I can’t sleep. Sometimes sleep won’t come to you. No matter what you do to catch it. No matter how hard you try. Sleep won’t come. If Luna was there, she would probably tell me sleep is not something you can order around. She would tell me this, in that soothing voice of hers. That sleep never comes to the ones who wish to catch it. But Luna is not here.
Still can’t sleep. She would surely tell me a tale never to forget, which would instantly fade away. She would tell me about a flock of birds, flying far away from it all. Or about the snow, falling off and slithering through the stream. With every single word of hers, with every blink of my eyes, the world would fade a little further. I would leave my house. My street. My town. The clouds would get closer and closer, until what had once been the snow of her stories completely covered me. Until I flew with the flock of birds that she had told me so much about.
Right when I would fight my hardest to fall back into my home and listen to her story, I would dream. I would jump from my world and land into a whole new one. The one where hopeful people live, when night strips the world from its light. Where love is born in a heartbeat, and beats all odds against it. The place where she would dance with more passion than her own shadow. But she’s not here anymore. The stories are gone. The dreams are gone. And I can’t sleep.
Screw it. Shirt. Trousers. Shoes. Coat. Keys. Out. Leaving the house. Nothing left for me here in this sleepless night.
I shut the door behind me and stare. Nothing but darkness ahead. No one - no sound. A naked, empty space. This is not my town. My town has people laughing in it. People living. My town has bright trees - trees that shake in the day’s wind. My town is not silent or dark, and yet it is now. It looks nothing like in the pictures. In them, you can see everything clearly. Just the way it is. The way it has always been. The way it’s supposed to be – lively, sunny. It doesn’t even look like a painting. Any worthy painter would see this town and make it shine. Gorge the streets with light. Fill them with life.
But there’s none of that here. Just fragments of what I know - pieces of a body. The church’s door, but not its tower. The tree’s trunk, but not its branches. The street’s pavements, but not its people. The truth faded away. Now I’m left with pieces of it all.
Had life lacked a place for the moon, you would have lifted it up, simply for the last lane of your nights to be a little more illuminated.
That’s what Luna would have said, had she been there. But she isn’t. I would have gone back inside. My mind wanted to. My legs, on the other hand, had an inexplicable urge. Hatable urge to walk the dimly lit streets ahead. So I did. Just me, walking, sleepless - out in the street - just me and the street lights.
I like street lights. They’re just like memories. They help you find your way when you’re lost. Luna had always hated having street lights hanging around her. She used to say that they looked like stars in cages. In her mind, men needed to possess every possible thing and thought, to the point where they gripped the lights out of the sky to trap them. Down here, with us. Down, not up. Maybe she was right, in a way. It’s not like she would see any stars shining in the sky tonight; if she was looking. Not like I can see them either. But there are street lights all over. What’s the big difference, anyway? As long as there’s light, there’s sight.
There were a few stars left in the sky, when Luna was still here. We used to look at them from the top of our little hill. It was so small.
If this town was a cyclops, then our hill would be its eye.
That’s how her words dragged you in. Every little thing seemed so much more complex, when you looked at it with Luna. Even the simplest of circles would start looking nebulous, if she stood next to you. The whole universe danced around you, when you went on that hill with her. So I did.
She used to say the silliest things. In the summer, when we sat on that hill together, she liked to speak to me about anything. Everything. The tree’s leaves. She would ask what would happen if leaves could fly away instead of falling off the trees. Up, not down. Whenever she said those things, I would always react the same way. I used to look at her with confused eyes. That made her laugh.
‘But leaves can’t fly away.’ I would argue. She would answer that they can’t, except when they can. So I would keep disagreeing with her: ‘But that’s simply not possible. They have to fall at some point.’ To that, she would answer in the calmest of voices that they did, except when they didn’t.
Still walking - walking and thinking. Leaves can’t fly, Obviously. Yet I would stop arguing with her, because there was no point to it. There was no way of winning with Luna. Her words were not made of logic or sense. Her words were made of wonderful letters, combining in the strangest of ways. Entangled, not to form sentences, but to vibrate in the air. Those vibrations would move through the wind, the wind would touch a bird, the bird would fly and so would she; in a way. Up, not down.
Her mind always wandered to the strangest of places, that I understood nothing about. Places with no clear light showing her the way to go. Places where the light followed her, instead of her following the light.
Where her feet fell and met the ground, that’s where a path would appear.
It was dark, in her mind - not a somber darkness, not an obscure one either - a darkness full of fragments floating around, dislocated from other pieces. Letters with no words, towns with no sun, leaves with no trees, birds flying away. Up, not down.
I would like to pretend that I hated her paradoxes, her illogicalness, her pieces of insanity. Even back then, sometimes I wanted to tell her that none of herself made any sense; but I never said that. I knew what she would say if I did, so we simply spoke through our gaze.
No matter how angry I would look, she always stayed calm. Her eyes would let their wing-like lashes bat for a moment; facing me, mesmerizing me. Right when she knew that I could no longer look away, her eyes would say maybe that’s what you like about me. There was nothing I could answer, other than a smile. So I smiled - smiled and followed her with a light - into a whole new darkness.
Now she’s gone. And every step I once walked with her is filled with light, because I see it all so clearly - memories in my mind like stars in street lights. If she knew how much light there is in my mind where she once stood, she would look at me with her other gaze - not her charming, loving one, which made me feel like nothing else in the world mattered. Instead, she would stare into my eyes for just a moment, before looking away and never back at me. Guess that’s the gaze she’s giving me now.
She would have preferred to stay out of anyone’s sight - like a wild animal, that everyone wishes to see but that no one can get close to. A subtle, mythical creature. One which hid behind the clouds, yet shone through them. A fantastical phoenix, flying far away from reality, failing to face a fading future. Up, not down.
Even if I remember everything, every single moment with her - even if I flooded all of them with light. Even then, she still won. No matter how many pieces I try adding together, she still makes no sense to me. As I am thinking about it all, she still escapes the light surrounding her. It could never quite catch her. It never will. Luna, the one girl beyond reason, beyond meaning, beyond light.
She never wanted to catch me in return. That might be the most painful part of it. She wanted me to be free, all I wanted was to be hers. I ended up belonging to no one. Just like her. What does that make me? A person, an animal? An angel, a demon? He, she? I.
I will never capture her the way I would have wanted to. She will never capture me because she would never want to. That shining darkness of hers slipped through my heart; like water through the fingers of a man, dying in the drought.
If I could go back in time and ask her one thing, then I would ask again: ‘What do you mean, leaves that don’t fall but fly?’ I would shake her. Catch her unreachable shoulders and shake her. I would beg her until she would let me make sense of her world. A world that would not belong. That would simply be. A world where love still exists. A world where leaves fly away.
Still walking. Walking and remembering. There was a day - a sad day - one in which her eyes refused to meet mine. On that day, she said, if leaves could fly away, then you wouldn’t be able to catch them all. She said that I should stop trying to grab everything. That I should let things fly away. But what sense does that make? If a leaf will fall, then it will fall. What difference will it make if I grab it beforehand? What difference does it make if I want it to be mine?
None of that matters, anyway. Because on the last day I saw Luna, on our very last goodbye, we stood next to a tree.
I can’t quite remember what words she used on that day. My mind won’t illuminate such a memory. All that its dim light can bring back is the voice that she spoke with. Her words weren’t floating in the air and vibrating with the birds. Her words fell on me like leaves falling off branches; branches falling off trees, trees falling off the world. Everything fell down.
Every soft snow flake was changed into an impetuous ice storm, every swinging leaf into a curled up memory of the fall, every singing bird into a croaking raven.
As she walked away from me - as she said her very last goodbye, in the harshest voice I had ever heard her utter - the last leaf fell from the tree. A bird took its place. Then more birds came along.
The ravens looked at me. They stared and hushed. Even they would not speak in presence of such misery. I stayed and stared back at them. Waiting. Not knowing what else to do. They curled up on themselves and left me – alone - with my thoughts.
They covered the tree. Perhaps out of sorrow - sorrow for what had fallen - what Luna would never let me catch. All of the leaves were dead at its feet and at mine. Lifeless. That’s where she left me. Above death. I looked at the discolored leaves and they said nothing.
On that day, she pierced an ever growing hole within me - I sunk in it. Out of those beautiful snowy clouds, out of the sky with the flocks of birds, out of the lands where she stood in front of me. Back into my own street - my own house; right into a dark place… A somber darkness, An obscure one. One without the light of her eyes to guide me.
The lights in my mind bring me to her eyes once more. They were not clear, simple circles, her eyes - at least not when you focused on them and really, truly looked. They were nebulous. Like the edges of a grass-covered hill.
The gaze that she would give me whenever I was angry. The guilty gaze, which also spoke of love. The one which said you love me with all of my flaws, you love me because of my flaws. I miss that gaze.
Maybe she was right, after all. Maybe that was why I loved her. Her will never to get caught - to fly amidst the wind and storms. To be a leaf which falls up, not down - the small things. The sparkles of light in a sea of beautiful darkness; night sky, like the one slowly disappearing above me. It’s strange to think that all which once made me feel complete is now the reason why I am so torn. Why I can’t sleep.
Numb. Empty. That’s what you become when your heart gets ripped out of your chest. But then why can’t I sleep? A hole doesn’t look for sleep, so what makes me so different from it? Then again, a hole doesn’t have needs. I need her. I need her world back into mine, I need to fall back into her land, into a long gone hope - sleep.
I wish I could simply be mad at her. I wish I could blame her for what happened. But I can’t, because every single one of my memories, every single light brings me back to her. In this ocean of sparkling stars, she is the moon.
Now that she’s gone, there’s nothing left but that ocean’s cold water and my little street lamps.
If I could do it all again, I would not ask her to explain things to me. If I could change anything, then I would beg for a leaf to fly. I would beg the wind to carry it up and never let it down. Never would I let my hands grab it. I would see the leaves fly in her world and love would be possible again. But it’s not. And leaves fall. Down, not up.
I keep on walking alone on this road. It makes more sense to me than she ever did. A road with light starting to dawn on it - A clear path. There are no turns or holes - It’s perfectly perfect in every way. But then why do I wish it had spots and tree leaves falling on it?
Out of my town. Not a single flaw on this, perfect, grey road. I see this road just the way it is. The way it has always been. The way it’s supposed to be. Lively. Sunny. Grey.
I know which village this road will lead me to. The village will never move. Neither will my town. Only I can.
I see the village from here already – perfectly perfect - just like this road. Why do I wish for its houses to be stained and its church to be crooked?
I’m on the clearest path, but that path leads me nowhere; nowhere that I care about. Not a place where leaves fly, just a place with perfectly perfect people.
Only the same old road I’ve always known. What’s the use of the same road when you want something new? This is not mid-day, this is dawn. I want a new path to walk down on. One which has never seen me before and one without any light.
That’s when I saw it. On the side, hiding like a wild animal - probably full of wild animals. Another path. A flawed one; full of dirt, mud, grass. I would have stayed on the perfectly perfect road. My legs wanted to. My mind, on the other hand, had an inexplicable urge. unstoppable urge to walk the muddy path ahead. So I did. My feet; one after the other, plunging out of the light and into a new darkness. Where my feet fell and met the ground, that’s where a path would appear.
There’s fog all over down here, snow-like fog, covering me, making everything blurry - nebulous. The dust illuminated by rays of new-born sunshine dash the only form of light present here. Stars, in a sky darkened by hundreds of naked branches. Perhaps that’s just enough.
Letting my eyes hop from one star to another, they fall at last on something else, new. A tree.
The tree trunk has freckles on it. Stained by time. Beautiful. I look up and see its crooked branches. Beautiful. At last, I see its leaves, black leaves, all over the tree. One of them moves a little with the wind, then agitates its wings, another starts croaking, and its leaf friend answers with some singing of its own. Bird-leaves.
One of the bird-leaves starts to move more than the others, and all of a sudden, it falls. I get ready to catch it, then stop myself.
Before crushing down, the leaf opens its wings and starts flying. All of the croaking and singing leaves leave, one by one, to a warmer place.
Luna left me for a warmer place.
I hope she found it.
Pulling my hands back, I let my eyes stare. I watch. I just watch little birds leaving, little leaves leaving. As the last one soars through the sky, I see it. The leaf that flies and never falls. I see it and fall asleep. Up, not down.
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What an intriguing, poetic story! It has such rhythm and balance.
What a nice story! I like it!