Sarah

A surreal fairytale.

Sarah was on a bus, sitting on a chair in the aisle. The chair beside her at the window was empty. The inside of the bus was dark, its windows covered with curtains. The bus went through indistinct places, coming from places of little importance, heading to places of despicable existence.

Sarah was tired, she couldn’t remember where she came from and didn’t care where she was going. With her head leaned back, she looked up without much reason, her mind hovering over a great nothing, a nothing as great as the one that surrounded her endlessly. Time was running intensely inward and everything remained the same. Sometimes, just to force herself into a difference, she would look to the side, to the edge of the window not covered by the curtain. A faint white light without origin showed itself outside. A pure white, not yellowish from the sun, or dark from the moon. And so, for a few moments, she watched the uniform disfigured landscape that followed close to the glass. A landscape without a background and of dubious dimensions, which not even the light seemed to notice.

Turning her vision up, Sarah remained in the constant void. A lukewarm was all she really felt. Neither cold nor hot afflicted her, and that was the only concrete she knew. Her eyes were also warm, there was little to be seen, but its functionality was still there.

The painting remained unchanged to the point where the paint got wet with boredom and began to slide across the canvas. When, very low, drum beats mad themselves present. Sarah, listening to them, first considering them as a hum produced in the continuous silence, but soon realized that these knocks were really concrete and that they came from the back of the bus. The thumping gradually increased in strength and the vibrating sound coursed through the hallway, piercing it. Looking back, Sarah could see nothing in the eternal darkness at the back of the bus.

That black hole exit continued to leak that sound that increased to the extreme, when footsteps began to be heard. Soft footsteps that accompanied the beats. Sarah, listening to them, no longer dared to look back. Knowing that someone was making those sounds, she didn’t want to be nosy. That’s because that sound didn’t bother her at all. Those symmetrical beats only broke the boring silence. Otherwise, she would be prepared to give life to entropy and condemn everyone to the eighth circle of hell. The footsteps followed and soon they were already passing beside her chair. They were the shortest pygmies, all with painted faces, wearing black suits and blue ties. They carried drums almost as tall as they were. Twelve pygmies passed by beating drums beside Sarah’s chair. She initially watched them out of the corner of her eye, but over time, around the eighth, she got bored and looked up again.

At the end of that march of pygmies carrying drums followed a last one who only carried a notebook. This one, in turn, when he got close to Sarah’s chair, stopped and turned to Sarah, who didn’t notice him.

– Do you know where we’re going? – the pygmy asked, smiling at Sarah.

– What? – she said, taken by surprise.

– I asked if you know where we’re going?

– No, why would I know where you’re going? – she asked not understanding the situation.

– Don’t you want to know?

– I don’t know. Why are you talking to me?

– I’m just trying to start a conversation here, girl! Do you want to know where we’re going or not?

– All right. Speak.

– Ha! Why do you want to know where complete strangers go? This makes no sense! You should ask who we are first.

Sarah didn’t answer.

– Ask who we are! – said the pygmy.

– Who are you? – She asked irritated, wanting to end the whole situation soon.

– We are pygmies who play drums!

Sarah didn’t answer and looked at him indifferently.

– What? Want more? I am a single individual and you want me to answer for an entire group as if we were a uniform collective mass. You should ask who I am, not the others!

Sarah didn’t answer and continued to look at him the same way.

– Come on, ask who I am!

Sarah remained the same.

– Okay, okay… Who are you? – asked the pygmy to himself. – Thank you for your consideration, it’s always good to know that I’m not seen as another in an indistinct line. I am a pygmy and my name is Pygmy. I am the one who accompanies this group of twelve other pygmies recording their performances of the beat of the drums. It’s not very exciting work, but I do it because I feel indebted to the others. We look the same physically because we are all brothers. Actually, five members of the group were born as sisters, but to better belong to the band they underwent an operation. So, did I mention that I’m a lawyer too – he said, taking a card from his jacket and offering it to Sarah. – Yes, my brothers through the band helped me pay for my course. I graduated a few years ago from a university in Corumbá. You know… – he said getting closer with an air of intimacy. – … there in the Pantanal I had a life. You can’t even imagine the fantasies some girls have with little guys from a rare African tribe. But they called me back. They said they had an indispensable job for me. Now every time I decide to leave, they attack me with emotional pressure. You know, sometimes at night, I see everyone together sleeping in our little box and it crosses my mind how easy it would be to lock them inside and wait for the air to run out. Hey , hey , very easy! So you wanted to know where we’re going, huh?

Sarah remained indifferent.

– It’s always good to know that there are still people interested… We go forward, we always go forward, never backwards, it wouldn’t be productive. As you can hear, or not hear, the sound of the drum beats are no longer present. And this is not because they have been interrupted, but simply because they are already gone, being vibrations that only pierce space forward and never backwards. What once was, can no longer be and there is no possibility of returning. What lies ahead?… you may ask. Simply everything that will be and that is the full result of what has already been, but that is also parallel to it, like everything that is. Moving forward, we seek someday to arrive at here, at what was and will be, but which always is and nothing more.

– Beating drums? – asked Sarah with an air of irony.

– Do you intend to arrive here someday, beating drums? This is ridiculous!

– Ah… what an insult to our decent profession! It`s a legacy of generations. What would we be without our traditions? Our great drum beat! What would we have to pass on to future generations?

– Have any of your past generations arrived here?

– No.

– And that doesn’t tell you anything?

– No, nothing – he said indifferently, looking at the floor. – It’s not like I’m planning to close the box where everyone sleeps at night to suffocate them all. That didn’t cross my mind! – he exclaimed with a simple smile. – I respect my brothers a lot for that! It’s… you know… they don’t know how to do anything but beat drums. The more they repeat the same thing, the more they seem incapable of having coherent thoughts. They almost seem to communicate through the beats and I’m left with no one to talk to. All I hear are those damn beats! And, of course, taking notes. Aaah … – did the pygmy in regret. – At least with that law degree of mine, I hoped I could use our great financial system to steal some money and end up isolating myself on some paradise island with ancient ruins of newly formed civilizations. But no, they keep me stuck at the end of that line!

– Have you ever thought about running backwards while the line is moving forward? – asked Sarah.

– But everything that once was, can no longer be!

– Yes, but everything that once was, went to a queue that follows traditions of ancient generations that never arrived here. Therefore, everything that was, never really was and cannot ever become something.

– But closing the box and listening to them struggling for air seems so seductive! – he exclaimed hopefully, with distant eyes imagining the situation. – Besides, just the idea of going back for what I, at least, thought it was, makes me feel sick! It would be officially my failure as a capable individual!

– If you close the box when they’re sleeping, they probably shouldn’t struggle. Everything should happen in a very natural way, without much to entertain you as you want! Besides, nothing will change the fact that you’re not really walking here, only your own steps will. And of this, nothing can blame them, for they have no conscience, or gain, heading for failure.

 – Maybe… maybe … But I still have a lot to think about, so I’ll move on – he said that last sentence in a louder tone, looking to the side. – So Sarah, do you want an apple?

– How do you know my name?

– It’s written there – said the pygmy, pointing to the empty chair next to Sarah.

She looked to the side and saw nothing.

– Not on top, under the chair.

Sarah then noticed that just below the empty chair next to her, there was a small wooden door with her name inscribed on a small plaque.

– I hadn’t noticed this door before – she said.

– People rarely notice the little doors, only we pygmies who can’t use them do. Do you want the apple or not?

 – Yes, yes… – she said without giving much importance to the pygmy, concentrating on the door.

– Here – he said, handing her the apple taken from who knows where. – It’s no use – he said, noticing her attention on the door.

– Why not?

– Because you need the key.

– And where can I get it?

– With him – the pygmy said, jerking his thumb back, revealing to Sarah the gigantic man sitting in the chair opposite her across the aisle. He was an old man, thin and tall, wearing an all-black suit, down to his tie . His head was bald, with a few white hairs on the sides. The man then, noticing that he was pointed, looked at Sarah with a wide smile that revealed his rotten teeth.

– Yeah… now I have to go – the pygmy said to Sarah.

– Until never, I will go forward as usual – he said aloud, facing forward.  – Forever – he said in a low voice, turning to Sarah, then running backwards, finally hurling himself into the black hole at the back of the bus. His notebook that fell to the floor was all he had left.

A moment later, the last new pygmy, holding his drum, went back and picked up the block from the ground. Returning to the front, however, for a few moments he stopped beside Sarah’s chair and turned to face her.

 – And the children? – he screamed in a tragic voice, opening his hands on the air. This did little to catch Sarah’s attention, who was too intrigued by the newfound door to pretend to care about the unimportant.

The new last pygmy returned to his line of pygmies and they all moved forward, which was not the front and never could be, never to return. The pygmies in the queue eventually found no more work and died of starvation, eventually becoming extinct and, of course, completely forgotten. The pygmy named Pygmy initially pursued a career of legal consulting in a bingo, until finally discovering his true aptitude in the porn film industry where he found great success. He is remembered to this day as the great pygmy, called Pygmy, who wore a blue tie. The box where everyone slept briefly became the home of a tortoise and with his death, it ended up being recycled, finally becoming a table, on which a great classic about bees was written.

Sarah, then, found herself intrigued for the first time. She couldn’t imagine why that empty chair next to her had, on its bases, a door with her name inscribed on it. A chair so empty and indistinct that it never caught her attention, a gap that in her perception never needed to be filled. And yet, there was that little door, with its little handle, with a lock, the key of which she didn’t have. She wondered where that door might lead to. Perhaps an escape, through a cave to a beautiful beach, with a breeze of life gushing from the sea, bathed in white light reflected by the moon. Then she turned to the tall man in the chair across the aisle.

– Hi, excuse me, who are you? – she asked the tall man who was looking at her and who still had his big rotten-toothed grin. She had learned from the pygmy the best way to start a conversation.

– I’m the tall man, and no, I don’t work in a cemetery, in case you’re wondering. I didn’t even come from another dimension looking to make the recently deceased slaves – replied the tall man.

– Of course, even more so because they are much more prone to it alive. But if not a gravedigger, then who are you?

– The tall man.

– A great successful man?

– Hahaha …Do you honestly believe that someone my age would be on a bus if he had any success in life!

– I agree. But then, can you tell me where I can find the key to this little door? – she said showing him the door with her name.

– Oh… no… is it like that? You show an interest in talking to an old gentleman like me just to get some information out of him. I refuse this depreciation.

– Oh, I’m sorry – Sarah said with as much sincerity as she could manage. – It’s just that I’m so intrigued to find this door with my name on it, I’ve lost all consideration. Yes, tell me more about yourself. I believe that even if you are on this bus, you must have had great achievements in your life.

– Do not play with me, I may be old, and obviously, because I find myself where I am now, not the most competent ant in the anthill, but at least I am aware of my condition.

– If you do, why don’t you get out of here?

– Because it’s not possible. Too used to a life of agreement. You know, I’ve always sought the path of success. I have always done everything that was assigned to me with absolute perfection. I obeyed my parents with great determination. I went to school and got the best grades. In college, I was the most active participant in all debates, several professors admired my mastery of books. When I left, I soon got a job in one of the best offices. I was the best employee. I married my childhood sweetheart. I gave her all the best. The same for the three children we had. And how did it end? They fired me when I was getting to my prime. My wife cheated on me with the gardener and then took all my money on the divorce. Of my children, one became a punk, another an alcoholic and, worst of all, the third an ecologist! And everyone hates me. I don’t know what I did wrong – lamented the man.

– Have you ever thought that when you followed everything you were told to follow, you were following a path to maintain the success of others and not to make your own success. Have you ever thought that all these establishments and situations you entered so deeply and so blindly followed were only so organized to make you a piece for the goals of another – said Sarah.

– No, and now I’m too old to want to know.

– Maybe, or maybe not. How old are you?

– Eighty-eight, a corpse.

– Maybe the problem with your path is that you actually have eight, not eighty-eight. Because maybe they put a rock in your path when your body was still young. A stone on which were inscribed all those institutions that they offered you as success, and there, behind that stone, for safety, you stayed. An eight-year-old, with his body rotting, following everything he was told.

– Do you have no respect for your elders? – asked angrily old man.

– There has never been a more abstract and meaningless consideration than this – Sarah replied.

– But … but… what did you expect me to do? Kill my parents, punish them like children wanting to play at having children? Burn the school down like the mind-crushing machine it is? Promote orgies in college as the only good thing one could get out of it? Blow up the office, as if one could eat without accepting eight hours a day of the beating of a good whip? And my wife and children, what do you want me to do with them? – said the man in a hurry.

            – The only decent work in life is working on yourself, for yourself. You can get everything from yourself, if you sees difficulties in life, if you sees obstacles spreading everywhere, and you believe that the only way to safety is the one that they offer you in such a shameless way in order to take advantage of you, that’s because you look from below, looking at a top that seems to want to devour you, when it should be looking from above to a disordered bottom, just waiting for the action of your hand to start a work of progression – said Sarah. – Oh… and about your wife and children. Imagine what they could have been like in the presence of someone more capable.

– Ah… none of that matters now – said the man still angry, but also an admitted face of guilt.

– Why are you too old?

– How can I go back from my current condition? Everything hurts, getting up in the morning, walking, even eating sometimes. I can’t do anything. Everything is limited. Everything is a bigger obstacle than before. My dancing, my jumping, it’s all gone.

– Yes, you can fool yourself by saying that’s how it is, but don’t you at least want to go past the age of eight? While you still have time, it’s better to do, to act, than to stand still, even though it hurts, even though it’s difficult. Obstacles, no matter what types, always exist, no matter what they are, no matter what age. There will always be pain in the beginning, but then when everything comes to fruition, there will only be gains, there will only be real calm and peace – said Sarah.

– Maybe… maybe… there’s some sense to that.

 – So, can you give me the key now? – asked Sarah, already tired of working as a counselor.

– Hmm… The key, no, it’s not with me, but I know where it is.

 – So…

 – But for that I want a gift in return.

– Ouch … What?

– The apple – he said, pointing to the apple given to Sarah by the pygmy.

 – How can someone with your rotten teeth eat an apple?

 – It makes no difference, the important thing is to have it.

Sarah gave him the apple, not really caring about the answer.

– Now tell me where the key is!

– Look up.

And Sarah did, seeing stuck on the roof of the bus, just above her, the key, which was hovering over her head. She got up and picked it up.

– I wonder how I couldn’t have noticed this key right above my head.

– This is normal, people usually don’t notice the keys that are just above their heads, only us tall men who can’t use them do. I… and I now… I… feel so comfortable in this chair, waiting for the bus destination, but … but… – said the tall man jumping out of his chair and ringing the bell to get off.

The bus stopped. Sarah was surprised, she didn’t know the bus could stop anywhere. She watched the man heading for the door. At the end of the hall, he turned one last time to her, smiling, picked up the apple and bit into it. Then he got off the bus. But Sarah’s attention had already been quickly diverted elsewhere, to the bus driver, who was looking back at her. It was a skeleton. The tall man, in turn, after leaving the bus, got involved in the entertainment industry, and after successful releasing a song called “The Flying Tortoise” by a young singer, he became a major producer in a record company, where he could purge all his repressed sexual fantasies in video clips of new pop music talents.

Sarah, key in hand, leaned to the side, and opened the small door. In it, to her surprise, she did not find any secret path, there was only, in the small dark space that it revealed, a white envelope and a large wooden hammer. Surprised, she took them both in her hands, and quickly opened the envelope. It contained a letter addressed to her; she began to read it.

            “Dear Sarah, with your lovely eyes of heaven, which so often swallowed me, your silky golden hair flowing in the wind, which I always indulged in slipping over my fingers, your delicious red lips, whose bite I indulged in, and your soft skin that delighted me so much, you know I adore you. So many questions you must be asking yourself, so many answers you must not have. How many decisions still need to be made? Don’t wait for them here, because as you know this isn’t here, it’s just a small piece of paper on which I’m writing you. If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that I don’t intend to give you any answer, none that you don’t already know very well. Besides, of course, the fact that I’m waiting for you. And as you know, even if you don’t want to, you’ll eventually find me. And I will be here to comfort you and to reassure you.

            Note: I hope you didn’t wait opening that little door to be an easy exit from this bus, one to a magical world that would solve all your problems, because you won’t have it. Your escape is entirely in your hands. The hammer might help you.”

An unexpected letter to Sarah, finally, reminding her of this truth that she had said so much to the others with whom she spoke: that it’s not an easy way forward, but that it’s necessary nonetheless. So she looked at the hammer. She knew the driver wouldn’t stop for her, and she wasn’t sure if hammering him on the head would do any good. She looked to the sides and once again saw that white light coming from the open crack from the window. She got up and opened the whole curtain. At that moment when she really cared about looking out, she no longer saw a uniformly disfigured landscape. In fact, she couldn’t see anything, it was as if a new dimension was hidden there to be explored by anyone who dared to unravel it. Then, holding the hammer tight, she lifted it, and swung it toward the glass.

– Vandalism, Vandalism! – shouted the owner of the hand that placed itself between her hammer and the window. And climbing from the front chair revealed a large obese woman. Her mouth painted on flamboyant red, her cheeks green, a purple circling her wild eyes, with an eight-centimeter-tall red topknot revealing itself to the air on top of her head, and two large rings dangling from her ears. She wore a green dress with yellow flowers. And her fat hands revealed many rings on each finger, which also featured sharp, painted nails.

– A good girl wouldn’t do that. Come on, sit down! Be polite, wait like everyone else your age to reach the end point. What is your name my dear?

Sarah didn’t answer, she just kept trying to pry the tip of the hammer from the woman’s hand, who refused to let go. And besides, the woman was also spiting on her when he spoke.          

– Obey me girl! And be polite! Look at you, how do you expect to get anywhere in life like this. You look like a boy, not even a lipstick on your lips. You could improve a lot with my help. And committing vandalism! Want to be a rebel? You need a good boy by your side. Look at my son – she said pointing to the chair opposite her on the other side of the aisle. A boy with slicked-back hair, scarred skin, wide eyes, awkward smile, with bulging teeth, his hand, placed like a hook behind his back, was swinging at Sarah. She, in turn, looking with obvious contempt at both of them, couldn’t help but notice that an umbilical cord ran across the aisle between mother and child.

  – You have to sit down and behave, wait for the final stop, go shopping, dress properly with good dresses, heels, find a good boy, a profession and then have children. Yes, yes, that’s what a good girl is supposed to do! – exclaimed the woman, when suddenly a second woman appeared from the chair beside her.

– No, what she has to do is establish herself in life, in society. Dress with respect, and gain power!

She was a thin woman, with dark glasses, dry hair slicked back, wearing a “feminine” suit.

– Don’t come with these, my sister. She doesn’t want to become an old single lady like you, who doesn’t even have a child.

– But I have many men, not as many as you, but at least I can control them!

Sarah in the midst of it just kept trying to get her hammer back.

– What this girl need is a good profession, something in which she can show her leadership! – the thin woman said to her sister and then turned to Sarah. – You have to dress respectfully and keep up to date, aware of what people are discussing, participate in events! Otherwise people will hate you, and talk bad about you when you leave parties.

– It’s much better to have children, than false friends – said the obese.

– It’s much better to be recognized in a social group than be a bitch living around an incompetent pup – said the thin one.

At that moment, Sarah finally managed to extend her foot and kick the umbilical cord that connected the obese woman to her child, causing her to release the hammer. So, with a quick and single movement, she hit the woman in the face, smearing paint all over the hammer, and then her sister, who seemed to still want to attack her. Then, swinging the hammer in the air, she turned to the window and smashed it. She still didn’t see anything looking into the space outside. Then, taking courage for the new, for her own steps, she simply threw herself off the window.

The obese woman continued her life running a circus with her thirty-five children. That is until the wives of six of them, the only ones who managed to attract women, all dominators, got together and poisoned her. Serving her in secret the next day as the special meat of the great feast for all her children. The thin woman continued her life of power, until she had to commit suicide, since this had become fashionable and her entire social cycle had also killed themselves. The obese woman’s son, who found himself separated from his mother after his umbilical cord became infected and had to be cut, has pursued a prominent career in politics.

Sarah was now lying on a roadside mat. Little suffered from the impact. So, she got up and looked around. The road continued to the horizon, and on either side there was only an immense savannah surrounded by mountains. At that moment, every step she took would be hers alone, based on her own determination. The first thing she did was look for something to eat. Properly she discovered a tree with some kind of bud fruit. And as she began to gather them, she began to hear a strange cracking sound coming from behind the tree. Intrigued, she circled it, and that’s when she found a large wooden box. It was half leaning against the tree, along with two drums. A sound came from inside, and as she lifted it up, Sarah saw a small egg spinning on the sand. The egg, in seconds, broke at the top and from there emerged a small tortoise. She held it in her hands, but as soon as it began to fully settle into the reality of the outside world, it jumped from her hands to the ground and ran away.

Sarah was surprised by the animal’s speed, and considering that as important, she decided to follow it. The tortoise headed towards the mountains, heading north, to the right side of the road. The sun was strong, but nothing made that little animal slow down. Sarah kept on following it, walking with some effort, but stocking up on the fruit she carried with her. Hours must have passed, but without a watch, she couldn’t be sure. Perhaps two hours after the start of her pursuit, when the tortoise arrived at the foot of one of the mountains that cut the horizon. Unaffected, it proceeded to climb it. Sarah at that moment began to clearly notice two large wires coming out of each side of the animal’s hull. Couldn’t identify what it was. If part of the animal, or if something strange that would have stuck to it. However, a little further on those threads began to transform, expanding. Finally, they opened into small wings, and the tortoise began to jump in tentative flight, clumsy jumps, with big bumps on the ground. But it was in one of these that it managed to take flight. It began to flap its wings, half lost, flying from side to side, without any coordination. Sarah was worried that it would fall, or accidentally propel itself against a rock, and decided to try to catch it in the midst of its confusion. She ran to one side, ran to the other, raising her hands in the air, jumping, but nothing, nothing could do to capture it. The tortoise was quickly getting the hang of the air, and so began to climb higher and higher. Furthermore, its wings seemed to increase with each beat, and it seemed to be gaining in its flight a dexterity comparable to that of an eagle. Soon, that tortoise that Sarah had just seen hatching from a small egg was no longer in sight, it had disappeared flying over the horizon.

It had all been an unexpected experience and one that had left Sarah frustrated that she was still on the ground. At that moment there she was, in the middle of that mountain, not knowing which direction to go. Of course, it would be forward, but which way she didn’t know. She then decided to continue in the direction in which the tortoise had placed her, she would cross the mountain. It was already night when she reached the other side. The savannah cover in shadows became the landscape. Only a full moon lit her way. Sarah was tired and sleepy. She’d seen there that the convenience of the bus had its advantages, but then she’d confronted that idea with the fact that those advantages would get her nowhere. So, she needed to find a comfortable corner to spend the night. A tree was her conclusion. It would be a cold night, but she had no choice. It was while leaning back against the tree that she saw the lights of a car crossing the space in front of her. There would then be a road through that darkness, perhaps a continuation of the previous one, perhaps a new one. Sarah quickly got to her feet, and ran toward the lights. Screamed to get the driver’s attention. Got it, it stopped. It was a jeep. At that moment it didn’t matter who was in that car, the important thing was that this was a way to move on. If it were a competent and supportive person, it could give her a lift. If it was some crazy person, she still carried that hammer with her which she used to escape the bus. Either way, she was going to get into that car.

– Hello – said the driver. He was a fat man with short hair, parted in the middle, had a mustache, wore a white shirt, and black pants with suspenders.

– Hi, my name is Sarah! – she exclaimed quickly trying to catch her breath. Sarah saw clearly in the man’s happy face that he was completely harmless. Even calm, his eyes were lost, in a way unable to hide anything. They clearly lived in the past, chasing a future, completely oblivious to the present.

– Hi Sarah – said the fat man.

– Are you going forward? – she asked.

– Yes, I always will.

So she got in the car and they set off down the road.

– Thanks for the ride.

– Glad I found you on this road – started the fat man talking. – It’s been a long time since I’ve followed this path without bumping into a single living person. My mind was already reeling with no one to talk to. I’ve been developing several ideas about the need for this path and I really needed someone to listen to me. – he turned around to her looking for agreement, but Sarah was already sleeping next to him.

As the sun rose, the end of the savannah began to reveal itself, and a dense forest of tall trees with purple leaves began to fill the horizon. The fat man continued to drive. He looked at Sarah sleeping beside him and pondered to himself the many things he had thought along the way that he could now tell someone. So far, he hadn’t had much luck on his path, in his life, but something in that situation told him that that would change, as long as he made the right decision and knew how to express himself to his new traveling companion. When they were already entering the forest, Sarah woke up.

– Good morning, Sarah!

– Good Morning. I’m sorry if I blacked out so suddenly last night, it’s just that I walked a lot.

– No problems. So where did you come from?

– Ah… I was on a bus, going without much direction. I ran away from it a few hours before I found you on that road. And where did you come from?

– I ran away too, but not from a bus. I’ve been stuck in a hideous little town for most of my life. Until I couldn’t take it anymore and I stole this car from a military base. I’ve been on the road for a few months now!

– Was this city by chance inside a cave?

– Yes, did you also come from there?

– No, but I know someone who did. He also ran away from there some time ago. He had the help of a zoo lion.

– I was not so lucky, I escaped with my own effort. But then, moving forward, do you want to get here? – he asked quickly dropping the sentence, as if the subject he wanted to start was a disturbance.

– Yes, I want… maybe… I always am, but not necessarily now. In fact, I just started to head forward for no reason, and I kind of just now realized how futile it is, heading forward for no reason. I’m taking my first steps again – Sarah replied.

– A reason…!? I also wondered a long time about following without a reason. I believe after a lot of pondering that the issue is not always going forward to finally get here – he began, taking on a decisive voice that had not appeared until then. – Maybe at first you don’t need a conclusive reason. Perhaps the path is just a way of proving oneself to finally find oneself here. Perhaps the here is not what is at the end of a progression, but an expansion of the same place you’ve always found yourself. Thus making the way, just a way to put yourself in the necessary situations that provide a better view of what is already present in the same place where you have always been. The reason, then, would be to open your eyes to recognize this very reason for finding yourself in the here – he ended with a triumphant intonation, very proud of his elaborate logic.

– So you are already present in yours here? – Sarah asked even though she knew the answer.

– Yeah… no – he replied with a little stuttering. – I don’t know why, but despite everything I’ve been through, and all the knowledge I’ve gathered about how to be here, I still haven’t found myself in it.

 – Hmm… you seem to be in a state of greater awareness than the people I’ve been meeting recently. Who knows, perhaps the reason why you are still at fault, even having consciousness of this, is because despite having advanced so far, having seen so much and known so much, you have only done so in a disassociated way with yourself. Expanding, but not taking that expansion as fully yours. As a fully developed character, but without an actor to represent you decently.

– Maybe, maybe you are right – he agreed with deep interest, his eyes seeming to come alive as he spoke to Sarah. – I see all the possibilities here, and I have no doubts in my ability to appreciate them, but I still don’t. I know what to do, but I don’t turn it into action.

– Maybe it’s because the true path is not really built by understanding, not even by the present accumulation of expected experiences, but by action, by a direct interaction with the space around you. Some live in their sleep, following somnambulists through life, guided by others. Others, dream, follow the world contemplating it, but they only touch it in their mind, never concretely. It’s necessary to wake up, so that you are finally here, and compose your life in action, modeling with your own hands all the reality around you.

– Yes, it’s necessary to wake up, act! the fat man exclaimed, his eyes brightening at her. – Sarah, you understand exactly what I’m going through. I have to tell you that I’m feeling a – he broke off when the jeep’s engine suddenly blew up.

 The car lost strength, until it stopped exactly in front of a wooden archway in the shape of a portal, in which it followed a half-abandoned stone path into the forest.

– What do we do now? – the man asked. – When I stole this car, the most I learned was how to refuel it.

– I think the best thing we have to do is follow this stone path since it presented itself in such a favorable way in front of us.

 – But … but… the road is the safest way to go. We cannot get lost in another direction.

– Just because we’ve been on this road for so long and it still seems to have a way to go, doesn’t mean it’s the best and safest direction to go. Perhaps the time has come for us to leave it behind, into the past. Let’s move on and explore what’s new.

– I don’t think that’s good, it’s better to wait!

– Are you sure you prefer to stay here and wait on this empty road? I’ll continue!

– Yes, I prefer – he replied despondently.

– I expected more from someone as conscientious as you. But if you prefer it that way, until forever!

 – Until never – replied the fat man in a low, desolate voice.

With the overgrown cobblestone path ahead of her, Sarah headed into the forest. The fat man waited beside his jeep for a few hours. At one point, a group of bikini-clad models in a red Cadillac pulled up beside him, offering him a ride. He hesitated, guessed so, guessed no, looked down and refused. They moved on. He stayed there for eternity.

Sarah continued to walk on that stone path, among those tall trees with vibrant purple leaves. An orange undergrowth spread across the ground. When, after some hours, she saw buildings of human origin in the distance. Amidst the bush a vast abandoned city was revealed. Its ruins were largely covered by orange weeds, and a few trees opened up between buildings. However, unlike the previous ones , some already had green leaves, the same with the bush. Sarah started walking down what looked like a large main avenue, houses all around it, a large building at the end with pilasters surrounding the facade. She decided to follow to get to it. The path was not clear, in some places there were fallen trees and the grass was too high. She stopped at a store, found a can of meat, and opened it with a knife and her wooden hammer. She continued eating until she reached the large building, and entered it. Soon, she found herself in a vast library. A large hall at its center held gigantic bookshelves that spanned several floors. She started to explore the place, when suddenly she heard a knock in the distance. Going further into the shelves, she could see that the sound seemed to be from a typewriter, and so she soon saw a door in a corner leading out of the hall. Inside was a man sitting in front of a large box, on top of which was a typewriter.

– Hi Sarah. Just wait a moment, I’m almost done. It’s about bees – said the man turning to her, who at that moment was filled with indignation for having found him there.

“How could that bastard have gotten in my way again?” she thought.

Finally, he stopped writing and turned to her.

 – You know, life isn’t worth living if you’re not a queen bee, none else matters. So I didn’t say this would happen!

  – Yes, as usual.

– Still angry, no?

– How could I not be?

– It wasn’t me who got on a bus.

– Ah… I don’t want to keep going back to this discussion.

– I agree – said the man, standing up and approaching Sarah. He was looking at her with those damn eyes that she already knew all too well and that penetrated her so deeply. Damn eyes that reminded her of feelings she no longer wanted to remember. Eyes of promise, promising to break any obstacle, but also a court for each of her actions. Eyes of judgment, but also that gave her security from everything else. But still, there they were, pissing her off like that again.

– Come on, I want to show you something – he said, holding out his hand to her. She accepted, and took his hand.

So he took her back to the hall, and from there to a hallway that led to a spiral staircase. The two climbed it, reaching the top of the library. There, a glass dome revealed a view of the entire surrounding city.

– Look, up there! – he said pointing to a large mountain that appeared in the middle of the city. At its top, among the clouds, there seemed to be some kind of building. – I found some information in the books about that place. Nothing very conclusive, except that there is a temple there, hiding a lake of green waters, and that there is a secret in it. I was waiting for you to arrive, so we could go there together.

– And what makes you think, that I want to go there with you?

By now he was behind her, taking a deep breath into her neck.       

– Stop.

He kissed her neck, and stopped.

– It’s quite simple, you go, because you want to. You know you want it!

– Just like you said that day, that you weren’t sure if you were on the right path.

– No, I said I wasn’t sure, but I was probably right.

– A very doubtful certainty, no?

– Are you hungry? I had canned meat and beans downstairs.

– Stop.

– You stop! – he exclaimed looking again with the damn eyes that irritated her so much. Then he took her hand and once again pulled her behind him. – I want to show you another place.

And just like that, they went downstairs, then back to the hall of bookshelves, and soon they were out of the library. On a wall next to this one was a bicycle. He convinced her to sit behind him and so they set off through the crumbling city streets. After driving for a while, he finally stopped in front of what looked like a large greenhouse. The glass that covered it had long since been shattered by the sprawling plants.

 The greenhouse that Sarah saw in front of her was filled with plants with different flowers, different colors, forming a vivid paintwork around her. Pink, light blue, yellow, the shades around her multiplied. Watching that beauty, she lost herself. Then they went to the back of the greenhouse. And there he revealed to her a path, a stone stairway, up the mountain.

– I said no, and you brought me here the same way.

– But it was worth it, wasn’t it? Imagine what it can be like up there.

And she herself reluctantly agreed to go upstairs.

– You know, Sarah… – he began to speak, as they were climbing something that had once been stone steps. – …people have a tendency to think they are unique, special, as if their truth, their path, were the only possible one. And they are terribly wrong. One moment you are in one place, the next you are in another, and everything changes, everything is constantly changing. The same is true of the end they desire. There is no single end, but a tangle of possibilities, and none is more original than the other. You may find yourself the complete opposition to certain people, but it’s just a matter of one or another decision made in a different way, for everything to change, and you find yourself as one of them. What I mean is that for a person responsible for their path, it’s not an easy job to make decisions.

– Ha… either you’re calling me irresponsible, or you’re giving me a cheap excuse, whatever it is, stop!

– No, because you know you want to listen to me! Choices control life. A group of choices, decisions, of how to act and react in relation to our surroundings. And these choices are not something certain, something fixed. They are simply an object, a set of circuits in our mind, which is there for a reason, even with content to be determined by each one individually. Choices are our tools for shaping reality. Tools that should never be static, that vary according to the amount of reality understood, according to the subject’s experience with the space around him. The experience that is not measured by time, nor by the amount of knowledge about their daily life, but by the direct amount of actions practiced in it. And to reach a stage of full action to form the basis of the whole mold of reality is to be in the here.

– And? Why this class about what I already know?

– Stop, I’m getting there! – he said and jumped to her, grabbing her and giving her a kiss.

– Not at all convinced – Sarah replied, pushing him back.

They continued to climb.

– So, even so, when you constitute a group of choices, even though these can never be static, you have to stick to them, the bases that constitutes them.

– And?

– I love you.

– Bastard.

– And?

– And I’m not going to answer that.

They stopped, because at that moment, the gigantic temple on the top of the mountain appeared in front of them, making itself present with its high white pillars. There, Sarah began to walk faster, running away from him.

– I love to devour you – he began, as he tried to grab her. – I love every moment built with you. I love your smiles, the wild ones, the ironic ones, the ones when you try to contain yourself. I love your eyes, the ones when you look at me completely mesmerized and mesmerizing, the wide ones when the situation becomes too pointless, the straight ones when you want to pretend to be serious. I love whispering in your ear everything I want to do with you. I love to laugh when you try hard to do something, spend hours obsessing, and then when you can’t solve anything, you just forget about it and throw it all away. I adore you Sarah. You are mine here!

– Stop, stop and stop – Sarah was saying with her lips in a smile, as she ran away from his arms.

Once again he grabbed her around the waist and took a deep breath into her neck. They were in the middle of the temple, watching the gigantic lake of green waters that appeared in front of them. The water glistened brightly, illuminating the darkness of the temple, and a sumptuous mist hovered over its surface.

– I love biting you – he said approaching her lips and pressing his whole body against her. Sarah just smiled, and in her eyes a flame of life was realized in an eternity.

– You are detestable – she said.

– I know, completely – he said.

– And I love you – she said.

– I know, completely – he added.

They kissed and with their bodies glued together they fell into the water.

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