Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Endless Renouncement of Feelings, by Inga Morawski


The Endless Renouncement of Feelings

Brief synopsis:
A story about a young woman who moves to Brno in order to feel closer to her girlfriend Kaja who spent most of her life there. Now, this woman is waiting for Kaja to wake up from an artificial coma she was put in after a car crash.

Sometimes I imagine the God I don’t believe in sitting in the clouds - male, white, pretty old and pretty big, as conventionally presented, fucking with peoples’ lives, while he is spilling red wine everywhere in his outrageous exitement. Laughing clangorous.
This probably makes me kind of Czech, not worshipping a God, doesn’t it? I mean, Czech Republic is the country of atheists. I’m not, though - Czech, I mean. I just live here. I also don’t wear these inside-the-house-shoes like Czech people mostly do. I am from Germany. ‘The better country’, as I’m frequently told by the people of Brno. Or alternatively, “where the people have sticks up their asses”, as you always say, Kaja.
Anyway, if God exists, (s)he must be quite a drama queen. Which other explanation is there for all the shit happening in the world?
Awful, movie-worthy shit that you can do nothing about - like my girlfriend sitting in a taxi that crashes into a tree in a snow storm. On her way to my home. 
Kaja, you are in a coma now for one year, five months and seventeen days.
You know, I fucking lost it when I lost you.
Now, I’m waiting for THE CALL. It’s a bit like my actual life is negligible. My job in the canteen of the university in Bohunice, the German lessons I give every Thursday, the few acquaintances I meet sometimes, my pretty decent room in Anton
ína Procházky. I spend my time waiting.
I cannot count the amount of times that I dreamt of your mother calling me, her voice shaking. “She woke up!” she screams. “My baby’s awake!”
This is the very worst sort of nightmare; because the horror only starts after I open my eyes, still wrapped in warm peacefulness like in fresh bedsheets, until a depressing feeling sneaks in. You’re not awake.
You are still lying there and I hope you can forgive me that I don’t. But I couldn’t breathe. Waiting next to your body day and night was not enough proximity for me. I needed to get closer to you; so I left. You may think that’s paradoxic but it really isn’t; I left to the city you lived in and loved more than anything – Brno.
Do you remember our first vacation together, Kaja?
We were two young, bored girls without money. We dreamt of beaches and sun, maybe Barbados, and of drinking expensive cocktails while being rich and beautiful and desired. 
“Let’s go to Brno”, you said. “The bus is cheap and we can sleep at my friend’s place.”
So we did.
We slept at different people’s places. I learned that people can be nice without expecting something in return, and that sometimes, you can have so much fun that you forget to think about the time (even if you’re German).
That summer, looking back, we didn’t do much but eating pizza (at that one place at Antonínská where they sell a slice of Margharita for 25 crowns), and drinking raspberry lemonade in the ridiculously small backyard of your friend Jiří, with our feet in his daughter’s paddling pool. I remember how in the evenings, your skin smelled like sun and strawberry-bodylotion.
 “I wish we could live here”, you said on the first day I ever spent in Brno, while we were sitting on a bench, eating palačinky and staring at this bizarre penis clock, after you showed me around. I was wearing reflecting sunglasses, and I remember how you squinted your eyes, trying to see mine. It’s unusual, given that normally, people just watch themselves in the reflection. But you gently took the glasses and shoved them into my hair.
„I hate not to see your pretty eyes“, you said, and it was a bit of a joke. But only a bit.
So I kissed you, because I thought that you might really love me.
At that point, you lived here for more or less 16/22 of your life, which makes a tiny bit more than 72,7272727272727272%. It’s much, but not enough for you. I think you never really forgave your parents for moving to Frankfurt with you. (Frankfurt’s not bad, though - your heart was just not into it.)
On this day, on this bench, I only spent 0,0001228954% of my lifetime in Brno, but I already felt like home.
It’s certainly not Barbados, but in a way it’s maybe way more than that. (No offence, Barbados, I never visited you!) Brno is warming you from the inside, like the whiskey we couldn’t afford. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand the billboards, that I keep forgetting how to convert crowns into euros, or that I cannot join the conversation when you and your friends make fun of the accent they have in Prague.
I know, it’s weird, but it took less than four days for me to feel like I never had a life before this trip, without tram number six carrying us back to Šumavská every night, after getting drunk for less than 200 crowns. (What a country!)  Maybe I also feel home because of how you become vivid like a flower after winter once you’re here. Away from your boring studies that you passionately hate, and away from your father who forced you to ‘choose’ this law-shit in the first place.
“We could”, I answered. “We really could move here.”
But we didn’t – reality isn’t like that. We had to finish our studies, I had quite a nice flat in Frankfurt, blah blah blah. The usual reasons that destroy dreams as long as you’re not brave enough to ignore them. (The reasons, not the dreams.)
We came to Brno five times. A few times you also went there alone, and this is where my fault comes into play. See, on this very first day in Brno, after you showed me the naked angel on the churchwall and this crocodile-dragon-thing hanging from the ceiling, I should’ve answered with a clear yes. Yes, let’s move here.
If we would’ve moved to Brno together, you never would’ve entered that taxi.
And instead of lying in this hospitalbed, with your soul a billion miles away, you could be here with me. We could eat ice cream in the bath tub.
Instead, I’m lying here alone in a small puddle of water, staring at the ceiling, trying to break it with my eyes. How I would love to be crushed by the two floors above me raining down on me.
I see you in the strangest places//
I see you in the stranger’s faces//
everywhere around
You always say there is nothing more hateable than yellow paprika. Though I am pretty sure that ‘hateable’ is not a word, I think I know something even more hateable, and that’s me.  It’s because of the ‘what if’‘s, they make me hate myself to the point of feeling sick. They are ugly monsters that live in my stomach, and they eat me up from the inside. It hurts. The pills the doctors prescribed me don’t help.
What if you would wake up?
They would call me. I would cry. I would laugh so much that the neighbours would think I’m insane. I would throw some random pieces of clothing in my bag, and I’d run to my station. Bus 37 would come. I would go to Mendlovo náměstí and take tram 1 to Hlavní nádraží, and it would feel like waking up, like really seeing the city for the very first time since you’re lying in that repulsingly clean, soulless room that you never even saw.
The first lonely weeks in Brno I didn’t leave my room. Then, I started going to the places we went together, like the cat café near the Lužánky park where you wanted to steal that kitten with the red fur, or Atlas, where we went to watch people learning, full of Schadenfreude - the German expression I told you about that you loved so much - or Mýdlo, where nicotine made me vomit in the sleazy toilet.
Fresh Freaks, Praha, and East Village, of course. The Indian places. The very unspectacular café near
Česká whose name I don’t even remember.
This is the city of my dreams. It might be someone else’s nightmare city, who knows? Cities, in the end, are all about the people you meet there and the experiences you make. No one likes Brno because of the dumb clock. I love Brno, but not because of the dickheadhorse or something like that. I love it because of our ice cream afternoons in the summer, and our rholik-breakfasts on the balcony of people who were strangers to me. I like it because it reminds me of great times.
You are my favourite human being, Kaja. I can literally see you rolling your hazelnut eyes now, but you know it’s true. These days, I only have Levi. He’s from Mexico, and I think I could call him a preferred human being. We’re in Burger Inn. You remember when we came here and discussed which of the waiters we would possibly fall in love with if we weren’t like, you know, total lesbians?
“How are you?”
, he asks me.
“Paráda”, I reply. I always answer this way, 1. because it’s one of the few Czech words we both know, 2. because it never fails to make him laugh, since my pronounciation is fascinatingly awful, and 3. because it enables me to hide my real feelings, which are not very paráda. Actually, I can’t even tell how I feel. I just don’t know.
As expected, Levi laughs. I just cannot decide whether the shape of his teeth rather reminds me of teardrops or of filed fingernails. I’m an overthinker, I think.
I cannot explain it, but I feel that something is about to happen. I go to sleep late that night. At 4:33 o‘clock my phone rings. The number isn‘t Czech.
It’s THE CALL. Your mother doesn‘t scream. No, Kaja, she whispers. As if it would be a secret. As if she wouldn’t dare to believe it.
“She woke up.”
I am calm, too.
“Can I talk to her?”
“Just come here!”
It’s nightbustime. I have to wait fourteen minutes for N97, standing as straight as a dart, because otherwise, I’m sure, with the smallest bit of bending, I would fall like a marionette whose strings you cut.
I sit in the bus. I feel like my life in Brno was just a theatre play. When I cross the German border, I feel like I break the fourth wall.
Where exactly should I go?
First, I try to find you in the hospital. They say there is no Kaja Doležalová. So you’re home. It’s afternoon now. The sun shines bright. I enter the tram in your direction. Is this real?
I’m at the tram station. My feet lead me to the flat your parents live in. I don’t have to look for the name. I ring.
This is your father’s voice coming through the speaker.
I say that it’s me. They open.
When I reach the third floor, both your parents stand in the door. Your mother embosoms me. “Oh, meine Liebe”, she suspires. She doesn’t speak much German. Only the kind things.
She tells me to enter and I sit down on the red old couch we used to watch ‘Dirty Dancing’ on when we visited on Sundays.
“So you’re back. How are you doing? How is your therapy going?”, your mother asks in her tender-hearted voice, her hand caresses my shoulder. There are new wrinkles in her smile.
“I quit therapy months ago. I’m okay”, I say. “Where is she?”
Your mother looks puzzled.
“Where is who, meine Liebe?”
“Kaja!”, I say, enervated. “Who else?”
Your father flashes your mother a glance. It’s silent.
“Oh, meine Liebe, maybe we should have a slice of cake fi-”
Now I get angry. “I don’t want a piece of cake, I want to see my girlfriend! What the fuck do you think I’m here for?”
It seems I stood up.
„Where is she?“ Before your mother can answer, I reach the door to your room and tear it open.
The first thing I notice is that your walls are not in that special shade of light blue any longer, but in a dirty grey. The wallpaper is ripped off.
The first thing I feel is strong indisposition in my guts, the reluctant sentiment of how everything is somehow going very wrong.
And there is no one in this room.                      
The panic that arises in my chest is unreal.
“Where is she?”, I repeat without making a move to turn around. I know your parents followed me through the corridor.
Suddenly, watching the naked walls, there is something like a flashback starting in my mind. It’s like what they say about the last seconds of your life. That you can see all these years in a time lapse. I see us, I see you. Laughing, crying, loving. And then, I see myself sitting on the red couch in this very flat, more than a year ago. I see your mother crying. I see myself getting lost in darkness.
“She’s dead, Sarah.”
“She died two and a half weeks after the crash.”
I feel careful, considerate hands touching my shoulders, stroking my back. This is when my knees bend and I eventually fall.
Good! I don’t want to be held by these hands.
I smell the blood in my mouth before I taste it. I am desperately biting the insides of my cheeks. I just have to wake up.
But I don’t.
Of course I don’t. This is not a dream to wake up from.
You’ll never wake up. There will never be a goodbye. But I want you to know that I love you so much. So much that apparently I lost my sanity.
Your mother cries. And for some reason, of all the things I could think of, I think of Levi‘s teeth, and how I know now that they’ll never look like tears, since tears show the kind of pain that neither fingernails nor teeth - no matter how sharp - could ever create.
Levi’s teeth rather resemble fingernails. Not mine for sure, mine don’t even look like actual fingernails since the very worst day, after I bit them to this point where they don’t really look like anything anymore.
Maybe yours, but yours don’t grow anymore. Never. Neither does your pretty ebony hair. There are probably already worms coiling through your flesh, eating you. Your delicate hands.  Are you being eaten up from the inside, too? Some small animals surely found their way into your mouth. If so, then we would have something in common.
I vomit, but who cares, what’s left of yesterday’s burger just meets the naked floor. They got rid of your carpet, too.
Cheers, potential God in the sky. Must be one hell of a show for you.

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