Words

By Daniel Schecthel.

Translation and editing: Daniel Schechtel.

Alex was staring at the ceiling. He felt a void in his stomach. Metaphors. He felt nothing inside.Only air. There was nothing else. There could be nothing else. Can’t we name everything we have? Metaphors, Alex. Use Metaphors. His legs had no weight to him. Neither did his arms. He was light, full of air. The white ceiling. The light on. His mother rushing in the kitchen. It hurt. What? It hurt. Nothing. He closed his eyes.

                  Visualize the words. Think of colours. There was no point, nor form nor letter. Her mother was laying the table. Two plates. Today it was two plates.  The day before yesterday it was three. His father’s clothes were still in the wardrobe. He had seen them the night before when her mother had opened it to take them out. To take out the leather jacket that Alex had given him as a present. Where was she taking it? Think of forms, of animals, of songs. He identified with that. What’s wrong with him? Alexit- Alex, his name’s Alex. Songs. Now he was silent, but the melody of La Muette by Yann Tiersen came to his mind. That was… what? What did MANY say? Sad, happy. Those words he had heard.How did they know they felt like that? Alex. But Alexiti-

                  He sighed. He could only see the orange of his closed eyelids blinded by the hanging light of the ceiling. His mum was singing a song. She whistled it when she didn’t know the lyrics. And she sang it again. Mrs Robinson, by Simon and Garfunkel. And that one? The voice carried the same tone his classmates uttered when they sang at the top of their voices during the break. Think of more and of less. It seemed… positive? Impossible. Impossible to know those things.

                  He opened his eyes. He licked his lips, dry, motionless, useless. He pressed his eyelids closed. He felt like shouting but he didn’t know what. Take up reading. Read a lot. Gain vocabulary. He read The Stranger on a sitting. He read it through. It was easy. He felt like that guy, but not like him exactly. Because the main character didn’t feel anything. But he did. And how much! And how it hurt! What? His mum would go up and down putting around glasses, bottles, cutlery. Clank. Bang. Creek. Doors. Bangs. Pots. Steps. Whistles. Sounds. The objects of the house seemed to speak to Alex. Or speak for him. Explain him. Describe him.

It made sense. The creaking of the door connecting the living room and the kitchen resembled what Alex had felt that day at school. One of his classmates had strangled him. Strangled. The sound of his closing throat. Not the sound. What he felt. Maurice had asked him if he was happy. He knew, yes. Everybody knew. Everybody laughed. His lips trembled. He said yes. He swallowed. That was the mistake. He swallowed. And everybody saw that. All those eyes which waited for the words. Words. Empty. Like him. He lied. He didn’t know if he was happy. Or how. Or how it hurt.

                  His hand barely touched the blade under the sheets. Bed unmade. Alex lying on it with his clothes on. The knife under the sheets. His mum whistling another song by Simon and Garfunkel. Radiohead. On the emotional radio in Alex’s head. There sounded Radiohead. Sounds. Music. Wasn’t the answer there, the key? The knife under the sheets. Alex’s ears, more attentive. His body, light. His body, empty. Air. His mum opened the oven door. It creaked and screeched like nails against a blackboard. He shivered. He moved a hand. Heavy. Was it full? Full of something? Not of words. Not of that. The knife under the sheets.

                  A man had hugged mum in the funeral. He had kissed her. In the mouth? That man. Who was he? And Simon and Garfunkel. And that positive tone. The white ceiling. Empty. Light. Dream. Didn’t he speak in any of his dreams? Of course he did. He told the world everything he felt, everything he had inside. How did he do it? He never remembered. Everything is a sign. Watch your son. He will speak his own way. He had never done it. Whistles, songs, Simons and Garfunkels and Elton Johns, meals, some tears, smiles. The eyes. Hers. The eyes avoided him. He felt it. Felt. He took the handle and smiled. He felt he laid a bridge. Outside. To the world. Everything is a sign.          

he raised the blade, which reflected the ceiling light. his mum opened a drawer and the rush stopped. steps toward the hall. son, did you happen to see the kitchen knife? I can’t find it. whistles of Simon and Garfunkel. steps walking away. loose words from the kitchen. now everybody would know. everybody would understand. everything is a sign. his smile spread. he was talking. he was opening up. no. he wasn’t empty. there was a lot inside. too much. he closed his eyes. he pressed his fist around the handle. a tear in each eye. he started to cry and felt like laughing. he sucked in the salt of the tear. he will speak his own way. He smiled.

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