Mike wakes up with difficulty after a night of turmoil without knowing exactly what arouses the bitterness inside of his heart. He looks out on the window that brings inside, the darkness of outside as if meeting it with the one from his soul. Somewhere, in a corner of the celestial vault, shards of light come to fill his eyes, and drops of peace are sneaking into his mind and soul as a prelude to the day that begins.
Michael was born sad, a sad child. All the cells of his body seemed to bear the seal of sadness, coming from somewhere in the depths of his own past, from the bitterness of his own roots.
Then, after his birth, tiny flashes of joy have slowly slipped into his brain. And his brain started to shyly direct its focus at the rays of the sun, letting the shadows hide its darkness in layers of the unconscious, which had become too small for the crowd of shadows.
Mike listened to all his childhood, with the broken breath, to the cries of his mom's concubine, a furious and heartless animal.
The image of his mother with the face of a sheep driven by the shepherd dog of the flock has remained vivid and dark in his mind. Her whimpers of pain among the man's screams are mingled in the memory of his hearing with her gasps after every blow received over the too submissive head, or in her belly that seemed to be of no use to anyone…
Mike remembers everything. A tremble now is the sign of the revelation that then, back in time, he didn't really understand that concert of sinister noises. Even if so, he realizes that something in his soul has always revolted. He used to scream louder than he could hear because the scream was mute and it was tearing something inside him. But he always stayed crouched in his corner, next door, squeezing his eyes hard, as if trying not to hear. Like a miracle, behind his closed eyes he always succeeded to feel the light gush, of the sun, moon, or of stars. The imagined warmth of the blue sky, the freedom of imagined birds were giving a kind of relief to the tormented soul of the kid.
He repeated this exercise over the years, whenever the eyes and ears of his growing body were frightened by what they saw and heard. He practiced the sight of the eyes of his mind, illuminated by the hopes of the soul with flashes springing from the desire that everything "be different" in his life.
…He also strongly tightened his eyes in front of the furious gaze of the teacher in sixth-grad, who accused him of beating that colleague, the son of a political boss in a little party. Yes, he had hit him! He had been exasperated by the boy's accusations that he had stolen something to them, and he did not know what exactly was about.
Mike never coveted what was not his. Not even when his belly was singing sinisterly hungry, while his nose was avoiding the smells from his colleagues' sandwiches. He left only his belly to be viciously greedy. He was narrowing his eyes and was sawing plentiful tables lying on the meadow of imagination. He has never succeeded to calm his belly at once, but his hunger was deceived there inside his brains, so as not to torture him.
He didn't calm the teacher down either, but his mind created a gentle teacher's face and a put warm word in his mouth: “Boy, tell me how was it? I would like to know the truth! ”.
In high school, when the girl with wild hair like an angry sea seemed to be looking through him, he again closed his eyes and widely opened his soul's eyes. Yes, he was aware that he never existed as a being in that space, neither for her nor for many others.
Instead, he imagined himself stepping under the bouquets of flowers and grabbing the girl by the hand, stroking her cheeks, and kissing her, with shy lips. But then, the girl's arm in the real world, that cruel world beyond his soul, pushed him and a brutal voice shouted: Hey blind shit, why do you cut my way?
Now, at the workshop, he has a positive relationship with customers. He is requested to work by all those who crossed the threshold of the car-service, probably because of always good working and his tendency to keeping his word. And this has triggered the other two workers to be invidious. Mike never accepted to disassemble parts to have something to assemble or to put unfinished works on the estimating price. His mates always had higher bills than those made by him, even when they did not do more work than him, on the contrary. And yet, Mike was always the guy the boss scolded:
- Well, boy, what hell happens? Do you work only with those who don't have much to fix? And, Hell, these guys seem to be the most of them, and they all ask to work only with you! Mike vaguely suspected that the boss was perfectly aware of the truth and did not care. He preferred to dismiss the thought.
Only for a moment, he wanted to fight back, to tell his boss how things were, but, as in his childhood, when he tried to defend his mother, and he took the hits on his own skin with hurt in his body and his soul for many days, he understood that it was more good to close his eyes and dream. To dream of a boss who congratulates him because he is fair, that he does his job well and that he brings many customers.
It's just that in those moments he was strongly feeling the taste of bitterness. He could only bow his head, wipe his hands of oil, and drag his steps to the next car.
Mike looks ahead to the car. A woman is smiling at him from behind the door. She is so fat she barely fits behind the wheel. Mike sees her eyes. They are chestnuts-colored eyes with unexpected warmth in them. “I have always imagined the deers' eyes like this". It is Mike's reflection looking at her.
The young man is carefully listening to her. He doesn't understand too much from the woman's complaint about the "sinner car that God knows what it has ". This doesn't matter, he works attentively, patiently, finds the blemish, fixes everything, and that's it!. He waits for a fugitive "thanks", and the car to drive away. But the woman leans against her car, wherefrom she hardly has struggled to get out a short time before, and looks at him for a while.
- Boy, may I ask what your name is?
"Michael, Mike" he replies automatically. But in the next moment, he realizes that since was working in the workshop, no one had asked him this question. For all those satisfied, he always remained a simple "Boy!"
- You have a beautiful name but… (with hesitation the woman continues) can you tell me why are you so sad?
Sad? Him? He never linked this word to his mood. He did not think of such an adjective.
What is sadness in fact?
Mike thinks that it could be that strange feeling which shuts down the first second of a burst of light in the mornings, as soon as the reality conquered its ground. Or it could mean bitterness and pressure in the chest, the weight of thinking good about something that is outlined in the sun. But in this case, Mike doesn't feel like a sad man. Because always when the light disappeared from reality, he urgently brought it behind his closed eyes. He managed to hide inside him the bad feelings when bitterness and oppression seemed to nestle in his head. He succeeded in drive away thoughts that seemed to be entangled in a lump of indignation, bewilderment, or any other indistinct feeling. He was lifting these indefinite or unpleasant thoughts up to his lips, to blow them like a spider's web in a cold breath. Or he let them melt in the flame of hope like snowflakes melt, in a simple heatwave.
No, he wasn't a sad man. Sad was only his existence, the dragged road through his life, with a mother imprisoned in her own helplessness, and with the man, fake father, whose only love was the drink.
For long years Mike waited for his biological father, the man who was partially guilt for putting him on this life road.
And the man came one day, late, like the pretended friends, with a lot of fuss and without too much sense. He passed like a meteorite on Mike's way, gave him some advice, a muffin, and a bag of promises.
Mike finished high school; not really crawling, that he took a mark in high school that made many people around shrug with amazement. Or envy!? Or maybe just suspicion!? Anyway, he didn't care because everything he learned he did for himself, not for high school, not for teachers, not for anyone else. He learned what he liked and, fortunately for him, he liked a lot of things. And these pleasures helped him to close his eyes and to hide beyond, more and more efficiently, his own light. Maybe that need to hide behind the own sight and hearing was the very mechanism of the strong desire to find something to enjoy in life.
He would have gone to college after high school, but there was no face. He wouldn't succeed, without saving any money. Ever since he works in the car-service, he has moved into a rental. He lives alone in the petty room, attached to a house on a side street; but he has his own space, where he breathes freely and does practices less often the running away from reality.
Mike is looking wide-eyed at the woman in front of him. He doesn't want to imagine otherwise her as being different, because he's afraid he'll lose that look of kindness he's never seen before. He keeps looking at her with some astonishment.
-Could you tell me what makes you think I'm sad? - can be heard asking.
It's her turn to look at him curiously. The height of the lad makes her look up there at him somewhat jokingly but cheerfully…
- You're not? Mike feels some curiosity, mixed with doubt, and a little humor in the woman's question. Or have you never even asked yourself this question? The young man understands that this is so, but he never wondered this to himself.
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.” Mike has in the depth of his memory these words said by the Count of Monte Cristo in his last letter to Maximilien. Yes, he could find an answer in this reflection of Dumas's character. He doesn't really remember a moment of genuinely he lived the joy; so how does he know what that sadness is?
-And yet, madam, you did not answer my question, why do you think I am sad? Mike does not give in, driven by curiosity. It is for the first time in his life when he really waits for receiving an answer from an unknown human.
- The eyes, Mike, the way you are looking to the people and things around, the way you walk, the way you say the words. Mike is shaken by a shiver. How does this woman succeeded to see all this in such a short time?
I don't know which one, maybe each or perhaps all together! But forget my question, don't answer me.
The woman seems to have understood an essential thing, the sadness is in there, unknown, dumb, and yet acute. Before starting the difficult placement behind the wheel, the woman asks him another question.
- My boy, can I leave you my phone number? If you ever need someone to talk to...
Mike is shocked to be called my boy, probably for the first time in his life and he hears his voice asking - Are you a teacher?
- No, I'm not and I wasn't a teacher. Instead, I was a mother.
Mike raises his eyebrows in astonishment. He doesn't understand this wording in the past. The mother is, at present, as long as she is alive. The woman continued, guessing his bewilderment:
- I had a son, Mike. If you ever need to have a talk and you can "take" the patience with you, I'll tell you my son's story.
Mike sits on the curb, his head resting in his hands. His neighbor, Mary, an old and pious woman, who often gave him a plate of food during his school years, had once told him that a special priest named Arsenie Boca had said:
A sad soul is a soul with the lights off.
No, he was not a sad soul. He still had his lights behind his tightly closed eyes. And again, a quote from the school blackboard prepared for one debate in the class catches his memory's eyes. „You don't have to be sad that you weren't noticed. But a reason to be sad is that you didn't do anything remarkable. " - Confucius.
The young man is aware he's never been noticed. But that doesn't make him sad. Because his soul whispers to him that he still has many remarkable things to do. He gets up, looks around, turns his back, and starts for a new car.
Another workday is gone. It melted in the velvet black of the coming night. Mike no longer wants to close his eyes. From now on, hardly or not he will look straight at the sky. Now the dark blue sky in the night is pouring its shadows into long waves pierced by the light droplets of the stars and adorned with the round earring of the moon hidden in folds of clear clouds. He doesn't want to see the clouds, just the dust of light.
Mike says firmly: I will do something with my life.
And after a long time, he finds himself smiling. A question is whispered by his lips: Have I ever genuinely smiled before?
The stars apparently send him an answer: look ahead with your new smile.