суббота, 6 октября 2012 г.

Zelder Stories

I guess I really need to explain. Zelder is an imaginary character that's been keeping me company for a while. He only exists on paper in short sketches, each of which tells a story. So, I thought it could be a good thing to call this genre of short stories "Zelder Stories". In essence, they are little moments of life, like snapshots, that focus on some details that can make the reader see a bigger picture. They are glances into the deepest corners of human souls, seconds that allow you to see hours or even years. I thought I could put in some illustrations, just to let you know who Zelder is. The pictures are not related to the stories, but they are connected. Hope that wasn't too confusing...
* * *

Something really important.

I am on my way home. I'm trying...I really am trying to forget what happened last night. I kind of always thought I wasn't an Appollo, but her words still sound in my head like an old radio and make my heart sink so low, I think I'm actually dragging it behind me along the wet pavement. It bounces and gets in other people's way, and they step on it and never notice.
Whatever! I don't care for it now, I don't need it. My one and only love told me I was ugly like nuclear war and nobody would ever look at me, let alone want to be with me, and I know that's true. I mean, come on! I'm 30 and I've just lost the only girlfriend I had in my life. Fucking Internet! Never again. I'm just angry that I will never get those 5 months back again. I'd rather drink and fucking waste my life like I used to than try any kind of relationships again.

As I'm thinking that, I see a girl in the distance and she is smiling at me. Do I know her? Definitely not. I hardly know anyone. Why is she smiling? I try to smile back, but what I manage is more like a crooked smirk. It's beginning to rain, and I start feeling pity for the girl, because she doesn't have an umbrella. As she's getting closer, I realize she is damn beautiful: chocolate hair gently outlines her face, bright eyes, don't really see the color, pinkish lips that can form the most charming smile I've ever seen. My heart is desperately pumping the last drops of blood and seething on the pavement. I finally feel the pain. Maybe it's not even me she's smiling at.

I halt in the middle of the crowd and she's in front of me. What if....and before I can finish my thoughts I can feel the sweet taste of her lipgloss on my lips. It takes me a couple of seconds to realize that she's actually kissing me. My heart crawls back to where it belongs, and I feel like hot wine flows into me and through my veins. When the sensation fades, I open my eyes. She's not there. I turn around - there she is, still smiling, but walking away, her light-brown coat fluttering in the wind. I smile back, as she steps on the road to go across, and I gasp.
With a deafening screech the driver of an Audi hits the brake, but the car slides along the wet road and sends the girl flying onto the hood. I shake my head like in a dream and dart towards her.

As I hold her in my lap I realize she's dead, and I realize something important has just happened.
* * *
Priorities

A piercing, terrifying scream of a woman made the people on the bus jump all as one.
"Oh, my God!" she cried, "There is an accident on the road!" 
All heads turned to where she was looking. On the street corner there were two cars smashed into each other. 
People started whispering, stealthily glancing at the woman from time to time.
"Oh no, oh no, oh no", she kept saying, while fishing her mobile phone out of her bag with shaking hands. She dialed a number, repeating "oh no" like mantra, and the people were sympathetically mumbling in the background. 
"John!" she squealed making everyone jump again. "Are you alright?.. At work?..nothing, nothing, I just thought...never mind...no, just forget it, I'll talk to you tonight, ok?..yeah, love you too, take care. Bye." The woman sighed with relief and looked around. 
"I wonder if anyone's injured" she said wiping her tears off with a tissue and looking back through the window again. Then she yawned, stood up and went towards the door. She propped up her hair and got off the bus, giving a charming smile to a young man in the front.
* * *
Real life in the raw

Squeezing her cellphone, she crept under the blanket. She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, smearing the stains of mascara all over her face, and closed her eyes, 
         the salty drops sealing the tiny slots between her eyelids. 
She drifted into sleep, as the room loomed in the dim morning light, 
                                                                                                
her fingers smudged with chocolate.
* * *

 
Honesty

The bell rang, and she opened the door to find her friend smiling in a nonchalant girly way at her.

"Are you alone?" the friend asked, craning her head to take a peek into the apartment.

"Very."
* * *
Beyond

He could never understand death, even after he died.

* * *
Letter in the Alley
 
The last bus was long gone. The night was chilly, but, walking home along empty streets (nothing new for the outskirts of a small town), Liz was hardly noticing the cold or the drizzling rain that was soaking her short black party dress and helping her tears wash the mascara down her cheeks.
Nor would she have taken any notice of a man who hurried past her into a dark alley to her right, if he hadn’t brushed her shoulder on his way. Liz flinched from the touch, as if woken up, and followed the man with her eyes. He had almost merged with the darkness of the alley, when she noticed a white slip of paper fall out of the back pocket of his jeans.
Liz turned into the alley and picked the piece of paper up.

“Sir, you’ve dropped— your letter. “

The man was gone.
Liz stared at the envelope in her hands, and tiny butterflies of indecision started to flutter up her stomach. The street lamps behind her seemed to shine brighter, the more she was fighting the fear of following the man into the darkness of the small alley. She turned the letter around – it was said: To Liz.

“Is it a joke?” she said out loud. Her words echoed back to her, and then there was silence. Cautiously she tore one side of the envelope off, took the letter out and started reading.


My dear sister,

Liz blushed and looked away. She didn’t have any brother, so the letter was definitely not for her eyes. The paper was flapping in the wind, as if smacking her hands for prying in someone else’s life. Not my business, she thought, I have enough problems of my own. Images flashed through her mind: people dancing in a stuffed smoky room, a pair of laughing green eyes, lips twisted into a smirk – same lips that had told her she had never been loved. Liz shook the memories off, and, cursing herself internally, started reading again.

My dear sister,

Please, forgive me. I know you’ll be hurt, but your pain will go away – mine won’t.
What happened was my fault, and my fault only, no matter what you tell me, no matter what anyone tells me.


Liz blushed. She felt like she was peering through a keyhole of a stranger’s house.

It was me driving that car – me! She died, sister. Do you really expect me to live with myself? I can’t. I couldn’t. I hope you will live for us both. I love you and

As if grabbed by some wild force, Liz jolted forward and darted into the dark alley, kicking off her high heels. The letter squeezed in one hand, she was running through the alley and across a road and into a park towards an old bridge spanning a deep ravine that used to be a river. The wind was tousling her hair, drying her tears, pounding against the walls of her lungs in gasps. She didn’t care for the stones and grass cutting her bare feet, or the nausea coming up her throat, or her screaming with pain muscles. Her world had shrunk down to the life of a stranger.
She emerged out of the bushes just in time to see the man climb onto the railing of the bridge.

“Wait! Please…” she rasped and raced towards him. He didn’t hear her words, but he heard her collapse on her knees to the asphalt behind him, panting hoarsely as if she was about to be choked to death.

“Stop…” she said, “I read it.” She lifted her hand with the crumpled letter and held it up high. The man grasped the back pocket of his jeans, and his eyes widened.

“Give it back,” he said.

“Step down.”

“You may have read the letter, but don’t think for a second that you have understood me.”

“I won’t give it back.” She raised her eyes to him in defiance.

“Well,” the man said, climbing over the railings, his back to the bridge and his face to the ravine. “If you don’t want to give it to me, go to 4, Red Mile Road, and give it to— What are you doing?”
The man stared at Liz, who had scrambled to her feet and with the remnants of her power was now climbing over to him.

“Don’t think for a second that my life is any less a mess,” she said. “Tonight, the last thing I cared for told me to go to hell. That’s exactly what I’m going to do now.”

“No! Don’t.” The man put one hand in front of Liz, holding on to the railing behind his back with the other.

“Why?” she asked and met his wild stare with her pale indifferent eyes.

“Because…because life…goes on,” he said.

“Life goes on,” he repeated, but this time, Liz knew, he wasn’t talking to her any more.

She climbed back over onto the bridge, tore the letter she’d been squeezing in her fist all that time, and let the wind take the shreds away. Then she stretched out her hand to the man. He watched the white pieces of paper whirl down into the ravine, and took Liz’s hand without another word.
_____

And that, my son, is how I met your mother.