Ballbags On The Road (Edition I) – What Do You Call This Chapter? Part IV

Check out Part III here

You probably got a pretty good idea of how my friends and I had come to enjoy driving around in Georgia but the pain of some roads still resides in my bottom but boy did the views astound us all. Every time we would see something beautiful, we would immediately forget all the pain and feel grateful for coming over to see the country. While Ben did the lion’s share of work, Manuel and I still had to keep him company and show the way (thanks, Google maps).
We knew our destiny as we had to take the same curvy, broken, mountain road back – down towards Kutaisi, stopping by at Martvili and Okatse canyons. Manuel had already visited both of the places before, so he left Ben and me have fun there all on our own, while he was chatting away with some local girls (I bet). Out of both of the places though, I enjoyed Martivili the most. Just look how gorgeous it is!

 

We got on a small boat and went on a quick tour around the canyon and then walked around the area to enjoy the humming noises of the water and sweaty tourists.
Okatse canyon was definitely more enormous and grand, however, it felt like looking down at a desert, with some hills popping up in the view as we raised our heads. I mean, it was still nice but I wish that Martvili canyon was as large and as Okatse.

 

We also passed by a small town of Surami in Georgia and we saw a camera crew there filming us – we thought that we’d be in the local news. Manuel found out later that The Grand Tour was filming one of their episodes there. I’m a huge fan of the show and the presenters – Jeremy, James & Richard. Fingers crossed that we’ll appear on their episode, smiling at the cameras as we drove by.
Needless to say, we were an ambitious trio – we wanted to visit Kazbegi as well, after our stop in Tblisi, but found out that we were constrained by the time as well as the country’s borders. That border closed us off from driving there directly from where we were at the time – thanks, South Ossetia! There was no chance that we could enter South Ossetia from Georgia (because of them not being the best of friends) and going to Kazbegi from Kutaisi was a very long journey to do in a day, considering that Ben was the only driver.
So, in the typical ballbag fashion, we wasted quite a bit of our day at stopping by at a lot of places, walking around canyons and understood that we would not make it on time to Tblisi. The nearest place for a sleepover was Ambrolauri. It took me weeks to memorise the name of the bloody town though.
We found ourselves driving late in the evening and could barely see what was ahead of us, even with the long lights. Other drivers had their long lights when driving towards us and Ben was progressively turning into a rage mode because the light flash made his eyes tired. To add to the frustration, the road was as curvy as if we were driving inside someone’s intestines – actually, that is a very good metaphor now that I come to think of it. However, that was a great practice for Ben and long tiring trip for all of us. Lesson learnt: wake up at the sunrise to travel as early as you can, so you won’t have to be like us. Ideally, it would and should have been an “active vacation” rather than a “passive” one but it ended up being a mix – we would get more sleep than we should have and drive out late but when it came to seeing places or doing anything, we would always rush a bit. Not the best mix but there we are.
We arrived to the town of Ambrolauri, being greeted by yet more long lights and dark hills. I even felt a bit of joy entering the town – it looked quite neat and lovely and I was longing for the morning, to see the hills looking down at the small buildings around them. However, our main goal was to get some local wine and try it out as we had not been able to get tipsy for quite some time!
Firstly though, we had to get to a guesthouse. Manuel called the local and negotiated the price. Once done, we headed towards the place & unpacked our things. Our room felt like it used to be a prison cell or torture room – it was about 8 m2 with four beds in there, which were old and rusty. At least it was not cold.
The owner of the place was so kind that he offered us some home-made Chacha (strong Georgian brandy), which was kept in plastic bottle (very promising) and was 60% strong, if not more. Last time I drank something out of the plastic bottle, I had a really hard time. However, before we had committed to it, we went into the city to get some food and local wine.
We met a tourist and his driver in the shop, who told us that they drove all the way from Ushgvili, through the mountains, towards Ambrolauri.

This is wicked! Just have a look at the map and imagine going all the way through the mountains there.

It must have been a whole new journey for the tourist’s bottom as the driver had done that before, obviously. And he was Georgian – no surprise there. We left the shop and Manuel and I started thinking of taking the same journey next time as them, and try to climb up one of the mountains there.
Once we have arrived at the guesthouse, we opened Chacha and took our first shot. It felt great and strong but that joy was mixed with fear of going South either in my stomach or head. It felt like taking drugs for the first time – exciting but scary, as you do not know what the consequences are going to be like. So we cautiously drank it, shot by shot, and chatted away about our trip, what places we’d be visiting the next day and how early we should wake up. We all agreed at waking up as early as possible to visit a few other places on our way to Tblisi. We had to give the car back and we were quite nervous about it – we almost destroyed the break, nearly crashed and ABS kept on coming up on the dashboard, which normally is the sign that the breaks need to be changed (even though the ABS warning would disappear on some occasions). Ballbags on vacation, what else can I say?

Bittersweet

“Some people die at 25 and are only buried at 75” –
Benjamin Franklin

My American friend, Michael, accompanied me for the trip to “warm places” back in August 2016. I initially was supposed to go there on a business trip in the wake of September but the company I worked for allowed me to run away from “the sacred beauties” of the Baltics three weeks prior to the business trip (i.e. instead of purchasing the flight tickets only for the business trip, I booked a ticket to fly over to Ukraine for a vacation first). As Mike had only one week of holidays, he suggested me to visit Odessa, Tiraspol (in Transnistria) and Chisinau (Moldova) together with him. He was really stoked to see Transnistria, while I wanted to enjoy Moldavian wine and see dozens (literally) of my relatives in Ukraine.
I flew with Turkish Airlines (they treat you with good food and smiles) and was chatting with a lovely Estonian girl through the whole trip to Istanbul – she was on the way to her relatives in Georgia. I hope I could go there one day too (boom – already planned this trip for 2018). She was travelling alone though – but her heart was already taken by someone else (awww) so my compliments already started wearing off pretty quickly after that (girls mention their boyfriends out of the blue in the middle of the conversation – or may be it is there strategy) and we just continued talking over “friendship barricade”. She was an interesting person nonetheless.
I arrived to Istanbul to wait for the connecting flight and had quite some time to waste. So I was walking around in search of the Wi-Fi to entertain myself with memes from 9Gag. All networks were password protected and a local cafe shop wanted me to buy some food/drinks from them if I wanted to connect to their Wi-Fi. That’s how you make a business! I then approached a stranger, who was sitting close nearby that same cafe and asked her if she knew the password by any chance. She gladly shared it with me and that stroke a conversation. She was from Sweden (finally it was time to practice my Swedish!), and was going to Africa for a week to give some inspirational speeches to the people in need (she is working for some NGO) for a week or so. By the time we got around to talking about Swedish FinTech, my flight was approaching, so I bade a warm farewell to her.
I arrived to Kiev to get on the bus to Odessa right away. When I got to Odessa, I then took a taxi (I absolutely forgot to bargain with the taxi driver, so I overpaid a few Euros) to get to the hostel to meet up with Mike, who had a flight from Tallinn to Odessa. He although said that he was deeply unimpressed by the Ukrainian airport. We were hanging out with his two other female friends around the city for the next couple of days (I assure you that it was a pure coincidence that we were mingling so much with the girls on the trip), eating, drinking, staying at the beach – having fun, basically. Odessa felt like sauna packed with oceans of shops in August – it felt like every second person living there felt that it was time to do some business and sell something.
Ukrainians are very honest people, I can tell you that. If a girl does not want to dance with you, she will say “no” before you take another breath. If they like you – you will know. Easiest “women manual” I have ever come across thus far. It is quite easy to strike a conversation with them and chat away but I barely met anyone who would speak English there and if you ever go to Ukraine, it is a good idea to arm yourself with a local or Russian speaker (otherwise, you may be ripped off when buying something – obviously, not in the stores – or get lost in the city).
After a couple of days in Odessa, midnight “English breakfast” from a local restaurant close to our hotel and late night beach parties, we were finally ready to set off to another location. We got on an intercity bus – this was when Mike and I felt that real adventure was about to come – we were on our way to Tiraspol from Odessa. Not even joking – it was a regular intercity bus about to cross borders in an hour or two! Nevertheless, Prendnistrovje (a.k.a. Transnistria) is an unrecognised country within Moldova. As they wanted to be a part of neither Ukraine nor Moldova, they had remained that way for over 20 years. However, they still want to be a part of Russia (more than a half of people living there hold a Russian passport).
Apparently, anyone can visit Transnistria for up to 24 hours (on the border, a chap with “KGB” sticker on his shirt will ask you the purpose of your visit, your occupation, address you are staying at and give you a migration card – as far as I can recall, they do not stamp your passport at all). If you leave the border later than 24 hours, you will be fined. If you want to stay longer (which I believe you can up to anywhere between 1-3 months, depending on your citizenship), you need to ask the host to extend your visit for acceptable X amount of time with the help of local “KGB” or superman, whoever they have there. On another note, definitely make sure you get yourself a Russian speaker as barely anyone speaks English there.
We rented an apartment in Tiraspol through booking.com and our host, Eugene, gave us a tour around the town. He told us about the organisation, called “Sheriff” – known by all people in Transnistria. They had their gas stations, infrastructure, football club – basically, they were a huge monopoly in the country. Despite that, people still appreciated “Sheriff” and what they had done for the country.
Tiraspol looked like a frozen city – it felt like it time-travelled back to Soviet Union and was looking up to Russia (still) for a better future. Locals seemed to be fine with that. For Mike and me the trip was a totally new experience. But the highlight of the trip there was seeing plastic Transnistrian coins – I would not be surprised if people played poker with that money (they do look like poker chips) and the nightlife. We went out to a local club and met quite a few folks who had travelled through Europe, Asia and heaps of different countries but came back either because of their families or of something that did not work out for them there. The locals were distantly friendly to us but even Mike could not impress them with the fact that he came all the way from the US to Tiraspol (apparently, the locals had travelled quite extensively!) and the fact that I was from Ukraine, living abroad, raised no eyebrows either. What the locals were, however, impressed by was Mike’s Russian (as it was pretty good at the time) and our “afterparty” was basically others teaching him all sort of expressions in Russian.
After our active one-day trip in Tiraspol and breathing in the spirit of “I-want-to-be-in-Russia-someday”, it was time to move on. We boarded the bus to Moldova. That was when where proper Turkish sauna began – starting in Chisinau. Bear in mind I was already sweating the whole 4 days before arriving to Chisinau but there I felt that my forehead was like a lamp and I was so desperate to summon a genie that I kept on rubbing it (from the sweat) every two minutes. So hot it was there – above 30 degrees, in fact.
What was interesting about Chisianu was that half of the city looked modern (somewhat close to your “regular Baltic capital”) and the other half was swarming with street markets and cheap prices like in a small town. We met up with two locals there (through Couchsurfing) and went to a place to eat. The food I ate was so rich in taste and every piece of that beautifully executed chicken in the soup (zjama), mamaliga and plăcintă made me feel closer to Jesus (not that I was dying or anything). When they asked me if I preferred Moldavian women to food, I could not talk – my mouth was full all the time. And home-made wine was something out of the barrel (literally)! It felt so light, tasty and bittersweet. I would not be able to drink any other wine any more but Moldavian (may be Georgia will change my mind this year).
I also got a tip from one of the locals – if you ever want to see Moldova, rent a car (€ 15 per day) and go around the North of the country. Locals say it is worth it, if you want to see what Moldova really is made of. Eat here as much as you can as well and go wild on grapes too!
After a few days, Mike headed to Bucharest, to see some more Roma folks and I got on the bus back to Ukraine (it was a sweaty and humiliating bus trip for me) to visit my relatives. I travelled around some more Ukrainian cities and then went to the village close to Kremenchug where my relatives lived. I sadly could not learn how to ride a motorcycle or fish with a bamboo fishing rod just like in good old times (the motorcycle was broken and my uncle did not have time to fix it, sadly, and fish in the lakes were a size of a quarter and the owners of those lakes were greedy bastards, who charged you unreasonable prices to go and fish there). My uncle often dreamt of fishing like in good old times too, he confessed. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant stay with my relatives for a week before taking off to the business trip in the town nearby.
Cherkasy. Spelled with one “s” as I learned when I entered the office the first day. I had side-by-sides with the IT dudes – I showed them what I did in another office and talked more about products that I worked with and they showed me their witchcraft. Some of the things on their screens looked really scary – almost enough to summon the Satan himself, it felt like. Cherkasy was a small but cute town. If you have work and family or bunch of friends there – it was alright. The place was really small and stagnant though. Folks were at a loss of suggesting what I could see here after recommending me to visit a park and a monument, close to the beach. Conclusion – fine with beer for a day or two there!
I had passed Kiev it by so many times but never had a chance to walk about and explore that magnificent city. I am so glad that I had done that on that trip. It was miraculous at night time and there were more pretty women – I do recommend you to spend at least a week here. There is a ton of places to visit and things to do. Although, bear in mind that getting somewhere for an hour within the city is considered normal. Chatting up with someone out of the blue is considered sane though (unlike in Baltics and Scandinavia) and I had missed that so much – you can start a chat with literally anyone in Kiev and people were always glad to help out. Kiev ticked in all the boxes for me and I cannot wait to come there again to stay longer.

To be honest with you – that trip woke me up and pushed me out of my comfort zone quite a bit and I had been craving to see more places after that. Getting out of your comfort zone is always the way to go! Staying at hotels, getting a tour guide and all the other trivial and typical tourist crap – do you really need it? Use Couchsurfing to meet up with new people or ask your friends around for some more friends who live in the place you are planning to visit. Easy trip is never a fun and educating one. Yes, there were a few hoops and uncomfortable travels (like me sweating the whole bus trip back to Ukraine) and so forth but I broke shackles of comfort and “a new little me” was born at that time – I noticed that I changed and that was the change I anticipated to experience the most. I learned new things, talked to new people, tried different food and drinks – I felt alive. There were hoops and ladders to cross and climb and challenges to face but by the end of the day I still could feel the bitter-sweet taste of this trip in my mouth. After the cup of tea, of course. No sugar.

Oyster’s clutch

I’m dragging like an oyster through the shore,
Kissing ocean’s waves with dribbling lips,
I’m crawling back to see the glimpse
Of boiling silence, splashing overseas.

The weight of ocean is clenching lungs against my ribs
As the fires light on sailing ship.
I’m struggling now to get a grip
On empty stones that lead to anchor of eternal grief.

I didn’t even have the time to bade goodbye,
To whisper words that soar my throat
And shall I on the sinking boat,
Meet you at the sunrise on the other ocean’s tide.

My tiny, fragile house of shelf is cracking
Under the pressure of unknown,
I’m gasping through the water’s foam,
As the moonlight is bleeding into my throat.

I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye…
As the mile stretches after mile.
The horizon is blurring, while
A little oyster wishes it had the tears to cry.

The Bullet Dodger

Special Thanks to Joseph Enge and Tim Chiswell

Based on real events

 

A good American acquaintance of mine, Joe told me a story once that shifted my mindset to a different level, one which I could not have foreseen.

Joe, a bright and handsome student at a college in the US came to meet, long ago,  a beautiful blonde girl called Tanya, who was of Norwegian descent. Not only was she beautiful – she was an astounding and stunning girl, and she found Joe an interesting person so she went out with him on a date one day. Joe thought the evening was great, but Tanya herself, however,  came across to him as a little shallow and not so smart, although she certainly stood out when they entered the nice restaurant they went to. The next day, Joe was in the library studying with his friend John, who was of Greek descent, when he suddenly saw Tanya, who came up to him to say ”Thank you for the wonderful evening yesterday!” Joe parted ways in a nice manner by extending a friendly smile to her and waving goodbye. Now, as Greeks are stereotypically crazy about blonde girls, John of course asked Joe if he would be going out with her again    to which Joe replied that he didn’t really fancy doing so, however good she looked. His friend was in awe. ”How? Why not? May I ask her out instead then?” Joe said that he was completely fine with that.

To put it in a nutshell, one thing led to another and John eventually married Tanya. They had a daughter and moved to live in a very fancy suburb of San Francisco. John majored in business studies and ended up working for big international corporations, often in Nigeria or other such  foreign places. Such great distance made John feel very uncomfortable, unhappy about being so far away from Tanya and their little baby. On top of that he disliked the corporate atmosphere he was working in,  but nevertheless he was paid very well -at least it was more than enough to support both his beloved wife and their child. Sad to say, Tanya could not stand the distance any more than John could, but for her this manifested in her cheating on John. It came to him as a huge shock when she filed for a divorce, seemingly out of the blue. Later he found that his Tanya had betrayed him. Of course, when she finally moved out she took half of his hard-earned assets and his daughter with her, and then moved back to live with her parents, far away in  Minnesota. He was left having to pay tremendous monthly amounts for child support despite the fact that he could only see his daughter every once in a blue moon, since Tanya made it very difficult for him to see their baby, on top of living so far away.

As I listened to Joe attentively, he continued his story by saying ”The last I heard he was still having a very difficult time,  and was also stabbed in the back by his business partners years later,  after the divorce. I hope and pray he is doing well again now, but I have my doubts…” after reflectively taking another deep puff on his Mallboro cigarette, he continued ”…and so it turns out that I dodged  the bullet,  walking away from her after that date, and I am happy I did it immediately, not after a decade or two. I am happy”.

I simply stared at Joe, as my jaw dropped wide. You see, I was raised in the environment where it was always thought that the ending of a relationship was a failure, that the ultimate goal for everyone was to find a relationship, and that the goal of every relationship was permanence. It came to me as a shocking wave of pity,  because I felt so bad for John at that moment, that life had struck at him so unfairly. But then again, Joe had a good point and that made a thought jump up into awareness from the basement of my brain: Why should I actually feel bitter or be sad about breaking up with my girlfriend? Why would anyone feel the same way if they break up with their partner? On the contrary, they could feel blessed – they may have dodged a bullet at the right moment,  and not wasted any more of their time!

As my friend put it ”…do not think of the ending of a relationship as a failure. If the relationship has served its purpose then it is done, and it succeeded in what was required of it. You can compare it to your career. If you work happily somewhere for a few years before finding a better job elsewhere, your work in the previous place is not considered a ‘failure’ but rather as valuable experience that has moved you on towards your ultimate goal or the next stage of your journey. The failure would be to not move on, to keep clinging on after you see that no more progress can be made”.

Think of this journey as an exciting but potentially dangerous one. Sometimes life points a gun at you and shoots that little bastard bullet, aimed at your heart with only one intention – to break you down and make you crawl, afraid to stand up again. Joe’s story, and my friend’s viewpoint on life, taught me that no matter what shatters the core of your world or brings you down, you have to move on. You have to pull yourself together and keep walking. So if you have recently broken up with your loved one, whether you were together for one date or many years, just think of it as a step forward – and if it did not end well between the two of you, just think to yourself: ”I have dodged a bullet, and I’m moving forward! I am a bullet dodger!

The Circle

I wake up from the bed, which appears to be made of sand. My eyes start hunting for the light – first rays of the sun are beginning to creep out off the bald hill. I then look around, surrounded by the yellow – I don’t recognise this place. Where am I?

My lips are dry and it feels as if my tongue was bitten by a snake. How long has it been since I’ve woken up? I am in the desert and I cannot see anything but sand, on which I stand barefoot. The air feels heavy – it’s almost as if I have been inhaling the air out of the plastic bag throughout the night. One breath after another and I am feeling more awake. Where do I go? 

The sun comes out and I immediately sense its rays clenching onto my back with claws. It now feels heavier to walk. I don’t remember how I even got here in the first place – I don’t know what day it is and where my home is. I feel like a blank sheet of paper, thrown into the bin full of dust. I am afraid and the scream is pushing its way towards my dry throat.

The further I walk, the more I want to turn around and walk back to the bed – I don’t know where I am going. May be I reach the edge of the earth and will have nowhere else to turn. Nothing feels real here. And this strange feeling, this stinging in the back of the neck, telling me something in a tongue I don’t comprehend. This whole picture is out of the frame.

I have been walking for days and the sun is still angrily feasting on my back. I look behind me to see whether the sun has its eyes on me and for a second I saw it blink. I swear. Like a huge lamp it is following me and the moment I turn my back on it, it swings towards my neck and almost burns it – when I face it, it rolls back to where it was. What is this place?

The sand is growing warmer and softer – I hope not to sink in it. I can see hills down my path – one after another and not a single body of water – I sense my blood turn crusty.

Having walked this long here, I have not reached anything – the lamp’s blinding and burning rays are vile and merciless. Only water here is the sand I walk on. I see myself going towards to are the hills, masking the horizon. The night never comes here – not a single star, not a single blanket of endless darkness. I am alone.

I have lost the count of everything – my head is boiling and feeling heftier. My lips are broken into pieces, back is sinking deeper into my legs, the prism of spiteful light is looking down at me with its malicious eyes. The hills are growing taller and wider, building a circle around me. This is hopeless and I cannot run away from this void…the only void I am in.

And then I stop. I stand still, slowly looking around in hope of the change of the scene.

Everything is still and suspended and my knees are anchoring me to the scratchy floor. I refuse to walk – I have given up. Nothing is holding me anymore and I give in. I give myself in to the floor, burning my feet. Slowly and steadily I start drowning. The hills are building themselves taller and greater as I am falling in. The sand is remorseless and is consuming every inch of my body – peace by peace. I can feel it sting my skin. But then I see something else emerge from the sand in front of me. A head protruding out of the thin layer of the dust – who is it? The lower I sink, the more I can see of the figure, emerging from the crust of the sweat I have left behind. Every inch of me sinking is coming out of the sand on the other side. Slowly but surely I can recognise the hair, shoulders, back… My lungs are being pressed against the sucking void and I am loosing my senses. If only I could see who this is, if only I could let out one last scream for help – may be I would be rescued. May be, if I have not given up, I would have been saved by this figure. My throat is touching the burning lips of the sand and my eyes are being buried next to the emerged body…the body I can never see again. Who is it?

I wake up from the bed, which appears to be made of sand. My eyes start hunting for the light – first rays of the sun are beginning to creep out off the bald hill. I then look around, surrounded by the yellow – I don’t recognise this place. Where am I?

A Hollow Kingdom

I am the prisoner of beauty;
The elegance portrayed so deeply in the shades of flashing colours.
I am like a dog on chains again,
No other solid rhyme compels me
To override the pain.

No other words of passion,
Expressed in every language of the world
Can summarise simplicity of everlasting fame;
And smashing head against the metal bars,
I am the prisoner of bad-end game.

So call me Mr. Passion, dare me to play!
I know I lose just like in chess,
Where every movement’s played against the queen
To f*ck the big time king
And leave him in desolation.

Don’t tell me how to dive, I’ve drown before
In every word I’ve carved into my chest.
It’s a never-ending battle, player one,
I’ve placed the bets: eighty eight to one,
To do with agony away.

Your beauty – simply crashing
Avalanches on the bridge of clay.
But why am I still running? Playing still this game?
Well, because I’m used to losing…
I never learn my lessons, so let me face my fate!

I shall not turn the pages
And write the numbers down,
I am embracing all this pain
Just because I need to feel alive
And let the actions soar my throat.

What’s the use of laying down the carpet
Before your feet?
I keep on boiling all these futile passions
Just to overlap discussions
And save myself some time.

Yes, it floats in circling madness
And the walls are shutting tight.
Call me Mr. Poet, call me Mr. Drama!
I’ve put these pallets under my seat
And now watch me put some more.

But you should know that as the king,
I am surrounded by jesters,
Composing all these bullsh*t rhymes for me
And whispering so madly, sucking on my feet,
Conclusions with a dirty fee.

One day you’ll realise as well
When all your jesters flee,
You have nothing in the kingdom
But lifeless sacks of gold and burning feet.
Just like in chess you’ll end up with no queen.

And I shall have a pleasure
To watch the clouds burst their dust on me…
I have everything and nothing else to lose!
My kingdom’s empty, I can cast it all to flames
‘Cause here it’s empty: the kingdom does not hold your name.

Box of Heart

What is dire and crucial in this life…can this something be beyond what we fostered ourselves to believe in? The modern clock seems to have been invented only for one to end up wishing for it to become dormant.
I wake up to a scream, which seems to be coming from within myself. I attempt to recollect shattered images from my dream – I distantly remember being embraced in someone’s arms and lying gently on a side of a bed. There was crying, although I do not seem to have been upset by anything. And there was lust – horrifyingly impure. I was in the midst of something blissful and affectionate, although disturbing at the same time. But that seems to be so distant yet more real than this cup of yesterday’s moulded and cold tea, standing on the edge of the table. I always finish my tea but not this time. Something worried me so much yesterday that I forced myself to cover with blankets and fall asleep. Unfortunately, me going to bed did not follow up with a good culmination of being able to put bad thoughts at the ocean’s bed… I need to make another cuppa.
My socks touch the nailed and cold floor, shivering from the dust, and I slither towards a familiar view of the kitchen. Did I not see it in my dream? Did I worry about the over-boiling water or that I need to…yes, the fridge is empty. Probably even emptier than other things I direly care of. Oftentimes, I wish I could squeeze my head into a mash to prevent the thoughts from spinning in an endless whirlwind, keeping me distracted from everything that is around me. Oh…the water is already boiling…
Same rusty, satisfyingly bitter taste enters my throat, transporting hot liquid from one kettle to another one inside of me. Have I mentioned the occasional burn of my lower lip? My tongue gets so irritated by this. But the pride of being able to drink my tea hot overshadows these irrelevant and short bursts of stings against my body. I should stop drinking my tea on a naked stomach though – I might end up giving it for a repair and then wait days until it’s been fixed. Walking about with the temporary bag and needing to fill it with the acid can ruin your best meal, you know. It’s time-consuming and I want to enjoy my meal. Speaking of food – my fridge is not going to grow any food on its own. And so, fixing my eyes mindlessly onto the edge of the missing piece of marble in the wall, which went missing ages ago, I get to the last, most bitter sip of the tea. It tastes like heaven. I need to think of my stomach. Where did I leave it?
I sprint towards the door and then carefully open it, with the sound of cracks sliding gently into the edges of my ears. I look around to make sure no one is here and squeeze the set of keys in the fist. I go towards the box. How well preserved and unspoiled it is. The almighty metal shackles sancturing the bubble of life. So sacred to me it is. Looking around once again, I slide my keys into the box and carefully open it, not to damage the frames of the small door. The heart, everlasting and untiring muscle, is beating along with the rhythm of the clock, hanging from a cracking wall, and I see it still blush with scarlet tones and radiate the warmth. My heart.
I dare not touch this fragile sculpture of existence but I cannot avoid thinking and worrying about it being behind this frail door. What an interesting thought – we protect most sacred things to us behind thin walls. Are we careless or awaiting to let regret into our lives when we realise we’d broken it? All these thoughts aside, I am glad that our boxes are inside a big house but one never knows for sure who can enter this house and break get hold of your box to steal your heart. But my neighbours seem to be careful about this, so I can trust them, should anything happen. After all, you do not want your heart stolen either – you will be running out of breath, trying to get it back and you will sell them everything that you own to get it back. Those Trickers, who steal hearts, might end up puncturing it and leaving you heartless. You can’t even trust Pickers nowadays either, like we once did. I miss that genuine feeling of agitation to have your heart being picked up by one of them and being taken care of – this is how we used to fall in love with one another back then. Nowadays, it boils down to them Pickers owning others’ hearts as a token of superiority – something they would rather own as a thing than treasure. They mistreat it, feed upon their malevolent desire to prove they deserve attention to themselves. Everyone is afraid now. Everyone is shutting their doors, locking themselves in, hiding their hearts away only to open that huge and consuming void inside of themselves and realise that they cannot run farther four walls. I close my chest.
I cherish those moments when I could keep my heard inside of my human shell. Fear took over people’s minds and made them put something this precious outside of themselves like a jewellery, only to not feel it rot within themselves. Fear drew them out of the brutal and shortish reality into a tedious and emotionless eternity. And I am only a victim of this imprisonment.
After a while, I disassemble onto the dark prints of my floor, leaving my stare fixed at the ceiling – I am hopeless, I am careless. All the hatred put under my lip is clenching my teeth, leaving my mouth at an uncomfortable rest. I have not spoken in days and cannot think of anything to say out loud. No one else to tell anything to either – I am eagerly awaiting for the Picker to come in and take my heart; play with it, deconstruct, learn it and share the joy of its existence. All the days of wait turn into a nightmare – it feels as if I were sleepwalking. I want to feel awake. I want to be accepted, I want to end this struggle. Curtains cover me with their crimson-thick weight and I lose it all to the night.

I feel my chest burst with aroma of anxiety – I am awake. I find the same cup of tea, standing on the edge of the table. I rush towards it from the floor and stare into brown spots, left on its walls. I forgot to buy more tea. I am still hungry. Where is my stomach? I believe I checked it yesterday – it must have been empty for days now. I am not so sure it is in good of a condition, lying next to my other organs in that box. By Jove, it will be an adventure when first piece of foods hits the rock bottom of my human bag of concentrated hunger. Where are my keys?
I am looking out of the window in the search of a ray of the light but an angry cloud seems to have imprisoned the sun behind itself. It’s been like this for months and I lost the count of days, since each one of them is equivalent to this everlasting gloom. Lanterns’ lights are slowly fading out and people walking down the street begin to disappear behind the sinister fog. I lose the sight of the buildings and over time their outlines…then the horizon vanishes and the outside of the window turns pitch black. I stand alone, hearing only my own breath echoing within my mouth. It has never felt as hollow as this.
I cannot recall the last time that I spoke with my neighbours. I remember that one of them got desperate to an extent that he had his private parts sent to another town in search of love. His heart went entirely missing and he succumbed to lust without turning back and was left corrupted. Year by year, he lost all of his organs and became a broken man, only having heavy air withheld inside of him. His memory blanked, his muscles weakened, his perception became dull. Before he had lost his last human cell, he was stranded as an empty shell in humid deserts.
My stomach, my heart – I need to check back on them before they get worse by any chance. I find my keys, lying by the door and having opened the door, I rush my eyes around the corridor and find something odd – something out of place. Oh no…Oh no! No! How…how could have this happened? No!!! Leaving the door to my flat open, I run towards the boxes and see my box wide open. They took it! They have it! I flash my eyes onto the door and see it closing slowly, someone’s leg protruding from the open space between the door and the wall. The lock clicks, along with my distantly beating heart. This is it. There is no turning back. I am lost without it, I am condemned to forever living as a thoughtless vacuum of meaningless breath…no, no! I must run, I must hide, I must hold onto hope!
I storm back into the flat and shut the door behind myself. What have I done… What have I done! Now it’s forever lost and I cannot fight back – I am the glass, I am the crack. So many things to see and tell about, so much behind me and to live for. All of it has come to an end. I dive into my memories to bring them all back before I lose everything that is human of me. I can feel my body shake but I refuse to give in. I want to bring the past days back, I need my light back. So comforting and inviting. Full of warmth and bliss. The cold shakes my bones. Concentrate, focus on the thoughts – it is the last thing that I can do!
And all of a sudden the silence is broken by a loud and frightening knock on the door. Knock, knock and another knock. The louder it grows, the heavier I breathe. I hide behind the sofa, covering my head with arms. I don’t want to open the door. I know how this ends. I want to spend the last moments with myself. Knock. Knock. Knock. One after another, filling in every inch of the room with vibration. I want more time to recollect all the beauty and picture it in front of myself. Knock. Knock. Knock. I want to cleanse all the regrets and welcome the dark-blue sky and its stardust curtains once again. I seek forgiveness in this terror. Knock. Knock. Knock. I want out of the hole I trapped myself in. I have never managed to get out of it and now it’s too late to climb my way up the rope. No second chance. Knock.