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Living with your heart ripped off your body
by Katerina Charisi
2015-10-11 11:42:41
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I look down the street from my 3rd-floor large window at Home. Rainwater is running down the glass. The traffic lights look blurry through it. Green, orange, red balls of dim light throwing weak, wavy rays in every raindrop they capture.

em01_400Someone forgot to turn off the skylight this time. “Don’t worry Jenny, it’s not going to rain tonight”. How cannot rain tonight? Winter is coming and we are in New Orleans.  Drops fall on the small table, forming tears on Tennessee Williams’ face under the frame; then they continue down the carpet, soaking, leaving a small, round, wet stain.

The distant city-sounds covered by the cold air streams that get in through the skylight at times and the rain that suddenly gets louder. I’m focusing on that sound, lost in my thoughts and darkness. After a while I can hear the silence. The absence of sound feels like pressuring my ears and it’s louder than the noise itself.

It kinda feels like diving in the depths of the ocean. Not that I have ever done that. But I guess it is that way. All pitch black, feeling the weightless and the sound of silence is the only thing I can hear. Along with my dull heartbeat. The invisible world is out there, but I can’t see it. Or listen to it. I can only feel it through my veins like a deaf dancing along music I cannot hear.

Can anyone feel me out there? Is my presence alive? Do I make anyone turn their head up and see my blurry figure behind the thick glass? But, what am I thinking… My presence is lighter than dust in the wind.

When did I become invisible? I don’t remember much of myself, but I do know that I was never really the chatty type. Loneliness and isolation were always my company in life. It was my way I guess to put things in order, give the necessary time to put myself back together, to discharge my mind and get back to the struggle of life and it’s frenzy rhythms.

The giant oak at the park was my partner in these little escapes of mine. I don’t know if it’s still there, filling the place with its imperious existence. Its strong and thick body, deeply etched by the time it took its long branches to bend. Under its shadow I have spent hours on my own, sitting on that single bench carved with the initials of two lovers who decided to leave their mark for the eternity. Sometimes I think of them too. Who were they?

This bench obviously was the architect’s inspiration for isolation and silence, that’s why he or she must have put it right there, under the giant tree; without any other close to it. But I never found anyone there. Like the lovers left it for me only. Or was it the tree?

But one day I did find someone there. Actually, it was something.

Weeks had gone since the day I saw that strange woman. I had almost forgotten all about her. Except there were times her weird presence was visiting me with just a single thought and then she was gone. I was walking uphill to reach my favourite spot, when I noticed something shining on the bench – my bench- under the oak. Speeding up and being angry for the intruder I got closer and I saw a black helmet on it. I stood next to it, thinking that I was acting like a child, I didn’t own the bench, but still... It was my secret, my special place, and some stranger was around. I wondered if I should sit down or not.

em02_400_02I was facing the bench and the tree and the sun felt warm on my back. Soon it would get dark. When the sun moves a little more to the right, the park will become darker and the lights will turn on. I looked around but didn’t see anyone. I felt stupid standing there like that with the book in my hands, looking around like I was lost; so I sat down. I put the book next to me and took the helmet on my lap. I closed my eyes for a moment; I knew it was hers. I don’t know how or why but I knew it, I just did.

“This is mine”, I heard a deep, woman’s voice. I jumped up surprised and the helmet fell off my lap, rolling on the grass. I picked it up quickly feeling my face flashing red, and wiped it on my clothes. I turned my head and saw her sitting next to me, one leg on the other, eyes behind shades, cigarette on her long fingers. I gave her the helmet.

She didn’t make any move to take it, so I put it next to her, in the space between us. Now the sun had turned dark orange and was just about to hide behind the trees. It seems that it was the sign for visitors to go home. I should get going too, but I just couldn’t move.

There was a family walking past, few meters away. A young man was pushing a baby stroller with one hand having the other on his wife’s shoulder. Tiny feet were kicking out of the stroller. The woman had one hand around his waist the other hand under her round tummy. It was a beautiful image of a young, happy family. It made me smile, wondering about the time I would feel this way. I mean, every woman wishes that, don’t they? Why would I be any different?

I felt her hand on my shoulder. A long pale finger with a perfect deep red fingernail pointed at them. “She is a mother”, she said with her soft, deep voice. Her breath was warm. The smoke came all to my face. Of course she was a mother, it was quite obvious! I felt like answering back, add a bit irony, remind her that I had a brain. “They look so happy! It’s a lovely image”, I said instead. What would she know about motherhood anyway? She didn’t look the kind of woman a husband and a house full of kids were her purpose in life. Mine was, though. I was already married for three years.

“She is with one foot in hell, I tell you that”, she said and sat back on the bench; exhaled a large cloud of menthol tasting smoke and threw the cigarette on the grass. Then she stepped hard on it with her black, leather boot. Oh, come on! Being a mother is like being in hell? This is the ultimate cause of every human being! “She is happy, her face is shining. It’s the most amazing feeling ever…!” I think out loud.

Her face suddenly looked like I told her something so boringly so common. She raised her hands; “she is already dead,” she said all indifferent. Ok, that’s it, I’m gone. This woman is weird, mean AND scares me. I stood up and I turned to look at her face for the last time, before I leave. Damn, she has that way… You just can’t go. She leaves so many unanswered questions to make your mind explode and don’t let room for anything else.

There she is, it’s getting darker, her hair shines, she has this magnetizing gaze and the attitude of someone who has lived everything - seen everything and nothing impresses her anymore. She looks at me straight to the eyes. “What’s your name, love?”

I sigh and sit down again. She even asks questions without making them sound questions. I cross my hands on my lap and look down, all sceptical. I know nothing about her; I don’t know her at all. But I do know that she has something to say, and that I have to listen. “My name is Jenny”.

The family with the stroller had turned downhill and gone. The yellow lights in the park just went on.

“Well, Jinny, let me tell you something”. It’s Jenny. Never mind.

“When you become a mother, your heart doesn’t belong to you anymore. You learn how to live with your heart ripped off your body. You are not you anymore. The “you” doesn’t exist. You are simply a mother. You can’t be anything else”. She pointed at my belly with her long, pale finger and with these last words she …stood up, fixed her dress, took her helmet and gone.

I stood there looking at her walking away, slow, heavy and steady steps, till she was gone behind the trees. “But… you didn’t tell me your name!” I whispered. And just like that she disappeared. I felt strange. I put my hands on my belly, thinking of her words. How could she…? I didn’t even…

Months later I held my son for the first time in my life and remembered her. That moment I knew exactly what she meant. It was the most amazing and scariest feeling ever. “Living with your heart ripped off your body”.

Where are you Emily?

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