Tuesday, April 16

My Greatest Prank Yet

ONE DAY I LOOKED out of my window and I saw the spring Sunday sun shining through the air and the clouds weren’t bothering anyone because they weren’t grey; the trees giggled on the spot, their nude branches tipped by little mud coloured buds, going through puberty and growing leaves in strange places; I saw the lawns all cut and green; the tiled prisms of a hundred quiet houses in my neighbourhood looked back at me with their one arm pointed in the air; and I wondered what all the fuss was about.
I had been sad for one calendar month; thirty-one days because it was the month of March, and March had never seemed so long a month.
Sadness was a silly word because no one else in the world felt the sadness like you did. I paced around my room, constantly checking the time and looking out of my window. All I wanted to do was sleep and be drunk but I wasn’t tired and I didn’t have any red wine. I took to shadow-boxing the wall.
In my mind I thought of her. Little leaves that were soft and not completely formed shook and they chuckled and their white spines shivered and I could see them from my window.
Having punched the wall a number of times I noticed that little ladybirds of blood were starting to crawl down my fingers, so I stopped. I got bored once the blood had dried. Quickly I ran to the kitchen cupboard and found – ‘Ah! a bag of pistachios!’ I took them back to my room, opened them, leaned out of my window and threw some down on to the pavement below. After a few minutes – occupying myself with memories of her – a child came across the pistachios and started to peel one open.
Without a moment’s hesitation I spat on the child.
‘Fucking wanker!’ the child said and hurried off holding a half-open pistachio.
I laughed. This was my greatest prank yet.
I threw some more down.
Weakly the sun shined on. The neighbourhood was in an embracing calm. Very few sounds were around. This would be a good day for having a barbeque, or lying on the grass and looking at the imperfections on her skin and thinking that they were perfections. All my memories of her had coagulated gradually before my very eyes.
Another child spotted the pistachios and came forward. This one had her hair in pigtails and she was a cute little thing. She took a big pistachio – one I would have gone for myself – and I spat down on to her, but I missed.
Recoiling into my room – ‘Damn!’
I picked up a paperweight and threw that down. It just missed her but the clatter disturbed her. ‘Hey!’ she said – ‘I’m telling my mum on you! You almost tore my dress!’
‘Tell her! I don’t care! You wait till you grow up and realise how rubbish love is!’
‘Love isn’t rubbish! You are!’
‘Little cow!’ I clawed at the air and hurled a box of trinkets at her. That box of trinkets had been besides my bed for years. It broke on the pavement and all my trinkets lay there in the sun looking very perfect and shiny.
She shouted – ‘Missed, dickhead!’ and ran off with a handful of pistachios.
I had to bait the pavement again. The next child got a plectrum in the eye, and the one after him got spit on her back and a Turgenev novel in the face.
This continued for some time. Frankly, I wasn’t a good aim. The day was lovely and warm. Nothing could disturb it. Sunday was a day of rest and, indeed, everything was resting except for my thoughts of her, which overshadowed my every idea and made me feel so wretched that I wished, over and over, to die.
Grapefruit in hand and picking my target very carefully I stared down at the child on the pavement. This child was obviously a fan of pistachios because she picked and de-shelled them so very quickly. Then, out of nowhere – ‘Hey!’
On the other side of the road was a young lady. She was looking at me. The girl fled and I had missed my chance. ‘What are you doing?’ The young lady saw what was below my window – a plectrum, eight or so books, four bananas, a potted plant, two broken paperweights, a can of lighter fluid, three CDs, a mini statue of Buddha, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and more blobs of spit than I care to mention – and she put two and two together.
‘What are you doing that for?’ she asked me.
Wiping my mouth, I considered the question, a perfectly reasonable question. She was tall with good legs and black hair and a snaggletooth just like H— had (which soured me to notice) and she was the prettiest thing I had seen all day; so much so that I froze and wished I were innocent. She pointed at me with her long white finger and asked again – ‘What are you doing that for?’
‘You don’t care!’
‘I do.’
She obviously did – ‘I fell for someone – a girl – very hard and now she is gone and everything in the world feels like it is rotting and I want to rot too.’
To see someone walk from above is very peculiar so I observed her approaching my window with a most keen interest. Would she notify the police of my behaviour? She was so astonishing in the daylight of the fourteenth of April that I wished I could fall in love with her and forget about H— forever. That was all I wanted; to forget about H— and lead a normal life again of indifference and no death.
‘Are you okay?’ she asked me from the pile of spit and potted plant and fruit and pistachios.
‘No. I’m really not. Everyone thinks I’m fine but I can’t remember anything like this before.’
There was a brief moment when the two of us contemplated each other.
‘I’m sorry.’
‘It’s okay. It wasn’t your fault.’ It wasn’t. She just stumbled upon me. I felt sorry for all the children and for the wasted pistachios. The pavement was very bizarre and untidy now with all of these fallen missiles scattered over it. Each was gurgling in its own colour, lit up pristine by the afternoon sun and nothing so good; even the spilled soil from the broken flowerpot seemed iridescent.
We exchanged names and her name was like H—‘s and that rocked my organs, so I spat into the neighbour’s hedge.
I wiped the distracted spittle from my lips and addressed her again – ‘You know, one night I asked her to spit into my mouth and she did and she tasted like the comics I read as a child.’ The memory just came to me, solidifying out of the thin spring air and taking a firm hold, conjured up by my crimes and punishments. ‘You never know how sad something can be until it happens and then it feels like you’re dying much quicker than normal.’
This stranger was very sympathetic. Her big eyes looked at me; her eyes were a wild animal’s. She was dressed in black as if everyday was a funeral for her. Tiny breezes upset the tips of her hair, and I looked down, realising what the fuss was all about.
Nobody was H—. I would never forget that.
This stranger looked up at me for a moment, and then she looked at all the items I had thrown out of the window – ‘I have that book!’ Tapping a rhythm on the sill, I felt a gentle overwhelming come over me.
I said aloud, though to no one at all – ‘I wish I had never met her.’
The stranger – herself busy getting into a pistachio, its small luminous green peeping out – replied to me – ‘I don’t think you mean that.’
I started to close one of the windows – ‘I don’t like the way she’s got to me.’ Then I closed the other window.

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