Both Sides – Side One

Elefante

He passed the library, the central way, the petrol station, the priority sign to the highway, the traffic light at the back road cross. Work was in progress there to pave back a damaged section in front of the speed detector, a segment that could become quite dangerous when drivers slowed down abruptly. A black boy wearing a fluorescent jacket was governing the travel directions; indolent and bored, he was barely holding the signaling disk in his left hand while gripping a walkie talkie with the other one; he was slowly, mechanically and almost imperceptibly waving over and over again the green light line, calling upon them to proceed.

After a short wait he went through the bottleneck and carried on. On the right he could see that old and lonely house, the same that had turned into a self-celebrating showcase a few weeks earlier. The owner must had been kind of some race machine preparer and had filled the garden with relics and banners about a recent triumph: perhaps he had entered some official team. He was sure he had found it written around but he couldn’t remember the precise reason. What he could remember clearly was he had had a strong impression about it: it was quite an unusual thing to see, especially considering that extemporary expo creator was the only regular as the house was lost in the local countryside nothingnesss, and he was touring and browsing his own property restlessly; maybe he was making sure everything was tidy before the first visitor came in, or perhaps he was just paying himself a visit out of happiness.

Watching the preparer devoting to that unusual self-marketing practice in the middle of nowhere put a smile on his face. Not so much because it felt ridiculous to him, on the opposite it forced him to think about the fact that any passion and any gift could really be planted, grow and flourish even in places that had seemingly nothing to do with them, or sometimes that were even hostile. Maybe the world’s order included something that would let the true nature of people and their real gifts blossom no matter what, and in that case being able to listen to it would certainly reveal its miracle. In that occasion he even wondered about himself, if he had found it already or not, but he could not get a final answer.

Since he was passing through it every day, that landscape had started to flow in his eyes unseen. It was reassuring, familiar, it felt always the same and it amounted to a certainty he was taking for granted.
Yet, when looking more carefully, everything seemed very different from first sight. “Perhaps I should watch more and presume less” he told himself. A slap in the face of beliefs could even be precious and helpful. “People will just do anything because of an idea”; on the other side of the road an elder woman was struggling to bring home her grocery shopping on a groggy old bicycle. “Yet nothing of what we think is real”.

Not even that idea was real, that the landscape was always the same. It was cloudy and temperatures were low, in fact much lower than average for that season. A light rain started falling down; plants and weeds had grown luxuriant everywhere because of many days of bad weather and rain and grass blades at the roadsides and inside ditches had become very long, so they were pointing out the direction of even the smallest wind blow. “Weeds are flowers too, once you know them” he had read somewhere. He recalled the minted and slightly pungent scent of the grass that had just been cut. Men would die when cut in such a way and their blood was red and had an odor of iron. Freshly cut grass, on the other hand, had a strong and nice scent and would grow stronger and thriving later on, like hair, so much in fact that garden maintenance couldn’t be considered a violent act. Maybe vegetation really was the hair of the land.

Still, that hair was not the same of the day before, not even of a second before. It had grown in the meanwhile and some plants had died, yet others were born. The air moving them was never the same again and matter that made it up flew in the cells that were continuously regenerating. The wind, the bicycle wheels and weather were bending, breaking and transforming them all the time.
In a similar manner, the road was changing constantly; it was being eroded slowly because of vehicles passing over, with their tyres living seamlessly in touch with it. Were they really things apart from each other, in that continuous existence of friction and rolling?
His own body and his own mind were endlessly changed and worn away by flowing matter, thoughts, feelings and emotions and the same thing was true for any living or nonliving thing in the world. “Nothing is really what we think it is, everything is just what is there in that single moment”; he pressed the window switch and a few rain drops went in and landed on his face and inside his eyes. “Everything is always brand-new”.

Who knows what was just ahead of him that day. In general he had often wondered where his life was heading to; as a child, he had dreamt and imagined countless possible futures, all of them wonderful, and he had waited for them with patience and trepidation at the same time. On the other hand more recently he had been dragged into material dreams or desired that perhaps were not even his own. Then he had become afraid of the dull life many people were living.

Worrying: some were certainly doing it for him in that precise moment and perhaps he had learnt it from them. It was a time of losses where sometimes he was feeling different and alone, while others just free; many of the values that most seemed to know and take for granted were not this meaningful anymore to him and he felt no need to act like they did. Maybe that was precisely the reason he should have worried even more about his own future. And possibly some were doing it for him in that precise moment.
How could anyone possibly know what was going to happen to him? He didn’t have strong connections so everything was possible. He could have lived to become Mathusalem, just one more second or a few more years. He could always stay alone during that time, always be in good company or both at different times. He could do the same things he was doing, or completely different things. He could live his own entire life in that place or move somewhere far away and stay, or travel endlessly. Whenever time to go had come, it could be anything: he could die in a most common way, in a noble way, in an absurd one or even an horrifying one.
Actually he had simply stopped worrying about that thing most people were struggling all the time about: hiw own damned future. Nobody could possibly know anything about it, so it was completely meaningless to think about it and the only thing he could do was just living the present day.

In front of that silent, unseen and eternal change, he just didn’t want to think about anything anymore. He  wanted to take delight of that infinite abundancy of feelings and experiences instead, always vast and profound, always new and unique, that every moment was eagerly offering to whoever decided to glean.

He turned his eyes to the vast untamed sweep that was passing just out of his left window. It was most probably a privilege to be able to see such a clear horizon in that era of relentless urbanization.

Ages passed without any change in the landscape. He felt as he had to bring his eyes forward or time would not restart and he would never get to destination, but just when he did, he immediately felt a strong, low and dull vibration in his own innards, as if a gigantic hammer had suddenly shaken the ground.
While he was looking for the heart of the stroke, it fell down again and then again, with a rythm similar to that of a colossal gallop, slow and inescapable, punctuated in his imagination by the silence of an immense creature suspended in the air between one stroke and the next one.

At his left, in the open field he had admired just moments earlier, a pachyderm was running wild in the same direction and at the same speed of the car. He was there, before his eyes: landing with alternate fore paws, that impact produced an echo scattering fast in any direction, as if the land was a tense timpani of a vast drum played by a skilled percussionist. Then it stopped mid-air for an amount of time that was feeling unbounded, as if gravity itself was suspended; finally, when he had decided to, he fell heavily to the ground with his rear paws, creating a new impact. “He’s playing the land and he’s doing on purpose” he thought. He was surely being part of a game or ritual of some kind that the creature was leading.

Maybe it was just a dream. It could possibly be true but he had thought about it, so he was most probably awake instead. Not even the twisted astonishment that took over him was of the same kind of nightmares, because in them you don’t stop wondering about what type of reality you fell in: one just accepts the surreal and frightening situation without asking too much, and then acts out of fear. He had wondered very clearly if he had gone mad instead, and what he was looking at, too. And he wasn’t afraid of it, not even the tyniest bit.
“What are you?” he wispered within himself looking at that immense, ethereal and graceful mass of living meat. His wrinkled skin was painted in white according to lines that seemed to trace the position of his bones within limbs, or perhaps they were like force field lines of some kind; they were interrupted by circles over joints and his belly was adorned with large, darker and lighter ochre areas. His eyes were glaring like a cat’s and were staring at a far point ahead of them, on the horizon.

He raised his trunk to point out the direction without emitting any call and his body quickly evaporated as if it was fog. Not the drawings on his skin though; they had become brighter and more vivid instead, like a rock painting mid-air, and were still proceeding without touching ground but still creating tremors, changing their shape and soon becoming impossible to connect to the animal they were portraying originally.

He realized there was nothing more, not even time; just those field force lines were left, and they were moving forward everywhere as far as the eye could see, like a monochrome aurora at eye level.

His world stopped for an endless moment and then it crashed and flattened instantly, becoming nothing against and with the horizon.

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