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XV- The Devil

“Učinila si jedno dobro djelo danas”, čula je Frannyne riječi s kave neki dan dok je grlicama na prozorsku dasku sipala rižu. “Dok im daješ jesti, pogledaj svoje ruke, pogledaj njih, i pogledaj rižu. Vidi kako ste jedno. Ti si im praktički danas dala život”. Moćne riječi, pomislila je dok  im je u prazan poklopac neke staklenke lijevala vodu. Fran zaista ima talenta za govorništvo. A ja, koji je moj talent, žalovati nad prazninom svojeg postojanja dok se javljam na telefon.

“Uzmi prozirnu staklenku, svaki dan napiši na komad papira tako neku stvar koja ti se čini beznačajna, i svaki dan stavi u staklenku. Kad budeš imala punu staklenku, vidjet ćeš da imaš razloga za život”.

Suša je već unakazila svako drvo u okrugu. Čaša hladnog soka od bazge, naslonjena na vrata od mreže koja nikad nije pošteno popravila, pa su bila vječno otvorena na vrhu i propuštala muhe. Po ovoj vrućini peglati košulju i suknju za posao sutra, uzdahnula je, jedina sreća je što je od vrućine smršavila pa u tim prnjama još donekle i izgleda elegantno, za razliku, na primjer od drage Pam koja se vječito znoji u svojem cubicleu, i onaj smiješni ventilatorić koji ušteka usb kabelom u kompjuter pa se miris znoja raznosi po uredu, ali tko bi joj zamjerio kad se tako iskreno i gromoglasno smije, unatoč tome što čisti onaj grozni lokalni pub ujutro, radi i prekovremene, ali kako sama kaže “rad mi je priskrbio stan i auto, što ti misliš?”, iako joj se auto zapalio baš prošli tjedan pa ih sad sve vozi Ann u slatkom malom autu koji još miriši na novo a ona eto svaki put nečim zasere sjedala.

 

Čujem da netko diše u sobi.
Kunem se da čujem kako netko diše.

 

Srijeda je bila još sparnija. Pam je smijehom nadglasavala svoj zvrndavi ventilatorić.

Žamor kolegica i termosica u kojoj kava uvijek ima okus kao da je malo pljesniva.

Kemijska opet pada na pod, dok balansiram poziv uobičajeno razdraženog klijenta i umjetnost podizanja kemijske s poda, među pregradama i propisanim crnim cipelama (Taysha je bila na pedikuri, jesu li to – o moj Bože – umjetni nokti na nogama?) cipele koje već dobro prepoznajem, sive kaubojke od zmijske kože, i što bih dala da su na njima još i mamuze, možda optočene cirkonima. Nadam se da nisam precrvena u licu, pomislim gledajući u obrise mršavog ali mišićavog tijela dok je očito davao neke upute onim svojim senzualnim glasom, ali što je meni? Čovjek se ni ne zna obući kako treba, nosi nekakav pojas i što mu je s kosom, očito je da je stalno šiša na istu dužinu jer tu sam šest mjeseci a njemu je kosa stalno do ramena.

Okrenuo se i pogledao me ravno u oči.
Crne oči što gore kao plamen.

Ali što je meni, pa čovjek sigurno nema nikakvih interesa ni ambicija, vjerojatno samo gleda sport i navečer popije pivo, koliko znam ovdje radi već godinama.

 

Ann nas je opet vozila kući, veselo čavrljajući o novoj tetovaži. Putem prema kući vidjele smo još jedno mrtvo drvo.

 

Sanjala sam raskrižje. Sanjala sam plamen.

– Hej, cure – prekinula sam našu jutarnju konverzaciju (Taysha zaista ima umjetne nokte na nogama), – jeste li ikad sanjale seks, ali onako.. kao da je bilo zapravo?
Pamin srčani smijeh nadglasao je sve ostale.
– Idemo na pivu za vikend – obznanila mi je Ann još zasmijano kroz stakla svojih velikih naočala. – Pa ćemo ti naći nekog da ne moraš više sanjati.

Mahala sam joj sa trijema dok mali crveni auto nije nestao niz padinu. Mrežasta vrata su se zatvorila do kraja; čudno, pomislila sam, valjda su se sama popravila od tolikog lupanja.
Ubacila sam u staklenku papirić nad kojim sam dugo mudrovala, “platila Pam kavu”, i nahranila grlice. Čini se da su došle saviti gnijezdo.

 

Sanjala sam plamen.

 

Jutarnji tuš me zapekao na leđima; u ogledalu nisam vidjela nikakvih promjena, ali pod prstima sam osjetila sjećanje na kandže. Kandže i plamen.

 

-Heej cure, – u auto je ušla i Dory. – Znate što ima novog? Bit ću na televiziji!

Taysha je ZNALA da će joj se Instagram profil isplatiti, Pam ju je ugušila zagrljajima, Ann je pojačala radio i spustila prozore, a ja sam primijetila da se još jedno drvo u okrugu osušilo.

 

Cijelu smjenu sam smišljala kako da suptilno pitam hoće li i Federico doći na pivo nakon posla.

 

Nije me više niti jednom trebao ni pogledati, ne bih se više čudila ni da Pam dobije na lotu a ja pronađem dosad neotkriven artefakt na staroperzijskom jeziku u dvorištu i steknem vječnu slavu; znala sam da će točno u ponoć stajati na raskrižju ispred jedinog puba u gradu s crvenom kandžom umjesto desne ruke.

 

XV – The Devil

“You did one good deed today”, she heard Franny’s words from their coffee a few days ago, placing some rice for the doves on the window sill. “While you feed them, look at your hands, then look at the doves, then look at the rice. See how you are all one. You basically gave them life today”.

Powerful words, she thought while pouring some water into an empty jar lid. Fran is a really gifted speaker. Meanwhile, what is my talent exactly, whining over the futility of my existence while answering the phone.

“Take a see-through jar, write each day on a piece of paper a little thing like that, that seems meaningless, and put it inside the jar. When you look at that jar and you see it full, you’ll see that you have a reason to live.”

The drought already mutilated every tree in the county.

A glass of cold elderberry syrup, leaning on the screen door that she never properly fixed, so it was always ajar at the top, allowing flies in. Now she has to iron the blouse and skirt for tomorrow’s shift in this heat, she sighed, she is only lucky in having lost some weight to the heat so she looks somewhat elegant in those rags, unlike sweet Pam that sweats perennially in her cubicle, with her little USB fan that she plugs in her computer so her fragrance disperses through the office, but who could hold anything against her when you hear her laughing so sincerely, despite her working overtime along with a graveyard shift cleaning that horrible pub, but as she says herself, “work provided me with an apartment and a car, how else do you think I got by?”, even though her car self-ignited last week so Ann is driving all of them to work in her cute little car that still has that new car smell while she always gets the seats dirty with who knows what kind of crap.

 

I can hear someone breathing in the room.
I swear I can hear someone breathing.

 

Wednesday was even more sweltering. Pam’s voice drowning out her rackety little fan.

My colleagues’ clamor and my travel mug that makes coffee always taste a little stale.

The pen keeps falling on the floor, and while I balance the call of a habitually irritated client and the art of finding and picking up a pen from the floor, in between the cubicle dividers and the prescribed black shoes (Taysha got a pedicure, and – oh my God – are those fake toenails?), I recognize those snakeskin Western shoes I already know so well, and what I wouldn’t give to add some spurs on them, possibly rhinestone-clad. I hope I’m not too red in the face, I think to myself staring at his slim, muscular outlines while he’s giving out instructions with that incredibly sensual voice, but what’s the matter with me? The man can’t even dress properly, he always wears some kind of belt and what’s with his hair, he obviously always cuts it to the same length, I can tell because I’ve been here for six months and his hair has been shoulder-length ever since.

He turned around and looked straight into my eyes.

His black, burning eyes.

But what’s the matter with me, the man surely doesn’t have any deeper interests or ambition, he probably just watches sports TV and drinks beer in the evening, as far as I know he’s been working here for years now.

 

Ann drove us home again, chattering cheerfully about her new tattoo. On our way home we saw yet another dead tree.

 

I dreamed of the crossroads. I dreamed of flames.

 

– Hey, girls – I interrupted our morning conversation (Taysha really did get fake toenails) – Did you ever dream that you were having sex, but like… it was for real?

Pam’s thunderous laughter drowned out everyone else’s.

– We’re going out for a beer this weekend – Ann announced, still grinning behind her big glasses. – We’ll find someone nice for you, so you don’t have to dream anymore.

 

I waved at her from the porch until I saw the little red car disappearing down the slope. The screen door closed behind me, that’s weird, I thought, it must’ve repaired itself on its own from all the slamming.

I pondered a while over a piece of paper saying “bought Pam coffee” before placing it in the jar and fed the doves. It seemed like they were nesting.

 

I dreamed of flames.

 

The morning shower burned my back; the mirror didn’t show any changes on my skin, but under my fingertips I could remember the feeling of claws. Claws and fire.

 

– Heey girls – Dory sat in the car seat. – Guess what’s new? I’m going to be on television!

Taysha KNEW her Instagram account would pay off, Pam asphyxiated her with hugs, Ann turned up the music and rolled down the windows, and I noticed another tree in the county dried out.

 

I spent the shift thinking of how to ask subtly if Federico will join us for beer after work.

 

He didn’t have to look at me ever again; I wouldn’t be surprised if Pam won the lottery and I found a previously undiscovered artifact in Old Persian just sitting in the back garden and gained eternal glory.

I knew that at midnight sharp he would be standing at the crossroads outside the only pub in town, with a red claw instead of his right hand.

 

The Witch’s Parlour

Welcome to my Parlour.

The candles light the room gently, the scent of jasmine oil fills the air. You can sit in the comfortable chair in front of me and relax. One of my three cats will blink at you from her royal bed.
You can hear the song of the wind chimes while you take a sip of tea and let the stripes of the dark red and gold walls bring you to a time long gone (or still present, in each of us, when we are really silent?)…

You ask the question.

The sound of the cards shuffling and the wind chimes bring you to another place, where you can almost hear the cards whispering to guide you, together with the wind.
The cards know the past, the present, the future. They are a mysterious force, or a myriad of them. The more silent we can get, the better can we hear them.

A warm current flows through our hands.

And they are ready to speak.