Things we do in December

Competition Programme I.


Nights fall quickly in December. I was standing on the faculty steps, rolling a cigarette and trying to reach the edge of darkness pierced by thousands of little light bulbs and starlit fragments in the sky. It was unbelievably cold. Probably what you would expect from 3 December.
So I was standing on the steps, smoking and thinking about how to spend the night. As grammar exercises drain your soul, and the books piled on my desk at home were leaning over the edges in an increasingly menacing way, it was the simplest of decisions. I’ll go to the cinema.

“I wonder if you want to hear a story…”  And a bird descended, its heart throbbing red in snow and fire. Among dead bodies and partisans, its body glowed. Red. With revolt, hope, and life. That lies on the edge of dreams, love poems, and shady lofts, that hides behind bookshelves, behind the backs of Cankar and Gorky, where a door opens to the Other. A redhead girl with an abundance of love – profound and enduring, sharing her lonely love with the even lonelier rusty Writer, who tries to instil life into words, at first in vain and despair, then vividly, dancing with them with love and passion. Among his typewriter buttons. Only to... end up alone. Boys, hopping about roguishly, flapping their wings like a flock of birds, huddling here and there to avoid their beefy choirmistress.  Preened and jollied up to something grotesquely ghoulish and adorable, when a toy closet opens up, revealing the dangling hung, the innocent and the guilty, the pure and the impure, kings and thugs, sailors full of stories, brides of death, and green-haired kids for whom nobody any longer knows wherefore and why, only how long. A child who has been hanging here since before eternity, judging.

The crowd is having fun, behind the closet door, their morbid tunes tempting the living to cross the line and join them dangling on the other side. In a forest around a lonely house, so lonely that even the fish in a bowl finds no alternative but to step from the dreary humdrum into death. And a girl made up of leaves, a forest sprite, wraps her loneliness around her tiny legs and gives the man an autumn leaf and love, making even the trees creak wildly with envy. And the leaf floats like a fish in water. In the water that washes everything away. Nearly everything... Only sorrow, fear, and pain remain. Cutting deep, deep into the body and soul of a little boy. A childhood shattered, a rooster which must die. Blood innocently shed. It hurts. A pain that grows luxuriantly, red turning white, everything intertwined. The world, you, me; our irresponsibility leading into death and destruction. If only for a moment we could think of the Other...

And a man who lived for three centuries, and told a story. “Which may seem wholly trivial,” he warned. Born from birds. Immortal. The one who rules the sky: space and time. “I am omnipresent. I am in every human being.” A black shadow of centuries. How many memories! Images. And realities, all of them parallel, concurrent in me. Remnants. So vigorous I can feel them through the fibres of my clothes. Spacious postcards and human faces, street corners and edges of buildings long gone. However eternal. In memory, in our memory. Black shadows. The categories of time and space are irrelevant.

I walk through time.
And then the lights come on. Waking us up into the world warmly, slightly irritatingly. I roll a cigarette while still warm inside, as my fingers turn useless in the cold. I say goodbye to familiar faces and step into the cold. It is everything you would expect from the late night hours on 3 December. I halt, puffing smoke into the night... and suddenly see a dark shadow. There, on the roof edges. There, among people in long coats, with glasses, among the curly ones and those covered in hats. There, in the corner next to the litter bin. There, among bicycles abandoned to the night. There, in the distance, just ahead of the sky, I see a black shadow. For an instant. Before it disappears. Behind the clouds, behind my heart it seems.

It passes without me noticing. Time. I run to catch the last bus. And tomorrow. Tomorrow I will do the day’s chores. Serious. Important? Then the night will fall. And I will go to the cinema.

Anja Banko

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