Adrian

Adrian
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no language II, by Darya Tsymbalyuk

Everything is restless water. It moves to the left of me, rocking the boats. It moves inside of me. I cross over a bridge, up and down. I rise and fall, a wave. I turn. The long wall of a building on the other side finds no reflection. A figure dressed like somebody from the times of Ludovic XIV, wearing a wig, a hat and a purple jacket. It would have looked strange anywhere but in this city. I follow the figure for a while, until I reach a tree. The wind gushes, and a few drops fall on my cheeks. The figure is gone. I turn, I find myself in an empty square, then on a narrow street. A small altar on the wall, the candle lit. Trembling. Children are running past me. Laughter. I keep walking. Towards another bridge. It’s a foggy day. My favourite weather, especially for this city. Pink streetlamps. I always found them so cliché. Crossing the bridge. Up and down. The water below is restless. Up and down. The city is moving. I turn. The wall is yellow, something written on it in several places. Dark green trees at the end of the street and a group of three all dressed in black. A lady on a balcony, in a purple sweater. I try to register details, colours, shapes, but they escape me as I keep walking. Keep walking. Another square. There is a well, covered with a metal lid. Well, well, tell me what hides in those deep waters? I walk around it, tracing the sides with my frozen hand. Can’t stop thinking, can’t stop walking. I make another circle around the well. Let poems be louder than thoughts. Is the water under the lid as restless as the one soaking the edges of the streets?

Poems.

I remember another day, another city. I am waiting for you to get ready, afraid to put pressure on you. Suppressing my annoyance, I am studying myself in a mirror.

—Ah, you’ve been waiting? you ask as if surprised.

Of course, I am. I am always waiting. We leave. You are walking a bit ahead of me, as usual. We get a table outside. It’s a cold October morning. I order a big cup of tea hoping it can warm my frozen fingers.

—Malu is hosting a dinner today.

You nod.

—I thought of going.

You nod.

—Would you like to come with me?

There is a big dog walking by and you get distracted watching it. You have so much affection for animals; your gaze becomes soft and misty.

—If only you loved people as much as you love dogs, I say.

—Ha, that is impossible! You laugh, lighting a cigarette.

—So, would you like to come with me tonight?

—’ve got other plans already.

—Plans?

—Plans.

I am pretty sure you spent that night at home binge-watching TV series. I pick some almond pieces from your croissant, utter one of my nonsensical phrases, something like: trdd-tam-tam-pum-pura-tura-tam, and start laughing at my own silliness. Making a fool of myself has always been the easiest way out for me. Laughing with me, you split the croissant in two, offering me a half. We sit in silence. Watching you I realise I don’t recognise you anymore. Smoking a cigarette, you seem oblivious to everything. I would not know if you were annoyed or peaceful: a stranger. In hopes of getting back to the familiar, I ask:

—Can you recite that poem again?

—Which poem, I don’t know any by heart.

—Don’t you remember the one you told me when we first met?

—Ah, that one?

—Do you remember it?

You recite it. It is short. Now when I think of it I imagine it went like this:

You went away, to the East or to the West,
Farewell, farewell.
When you left, the snow was like flowers,
Now you are back, flowers are like the snow.

I ask you to repeat it again.

You went away to the East or to the West,
Farewell, farewell.
When you left, the snow was like flowers,
Now you are back, flowers are like the snow.

And again.

You went away to the East or to the West,
Farewell, farewell.
When you left, the snow was like flowers,
Now you are back, flowers are like the snow.

And again.

I keep walking. White columns glow in the fog. I look up, they grow into the cloud, into the fog, into the frozen breath of the city. I keep walking. Pass the houses, red and yellow. Pass the lady, pass the church. I used to leave you notes, everywhere. When I had nothing to say, I drew funny monsters with three hands and needy eyes. Close to the water along the narrow street. The boats are sleeping. You never really replied much, leaving my notes where I’d placed them. How does this city look from a boat? I am afraid of this water. Water is all around me. Water is restless. The boat is a bed, lie down and dream. Carry me, water. Eventually, instead of throwing all the notes away, I stored them with the rest of my letters, received and written. I always keep all the notes. I kept all the monsters with three hands and needy eyes. Walking under the arcade. It is dark and narrow. Somebody is walking toward me. I kept the monsters. I keep them all. The arcade drops. The bridge takes me to another side. The figure is crossing the street there. I follow it. There are more people in this part of the city, walking toward me, covering the view of the street too narrow to straighten my shoulders. I lose sight of the figure.

Another day, another city. We are on a bridge. Your dark hair and a trench coat are submerged in the evening. We are crossing the bridge and you are running ahead of me as usual. I stop to take a picture of you. “Hey.” You freeze for a second, but the night shivers in the cold, and your face comes out blurred, dissolved into pure light. “Hey,” I try again, and again, and again, but you turn already, you keep walking and I lose.

I forget it all. The thoughts do not possess me. I keep walking. Why is this street so narrow? Suffocating. Shops are glowing at the sides. Weeding out memories is violent. I keep them all, I let them go. The streets are getting wider. I come to the market. Usually it is crowded. Today only a couple of stalls are working. Ladies are chatting. A drop falls from a market stall and lands on my nose. I shake my head. Let poems grow in my head. I don’t want to keep anything. Obsession, possession. I wonder how each time I use something of yours, I feel suffocated. I kept everything: notes, scarves, even single socks. I wonder if you still have something of mine. Market stalls offer apples, avocados, bananas. The figure is crossing the square. I follow. To the big bridge. Step after a step. The bridge is rising above the water. The figure is rising, until it drops, sinking into another side. By the time I reach the top of the bridge, it is gone again. I am falling with the bridge. The water is receding.

As I keep walking, turning and walking and turning, I start to get cold. I tremble. I come to an edge of the city soaking in water. I stand watching water becoming fog, fog becoming water. My limbs are filled with water and are pulling me down. Poles are rising from the lagoon, I am trying to count them: one two three… Two three two three… They seem to tremble too. I am afraid to be pulled down into the water. The water is restless. I stand close to the edge. You don’t owe me, water. There are couple of pebbles in my pocket. They come from another country, another sea. I take them out. They’ve travelled with me through many places. Three beautiful pebbles of different colours. One by one I return them to the sea. I pretend they hit the surface of the water with a louder sound than they actually make.

With empty pockets I stand and stare at the water, at the island hiding in the fog. I know it is somewhere there. I can’t see it but knowing is enough already. I turn to go back into the depth of the city. But where is the depth of this city if not at the bottom? Maybe it is, but now everything is fog and there is nowhere to go because I am there already.

As I am walking back, following another narrow street, I see the figure again, turning to the right. When I reach the end of the street, I turn left instead and see “Adrian” written with big bold letters. It is a bar, and out of all possible names… I burst in laughter, hysterically. I stand there laughing and laughing and laughing and nobody knows why. Life is a parody of itself. I keep laughing until my belly starts to hurt, then go in and order a glass of prosecco in your honour.

Darya.Tsymbalyuk

About Darya Tsymbalyuk

Darya Tsymbalyuk spends her days writing short stories, working on art projects and researching images of house plants in narratives of displacement (PhD). She comes from Ukraine, but lives in Scotland, where she studies at the University of St Andrews. You can find some of her art projects here http://daryatsymbalyuk.weebly.com/

Darya Tsymbalyuk spends her days writing short stories, working on art projects and researching images of house plants in narratives of displacement (PhD). She comes from Ukraine, but lives in Scotland, where she studies at the University of St Andrews. You can find some of her art projects here http://daryatsymbalyuk.weebly.com/

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