I watched carefully as her car slipped from my view and away into the distance. The glimmer of her luscious green eyes remained behind for a few blissful seconds after the car disappeared out of sight; out of reach. I now only hoped for the simple things to remain in what was left of my mind: the cups of steaming coffee in the snow or the way both of my little finger would intertwine with hers, like a baby’s first grip on his mother’s hand.
I slumped into the rotten bench that lay at the roadside. Tracing my finger slowly along the lines of the heart we once carved our names into, I sighed a sigh of loss. Yet as the darkness simmered into my vision, with the fading headlights in the distance, I began to fade into my own distant memories.
* * *
I shed my skin and revealed everything that she could possibly know about me. She did not shy away as I revealed secret after secret, pouring out of my soul like gallons of honey being that spewed out in cascades of honesty. We shed clothes in the depths of darkness and shared moments that made my heart stutter with the feelings that were imprinting into the nerves of my skin. Where, although only the dim light gazed upon our bodies, our hearts still seemed connected with thin strands of an invisible, yet powerful bond. A bond that could compare only to the most respected arts: Picasso, Beethoven, Plath; yet a bond that conjured the feeling of hope and happiness, that came only with the fairy tales recalled from childhood.
No moment can ever be recreated, only mocked and imitated. Any false hope of love that would occur after any moment with her was only a play. A mocking. A pun. As if Shakespeare’s very own work was re-created and re-written, never again holding that unique and warm spark that the original words could did.
* * *
After hours of diving into my drug-like memories, I quickly became thirsty for more love, or lust, whichever would suffice. I can distinctly remember me dragging the soles of my feet across towns and cities, delving into bars, pubs and motels, desperately searching for a jigsaw piece of love that could fit into the empty space that she left behind.
I found hundreds of girls: with blond hair, blue eyes, short nails, stud piercings; brown hair, green eyes, long nails and several piercings; black hair, dark eyes, jagged nails and hundreds of piercings.
But like a plaster removed from an old wound, my happiness and hope seeped out of my body. Until only a pus-like substance remained in between my bones and skin. A lost soul, simply stumbling into the distance like the bright headlights I had once treasured.
* * *
Until one day, with worn down muscles and skin shattered like glass, I saw that old bench by the road.
Walking closer and closer, I realized that there was a woman, with beautiful skin and a familiar shimmer in her eye. Her left hand gently caressed the outline of a carving in the middle of the bench; as I approached her sight, she paused. Sitting down beside her, I brushed my hand over the stubble that was pushing out of my broken cheek; I appreciated her smooth and slightly freckled cheek that curved carefully into her jaw-line.
When I looked down I saw that her finger was resting on my name. I slowly lowered my hand, incase she pulled sharply away, and rested my smallest worn-down finger on the name of the girl that I had last seen years ago at this very spot.
Our little fingers crossed over one another like rose petals. Turning my head embarrassingly, she smiled a familiar smile that reflected with a glint, like a drop of fresh water. I prayed that for once I could be right in finding some hope that I was once again close to that old love, like that familiar childhood scent that I once forgot.
I was only nine when my Dad walked out. Just nine.
Have you ever wondered why people grow up thinking something is their fault? Maybe it is. But we never get told the truth, do we? As a child you will have lies streamed into you, to make you shut up, or to make you understand from an easier point of view.
I woke up in the middle of night. I’m not sure what nightmare it was that woke me, I used to have them all the time, and I still do. My light blue spotty sheets were soaking up my sweat; I had them wrapped around me, like a cuddly safeguard from the monsters under my bed. Yet, now I’m older and things are different. My Dad can’t be the one to comfort me anymore, and my Mum sleeps with these little red sweets, they look like smarties in a posh box, so nor can she comfort me.
I called out and I called out. I called out until my throat was bone dry. I called out until I ran out of tears. I was gripping my sheets so tightly. Throwing my head into the pillow, I wept silently, without tears. I couldn’t call out anymore, my mind was flooding with images of my fears all gathering round my bed; locking me in, standing back to back like the towering bars of a cell.
It was then that my Mum called out: “Josh! Come downstairs!”
I stayed silent, hoping she’d come and fetch me. Carry me through my room and downstairs. Where we’d sit on the sofa and I’d tell her about my dream whilst my Dad heated up the milk, then they’d listen to me. They’d listen and Dad would nod reassuringly, whilst Mum would say comforting things whilst stroking my hair. But…
“Josh, come down honey. Please.” The desperation diluted her voice.
So clambering out of bed, I closed my eyes, shut them tight, and stumbled out of my bleak room. Tripped over my toys. Their sharp edges jabbing at my feet, warning me to turn around and hide under the sheets again. Where the problem might just fade away. When I was out of my room, I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I ran straight into the kitchen and grabbed my Mum’s leg, squeezing it tight like a cuddly toy and hugging her for comfort. Weeping and mumbling I held firm, like the stubborn and naive child that I was.
She gently pushed at my shoulders, “Come on Josh, please, get off, you have to say bye to Daddy”. I could hear the strain in her voice, I knew one of us was crying, but I thought it should’ve been me.
My Dad spoke in his warm and friendly voice, “Son”, he took a hold of my shoulder and eased me away from my Mum’s leg. Turning around I saw him crouching down to meet my wondering gaze. His black sports bag laid just behind him and his unlaced boots hung limply on his feet. “Me and your mother have to spend some - some time away… From each other” pausing I could see the corners of his eyes moisten, the grey bags hung like drapes under his sockets and his chin was rough with stubble.
I shook my head, over and over, because maybe that could fix everything. Maybe if I shook my head hard enough, then I’d be able to shake the fear out of his eyes; shake the bags away and tear them down, like tearing down ugly drapes from the haunted house I felt I was trapped in.
He rose up and grabbed his bag, shaking his head too. It was like we agreed, like father like son. Neither of us wanted him to leave, but it only took Mum’s word to make him go. So I watched whilst he took one last look at my Mum, and said “I love you”. Both of us stayed silent. I was silent because I had to be, I was the man of the house now. I didn’t know why my Mum stayed silent.
The light poured onto my Dad’s back as he turned, ran his hand over the kitchen door and started walking. His boots pounding the wood floor with each step, I stared and stared, I didn’t even say bye.
Nor did he turn back to hear my whisper.
He grasped the handle of the front door, pulled it open and stepped out into the unforgiving night.
The door clicked and my Mum stayed strangely silent.
Toxoplasma gondii, le protozoaire responsable de la toxoplasmose, est un parasite adepte de l'auto-stop. Sa destination finale est l'organisme d'un félin, seul endroit où il pourra se reproduire de manière sexuée. Mais avant de parvenir chez cet hôte dit définitif, ce minuscule être unicellulaire se laisse transporter par quantités d'hôtes intermédiaires, animaux à sang chaud, dont l'homme. Cet auto-stoppeur a donc un objectif dans la vie, faire en sorte que l'hôte intermédiaire croise la route de l'hôte définitif… et se fasse dévorer par lui. On pourrait croire que c'est mission impossible mais une étude retentissante parue en 2000 a montré que Toxoplasma gondii avait plus d'un tour dans sa seule et unique cellule : il était capable de modifier le comportement de rats au point que ceux-ci, une fois infectés, perdaient leur répulsion naturelle pour l'urine de chat et étaient même attirés par elle !
Cette manière de forcer les rongeurs à adopter un comportement suicidaire et à pousser Jerry dans la gueule de Tom, s'appelle une manipulation parasitaire. Et, à la lumière de cette découverte, on s'est demandé si elle n'était pas aussi à l'œuvre chez nous. On a en effet constaté des modifications comportementales chez les humains infectés, une moins bonne concentration, un allongement du temps de réaction. Autant de facteurs qui pourraient être fatals et permettre à Toxoplasma gondii d'arriver à ses fins si Homo sapiens était encore un fragile bipède gambadant nu et sans défense dans la savane, et non pas ce super-prédateur qui se promène dans le métro les yeux rivés à son smartphone sans lequel, pour paraphraser Pierre Desproges, “il n'est pas de bonheur terrestre possible”. Pour l'agent de la toxoplasmose, les humains ne sont pas fantastiques comme hôtes intermédiaires car, à de très rares exceptions près, ils ne servent plus de repas à des félins.
I can feel the darkness reaching out and breathing in the image of you. Creeping out from within my eyes like little ripples spreading slowly and gracefully, ready to swallow up the sweet scent of your gaze. Ready to gape towards the tips of your fingers. I treasure the touch of your fragile bones exploring the back of my neck and scoping for heat in the roots of my hair.
Because, my dear, everything in that moment was captured and embedded into my memory. It was one of those moments when everything didn’t disappear, no, everything shrunk down and compacted itself into the few metres that had us surrounded with materialistic goods and expensive sheets of silk.
Either way, I can still taste the welcoming breath of your perfume.