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The question that really concerns most people is not the meaning of their existence…no for most it is the question whether there is an ideal lifestyle. For those, who constantly twist, need to change, develop; these are the ones you should avoid. They look for themselves in you and they will find themselves. They are empty shells. Stacey was not one, she was more and less the same all the time, but her imagination was worse than those of many these lunatics. The night before, she told me about it:
“Tomorrow I’ll buy a palette of colors and an easel”
“Okay”, I shouted to her from the couch. She just tried to be someone she wasn’t. I should never have told her about Magdalena. The next day when I woke up she showed me the work of her creativity. Before she presented it to me, she told me, what drive she had felt when she suddenly woke up early in the morning. At 7:45am she was standing upright in bed, according to her own account, and the inspiration, it didn’t let her go. Then, without waking me up, she had gone to the hardware store and, when she returned, had used the remaining three hours of my sleep to express herself artistically. It was disgustingly bad. She looked at me for an opinion. Granted, I made no decent effort to hide it well.
“It’s not ready yet”, she told me. I shrugged my shoulders and went into the shower. In the afternoon I worked in the soup kitchen. One earned 4€ per hour. 4€ below the minimum wage, but it was better than nothing and you had no obligation to come back if you found something else or rarely something better. It wasn’t a bad job. I could have been on the other side whenever I poured soup, I knew it. In the evening I drove back to Stacey.
I hesitated with the knocking. Music echoed from her apartment. Classical music. I’d never caught her hearing anything older than 90s music. I knocked. She didn’t hear me. I came at the door with my fist. After a few massive knocks with the underside of my palm, she opened up to me. She took the bottle of wine out of my hand.
“What do you think?”
“Uh, yeah, uh, what’s that?”
“Yeah, but what is it?”
Her reaction was a poisonous look, and when she realized that I really didn’t see what she thought she saw in it, she asked me: “Do you really not see it?”. She pointed to the picture and ran her fingers along the brush strokes, I only saw the brush strokes and blobs and nodded the explanation.
“Yes..sure….now, I understand”, I said with a hanging smile to avoid a fight.
“And do you like it?”. I turned away from the frame and I knew instinctively she was upset. I shook my head in disbelief at the accusation she threw against me, but she did not buy the indignation. She knew me a little too well by now. I was thinking about leaving the apartment.
“If you can’t be honest, then I’ll find someone else”
“For what, exactly? We’re not together.”
“Just be honest…please.”
A beartrap was lying on the floor in front of me. I knew it was a bear trap. I see the teeth of iron, the pressure plate was sparsely covered with leaves and the chain lovelessly beaten fixed into the ground with a nail. I decided to release it so that no other poor wretch had to trigger in.
“You have no talent.”
Her bedside table clock suggested 4:17 when I opened my eyes. Timidly I rose. Paralyzed inside. I had talked my way out of it. Paralyzed by what was ahead of me, yet sparkling, ready to work. I sat upright in my underwear in bed. Stacey was fast asleep next to me. Her gentle snoring pervaded the room and the dawn’s breaking light turned her face grey. I wonder if the women sometimes wake up early in the morning for no reason, look down at me and know that they will die alone? Probably not. I was a special case meant for the psychiatry.
Gently I pulled the blanket over Stacey’s shoulder. Her chest rose and fell. Her mouth was wide open. I kissed the little lines on her forehead. She kept snoring. Air whistled through her throat. She often grunted in her sleep. I smiled. I found it to be cute. My fate hit the ones worse, who don’t know, I knew that, but I hadn’t met someone honest like that for a long time. Maybe I was the only sane one out there. I went into the kitchen and held my dirty glass from yesterday under the running tap. Before that I drank the sip of wine that had formed a film on the ground. I filled the glass with a lacquer of water, flushed down the 1/3 liter in one go and stood in the kitchen with an empty drinking vessel in my hand and a clear view of the woman, next to whom I had been lying for a few months. Stacey. Stacey. I wasn’t a bad person, was I? I put the glass back.
Sometimes it was very different with her. Then I forgot for a moment that it was a pure accident that led me to find myself here. I had told her: Let’s not think today what tomorrow will bring and then the day went by and then another one, but then I started thinking again and here I was standing above her with a refilled glass of water with which I fought against the hangover that would catch up with me tomorrow. Can’t hide from the consequences. I slipped into my pants and took my keys out of the ceramic bowl with the thought “I could come back tomorrow…if nothing had changed”.
“I slept with my ex-boyfriend last night”
“Aren’t you mad?”
“It’s your goddamn freedom. Do what you want with it. If you want to use it to hurt me, so be it.”
“You say that so coldly, even though he was just better than you?”
“With feelings, it is easier to forgive, what do you want me to say?”
“The fucking or you?”
I got up off the couch. She slapped me on my ass. Half standing, half sitting, I looked at her in confusion. With women, I went from one asylum to another. I was just never sure if I came as a doctor or a patient. Eventually it became clear and I was sure about her. I shook my head while getting the wine. With the uncorked bottle I sat down with my fellow patient in her cell. The sofa cushions were soft like the walls. Our crisis intervention room, and here we were talking like madmen about our lost love so that we didn’t start carving their names into our arms; not that I had room for it on the left side next to the 8, which I had burned into my arm in love drunkenness and under the influence of alcohol.
“My ex and I. We’ll try again. We will go away together. Leave this place”
“Do that,” I said to Stacey.
“Aren’t you going tostop me?”
“Is that all you care about…me stopping you?”
She smiled at me with her mouth, but in her eyes I read an inadequate tone. She was screaming for help behind the pupils, but I’m not a lifeguard. I let her drift a little, drank from my white wine, until she finally made clear on what she expected of me
“I thought you would atleast think I was making a mistake”
“You love him. You will always prefer him. People, they come and go in my life. I’m used to being the second choice”
“You can call me if you need anything”
“You know I won’t do that”. She gave me a kiss on the cheekand held me in her arms. I felt nothing, but I held her close as if I had to, “I’ll miss you Schradinksi,” she whispered into my ear.
That evening I went home. My mailbox overflowed. It was just bills. I tore off the payment slips and threw the corresponding reminder letters into the trash. Three days later I helped Stacey drag her last furniture from her apartment down the stairs into her car. We drank a beer and smoked a joint in the empty living room. There were no more photos hanging on the walls. There were no open make-up boxes in the bathroom. She had no more sofa, TV, bed, ugly porcelain frog. The only thing left in the room was the table on which we placed our full tin cans and put down the empty crushed ones. When we lifted the table together, she urged me to lift the load more from my legs.
“Already know what I’m doing”
We brought the table down. We stopped every floor for a breather. When we arrived downstairs, a young lad from the same apartment building held the door open for us. She didn’t hold her side very securely when she put it down. In front of the car she dropped her side of the table too hastily. I was unprepared and the pebbles from the ground jumped from the force of the shock. One of them made a small cut in the wood.
“I know, what I AM doing” I said mockingly to her. She held the tip of her tongue out to me.
We loaded the table in her trunk. Stacey thanked me warmly, gave me another kiss on the mouth and I had no choice but to wave after the car. In the rear-view mirror, I imagined, I saw her smile. I drove home, but before I opened the apartment door, I decided to go for a drink to the bar at the end of the street. I drank all night and woke up at 11:46 am in my clothes on my bed. The next day Stacey was gone. She told me the week before. I was prepared for it. I knew exactly what time she left. But I hadn’t realized it yet. It had become clear to me when I didn’t think of anyone else that night. Neither to the woman with the steppe eyes, nor about the other confused huntresses of lost love. Stacey had contacted me at least 22 days after her departure. I told her about my ultimate triumph over love. She congratulated me on the fact that I finally got Magdalena out of my mind as “the one”. We both laughed bitterly on the phone. She was the first to stop. Stacey said she couldn’t ask about me anymore. Her boyfriend got jealous when we talked for too long on the phone. Otherwise she was fine, she assured me. I said goodbye to her and she didn’t call anymore and I didn’t get any messages. That same night, I drank to Stacey again. After that I forgot her for a long time.