way there, perhaps with a little detour by her waist.

Another fireball shoots by. I manage to catch this one, and in one motion, deviate it straight into her heart. She answers with an emotional “ah”, followed by a deep breath. She looks at me with watery eyes, now just reflecting red light. She grabs my shoulders and pulls me up with force. We hear an explosion in the kitchen. The whole place must be burning now.
“I’m sorry about your oven, boy”. She whispers in my ear, and then breathes out from the depths of her soul.
“How do you know it was the oven?” I ask, while I rip something of hers in return.
“I don’t know”
“Well, just don’t expect me to make lasagna any day soon”.
“Okay, I won’t”
“And sorry about your undies”
“That’s all right. They would’ve burned anyway.”
She’s probably right, because my clothes have turned in little black flakes that are falling of my body. I move my hands up and down her thighs. Her kiss gets more intense, her hold more firm. As we get closer, it becomes harder and harder to tell whose limbs are whose.
“Is it really you?” I ask, while I look.
In the short silence that follows, I feel her heart leap.
“Yes. It’s me…”
The couch collapses and she slips right over me. “Uh”, is her soft exclaim. We sit for a while, amazed, until I give a pulse. She responds with a squeeze. We hear a wall break. Our alternated contractions ignite a flow of motion over our spines. Our spirits merge in a burning tide of sensations, alternating ecstasy with a sense of the common. The ashes around us whirl up, taking our minds along on a journey we don’t comprehend. All we hear is each others’ breath. All we see is our shared inner space. All we taste are samples of each others’ dreams. As we tremble, so does the smouldering lawn. I consider a break, she whispers “let’s go”. So we rise, along with the earth, fusing in the flame that haunted us so long. Out of depths we did not know flows a perpetuating burning force, consuming two in one.

The news of the volcanic eruption at the idyllic border of the coastal town was initially hard to digest. Speculations to the cause of it all invoked unprecedented creative thinking among surrounding survivors, but the issue was never satisfactorily solved. The final suggestion ever heard about this case was made by a little boy named Benny, just after his grandma had told him the story. He thought it might have been done by big ants.

Face

It’s not every day that you find yourself screaming at a stranger in the middle of a bridge. She just hit me full on with her car while I was trying to cross. The sandwich shop a bit ahead seemed interesting, and I had priority. The impact dislocated my left knee. It clicked back, meaning I am standing on a painful leg.
“What the hell were you doing?” I ask severely agitated. “I had priority”
“I had to brake! You were not paying attention!” she calls back. “You should have seen that I was driving here”
“I saw you. I was just looking at that sandwich shop, because it seems that they have good sandwiches. You had no right to drive on. I had priority. If I’d walked thirty-three centimeters further, you’d have killed me!” This last part is bluff. I want to add some spice to the moment. I think it’s a suitable way to express my vulnerability as a pedestrian.
“Thirty three centimeters? Not 32 or 34?” she asks mockingly.
“That is not the point. The point is that you made a big mistake by entering my knee. I’m going to sue you.” To add some power to my words, I point my finger straight at her not unpleasant face. I take a step in her direction with my painful leg. She remains terribly calm.
“You were not paying attention to the road, drama queen. Your mind was on sandwiches. Besides, you were walking too fast.”
“If I was walking quickly, that was because of the appealing way in which they presented the sandwiches in that shop. I cannot help that. Just look at it.”
“Well, that’s right, but I’m not filling in the papers with you, and I’m certainly not letting you sue me.”
“You have no say in that!” I roar. “I’ll note down your licence plate number and go to the police.”
I stumble to the back of her car. This should shut her up.
“You know what, mister tall man, why don’t you go for a swim?” She grabs me by the chest, and tips my good leg out of balance. Backwards, I hobble and bobble over the street while she insists on bringing me to the fence. I realise this is not going the way I want it to when my bottom hits it. When she grabs my inner thighs, I’m shocked, when she pulls them up: astonished. That felt good for a second. Now, my centre of gravity is on a side of the fence where it should not.

My hands try to get hold of anything they can reach, but they fail. Head first, I’m speeding up towards the clear blue water under the bridge. I’ve been beaten by a girl. She managed to vanish from my life. All that stands between me and the turbulent surface is a bit of air and a second. Half a second. Clearly not enough to complete another thought. I’m above all surprised. Instinctively, I stretch my body to diving mode, and make up for a cold impact.

From a distance, a couple walking along the river banks sees a tall body being tilted over the bridge. They too are surprised.
“Did you see that?”
“This guy fell of the bridge”
“But this woman threw him off…”
“It seems like it”
“She’s driving away”
“Yes”
“Nobody stops her”
“No”
“Should we do something?”
“I don’t know… What could we do? She’s gone already”.
“Let’s have a sandwich.”

My eyes close right before my body cuts into the water. It’s cold but nice. My arms spread, and I make a half loop back to the surface. The water streams past my skin. It washes my heavy limbs, refreshes them. I dive under once more, this time with open eyes. The pain shoots back into my knee. The bitch. First she hits me with a car and then she throws me off a bridge? What the hell was she thinking? I want to find her, so I carefully swim to the shore, pushed forward by the water. It’s a wall. Quite a high wall in fact. Too high it seems. I don’t know where to start. My hurting knee will not help either. I might be able to grab a brick and work my way up slowly. The current’s strong though.

My hands slip off every stone I touch. In an attempt to kick myself out of the water, I hurt my knee again. Man, do I wish to get hold of that girl. When I finally manage to grab a brick, the water instantly pulls me off. I try harder, it pulls harder. My chest scrapes the wall. I get carried further and further away from the bridge. No chance here. There might be some mountable holes in the walls further on. I let myself go with the stream, but anger rushes through my veins. Was this necessary? Could we not have found a solution? What have I done that justified throwing me into this river? It was her own fault in the first place. Why didn’t she brake?

I can’t get out. The bricks here may be slightly better to handle, but there are no pieces missing. Maybe I can cross the river and try it there. But the current is strong, and the wall doesn’t seem that different. It’s worth the try. I push off from this shore and swim in a right angle on the current, which keeps pushing me further down stream. It is a long distance with this knee. I tell myself to keep going. My head gets below the surface. I am getting colder. Swim faster. I can’t, it hurts. The water carries on. The shore walls don’t seem more accessible downstream. Stairs? None. My head goes down again. I open my eyes and see the bottom. Plants are dancing with the current. Some have white flowers. Star shaped once. They look cute.

Halfway, cold, I’m struck by another wave of anger towards my aggressor. Would she know how impossible this situation is for me? Is she not ashamed? Would she apply for time in jail? Bet she would. I’m swimming for my life now and besides I missed a sandwich. Pity. It could have been good. My head goes under again. Except for the passing of the water, I don’t hear anything down here. Something shiny. Two eyes, hidden between the starflowers. I go nearer. Crystal green-blue. Astonishing. Not real. I need to breathe. Up.

I’m at the other shore now. Tired and puzzled. Even under water, leaning on my knee is problematic. It hurts to climb the wall, but I manage to rise about a meter. Another step up. No chance. I’m not a climber. I almost get above the surface, but there’s a long way to go. My hands slip, and I fall with my back on the water. I breathe out, and sink slowly to the rocks. What can I do? Swim up and try again? I do, only to find myself back here a minute later. Lay here? Slowly run out of air and faint? The river pulls my legs. My arms. It catches me by the chest, and turns me over. And again. I’m rolling sideways over the river floor. My diaphragm contracts. And again. Air. I have no choice but to push off. Back to the surface. Mouth out, breathe, and back down. I swim along for a bit.

Those eyes again. They’re less intense. They move. A fish? It moves like a fish. Strong tale. A serene face. It puts me at ease in this cold water. No more questions. I have to go up for air again. I don’t feel like it, but I have to. The eyes know. They read it from my movements. Contractions force me up. The air feels strange. Gone. Where did she go? Beautiful eyes. I sink again as I breathe out slowly, back to the rocks and the plants. Gently pushed forward. It’s nice here, with the stream passing by. Did she go ahead? Where to? A voice sings. It’s high, melodious. A female voice. It plays with the current. Jumps over it. Louder and then silent. It somehow connects sound with the abyss. I postpone going up for as long as I can. My lungs want to collapse. Air. It feels cold and it stings my insides. Back under. The current helps me roll through space and time. My jaws move outward. I let the water in. It feels warm. Where did the singing go? Where did everybody go?

The shore seems distant. All I want is to follow the water downwards. Make loops. Swim on my back. Feel it rush by my ears, through my veins. Hear it sing. Hear her sing. Look into her eyes. Which way is up? Do I need to go there? I don’t know. I’m good here. Carried away by a flow to destiny. Something stirs inside me. I go towards the light. I choke. It’s cold up here. My flippers beat the stream. There’s nothing else then to follow it. Where are my friends? Are they looking for me? Why don’t they? Waves from behind support my way. Lead me to them. The water runs through my mouth, along my gills and back outside. I introduce it to my blood. It tastes delicious. The river propels me, drags me, pulls me and lifts me into splatters. I breathe it and drink it, beating along with the current, cast towards my destination. Her voice has evaporated. I am alone again.

Just before she wants to take a bite, a huge fish falls upon her face. With her sandwich in its mouth, it flaps its way back over the fence. She runs towards it. The deep blue mirror of the lake shows not the slightest wrinkle.

 

The Grid

“Place the bar on the moving band. Then the next client can put his groceries there!” Her voice is binding. The open space between my food and the articles of the couple behind me is at least one third of a meter. Not clear enough. I place the bar. With this act I clearly separate our future belongings. Almost before I lifted my hand from it, the couple, acting as one, puts the bar perfectly right in the middle of the moving band, perpendicular to its side. What follows is a sudden reorganization of the groceries behind me. The couple places their bread at exactly one centimetre from the bar, parallel to it. Another centimetre away: a pot of jam. Ham. Gurkins. Toilet paper. So they go, until everything lies exactly one centimetre apart from the rest. As I watch them construct this grocery grid, a discomfort creeps into my spine.

“That’ll be 12.48 please” says the cashier.

I put my pass in the machine, type 9-6-3-1 and pack my bag. Paid. Macaroni and cheese tonight.

I walk outside. The street cleaner must have just passed. I see a Dalmatian in a zebra suit, held on a line by a lady who appears to have made a separate plan for every hair on her head. I unlock my bike. My bike has a character: the frontal rim is slightly loose. When I hit the pedals its rattling noise and the shriek of my unoiled wheels find their way through the street, bouncing back and forth over the smoothened walls. A man in a black suit looks at me in intense disgust.

“So what?” I think. And as if the man has heard my thoughts, a fierce “SHAME ON YOU!” echoes behind me through the streets.

My mind wanders of to yesterday night. We were making a campfire in the woods with some friends. Our view was marvellous: a red sunset on a lake, seen from the top of a hill. Fish. Freshly caught, on the grill. The aroma of smoke and just a little salt completed a perfect day. We wished for such natural freedom to stay in our lives forever. How different is the city life?

A little disrupted, I now try to make as little noise as possible. Though the streets are as crowded as usual, there is an uncanny silence around today. As if everybody purposefully holds himself in line. It accentuates the beeps and shrieks.

I place my bike in a rack. More bikes are placed in a row. Straight up. Saddle erect.

“HEY! Put your bike up properly, like everyone!”

The woman who yells it has blond hair till her shoulders. Her face looks symmetrical, clean, with feminine as well as masculine aspects. Not extremely beautiful, but not ugly either.

“Oh, sorry”. Before I know it, I have put my bike up and straight. I notice that the cars driving by maintain equal distances from each other. Their speed is slow and constant. I dare not look at the drivers. Walking to the bookshop I silently tread the tiles, not crossing their borders. My nerves seem to get to their limit.

The bookshop is cubical. Books of different colours and sizes have been carefully laid down in piles of equal heights. There are different structures: squares, circles, triangles, a pentagon… All displayed with chirurgical precision. In the middle of the room hangs a collection of books of which the sizes and the shapes perfectly fit together to form a tetrahedron, turning loosely in the air. Despite of the people, it is the only movement in the room.

The books in the perfectly shaped piles are not ordered alphabetically or by category. When I pick one up, a sound goes off.

“SIR! Don’t touch the books! You will mess them up!” A woman with thick square glasses, a black coat and a tight black skirt looks at me with straight black eyebrows that point down towards the centre of her face. She runs at me, grabs the book from my hands, takes a frontal position to the place where it used to lie, bends over with a straight back, and lays it back with the care as you would a baby.

“Sorry”. I say.

“Sir, you should not act as recklessly as you just did, picking up books like that”

“I was looking for a book about sacred geometry”

“There is nothing sacred about geometry” says the woman. “But if you want a book, you should stand in the queue.” Her finger points at the empty space behind a straight line of patient people. I walk towards it, take my ruler out of my pocket, and measure the distance between the last person in the line and the one before him. 33. I try to do the same with the two before them.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m measuring the distance between you and him.”

“Please don’t. There is no need. It’s thirty three centimetres.”

I count twelve people in the line. The woman has returned to the desk and takes the orders. Every time a customer asks for a book, she walks to one of the shapes in a slow and even pace. She gets a book from the pile, and replaces it with a book she brought along from her desk every time. It always takes her a while to put the new book back perfectly, but when it fits, she walks back with the same pace, hands the book over to the client and asks for the payment.

“That’ll be 22,44 please.”

“Hey tall mister! You are not standing at the proper distance in the queue. The proper distance is thirty three centimetres.” When I do a step ahead, he follows. When I turn around and do a step towards him, he steps back, looking at me with an angry face.

“I said thirty three centimetres!” He says every time a customer finishes his transaction and the line moves forward as if steered by one mind. During the six last customers I manage to keep my stalker silent. I dare not breathe.

When I finally arrive at the desk of the book sales, I ask for my book about sacred geometry.

“There is no such thing” she says. She walks away at the same pace. This time she grabs a ladder which she carefully installs below the shape of the tetrahedron. Step by step she climbs on it. She takes one of the books of the upper ridge, replacing it slowly and with a steady hand. When she is finally back, she hands it over. The cover shows a print of an oak.

“I am sorry, miss, but I asked for geometry. You give me a book about an oak”.

“Sacred geometry is nonsense. This is a Boak. Pay.”

I accept the Boak and pay 22,44. After all I like oaks. When I give her a smile, I see a tiny blade of grass coming out of the end of her pointy nose. So I exit the bookshop.

My attention is drawn by three eagles crossing the sky. I watch them till they have become too small to see, wondering where they’ve gone. A tiny white feather whirls down, followed by the leaf of a red rose. On the spotless grey street, their presence seems like an insult to all that is without life. This feather and this leaf ridicule all who have fought for this. For just a sec, I am at peace.

A scream. High pitched, coming from the bookshop. People seem suddenly tense. They have abandoned the orderly and now look around with a fear in their eyes. The silence on the street has passed. I grab my bike, unlock it and drive away. With the same noises.

I turn around the corner. The greenness of the once grey compels me. The ghostly walls from before are now entirely ivy-grown. The plants absorb my bikes calls. Instead, I hear the chirping of locusts here and there. I can not make out if I am puzzled or delighted. I continue my way home. But before I have crossed half of the street I notice that the ivy is moving gently. In fact, it is creeping up the road. By the time I reach the end of the street, the plants have almost reached my bike. If I stop now, they will catch a hold on it. Things in the next street are barely better. People are screaming; their heads are covered with grass, rooted in their skulls. Someone tries to run inside but finds that little roots have shot out of his toes. They now find their way between the tiles into the ground. The man waves with his arms, but out of his fingers grow leafed branches holding themselves back on the wind. His movements cease and before anyone knows it, there stands a broad little birch growing to the sky. A pigeon lands on its top.

I make haste, but as I go the asphalt rises and an enormous beech erupts out of the ground. I crash upon it and a squirrel falls on my head. It quickly runs back into the tree, looking back one more time before it disappears. My bike is broken now, so I run in despair. A sticky substance seeps out of the scratch the squirrel made. Birds’ songs deafen my ears while they still can. My nails are bark and I have a strong broccolic feeling where my lungs once where. Next to me, a hortensia emerges out of the depths of a poor man’s throat. People around are growing in all directions, leaving their dogs to bark at them and at the boar that just showed up. Should they hold or charge?

Tomato-hearted, I try to get towards my front door, but it is turning into rock as the cells in my veins grow their own little walls. My feet’s roots meander over the street. My testicles go nuts. I feel how my spine gets taller and woodier. Juices flow up and down to my brain which is now spawning snails out of my ears. They tell me that the city has been overrun. I believe them.

While my head bursts open and branches shoot into the air, a safety enters what is left of my mind. We are naturals. The last thing I see is a bunch of pumpkins dangling down an electricity cable. They seem to enjoy it. Drunk with force, I reach deeper into the ground and find delicious juices. I feel them entering my trunk from below and flow up into the air.

Later that day, a white moth decides take a little flight around the woods. It is silent outside. He flies to the pond and has a freshening drink of a big purple flower. It smiles at him. Behind them, somewhere deep inside the forest hidden under a pluck of moss, lies a book with a big old oak on its cover. It’s making a giggling sound.