The War is Over
The electricity’s long dead. My watch has stopped. The curtains are drawn tight. It’s night in here, although it could be day outside. I don’t know.
Through the papery walls, I can hear the girl in the room across the hall get her things together. The grinding and clacking of wooden teeth, squeals of iron jaws, as drawers and doors open and shut their mouths. The scrape of her hands as she runs them over crooked countertops. Her footsteps bend creaking floorboards, and her room sighs. You can hear the damage everywhere.
She must be getting ready to join the others outside, laughing and singing. I can hear the muted hum of their jubilance through the closed window. “The war is over,” they cry, and they may be right. But I hope she doesn’t knock on my door to fetch me. They all like to waltz and crowd together and feel the same, these people, their thousand faces a thousand hand mirrors. I prefer deep, velvet silence.
She jingles her keys as she locks her door. I hold my breath and wait for her to pad down the hallway. But one moment after her dead bolt slides smoothly into place, letting out a little “clack,” my stomach burbles, and my buttocks promptly and loudly announce my presence.
I hear a step, then silence, and then she walks up to my door and knocks. “Dave? Are you in there? Would you like to come join the parade?”
I can’t hold my breath any longer, so I pull my thin blanket over my head and breathe lightly into it, quiet as I can. Move on, I’m not home. Join the others if you like. Leave me be.
I can feel bubbles of air moving around in my guts again. Gathering and pushing against my insides. Insisting their way into this non-conversation. Meanwhile, the air under the blanket is getting suffocatingly warm and damp and awful smelling. I feel sick, and the contents of my stomach swish in displeasure.
I clench my butt cheeks together, but that only raises the pitch of the expulsion.
It chirps so loud in this small, wooden room, empty and dusty except for me and my blanket slumped on the bed, and empty tins of beans scattered mutely across the floor.
“Dave? I can hear you in there, Dave. Are you okay? I haven’t seen you in a while. Are you hurt? Are you okay?”
“Dave?” She tries to turn the doorknob. It rattles uselessly. I never leave the door unlocked.
She stops, and stands there in silence. I hope she’s giving up. I hope I can remain quiet. I hope she doesn’t fetch the landlord.
I clench. I squeeze. I grit my teeth. My knuckles whiten as I clutch the blanket in a death grip. I think about stuffing it between my buttocks to mute any adamant sound.
But then I hear her footsteps sound and fade, and I know she is finally heading outside to join the others. I imagine her shaking her head, a slight frown on her face, maybe followed by a fatalistic shrug. As her footsteps grow more distant, my muscles slacken and I spread my arms wide on the bed, utter relaxation blanketing me again. I can dive back into that wonderful pool of dark thoughts. This relief is bliss. Refreshing.
So I let out a thunderous bellow of hot, smelly air and turn my thoughts idly back toward the useless commotion outside.
“Open your curtains!” comes a cry from the street. “Celebrate!” And the call might be for me. I don’t care. Oh, I don’t.
I try to erase my mind and adopt the calm, pristine cool of an amnesiac as the inelegant crowds fly by, flapping and chirping. I raise a weary hand to my forehead and sigh.
It’ll be peaceful when the war starts again.
To the world and to Italy
I had a torrid affair with the victorious Countess de Bagnoregio. I loved her for her beauty and her activities. This locution is neither erroneous nor hasty.(3) comments
I still keep about me an authentic image of her person exposed.
I Carry Drawn Water in Them