"The Long Run"

That need to laugh loudly and hysterically to free himself from the folly of the house. It was almost too much again. He snorted to suppress it and paced back and forth in the living room, his contracted face reflecting itself in the glass furniture and in the mirrors, following him like a fragmented ghost. The silence of the room continuously imploded in its own stillness. Hishead was feeling feverish again. The white walls absorbed the voices coming from the kitchen all too soon. Could anything, be it voice or thought, live longer than a second in that house? As he glanced at the mirror again, the distant sound of ecstatic saxophones made its way in the room through an open window – was it coming from another house, from a car passing by or from his own frenzied mind? He heard steps.

“What is it, Jack?”

“Cigarette,” he muttered, as the clank of the door closing behind him muffled his words.

Outside, he breathed deeply. The summer air was irresistible, all draped in stars. Sweet and acrid scents of flowers floated all around, inebriating him, mingling with the heavy smell of smoke. A coquette hooted, an owl flapped his big restless wings from the top of the tree. He could smell cherries. Sounds issued from every corner, and even the silence between them was profuse in promises. He filled his lungs with the fullness of the night. Who was he trying to kid? He had no choice. Had he ever?

As he entered the house again, emptiness swallowed him once more. The metallic tingling of spoons and the shrill voices of the guests. He rummaged his mind for the right word. Antiseptic.

One second too many and he would go mad.

“I’ll leave tomorrow,” he announced to his mother, entering the kitchen. He followed the range of expressions on her little old face: surprise, disappointment, and resignation, until tiredness flowed on her face like a slow waterfall and her usual, somehow gentile, expression was restored. “Sure, dear.”

His uncle’s hand was on her shoulder. He looked stern. “You better care for your mother son, she worries about you.” His grip on her thin shoulder seemed to strengthen. “You be careful, and come back soon,” he added, and forced a wink through the wrinkles.

As he nodded, a drop of guilt trickled down the side of his forehead. He had no choice, he would keep doing this to them all, time after time.

For the second time music made its way into the house, and faded away as the car drove on. Loud, cheerful pop. He passed his hand on the lucid surface of the table. Hoot. He would keep doing this to them all, time after time. He walked back to the living room, somehow younger, somehow older.

Elisa Sabbadin