I have so many memories of this hallway. Happy memories. But with everything that’s happened each one is marred with a sadness, a longing, and covered with the dirty stain of time. I wonder if I’ll ever remember you with the same joy I felt when I was around you, but it seems that the happiness we once felt here has left no mark on the gloom that followed. I take a plastic bottle out of my rucksack and watch as its contents spill onto the wooden floor. The clear liquid trickles to my left, down the uneven floorboards before disappearing under your living room door. I cautiously tread my way over, being careful to avoid the spilled liquid, and gently push it open so I can peer inside. The ceiling has collapsed, and the threadbare floral carpet is covered in flakes of plaster, paint and splintered wood. Rotting plywood rests stiffly over the furniture, concealing your plush sofa and the mint-green woollen throws you loved. The musty smell of mould and mildew makes me scrunch up my nose and cover my face with my hand. Reluctant to venture past the door frame, my eyes scan the room for anything that might have survived the devastation unscathed. I can make out some shards of broken glass next to the arm of the sofa. It could be a broken lightbulb, or perhaps the remains of the crystal bowl with gold trim that you kept on the coffee table. It’s impossible to tell. The glass is dull thanks to a fine layer of powdery dirt which has muted the sparkle that warns of its presence.
“What’s the word for death trap?” I mutter into the empty house. There’s no answer this time.
I leave the living room door wide open, scared that closing the door would cause more of the ceiling to crumble, and pick my way back through to the kitchen. I brush away the cobwebs as I step through the doorway and then rub my hands on my jeans in an attempt to free myself from the sticky thread. I close my eyes and let myself remember the smell of butter frying in the pan and the sound of your humming. My lips sneak their way into a smile. There are moments where the world feels brighter with your eyes closed. The current reality is somewhat gloomier: the cupboard doors are unhinged; the windows are smashed, and the paint is peeling. Your best china is missing from the glass cabinets, and the locked drawer where you hid your loose cash has been busted open and the money tin taken. A photo of a man and a woman is hung on the wall above the drawer. They’re somewhere exotic, their skin glowing under a hot sun, but their smiles are empty. I remember them well. I remember how they’d drown you out with their tall tales and big plans. I remember how they never noticed your eyes glaze over and your fingers start to drum on the dining room table. I remember how you would so often pretend to be elsewhere in their company. “Can’t choose your family,” you’d say. My thoughts are interrupted by a beetle scurrying out of sight under the fridge. Life goes on, and insects thrive in the decay of others.
I head back into the hallway and hesitate before climbing the stairs; they look steep and treacherous, and I doubt things look any better from the top. I steel myself and commit to the climb, each footstep met with a loaded moan. I walk down the dark, narrow corridor all the way to the white door at the end. I twist the brass knob and the door swings open. For a moment I’m taken aback. To my surprise, this room looks untouched; it’s exactly how you left it, save for the dust that’s settled. The bed is neatly made, and your book is on the bedside table with a fold still marking the page you were on. You’d nearly finished it. On your desk there’s a magazine that’s a few years out of date now. I flick through it, briefly scanning through some of the stories: Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, a feature article on Whitney Houston and a guide to red lipstick. All the puzzles are completed, blue ink on a wordsearch – the most tangible piece of you I’ve seen in years. Next to the magazine is a French to English dictionary, a hairbrush and a to-do note written in indiscernible shorthand. I notice your jewellery box has disappeared. No guessing where that’s gone. I pick up the French dictionary, enjoying the feel of its wafer-thin pages, and I notice your diary is lying underneath it. Desperate to hear your voice again, I slip my rucksack off my shoulder, dropping it to the floor with a soft thud, and peel back the cover. I don’t know what I’m expecting but I can’t help but feel disappointed when I find nothing but page after page of appointments, numbers and reminders. I realise that I never once heard you grumble or complain, and a rush of grief washes over me as I question whether I ever really knew you at all.
(…to be continued…)
Series – Evanescent
January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)
March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)
July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)
September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)
October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
November: A Life Rekindled – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)
Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Bude, England – Compass Point abandoned – J.M. Ritchie (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed