Sunday, June 24, 2012

the silence in between

Julia arrived late in the morning. She slammed the door; then looked at me looking at her; then apologised. Julia was never late or at least never later than me. ‘I don’t like sleeping’, she always said. 

‘Something happened?’ I asked. 
‘Nothing happened.’ she replied. 

Julia sat at her desk and turned the pc on. She placed the take-away coffee just beside the pile of documents on the right side of the desk. She must have walked all the way from her house. The coffee had gotten cold. She took off her coat. Then her scarf. Eventually her bracelets and jewellery. I could not stand the noise of bracelets when typing on a keyboard. I am glad that she remembered it.

The phones kept quiet for a couple of hours. Silence was a loved presence in our office. Something we aimed for. Collegues used to say we hated each other because we only talked if necessary. We didn’t hate each other. It was just a matter of respect. Nobody should be let free to interpret the silence between two people. 

Suddenly Julia stood up and opened the window. ‘It’s hot in here, isn’t it?’
‘It isn’t’ I replied.

‘Oh. Should I close the window then?’
‘Yes, you should. Please. Thanks.’ 

Julia closed the window and went back to her desk. ‘Be polite and you’ll get what you want’, I told myself. Some people are afraid to express their needs. Some others do express them, but in an aggressive way. Like Julia. She closed the window, still she was hot so she became histerical. She started using documents and stickers and enveloppes to wave some air at herself. I ignored her. She opened the door, left the room for few minutes and came back. I looked at her. She closed the door behind. She picked up the phone, dialled a number, immediately hung up. She didn’t even waited for any reply. She looked nervous.

‘Are you nervous?’ I asked
‘No, I’m just hot, I guess that’s it’ she was annoyed.
‘Oh, I see’ I replied as if her statement did not concern me at all. Actually it didn’t. I wasn’t hot, she was.

Julia stood up again, opened the door, left the room for minutes, then came back. This happened five times in an hour. A bit too much. When she stood up the sixth time, I asked ‘Julia, what’s up? I can’t work if you keep on moving and acting histerical like this. Please!’

‘Nothing is up, I told you, I’m just hot. And by the way, I can’t work either today.’
‘Why were you late?’
‘Does it matter?’
‘Maybe not, but I am curious anyway’.

She started murmouring something, then suddenly stood up again and run out in the corridor. This time she forgot to close the door behind.

‘She must have eaten Chinese last night. That’s it.’ I thought.
Julia had a delicate stomach. I noticed it three weeks ago, at John’s farewell party. One of those nice shrimp-sauce sandwiches had been enough to send her straight to the loo. Weirdly enough, she seems to eat very healthy and still not being able to keep fit. Julia came back to the room and didn’t look alright.

‘Hard night?’ I asked.
‘Hard night indeed’ she replied and went back to her desk.

I thought she referred to the Chinese take-away. 

That night though, what Julia could not digest, was not some Chinese noodles or some cheap shrimp-sauce sandwich. No. Rumors reached me weeks afterwards. Julia wanted to keep her baby. Her boyfriend didn’t and had left. She had stayed awake all night, arrived late at work, felt sick and miserable all morning. Nobody should be let free to interpret the silence around. I did, and I was wrong.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TV's fault

I have no reason not to answer the door, so I answer the door.
‘Hello, is James in?’
‘No sorry, James is not in. In fact, he’ll never be in because no James lives here.’
It’s 11pm, it’s Wednesday, nothing good on TV. A young British guy giving cooking lessons. A somewhat famous writer of a supposed famous series is buying new shoes. I-dont-remember-his-name is solving some crime case. The doorbell rings again.
‘Hello, is Claudia in?’
‘No sorry, Claudia is not in. Who is Claudia, by the way?’
‘Hem, the blond girl dating Kristian?’
‘Interesting. I don’t know any Claudia dating Kristian. Actually, I don’t know any Kristian.’
I flip channel again, hoping in some cheap laughs before going to bed.The doorbell rings once again. I look at the clock. 11.45pm. Almost midnight.
‘Hello, is Jennifer in?’
I start losing my patience.
‘What is it tonight, Halloween? Why everybody keeps ringing the bell looking for someone who doesnt live here? By the way, no there’s no Jennifer and now fuck off.’
I close the door. What a weird way of ending a Wednesday night. As if having nothing good on TV wasn’t bad enough. Time to go to bed, I tell myself. The doorbell rings again. Silence. They’ll go away, I think and stay motionless by the stairs. Another ring. Silence. A ring, again. It’s my mobile, this time. It’s John.
‘John, thanks God is you, I was almost freaking out ...'
‘I know, darling, I know, all those people looking for strangers, they must have scared you ...’
‘Yes, they did ... But how ... how do you know?’
‘Darling, we need to talk’
‘What do you mean, John? What do we need to talk about? By the way, where are you?’
‘Im in front of your door darling ... open it.’
I hang up the phone and can see my hands trembling of fear. Something weird must be going on outside the main door and it seems I am the only one not aware of it. I walk slowly towards the door. Slowly; as if this time there may be a reason not to open it. But John is out there and I trust him. Usually, I do. 
I open the door.
‘Was it you ringing the door just few minutes ago?’
‘Yes, darling. Can I come in?’
‘Sure’, I answer, while investigating his face, his expression, his body language. He looks alright. Awake. Not drunk. 
He enters the living room and sits on the big sofa and pulls me down to sit beside him. He looks now a bit confused. He is probably looking for the right words in his head. I can’t resist. It’s passed midnight and I am actually quite asleep. I can’t help it and start asking questions.
‘So, honey, tell me, what’s happening? how did you know about the ringing bell and the people and all ...’
‘You dont remember?’
‘Remember?... what should I remember? I was watching TV, and, you know, it’s Wednesday, there’s nothing on TV ... ‘
‘There’s nothing good on, right?’
‘You’re right honey, there was nothing on TV ... That’s why you drove to my place and picked me up to go for a drink ... and ... ‘
‘Me, driving tonight? ... it’s crazy, I was watching TV .. have you been drinking?’
‘No, darling ... there was another car ... James, Claudia and Jennifer were in it ...’
‘James, Claudia and Jennifer? who are these people? you must be drunk ... I dont know who you are talking about’.
‘We are dead, darling. We are all dead.’
I put my nose forward, closer to his mouth to check if I could spot some alchool or funny smell. Nothing. I pull it back and start laughing. Hysterically. 
‘Sure, we are dead. We are sitting here on the sofa, the clock still marks the minutes, we are chatting and we are dead. Yes, darling. Of course.’
John cries a tear. He looks serious now. I don’t laugh anymore. I can’t laugh when he looks so serious.
The home phone rings. I can hear my mum stepping downstairs quickly. She answers the phone. Few minutes go by, till she hungs up and starts crying. I could see her, but she could not see me anymore. It was one of those Wednesday night when there’s nothing good on TV; when there's nothing good at all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

the dots of happiness

Shit. I got homework to do. “Write about happiness”. 

I open the window. The sun is giving me its last warm rays. ‘Summer is getting closer’, I think. Here's the World’s Happiness story.


When Happiness was born it was a sunny day in the city called World. I am pretty sure about that. It came out in a half-moon shape completed by two dots. Nobody could say in which order they came out.

Dot, half moon, dot.

Half moon, dot, dot.

Dot, dot, half moon.

Trying to identify the shape of Happiness was a real question mark in the World. Finally, some endorphins took over and declared that Happiness was born as a double dot plus half moon shape. They called it “smile”. At the beginning the whole World did not love Happiness so much so it was wasted away randomly, in any possible manner. In no time, the whole World was full of Happiness. Kisses were full of Happiness. Houses were full of Happiness. People were full of Happiness. Until the point that it started getting lighter and lighter. Weaker and weaker. The more Happiness was spread around, the less it was perceived. Suddenly the World was not able to feel it anymore. To be fed by it. To be overwhelmed by it. And, surprisingly, just as when Happiness had become less present, the World started to love it. To miss it. To need it.

Doctors in the World started prescribing drugs in the hope of gaining some rare spells of Happiness. Meantime, endorphins were starving at the World’s corners and asked for help. Serotonins came to help releasing the pain. It was a temporary relief though, and soon it came to an end. Happiness had become so thin, almost invisible that none in the World could reach it anymore. Day by day, the light faded away. And took the half-moon shape with it. 

The smile was over. The double dots found themselves alone in the dark World. Without their half-moon they were nothing. They were lighter, but meaningless. They were scared. They learnt that when there's too much of Happiness around it becomes a habit. It becomes granted. Till the point the World thinks that it doesn't have to feed it any longer, as if Happiness could feed itself on its own.

The lonely dots built up a fake half-moon shape and went on hanging around in the darkness of the World wearing a fake smile. At last, the World became full of fake smiles, all cheerfully waving at each other.


Happiness. How naive.