I didn’t see the plane leaving. And it sucks. I could have felt the farewell more if I saw that airbus leave and a carry off the half of my soul to a far place. It was a sunny Thursday afternoon, and after my last look at her, as soon as I turned my back to the entrance door of the airport, I discovered that what’s ahead is a long walk on a desert-like walkway towards the exit gate. “From pain to pain,” I thought as I slowly crawled out of that seemingly black hole of a place that just took my loved one away. As I walked, I tried not to think about what just happened. I tried to think about things that I would put if I own an airport. A garden-like walkway with hidden airconditioners on every corner of it would be fine. An ice walkway, much more like a gigantic igloo, also crossed my mind. The heat of the sun can sometimes enhance my imagination in a certain way.
I finally reached the exit gate without having a heat stroke or falling down face first on the pavement. It gave me a slight feeling of accomplishment. But when I stepped out of the airport’s gate, I felt something strange inside of me. It seemed like I was not myself anymore. As if something got lost, something significant that can’t be replaced by anything that humans have invented or theorized about. The weird feeling that I felt could have been more than loneliness and sorrow. Something far deeper and complicated than that, I’m sure. It was as if someone or something had been stalking me and then when I was waiting for her to come out for the last time for that last talk, the stalker had attacked me and took something away from inside me—or much worse, injected me with something that went straight to the depths of my soul. I tried to think that this was what a normal person would feel, especially when one was left by such an amazing girl like my girlfriend. I tried to think that this was just every man’s initial reaction to any stressful situation such as being away from a person that one had invested a lot of emotion on. I was probably just starting to feel lonely because I knew that in a few days I will be alone in this boring, sleepy city with no one to hold and no one to love; no one to keep the balance in my life too. The feeling inside me was still in its beginning stages. It wasn’t still that bad that anytime that day I could walk up in front of a running bus or measure how much impact my cranium would make if I jump from an overpass headfirst like a dive expert. If I may call it loneliness, it’s not the kind of loneliness that could make anybody commit suicide. But it was something that could pull you down to a deep abyss where there is neither light nor sound to cheer up your soul.
As I crossed the highway, I tried to think about something else. I tried to find something I could explain, something appropriate for intellectualizing in order to distract myself from something that could not be intellectualized. I begged the blazing sun to do its wonders to me again. Memories were not an option. An overflow of those beautiful days that I spent with my girlfriend could make me bleed, which is dangerous considering the kind of weather we had that day. The blood would dry up too fast. So I just tried to stay calm. I took a cigarette out of my pocket and lit it with a match. In a few moments I was already on a taxi going home.
Inside the taxi, I surrendered to not thinking about the weird feeling and just let my mind roll. “How is she feeling right now?” I asked too loudly. That made the taxi driver look at me through the rear-view mirror, his face confused, seemingly formulating a response to a question that he clearly could not respond to.
I said to my mind, “Been there, sir, just continue driving will you?”
The driver went back to focusing on his work while I was looking out of the window, trying to answer the question.
She could be on the airport bench now, eyes welling with tears feeling sad, miserable, and defeated by the various complications of life. The full effect of the sad reality might have occupied her every bone. Because she was quite expressive with her feelings, I was eighty percent sure she was doing and feeling that. Or was she feeling the same way that I was feeling that moment? Was she also a victim of the stalker that attacked me? Did it also take something away from her or planted something in the depths of her soul? Was she also feeling light as the wind yet like walking on quick sand? Did she also feel that at any time she could be pulled down to a deep abyss where the soul would have no light nor even a single sound to entertain it? Did it also cross her mind that airports are really like black holes? Are we both victims of the mysterious stalker? A gush of questions rushed into my mind.
It was still a long ride towards home so I decided to doze off for a while. The taxi driver had his eyes fixed on the road, whistling slightly a tune from an old song. As I closed my eyes, I could feel him looking at me, probably with the same confused trying-to-find-an-answer look in his face. I didn’t care. My head hurt too much to care and the tune that he was whistling was making me sleepy like a lullaby for lost souls. And then I closed my
eyes. The whistling continued as if the taxi driver felt I needed it.
When I opened my eyes back again, I was in a room filled with photographs. It was a dark room with four corners, with all of the photos attached on the wall. At every corner of the room was some sort of a lamp hanging from the ceiling, whose sole reason for being there was to provide light so that anyone could easily view the photographs. The weird thing was that the photos were blurred, but not too blurry that one can’t absolutely make out anything that was in the photo. The blurriness was just enough for one to still guess what the faces and places they were in look like. But that was all I could do. One couldn’t be too sure if the man in the photo wore a long hair or if the woman has a nice smile or not. One can’t also be too sure of the place where the picture was taken. With one look one can say that they were in a place where there were a lot of trees in the background. But on a second look, it would seem that they were standing behind a display of space shuttles in some space exploration museum. Seriously, one couldn’t fathom the pictures accurately.
When I was already confused about the setting I was in, a light—probably a hidden spotlight on the ceiling—lit up. It was a bright and hot spotlight, and its light was on top of me. For the first time in my life I felt how actors in a stage play could feel. The
only difference was that I was alone. There was no audience, and I was inside a room filled with blurry photographs. I tried walking just to test if the spotlight would follow me—and it did! Pleased by my new power, I walked more and realized that I was stepping on more photographs too. I scooped out a handful of photos from the floor and looked at them. They were the same as the ones on the wall—faceless but complicated in their own special way. I thought that if I would get stuck in the room, I could go on and guess what kind of faces are on those photos. Are they smiling or is the other person in the photo secretly hiding a frown in his or her eyes even though he or she is smiling with the teeth all out? Was the picture taken from a place that the people in the photos have dreamed to be in all their life? Were they on their honeymoon? Were they just friends? Were they lovers? Or two people that have met before and then got reconciled in a far country and then fell in love? There were too many stories that could be formulated out of those blurry faces. But after you made the story, you still felt that there was something more and you would still need to look deeper and deeper to make more scenarios and scenes that could have happened. But despite all that effort, and after the story that you made, you would still feel that you didn’t do a good job of it.
Suddenly the spotlight went out. And in a few seconds, the light on the corners of the room followed. Just in time when my head started to hurt from too much thinking. All is engulfed in darkness. I could still feel the photographs on my feet. The darkness made me feel that I was standing in the room with my eyes closed. After a few seconds I did close my eyes. For the first time, I thought about what to do if I get stuck in the room forever. Then, I heard a soft familiar whistle, the one that came from the taxi driver I remember. The whistling got louder and louder its volume reaching a level where you can say it’s
I tried opening my eyes again to check if the lights were already back. When I did, I found myself back at the backseat of the taxi. There were no hazy photographs anymore; no four walls around me. Just a dream I thought, it made me smile inside.
“You talk when you sleep?” the taxi driver was the first one to kill the silence.
I was not too sure if I quite understood the question, so I wanted to hear it again.
“You are quite a talker when you sleep. You were snoring and talking when you were asleep, and you were asking me a lot of questions about the weather, and about gas prices. It was a pretty long conversation.”
(to be continued)
Andrew Dedal is out of school, doing odd jobs like selling clothes to old American people. He is a big fan of the weird and the unconventional.