The measure of all things

Copyright ©2011 Barbara Parmet. All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2011 Barbara Parmet. All rights reserved.

The pain is dragging me back. Silence is replaced once more by that buzzing sound. Everything is coming back now, the heaviness inside my body, the division, mitosis, multiplicity, cause and effect, result, responsibility, the world where everything should make sense and where ultimately nothing makes sense. Time is accelerating. I can hear it. Time is a sequence of beeps, time is a sequence of heartbeats even in the absence of a heart. There are other hearts that measure time in the absence of one’s heart. Time, in here, in this carcass that the others call a human body, is a series of heartbeats, repetitive heartbeats that become non-repetitive once they are consumed, rendered non-repetitive by what happens in between them because what happens in between them is not repetitive, the world only spins forward. An irregularity in the heartbeat is a step closer to complete silence, called death. If only thoughts could make a sound, a sound of any kind just to keep the silence out while the body collapses within itself like a house of cards. The world is measured in heartbeats. Just a few more heartbeats and I’ll be there. With every beep I’m one step closer to you. How many heartbeats are there in an hour? This room is 45 beats long. It is big enough to host two people. This room has only one window. The light coming from the window is painful. The pain extends itself up to an infinite number of heartbeats. Even though it has to have an end, this pain is infinite, the pain that I have to endure in your absence. The pain becomes pain at the back of the skull and from there it radiates, it oozes like oil on the floor, like the echo of everything, the echo of the city as it was heard from…from…from. The word is there but I cannot take a hold of it. There was a house, and you were in it. Was it really you or was it only a myth? I wonder. Even wondering is painful. It’s like running in winter on an endless field and your lungs start to ache, and your eyes start to ache, and everything starts to ache, and your body is a sort of accumulation of pain and the promise of relief as soon as the field ends, and there you should stop for a second and maybe look back. But looking back would only remind you of that pain so you keep on going, there is more relief just behind this hill, just behind this mountain, an oasis. I stop. I know this wondering will only take me back to you, to a sort of you.

Until we are lessened

I’ve seen how the flesh gets scared of me, only at the thought of me. I’ve witnessed it in one of my invented memories. I touched this man’s hand, and I could feel the flesh, the warmth, and the hand withdrew, quickly, like a snake, like the body of a snail does, hiding slowly under its protective shell. I got scared myself because in that indeterminate movement I’ve seen myself through the eyes of that man, and I appeared monstrous and alone, like a child who fears being abandoned. I’ve seen that frightening look that for a second made me seem invisible or made me want to think that I’m invisible or that I should be invisible just for that pair of eyes. I am the child and the child-molester, the victim and the perpetrator. How could I not be when every time I touch you I can feel the flesh that has grown into something that only your mind could fathom? Is it the same flesh, that of the child, that has grown dark, day by day, and thought by thought? Aren’t you still that little boy you were years ago that still smells of breast milk? It is the same skin, the same glorious architecture.

The mind has made you furiously dark, laid one by one the brushstrokes of dementia, adulthood, over the scribbled smiling face of your innocence.

The mind grows too fast. The body has to keep up.

I try to understand where this guilty pleasure of yours comes from, derive its driving principles, and in the process understand myself, your lover. To find the spot where the mind refused the spectral image of an angel replacing it with that of an androgynous figure, relaxed and seemingly superficial, yet full of sexual frenzy.

There is no change, no crossing point, that’s why there is no turning back.

I can’t find your number, it seems to have disappeared and for a second I panic thinking that you might have been indeed a figment of my imagination. I finally find it under the letter M. It’s that other name that I have given you this week. Hey, I can hear your voice at the other end of the line, trembling, filled with expectation. I’m just going to get my luggage and I’ll be there in about 15 minutes. You know how these things work, I tell him, but I only do that to fill the air that is suddenly too much for my lungs. I have taken my best shirt, even my best boxer shorts, my best socks, you know, just to make a first good impression on you. We’ll see about the other impressions. The first one is the most important at this point. I’ll be waiting, he says, and as he said that I suddenly felt that 15 minutes is going to take forever. I tell myself that patience is the key aspect now. I’ve been waiting for this for so many months.

I’m still waiting for it.

I finally take the luggage and I put my sunglasses on. I have a terrible headache, I tell him through the phone. We’ll take care of that he says, you’re on the other side of the wall. I could actually hear him.

Was it a flicker? A second there has just passed, consumed itself.

The doors open automatically. I could hear the mechanism working inside.

I step outside. The connection seems lost and I can’t hear you anymore. I stop and look for your number again. There is no letter M in the alphabet. I look through the rest of my contact list, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, unknown people. There is no letter M in the alphabet. One pearl is missing from the string. But I’ve just seen it.

There is no alphabet.

You’re probably waiting at the car.

There is a young man waiting next to a colorless car. I have never told you the color of my car. Once I told you I had dreamed of you, or rather forced myself to dream of you and you were voiceless. Back then I didn’t know the sound of your voice. Now I’ve become so familiar with it.

You’re not under the letter M.

I wonder what name I have given you today.

Under the letter G there is the word ghost. For a second you looked like a ghost. That ghost which comes at night, intent, and full of meaning, full of lust. We kill the lust that grows between your bodies. We strangle it with our bare hands until it breathes no more. The lust that comes to life when our bodies occupy the same space, at the same time, a slight distance required to make things work, the distance and the time that at one point will seem to extend towards infinity.

You are under the letter L, for lust, blocked into a category, my category.

There is the unnamable celestial body, of unknown descent living in a completely white inodorous land, no houses except words. There is the center of consciousness, diverse, totally different color. The body is stained, recorded in black and white, saturated. The body becomes a hypodermic syringe, youth itself, in the flesh. The body is the prerecorded obsession, the sound, no sound of any kind. There’s no specificity there. There is the completely inodorous white land. There are hundreds of inhabitants led by a man who fell in love in the mirror, made love in the mirror until he was trapped inside. They all turned purple and then orange due to the light reflected by the mirror. The skin turned hard, like a crust, perfectly stretched, flawlessly attached.

The body is an open wound, a cut in the air made with a word.

The flesh is the presence of lust.

The body is a curve between two points, the longest way between one point and the other, the longest way between A and B. The ultimate measure of the body is loss. The earth plates are on the move and we’re caught in between, innocent as we come, by nature. Time runs slower in this center of consciousness.

I wouldn’t want to wake up because waking up means facing the inodorous white desert. I can’t find you in that desert. There’s a land of lines put together, laws attached and meanings, and you stop being human, there is only what you’ve become, an entity. There are the repetitive words said every morning, cut obliquely they are empty of meaning though desired to be full of meaning. Good morning, how are you, did you have a good night. The answer is always yes, though by saying yes, I intend to say so much more. Yes means yes and no. The people living in this inodorous white land will understand you, they know.

Human waste, with every touch we go to waste. One step taken towards love is one step taken towards becoming human waste.

We stood hand in hand, our feet into the sand, watching fascinated how the waves came and went. My father knows, he says, he knows that we’re together. Did you tell him? Yes, I told him, and it’s not the first time I did that, he seems to forget a lot.

I’m not afraid of that, I’m not afraid of your father, he’ll eventually understand, what I’m afraid of though is what will come out of that understanding. Next time we’ll meet and we’ll have to shake hands and he’ll have to look into my eyes. I don’t know how I’m going to do that.

We’ll just have to avoid that, he says, be silent, pretend, shake hands like normal people do, wear the armor of common courtesy. In that world we’ll be invincible, in this world we’ll tend to our fragile souls in need of each other.

I try to imagine what his father is thinking about this, I’m the guy who’s fucking his son, three years older than him, taller, with long sideburns. Some may say I’m taking advantage of the situation I’m in. I fear the mercy that he might feel for me; I wouldn’t want to have that.

Your skin, the sun has given it this dark hue, the sun is telling me to look somewhere else. His father told me to look somewhere else, told me his son is not for me that I don’t deserve to have him. His mother smiled and said nothing. I looked down and told them I’m in love with their son. They said nothing, so I said it again. His father laughed but said nothing and I wanted to hold him, right there, hold him in my arms. The world was telling me to look somewhere else. There was this lump in my throat, I felt like throwing up.

I took him by the hand when we went out of the house. I looked back and the house was completely white, painful white. The windows were completely white, the trees framing the house were completely white, the sidewalk was white, everything was of a perfect white as if the house, his parents, time itself were mere drawings on a white sheet of paper. His eyes were completely white, perfectly white, inodorous white, tasteless white, a desert of whiteness at my feet. And in that whiteness I felt so alone and I felt like running away as fast as I could. Something held me, with a strong hand, something held me close.

At one point you come to terms with yourself, with who you are, or at least try to. I did the same, or at least tried to do the same. The whiteness was on to obliterate us, both of us, reduce us to mere drawings on a white sheet of paper.

You were wearing this dark blue sweater and that pair of jeans you always said they were your favorite though at times I disliked them deeply. And you had had your new haircut which seemed desperate the first time I saw it, but I was in love with you so it was the most beautiful haircut in the whole wide world. And there was a smile on your face, like that of a child that for a moment has forgotten about everything. We were in the backyard of your father’s house and you had found this rubber ball, and you were playing with it trying to imitate famous footballers. There was also that friend of yours, I don’t remember her name, something with K, I guess. Look under the letter K, there might be something there. But there isn’t of course, there is no letter K in the alphabet.

You were laughing and I fell in love with you again.

It was autumn. And the trees were not yet white, inodorous white, devoid of color. Back then the whiteness was yet lurking behind us never having the courage to attack us. It was the joy in your eyes that kept the whiteness away.

Or that time in the shopping mall when I could only think of you while watching all those men unpacking merchandise moving swiftly along the aisles as if there was something waiting for them when they got home. Is there anyone for them, at home, waiting for them to come back? A girlfriend, a boyfriend, a wife thinking of them, and I could see them doing things so that they could forget the absence. I went to the cashier and put the things I intended to buy on the conveyor and the woman looked at me and said something about a loyalty card and I said no. But everything happened just like that, without me actually acknowledging it. My replies were already there, prepared, ready to be delivered. And I was still thinking of you and nothing could distract me from doing that. We were in the car speeding on a highway leading nowhere the whiteness surrounding us like it was winter though it wasn’t winter, it was summer, it was supposed to be summer, and there was a white sun ahead of us neither smiling nor frowning at us, just like that, one of those emotionless suns, nothing special. But we weren’t running away from the whiteness, by that time we were accustomed with that, it had become our daily routine to live submerged into this sea of whiteness. We were going to that place called home, though in fact it wasn’t a home; it was the only place left in the world where the whiteness hadn’t reached yet, the place where we weren’t afraid to be ourselves. We were in the car speeding on a highway leading nowhere and you said you have to tell me something. Should I stop then, I asked you, and you said yes, I should stop, and I pulled over. It wasn’t the place or the time to say it, you said while other cars went by us and the sound was at times too strong to bear. And you said you love me and I took your hand in my hands and kissed it passionately and I saw you smiling, and I said I love you too.

There is no whiteness here because the room is too dark and the house is hidden away from view. Nobody can see us here, not even ourselves.

For miles there is no house in sight, just the occasional illusions that lure us into believing we are not alone in this white desert. There are no lights, and the weeds have outgrown the path, outgrown those who might venture around the house. The house resembles a fortress, painted in scarlet, painful to the eye, and to those who look at it from the outside it will appear deformed. Not to us, those who live inside have seldom fallen in love with the asymmetrical walls, windows turned away from the sun, doors too small to enter, some of the locked from the outside. Actually, all of them are locked from the outside except one which is in the attic so that if somebody wants to get out he or she will have to commit suicide, every time, several times during one’s lifetime. So we are very reluctant about going out. One morning I woke up with the feeling that we were the last two human beings on earth. No one yet ventured in these parts; the weeds have outgrown the adventurer.

Your beautiful abomination

Don’t stop this movement, let it consume itself smoothly as it should, slowly, let it flow beautifully like the glorious flight of a bird, don’t let it fade, because if it fades then everything will be lost, including you, my love, and I don’t want to lose you, I don’t even want to imagine that, I don’t want to experience it even if it’s for the sake of experience, let me stay here with you, five more minutes, five more minutes and I’ll go, I’ll leave my thoughts with you, I’ll leave my love with you, let this presence of mine linger a bit more around you. The car speeds down the highway, I hold my hand on you thigh, trying to feel the fullness of it, the things that make it the thigh of a human being. You’re there, and I want to make sure of that, I want to make sure that this is not just my lust gone mad, a hallucination which has occupied my mind for so long that I started to perceive it as a real thing. You’re squeezing too hard, you say, it hurts. I’m sorry, I say, and try to relax my fingers, make you feel comfortable with me around you. I’ve missed you so much, I say, even though we haven’t seen each other before this. You smile, I could feel the hesitation in you though I know it is a false hesitation, you’ve told me. Yes, you say, this is really strange, how can you miss something you haven’t seen before?
That’s true, how is that possible, since that which you miss has not occupied any space in your life then how can you even notice its disappearance?
But that does not matter now, I tell him, just give me a quick kiss. I lean over the chair and feel his wet lips on mine. That was so good, I tell him, could I have another one? Just be careful, he says, these kind of things can be dangerous while driving. Trust me, I tell him and lean over the chair again, this time with a smile, my eyes locked on the road. You reach out, your hand still timid, still the hand of a boy who’s too afraid to touch somebody other than himself, your flesh prepared to draw back suddenly like a scared animal. I can feel the warmth of your skin on my thigh, then the tightness, the pressure of your palm. A wave of tremors goes through my muscles. I take your hand in mine and kiss it as softly as I could then place it back gently on my thigh.
Don’t stop this flight, the emptiness, the great pleasure of finding you beside me, available, there, in that place, the closest place on Earth in this distance that stands between our two bodies, here, inside, there is nothing outside. Let me hold you. And you let me hold you, smiling, finally acknowledging my presence. I’m here to stay, I tell him. I know, he says.
Among these few lines there is a mistake, a word you thought of as something insignificant. It’s not. You’ll try to find it but it’s not there. My love, in this dialogue of ours we are both losing, it’s a lost bet since this love of ours is just the glorious architecture of my mind. Observe the lack of details, observe how everything has been reduced to the essential, how there is nothing else outside, how there are no other people, how it never rains, how it is never sunny, how everything seems like a limbo. There are no other human beings except what goes through my mind, except who goes through my mind, except you. And I’m so afraid, my love, afraid that we won’t be able to hold this world together by ourselves. I’m afraid that I won’t be strong enough to do it.
Could we at least try it, he says.
Yes, we can try it. Tell me what I have to do, and I’ll do it, even if it’s the most difficult thing in the world.
First, he says, act as if you love me.
I don’t need to act in order to do that, I tell him, I’ll just be myself, that will be enough.
No, he says, do as I tell you, act as if you love me, because then afterwards we’ll try something else.
What do I need to do in order to complete this request of yours, I ask him.
You have to take me out, buy me presents, take showers with me, and bubble baths, wear my shirts as you go to sleep and when I’ll ask why you’re doing that you’ll tell me that you like to feel my scent during the night when you suddenly wake up out of a heavy dream. Hug me and kiss me when my friends are around, make sure I’m sitting comfortably when we’re out, make space for me if I need more space, order for me, pay for me, keep your knee close to mine when we’re sitting close to each other, hold my hand, try to keep physical contact with me whenever you have the chance, smile every time you look at me and use that sweet face of yours, hold my jacket, kiss me on the lips whenever we say goodbye, act as if you’re the man when my father or my mother is present, protect me, let me fall asleep on your shoulder, let me cry on your shoulder every time I feel like it, take me wherever I want to go. Demonstrate that you love me by acting as if you love me.
I did all of these. Then went back to him on my knees.
What should I do now, I asked him.
You’ll have to do everything else, he told me, don’t take me out, don’t buy me presents, don’t take showers with me, don’t wear my shirts, don’t hug me and don’t kiss me when my friends are around, don’t make sure I’m sitting comfortably, don’t make space for me, don’t order for me, don’t pay for me, don’t keep your knee close to mine, don’t hold my hand. Can you still love me? Do you still love me?
Of course I do. But how will you know?
I’ll now. Even in their absence, I’ll know that you love me. You see, in this love of ours you have to get used to this, you have to get used to presence and absence, to lying and telling the truth, to hiding it and showing it.
How will I be able to do that?
It’s not without difficulty, he says, but you’ll be able to do it, because you’ll know, you’ll know that presence is as good as absence, and absence is as good as presence, that lying is as truthful as telling the truth, and that hiding it from the others is as good as showing it. This love of ours plays a double game. We’ll need to invent our own language, play with words, call things by other names, and in the meantime rage will grow furiously like poisonous herbs do, rage against everything else and everyone else, and in this rage you’ll find yourself so alone that you’ll get used to it, consider it natural, a thing for you to keep and nurture. You’ll find it funny, adorable, and in this rage you’ll wake up every morning.
Call me Rage, in case you need a name for me. Call me Fear, call me yours.
I am my own Rage, I am my own Fear.
Rage has a thing for you, my love, Fear has a thing for both of us.
There’s the fear of being caught, the fear of being blamed for this love of ours, the fear that there have been things unknown to us, refused to us just because of this love of ours, the fear of dying alone, the fear of waking up alone and realizing this has been only a dream, the fear that dreams may never come, the fear that a dream is just a dream and nothing more, the fear that you have found somebody else, the fear of the other body, the other man, the other woman, the fear of confusion, the fear of not having a clue, the fear that the war is already lost to both of us.
My name is Rage. Boiling Rage. My name is Rage Against Everything Else That Is Not You. My Rage is directed against those things which try to keep me away from you. My Rage is directed against the thoughts that make you appear putrid and lost, my rage is directed against those nights in which I have to go to bed alone, those mornings in which I find myself alone in bed, those mornings in which I have to drink my coffee alone. My Rage is directed against the bitterness of solitude.
My love, he says, rage is everywhere, Rage is here with me. I am Fear. Love me.
Rage and Fear got together and made love to each other. Unfortunately, neither Fear, nor Rage could have children, and so they were left alone with themselves. Their child could have been an abomination, and I myself would be lost for words trying to describe that child, just because my words couldn’t measure the beauty of that child, the fairness, and the happiness that the child brought to both Rage and Fear. It was the most beautiful Abomination because it was born out of love and other stories, which you surely know by now, they say that everything that comes out of love is beautiful, or at least should be considered beautiful.
My name is Abomination. I have taken up many forms up until now except this form: that of a child born out of love. I was born out of Rage and out of Fear. Love me. Try to love me. Act as if you could love me. Be silent, pretend. Because if you act as if you love me then I’ll know that deep down there is at least the desire to accept me for who I truly am, your beautiful Abomination.

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