Pubblico un racconto di un po' di tempo fa, uno dei pochi che ho scritto in inglese. Le critiche sono ben accette. Buona lettura!
So, that was everything that remained about his life. That was all: his tall body sitting on a wooden bench at the port. His inexpressive face was directed towards the empty endlessness of the sea and the right margin of his ruined jacket was shaken by the marine wind blowing from the horizon. He felt a little bit cold, even though it wasn’t that chilly for being well on in October. However often he shrugged his shoulders, he couldn’t avoid that shiver passing through his backbone. His eyes were stuck upon a cargo ship ploughing on the horizon. It was so distant and blurred by the brackish air, that it seemed like it didn’t move. His life was pretty much like that cargo ship: it was running fast, but it seemed stuck in a fixed point. It seemed out of time.
He didn’t remember how long he had been sitting on that bench, but many cobles and fishing boats had passed by and left the dock and many people, fishermen and porters, had walked in front of him, without noticing his transparent figure sitting crooked on the quay. The dry color of his jacket and common brownish shade of his trousers made it almost difficult to recognize the body from the bench. Nevertheless, he found himself at that port, on that bench, because he had wanted to depart and differentiate himself from the surrounding. He had reached one of those moments in which there is no other solution than leaving. And he had left. He had gathered a few things in an old backpack, he had taken the book with him and he had taken the first train going east. He had no plans, no projects, even no goals. Having no goals was what his father had always accused him of, but his father didn’t know and was too stubborn to even wonder about his son’s true thoughts.
Now, without the overwhelming antagonistic figure of his father close to him, he found it difficult to think about something other than non-sense. He had goals, but those goals seemed to have vanished now, without his father ignoring them. Wasn’t it because of his father’s indifference that he had left? He couldn’t even remember. He was just tired. Tired of the walls of his house and the shining green grass of the front garden. Tired of the neatly painted white fence and the perfectly shaped hedge running on the right side of their detached house. Tired of the aligned white pebbles of the drive and the kitchen white curtains trimmed with lace. But he was especially tired of the late evening discussions around the dining table, above which the pendent lamp used to light his parents’ and sister’s faces, creating disquieting shadows under their noses and lower lips. That cone of light had witnessed thousands and thousands of words floating towards the ceiling, hundreds of screams and his sister’s tears.
His sister… she was the only one he was truly missing. Her sweet smile and the quivering eyes she used to set upon him while the silence filled the kitchen like a thick, palpable fog. The thought of her being alone in that house made him shiver even harder. Where had he found the courage and selfishness to leave her? She had accepted their parents’ way of thinking, their creed of living, their old, stupid mentality he hated so much. Or, at least, she had subdued herself to that mentality. “Don’t let them walk on you, for Christ’s sake! Stand up for yourself! Free your thoughts and tell them what you believe in!”. No matter how loud he could have shouted these words to her, his sister would just shake her frail head, her eyes filling up with salty tears of fear and resignation.
He hadn’t even told her he was leaving. He was afraid she would tell their parents the same instant he left the back door that night. He could imagine the pale face of her mother the day after, when she stepped in his room and found the bed perfectly tied up, no backpack on the top shelf of the closet, no jacket hanging from the chair, no Hamlet placed on his night table. He could see her tears and the his sister’s eyes staring at the window, in search of him. He could picture the cold gaze of his father and his lips twisted in a grimace of disdain and disapproval. He perfectly knew the words pronounced that night around the empty table: “He’s not able to survive one single day without us, honey” his father assured his mother, after finishing his bite of crumpets, “he has no idea of the world’s harshness, he has no goals. He will be back”.
His mother, in silent discretion, took the saucepan off the stove and served her husband first, then her daughter. She stopped for a second before filling her dish up with the sausages she had prepared, for after her daughter was her son’s turn. But her son was missing. His sister couldn’t stop staring at the sausages and potatoes perched in front of her, whose steam was climbing the air and making its way towards the pendant lamp.
He shook his head with a sharp movement to get rid of that annoying image. If he wanted to survive, he had to forget. He couldn’t spend all his time on a stupid bench, reflecting above the past and recalling his family. He had made a decision: he had left. He had decided to free himself. Didn’t he remember how much he had hated his parents’ bourgeois mentality? Had he forgotten about all the angry tears he had shed on his pillow before falling asleep? A gust of wind, stronger than others, seemed to bring him back to reality. His eyes moved from that cargo ship and followed the untied flight of some seagulls. He took a deep breath and courage, mixed to salty air, seemed to fill his lungs. He smiled: his whole life was ahead of him and he had his dreams, his goals, his hopes. Nothing could stop him. Appearing from nowhere, Hamlet’s words filled his mind: A dream itself is but a shadow. Wasn’t that true?
Before standing up and leaving the familiar bench, he thought of something he had seen that night, while coming out of the back door of his house, on his way to freedom: a black pebble among the other perfectly aligned white pebbles of the drive. He had stopped, his face lit up by the azurine moonlight. He bent down and took the pebble in his hand. After staring at it a couple of seconds, he slid the pebble into the pocket of his trousers. A simple, secure, smile appeared on his lips.And off he had gone.