(The Soundless Movement is the second of five parts of the short story Slowly, She Lives that I wrote during a spring semester in Hjo folkhögskola seven years ago. You find links to the other parts below. Originally, it was written in Swedish, but I translated it, too. It has been sitting on the hard drive of my laptop since 2006, untouched. Enjoy!)
Previously: Life and Love (part 1)
2:46 – 16 maj, 2002
She wakes up, in sweat, of a tormenting feeling
Embracing her body in an ominous way.
It is neither fright, nor can it be fear,
It’s the first time in ages she meets it again.
Shaken, she prayed for it to disappear;
Instead, it became a sharp thorn in her flesh.
It tortured her by a mad craving for winter
Holding her tight by the neck in a mesh.
She dreamed of a desert, she dreamed of the sun,
She dreamed of a summer that would never end.
She was not hopeless, for winter got shunned
The longing she fostered inside would soon mend.
18:58 – October 16, 2004
The forest is dark and damp. The autumn rays do not get access to the gloomy secrecy that is down here. Erelah cannot remember a time when she did not like the forest. It is so enticing; it is so terribly amazingly enticing. She wonders why Sarita never wants to come out with her for a walk. She says that the forest is dangerous and that it lets her down, for it has a black funeral dress on. They have lived near the forest for almost six years, but she still cannot understand how large the space for self-expression there is, there, beyond the branches and the trunks, those powerful and tender branches.
Erelah’s face grows rigid when her eyes suddenly fall on it. It stands stone-stiff and stares at her, her hair, actually. It is frightfully quiet in the forest. She has never noticed how quiet it can be in her dear dark forest. It bows its head slightly, as if to welcome her into its dwelling-place. Its seeming hospitality is dimmed by the dread it arouses in her. But it is not simply dread that its presence causes her to sweat. What she cannot grasp is that she does not feel a desire to run away, to hide herself from its hidden expressionless gaze. In fact, its face is almost totally hidden under its long black shabby hair. Its big chin is the only thing she sees of its face. It is an unshaved and perfectly still chin.
Erelah does not hear a single sound when it moves. Its steps are heavy, but silent. Not even a single twig, not a single branch is heard breaking when it is treading forward towards her upon the damp floor of the forest. It approaches her and glares at her hair through its nasty wisps of hair. It smells of moss and wood. She smells of pleasure and horror. Its breath is deep and soundless. Her breath is charmed by the disgust.
As tenderly as it can, it starts stroking Erelah’s hair. Suddenly, she feels safe. With no intention of doing it, she closes her eyes and enjoys her fear. It feels like a dream. And if she is really sleeping, then it is an unnoticeable dream. Her dream is nice, too. Uncommonly nice. She opens her eyes, for she is overwhelmed by the surprise. She cannot really understand how something as terrible as being desired of a frightful forest creature she can be enjoying at the same time. It seems to her that being desired in such an impudent way is actually what she is striving after. But surely this cannot be what she, Erelah, has been looking for during her entire life?
Without her noticing it at first, its hand is now stroking her cheek. The hand is soft and smooth under its rough dry fingers. At that very moment, she notices its emotionless look. It is terrible. Two deep eye-sockets with no eyeballs are stinging all of her innocent body. With all of her slender strength and thick detestation, she pushes it suddenly down and sweeps running.
She breathes heavily. Her heart is beating even heavier. Her heart fights against her chest, as if it were not getting enough air to breathe inside and wanted out. When she comes out of the forest she wishes to turn and return to the place where she was loved and desired. She is, on the other hand, afraid and disgusted of being desired for what she looks, not for what she is. She wants to be free when she is around the strong forest creatures. But they look at her, not into her. The surface. The exterior. And it is precisely what she is most indignant with.
Next week: The Pure White and The Filthy Black (part 3)