I don’t exactly remember the days before I saw her again, but I had a funny feeling. A feeling of paralysis as if I was heading for something, without a way out, without brakes, directly towards a catastrophe. I saw bad omens wherever I looked. The absence of the usual cashier, the guy from the club I ran into and bored me with an update on his life, and the empty streets, though not unusual for winter, drove a chill down my spine. It was a week full of bad omens.
I also remember waking up days before that. I had sat upright in my bed and looked around to find the reason for my awakening. But no one was there. Still, I didn’t wake up without a reason. When I looked at the wall of my room, I felt something inside me. An overwhelming feeling that gathered like clouds in my head. At no moment did it resemble a clear thought though. It was nothing. I couldn’t grip it before it was gone, and it was nothing that you could describe with words.
I didn’t believe in bad luck, but I knew it was coming. I dismissed it as a fantasy. It probably was. A fantasy that my brain created to claim I saw it coming. Life is like predicting the weather, you may sometimes be right when you say the sun is shining, but honestly the sun would also have risen if you had predicted rain. And even if I saw it coming, I was so often wrong with my end-time prophecies and to be able to say afterward that I was right.
The omen that almost had me convinced was that crow. A crow that didn’t close its beak. She jumped over the tracks and over the stones, on which they were bedded. She got up on the fence that ran along the train tracks, sat there and looked back and forth, her beak wide opened. What couldn’t the crow keep to himself? I do not believe in bad omens, but the sight was not pleasant for me.
I had distracted myself for weeks, earned money with Ätz and spent time with Miro until he ended up in prison. He hit a guy so hard in the kidney that it just gave up and he caught the anger of a resentful kidney loser. Ätz drove his ex-wife and Lukas to him sometimes. I haven’t seen him since he got in. We were friends, but no prison visit friends. The fewest are.
I invested the revenue of weeks of hard work in intoxication and drugs. I made ends meet one evening sitting alone in my apartment, staring at the wall and even several cigarettes and a few beers on the balcony didn’t get me out. It was 9:30 when I decided to come back. I couldn’t just perform just in my head anymore.
I sat down in front of her. She left me with a bottle and two glasses. We talked about our week, drank the whole bottle together and I told her how I had felt, and when I had had enough of talking, I told her why I felt:
“If that’s what you want, I’m gonna be a heartless bastard for life. But know it’s only me because I’ve already given my heart to you. It’s yours. Kick it. Spit on it. Do what you want with it. It’s yours. I don’t need it”
She didn’t say anything. Instead she fled. “I have to…” and she was gone.
I poured the rest of the bottle of whisky into her glass, got up, left the usual amount there, put the bills on her side of the counter and left.
One week of silence and then she called. She asked for a cup of coffee. I invited her to the same cafe. It had been nice. She was beautiful. We talked about idiots and their imagination, but above all about their presence.
God, the world, I had seen everything in her eyes, why was her brown so much deeper; when I knew the answer to everything and would only have to let her jump over the tip of my tongue to pronounce it. My heart beat twice the speed and time passed four times as fast. I let her peek behind the curtain, just a few opportunities away, that separated myself from the rest of the world.
I told her everything from my childhood, especially about my father and she listened to me and when I was finished and misinterpreted her silence, and when I was already defending him from my own words so as not to make it sound so bad, she let me know that she really understood.
“It is not his fault. I’m just collateral damage from his unfulfilled life.”
“Sounds like an asshole to me.”
“Yes, he was. The joke is: you were also a good Christian if you stay at home all day and yell at the TV or your son.”
“Was? Is he dead?”
“He is to me.”
We told on which parts of the body we already pressed our cigarettes onto, compared scars and what our favorite way to die was. To give up the thoughts this very evening, the self-hatred and the hatred of everything else, the madness we shared and that separated us.
“I have so many conversations with myself. I’m going up and down. I’ve always done this, but it’s never been so bad. The loud conversations in my head. I talk to my father about what a disappointment I am or how proud he is of me. I talk to my mother about how much she would have liked to meet me or why it is better that she never existed in my life. But worst of all, are the conversations with you, because you’re there and I am here.”
“You’re talking to me in your head?”
“Creepy, isn’t it? I balance every day between madness and reason. Only the abyss isn’t that deep, so I jump back in and out. You think I’m exaggerating, don’t you?”
“No, you’re just being too honest”
I smiled and, in her eyes, I could see it. She ate her strawberry pie and I drank my cappuccino and she hers and we talked about everything. She about her father and mother, about her childhood, which was similar to mine. I about past love and pain and hatred, for which I felt towards myself and the world. She understood it and shared I shared it.
I paid the bill, and we walked to the subway station. On the way I made an inappropriate Holocaust joke, compared her to porcelain I found so beautiful and stared at her breasts. I was happy, I didn’t mince my words. Don’t be afraid to say the wrong thing, would have been a first time in my life.
I stood on the subway station and acted like a love-drunk idiot. I stretched out my arms from my body and made engine noises, ran around her in circles. At first, I was just alone and then she joined in.
The station guard behind the cameras saw it, “Nat” she said when she saw him coming towards us and she stopped doing it. I turned around. The station guard, a fat man with short legs, told me to stop.
“Seriously now? You’re gonna have me disciplined for acting like an airplane in the subway station?”
Some people just can’t take a joke. They don’t have any in their lives and so they have to take the fun away from the others too.
It was obvious, that the sad guard misused his power as an enforcer of the railway company rules to get his his little bit of pleasure in life. Probably he also drove straight home and gave it to his wife, showed her what a real man he was. If I could save his loveless relationship by stopping acting like a plane, then what the hell? I had achieved the desired effect. She was smiling about my silliness all the time, but when I said, “Thank you for flying with Air Nathaniel. I hope we can welcome you back on board soon” and retracting my wings, she lost herself. I wish I still had that moment in my head. I just wanted to look at her.
Unsatisfied, the guard went his way. I guess he longed for more action, and I didn’t give it to him. He was already on that hard stuff for variety. When he turned his back on me, I extended the wings one more time. She started giggling again, the guard swung his head around, but I had my arms on my body when he got me in his field of vision. He knew what I was doing, but he stayed collected. He sighed, shook his head and trotted away.
“You’re an irredeemable idiot” she teased me.
“No, I’m an airplane”
She laughed. I smiled. I looked her in the eye and I was lost. It didn’t feel as cheesy as it sounds. My heart jumped out of my chest, every breath was tense, and I felt agitated. Every hair in my body wanted to run away when I sank into the dead brown. The steppe intimidated me, and I would have kissed her now, had I not been such a coward.
“He’d be jealous of you” she said. Clearly it was what she wanted, but was it?
That woman stole everything from me. I’ve never been so intimidated and enchanted at the same time. I just wanted to hold her in my arms if it wasn’t for the figure in the shade sitting there in a chair, shaking his head as I approached closer. I lost my mind. She was gorgeous. I was afraid, I’d just say good and jokingly compared her to girl standing on the platform. I thought she had a better ass than she did. A straight lie. I wanted her. I wanted her so bad. I had offended her and was too much of a blind fool to not correcting it.
I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk.
She said, “No, I’m going home now.”
I put my tail between my legs, hugged her and let her ride off on the subway. One of the biggest mistakes of my life, which I recognized immediately. I wrote her a message.
I want you with your potassium.
I want you in Mexico, even if it’s not nice there.
I want you in your dress.
I want you in your PJs.
I want you in all your underwear.
I want you without your underwear.
I want your future best and I want your best now.
I want you, even if I could never touch you.
I want the crazy, I want the bitchy, I want the chaotic, I want the dreamer, the must-have, the loving, the sweet, the mean, the evil, the wicked, I want you.
I want them all tied up in the perfect mix.
In the fire that I will not put out and if I burn myself and now I am sure of it, I want you
to be my girl, my woman, my wife, my world and I promise you I will give the rest to you.
If you can stand with me, and if it’s forever, so be it.
I sent the message off and she read it and she didn’t answer. I’m sorry if that was too much. She also read that and did not answer. At then I wrote her good night. No answer, what did I expect?
In the bar, “You’re not hard enough” was all I could hear from the conversations with her. When I sat across from her, it was different. What she would think if I had told her how I made my living? “If that’s what you think” I said to her and drank my whiskey.
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