To Be Continued...
By Fouad Suleiman
The ideas that tore him down were scattered in his mind, and all that he could think about was the very sensation of glory, as the hidden treasures of memories stood firmly outside his door…
She chose to ring the bell. She never knocked on the door. Such a primitive act as knocking would contradict her image. He opened the door slowly to let her in, as he had done so many times before, but this time he was reconsidering the act. Furthermore, he tried to figure out why he reconsidered it as the bell rang. The mood shifted smoothly across the shadows of his face as he stood up. Only the rhythm of his steps could be a witness to his crime while he let her in.
She was happy to see him.
She was always happy to see him. Ironically though, she was also always happy to say goodbye. After that moment of childish happiness, which could be easily mistaken for greed, after that ceremony of joy comes always a moment of grey silence, a complete pause. The ideas in his head followed the rule of freedom. His associations raced like rain drops in stormy weather.
He offered her something to drink as a greeting and quickly found himself in the warmth of his kitchen. As he looked around, he noticed how much he enjoyed being in his cozy kitchen, especially when he had company. His thoughts wondered as he waited for the water to boil. Meanwhile, she waited in the living room. His eyes watched the steam rising from the pot while the water heated up. His mind dived in attempts to reach the sunken ship of his sensations – so unexplained, yet the sensations were familiar and unpleasant. She always inspired in him a certain unique mood, a kind of a moody mood. He sat down on his kitchen chair. He thought to himself that, in a strange way, she had a very special presence. Soon after, that thought triggered all the memory files in his head concerning his relationship with her, or better, his ship of relations towards her, from the first time that they had met till this very vague moment. As his eyes watched the steam getting thicker, he knew that the expected “kling” was soon to come, and that only then he would have to “kling” make the tea. He headed back to the living room.
She welcomed his return with a cute smile and said: “How have you been getting along lately?”. Her words were very organized and well separated, as if she was not sure that he could understand the simple meaning of this complex question. His usual answer to this question was: “Ups and downs as usual,” and so he continued the tradition. She reached for the cup of tea and missed it for the pack of cigarettes right beside it. She opened the pack and grabbed a cigarette, all with one hand, then grabbed the teacup by the handle and said: “It’s been a long time since we last talked”. He grabbed a lighter that was lying on the table and handed it to her. His thoughts were of those times when he used to light her cigarettes in a different fashion, stretching out his hand all the way to the edge of her face. In those times, the space between them was not yet contaminated by the dust of their pride. His thoughts at that moment were interrupted by the stream of smoke flowing through the space and reaching the side of his nose, signaling the urgency of a reply: “I agree, it has been at least a month or so.”
His image of her was once much clearer than this. As he was watching her smoking, he realized that she had changed her looks a little since the last time he saw her. He grabbed a cigarette and joined the smoking habit. “Are you hungry?” he asked, and added, “I can fix you something to eat if you want, it’s really no trouble at all, I’ve got some…”
“I’m not hungry” she said without giving him the opportunity to mention the options that were squeezed together inside his fridge. “I’ve already had dinner with Ricky at an Italian restaurant.” She said this with a spice of tease in her voice.
Her voice was very interesting. Not a smooth voice, but a thick sensuous voice. It was as if she always let out some extra breath to paint the words with a thick brush. It took him a while till he got used to her voice. At first, he thought that it was simply weird. Afterward, he got used to it, then started enjoying its mystical features, which had once been mistaken for plain weirdness. It was like a jazzy trumpet that you need to hear a hundred times until you get the true feel of its sound. She sang in her speech many times, but when she sang her favorite songs, her voice changed to fit the melody and so lost some of its mystical features.
She smiled and said: “We had a large meal together.” She then took a sip of tea and started talking about the funny things that had happened to her. She was very cynical in her view of things, but she could see humor in the world. Soon after, he joined the scene with a story of his own.
Stories followed stories as the evening got thicker. The laughs became more frequent between the sips of wine, and he watched her motion from a first row seat as she chose her roles and spoke her lines. His sensations were streaming out from a spring of longing, but his movements aimed to hide his intentions, for he had learned in time that in her mind lay the relief to his longing and that in this game of hiding and revealing, he would have to hide his thirst in the hope that rain would soon come. His hoping was beyond control, yet in his hoping there was no real expectation anymore. It was there in the echoes of his inner voice and he had learned to live with it like a cripple learns to walk. Sometimes he would forget all about her, but his forgetting didn’t last very long, since she could always find a way to revive his memories through the tone of her voice or through her tender smiles, which concealed a mystical meaning, never revealed with the clarity of words. She mastered the strings of his imagination, playing his favorite melodies, and then changing the tone to fit her mood. He heard her tunes and enjoyed their familiarity. He sensed the memories that they shared reflecting themselves in her tone of speech, but without presence, as the wind is only made visible by the movement of fallen autumn leaves. Those memories of laughter and sorrow were emotional traces that he could not help trying to forget, yet he never could stop reviving and renewing their themes. He wondered many times about what it was that she saw in him, and the only answer he would get was a feeling of “ to be continued...” a feeling that he had learned to appreciate in time. It was to be continued for the better and/or for the worse, never departing with clear-cut intentions, falling like razor blades from above. She departed with overwhelming smoothness, and as she left he could imagine her whispering in her sensuous voice, while her words melted like butter on a warm slice of bread,
“To be continued...”