(Life and Love is the first of five parts of the short story Slowly, She Lives that I wrote during the spring semester in Hjo folkhögskola seven years ago. Originally, it was written in Swedish. It has been sitting on the hard drive of my laptop since 2006, untouched. During the coming five Saturdays, I have the pleasure of presenting it for public viewing here. Enjoy!)
8:12 – February 7, 2004
It takes longer to wake up than to become pregnant. Which of the two takes more courage, she does not know. Neither does she care much about it, though sometimes she is really interested in how it would feel to have a little life inside her own body. Not because she wants to create life and admire the little one lying on her belly after much “anticipation”. No, she would rather want to know what it feels like having a human being grow inside her, because she seldom feels that she has a life of her own.
It becomes worst during the weekends, for a week is over and another one is coming, a week of disappointment and bitterness. She turns bitter, when disappointed. She turns disappointed when she does not manage to get what she has spent the past twenty years – her whole life, that is – looking for. One does not know what they are looking for until they find what makes their heart beat faster. Then one is glad, almost happy, over their discovery. But it is just a moment which disappears instantly, which one cannot realise when they are happy. In fact, one is happy when they understand that they are needed. That there is some meaning to existence, that there is some meaning to taking a breath after breath, boring and monotonous.
She is awake, in bed, but it is Friday under her blanket. Her body and days of the week agree not to match, always. The radio is quietly playing some Saturday morning music. She notices that she is already annoyed. She becomes nervous, too. Her eyes are wide open now and she sits up in the bed. Her sister is lying on the bed across from her and is cute sleeping – the little princess. She loves her sister more than anything else in the whole world. Even more than what she is looking, daily. She loves her sister even more than herself, which is not anything hard to imagine. She may not fully understand how much she loves her, for the love does not dwell in her mind, but rather in her heart. And the heart and mind do not communicate with each other on a regular basis. Not usually, anyway.
A couple of months ago she got a present, a teddy bear. It must have been a guy who gave it to her. Of course, it is not the only teddy bear she got as present from guys. Guys also give her compliments. She gets at least twenty-six compliments a day. Once a friend of hers told her that it was because she accepted compliments as engagement rings that she always felt bitter. She did not stand it a single moment. She then denied that compliments meant anything to her. And they do not. On the contrary, they mean a whole lot to the guys. Thus, every night she has a great variety of bear alternatives to choose from to hold on to in her sleep. But this teddy bear is special. Although he lost an eye and is completely ragged, she loves him, with all of her confused heart.
“Good morning!” Sarita’s voice sounds unusually soft. She stares at the ceiling and does not look at her sister, already awake. “Crap. I’m so tired,” she sighs. “What’s the time? Why didn’t you wake me up earlier? How long have you been up?”
Erelah does not answer, for everyone knows that she does not like being asked many questions. Especially not in the mornings. She turns her head to her sister:
“Do you love me, sis?”
“More than a bird loves air, a fish water and a lion freedom,” both sisters knew Sarita’s sarcasm for an answer was true.
“Haha, I love you even more, baby!” Erelah laughs and throws her pillow on her sister. It is now that her body accepts the Saturday. Now she can live again.
Often, Erelah thinks about love, too often probably. From the very beginning, since her childhood, the topic of love has found a special place in her thoughts. When she was born she experienced love. During the years, she saw it decrease. All the more distinctly, with every day, it decreased around her. But it appears every time she understands she is not alone, that there is someone who cares about her. It is, in fact, enough with one such being. And it can be whoever. Most importantly, they exist. Whoever, wherever. She constantly needs someone who cares about her, so that she is able to get new strength, so that she is able to breathe, so that she is able to live, so that she is able to withstand the temptations and endure the ordeals. Today, it is Sarita.
Next week: The Soundless Movement (part 2)