Joshua the dreamer
Every time she left the only thing he could do was to lie down in bed and pretend to sleep. Sometimes he dozed off, but mainly he just tried to summon her out of the fumes of his imagination. It wasn’t obvious whether she was with him all the time, hidden in the recesses of his mind, or whether she waited for his stupor to dissipate to deign to appear to him. This stupor she despised so much was what we generally call reality, the same stupor that compels us to do things we don’t want just to be able to remain in this state of stupidity. Men are social animals and they would do anything to fit in, specially dumb themselves down. But he wasn’t a fan of reality; it was actually hard for him to keep pace with the legs striding pass him, the trams rattling and the cars purring around him. But the alienation was stronger in parties full of people and surrounded by their random behaviors. For Joshua, there was no power in numbers, only in solitude, and only her presence wasn’t ultimately disappointing; only she had that soothing property which can only be found in things beyond us: humans, smartass animals.
But why did she haunt him only in his lucid hours? Where did she go during his hours of stupidity? He would’ve dug up every square of ground in the city provided he could unearth her to simply stare at her for the rest of his life. Sometimes he mistook her for a woman who stroke his hair with the feeling of a cold breeze or for one who showed detachment from the stupor of reality. But the real her never uttered a word to him. Her simple presence provoked a deluge of emotion in him; a spontaneous though voluntary outpour of feelings and thoughts. The eventual disillusionment of her pervasive absence felt like a knife being pulled out of his abdomen. The fire of this pain burned through the numbness of his everyday life.
Joshua was awaken by her presence. He’d stood at the entrance of the bar, wondering whether he had enough willpower to bear with strangers’ nonsense. He didn’t enjoy meeting new people at all, but how else was he supposed to find her? He was a dreamer but no fool; he embraced the Christian philosophy: Seek and you will find; so he sought among vice and perversion, triviality and hormones. Besides, what else could he do? A movie? A book? He’d watched it and read it all.
He stood in his place, watching her for a couple of minutes. She was sitting alone on a high stool. She was beautiful, but she’d managed to remain unscathed. That sight alone was unreal. He knew it was her because, no matter how crazy his dreams were, he could always distinguish them from reality. It was her, in the real world. She’d materialized for him and now she was as earthy as him. He started walking up to her, but he hesitated for a moment and thus he saw why she’d been left alone. A guy emerged from the darkness that enveloped her and started making all the gestures and grimaces that evolve primates do to gain someone’s favor. From a simple smile to elaborate flattery, Joshua saw the guy perform it all only to be met by her sweet but perplexed stare. She leaned toward him to whisper something to him and now the perplexity had shifted to his face. He’d lost all his humanity and was left with his bare emotions showing up on his face. His body had lost its previous grace and had become a simple appendage of his soul. His hands, previously placed gallantly in front of him, as if announcing his presence, had dropped listlessly to his sides and were now doing what they were supposed to do in such a situation: nothing. Joshua saw him mumble some words and then recoil in terror, overpowered by her intense, though impassive look.
It took him another minute to gather enough strength to approach her. He avoided her eyes, which were wandering unconcerned all around the place. He sneaked up to her and touched her shoulder with his hand, which slid to her back for a few seconds and then vanished in the air. “What’s your name?” he asked, and she said: “Maryline.” “I’m Joshua,” he rushed on, assuming she wouldn’t ask back. And she didn’t, nor did she utter any other word during the time they remained staring at each other. He mumbled some unintelligible words such as: “You’re very pretty” and “I feel… I don’t know.” But she didn’t speak nor communicate in any possible way. She was pure presence, pure beauty; nothing more. At last he said:
“I want to know you; give you something. I want to live for you.”
“That’s an interesting proposition,” she said.
“Why did the guy over there walk away in terror? What did you do to him?”
“I just asked him what he wanted from me, and he mumbled some incoherent words such as: To know you… Your Facebook maybe… I don’t know, and you? what do you want from me? OK, if you aren’t interested I’ll just leave.”
“But he was terrorized. How come?”
“I think I’m too transparent. When you look at me, you look through me and back at yourself. You can only find in me what you already have. He was looking for emptiness and he found it in me and for sure it was terrifying.”
“And why didn’t you ask the same to me?”
“Because your eyes were too inquisitive. You didn’t muffle your intrigue with words and for a moment I could see myself in you.”
“Do you know me? I mean. This may sound silly, but I feel I know you.”
“I guess I know you just a little less than I know myself, but being with you right now I’ve learned a little more about myself. You’ve helped me reveal myself, so you could say you know me better than myself.”
“I really do feel I know you. And if you are as I think you are, you’re amazing.”
“And if you are as I think you are, then I think it was worth coming to this shithole after all. I thought I’d gone mad when I decided to enter this place and I probably would’ve collapsed right here were it not for you. What were you doing here?”
“Same thing as you, I guess. I’m just more used to it. I was becoming a habitué, which is way worse than collapsing. Let’s go and never come back”
“Maybe come back from time to time, just to remind us how dark it can get outside.”
“Yes, but all darkness vanishes in your presence.”