Having a bebé was never a plan for any of my girlfriends, including me − at least not an immediate one. Of course, we wanted to have kids some day in the near futuro. And naturally, we were meant to be mothers and take care of our children. The problema was that we weren’t that prepared. But who really is?

Some of us were already in our thirties, and according to a few estudios that is exactly the right age to start a familia of your own. Yet my girlfriends and I have always enjoyed being single and having time for ourselves: to do the things we love, explore our pasiones, excercise, pursue our career goals, hang out, date on our own terms… We were alone so many times in the past that we have learned to embrace freedom.

However, at the moment, some of us were finally in a relación estable, and that hasn’t stopped us from meeting together and having fun because, despite what others may think. You don’t need to be cut off from your friends once you are married and happy.

Let’s be clear about this. When you have a partner by your side who respects you and loves you no matter what, who is loyal and trusting, caring and hard-working, and who is really willing to do anything for you, OMG what else could you possibly want? Is that not what you have always asked for from a guy? Obviously, your life is going to change somehow and every friend and relative around you just has to accept your choice and be part of your happiness.

Jim and I have been together for almost three years. I finally knew I had met my match. There’s no other persona in the whole world who could understand me, support me and love me more. We barely argue with each other and the sexo… always mind-blowing. At first, I wasn’t sure about taking a step forward in our relación and living together as a real couple. I had gained some kind of independencia económica that I didn’t need a boy to give me any security or comfort in my life, but somehow he managed to get me out of my ‘’single’’ box and make me realize that there’s nothing wrong with some male compañía and help for a change.

For a long time, Jim and I struggled to find a place of our own. In the meantime, we were living in a rental we could both afford and there we learned to share responsabilidades, build confidence in one another and love our privacidad. Something I hadn’t experienced before. Unfortunately, we got kicked out of the owner’s house and had to start all over again. Looking for an apartment (apartamento) and moving out every six months was exhausting, but we had each other, and that was worth any sacrificio.

(…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

Credits

Cover photo: Camaguey, Cuba – Horse carriages cross the railway – Matyas Rehak (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Talia Stotts

I don’t speak, and her eyes look up at me through the glass. “Amelia…”

Her lips quiver and I know that face. It’s the face saying, “I can’t hold back these tears that I’ve been trying to hold back for too long and I’m scared of letting out all of these emotions.” I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Students who have been abused. Teachers who are burned out. Divorcees.

I rush over and embrace her. “It’s ok,” I say, “don’t talk now. Just cry for a minute.”

It’s strange how people need permission to cry.

She sobs into my shoulder, and I let her. I can tell she’s been waiting for this – a literal shoulder to cry on. The weight of her head is familiar, comfortable. Like my shoulder was made for holding up weary heads and making them feel less tired.

When her crying has reached a natural end, she straightens up and pushes her hair off of her wet cheek.

Still, I don’t speak. I can see her mind pick through the settling whirlwind of thoughts, trying to find where to start. Her eyes dance around the floor until finally slowing to a stop.

“Amelia, I can’t do this anymore. It’s too much. It’s just all too much! I’ve only been back at work for three weeks and my boss hates me and I keep screwing up simple things and then I get home and I have to deal with Ellie and dinner and… and I just can’t anymore.” She heaves a deep breath outward, emboldened by her own voice. “And then there’s Ethan, who, when he’s not finding some excuse to not have to feed or bathe, our daughter is pawing at me like a rutting deer!” Her voice is louder now. “And then, after feeling insufficient at work and with my kid and with my husband, I have to come here and meet up with my best friends in the whole world and still feel insufficient! I’m drowning! I’m failing! I’m –”

Her breath is coming in gasps now as the whirlwind starts up again. I can see her getting swept up in the thoughts, so I grab her hands and speak quietly.

“Jenna, it’s ok. It’s going to be ok.”

“But – it’s not! I – can’t –” Her breath is heaving, and her eyes are wide. I gently lower her to the ground as her legs wobble.

“Jenna, what can you see?”

She looks at me in a bewildered panic.

“Just look around and tell me something you can see.”

“The…sink,” she pants.

“Good. What else?”

We continue through 5-4-3-2-1, and by the time she says she can taste the margarita mix on her tongue her breathing has returned to normal, and she is ready to stand.

My therapy brain switches off, and I land on college-friend brain. “You’re not insufficient, by the way. Your family loves you. We all love you. And you’re doing amazing! If anyone should feel inadequate in our group, it’s me. And I do, actually. I am the lowly non-mom, you know.” I roll my eyes, waiting for her to agree that, yes, I am the deficient one who has nothing to worry about. Instead, she grabs me by both shoulders.

“Ames, are you kidding?” She seems genuinely confused.

“Um…no?”

“Amelia Kathleen Rose – no, scratch that – Doctor Amelia Kathleen Rose – you are the most successful one out of all of us! You’re out there living the dream! A great job, no kids, no husband, and a freaking title – if we knew what we were getting into before we did, I think we’d all have followed your lead.”

I look away, sure that she is simply trying to placate me. I wouldn’t be tricked so easily.

“But Ames,” she continues, “we’re just jealous. You know that, right? I mean, yes, we all love our kids more than anything and would throw ourselves in front of a moving vehicle for them, yadda yadda yadda. It’s true…but we didn’t really realize we had a choice, you know?”

“Yet you guys act like I do nothing but drink wine every evening and travel all summer. Do you know I worked over twelve hours today? And the same yesterday? And that I’m on campus two Saturdays a month? And that I have trainings all summer?”

I’m getting too heated and pull back a bit.

“Look, Jen, I know my life would be more difficult if I had kids like you guys, but it’s hard as it is. And I think it’s ok for you guys to recognize that sometimes. You’re not the only ones who get tired you know. I almost said no to coming out tonight.”

Jenna squeezes my shoulder reassuringly. “I’m sorry, Amelia. Really. We don’t think you have it easier. It’s just…you know, the grass is always greener. But if your work includes deescalating panic attacks like you had to with me tonight – but with teenagers – I can imagine you have your work cut out for you! I was some wreck!”

We laugh and turn to the mirror, wiping away our respective mascara smears.

“Seriously, though,” says Jenna, “thanks for that…whatever it was. It really helped me calm down. It’s just been so difficult lately. I’d been holding it all in for quite a while now.”

I smile. “Anytime.”

****

When I get home, I’m exhausted – a good exhausted. I brush my teeth and crawl into bed, opening a folder on my lap.

Alex Wells.

He’s coming back to my office tomorrow for a longer talk, and I wonder if I’ll know what to say or how to help. There’s always doubt, but not tonight. After Jenna’s panic attack and our bathroom chat, I feel somehow surer of myself. It was ridiculous of Jenna to think that she was out of her depth or incompetent. Is it so crazy to think that my insecurity was also unfounded?

I decide that it isn’t.

I write out some thoughts and ideas for my meeting with Alex the next morning, gathering resources and support group information. The ever-present self-doubt seems to have disappeared – but that could just be the margaritas.

****

I am awake before my alarm, and I am pleased to note the lack of nausea and headache. I must have drunk enough water last night. Grateful for my foresight, I get ready for work and head out. I’m early as usual, and there are only a few students milling about outside. I greet them and walk my bike into the building towards my office.

The clacking of the gears echoes through the empty hallway, and when I turn the corner, I am surprised to see a figure sitting on the floor at my door.

I gasp as the figure – a boy – turns his face upward to me. “Dr. Rose?”

“Alex! My word, what happened?”

He is crying, a deep purple bruise glowing around one eye. I pull him to his feet and together we walk into my office. We sit on the sofa, and as he looks at me with that look – before the screaming whirlwind of thoughts begins – I brace myself for the storm.

“Alex, tell me five things you can see.”

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

Credits

Cover photo: Independence Creek, Texas, America – The setting sun – Sam C Chen (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Talia Stotts

When I arrive at the bar, the girls are already there, a pitcher of margarita on the table, four glasses at the ready.

“There you are!” Maritza exclaims when she sees me. “Drinks just arrived, so you’re right on time. How are you?”

We greet each other, hugging and commenting on new haircuts and pretty manicures, and finally clink our glasses together. Jenna starts to speak after our first delicious sip.

“So, what is going on with you all? Our last hangout was…” She pauses to think, looking upwards as if our calendar is written on the ceiling.

“Sunday brunch, four, maybe five weeks ago?” finishes Maritza.

“No, it was six,” says Olivia. “I remember because it was the day after Jeremy’s birthday party, and I was so desperate to get out of the house and just left Cole to clean up. I had to run the whole party by myself – half a dozen middle school boys for a sleepover are no joke! Pizza boxes and Mountain Dew cans everywhere! So anyway, six weeks ago.”

“Six weeks is too long, ladies. We need to get our lives together so we can enjoy more margs!”

Something I can agree with! I feel like no matter what I do, there’s never enough time to get anything done. I may not be on my feet all day, but the emotional drain quickly translates to physical exhaustion.

“Cheers to that!” I say, holding my glass up high. The girls laugh, and we clink again, splashing the table.

“Oh, come on!” begins Olivia. “You’ve got plenty of time, Amelia! School’s out by 3:30 and you’re not even a teacher so it’s not like you have to bring work home with you or anything.”

My mind flits back to the folder in my backpack. Alex.

He’s gay. There are several gay students at the school. And he’s just like every one of them that have come to see me. Unsure, frustrated, scared. I talked to him the way I talk to the others. I let him know he was not alone, that things would get better, that he was loved. Of course, his parents aren’t making it easy for him, but parents seldom do. That was one reason I could never have a child – parents are the worst by nature, and I just don’t think my fragile ego could take it.

“I don’t have to grade essays or anything, but usually my day is spent meeting with students and teachers, and I don’t get the chance to do all my paperwork, so I have to bring it home with me.”

“At least you can do it with a glass of wine! Imagine trying to do it with a baby on your hip – and that’s just the beginning! Sorry to tell you, Jenna.” Olivia elbows Jenna lightly and smirks.

Jenna’s the newest mother of the group. She’s only just gone back to work after a very extended maternity leave. Her kid is in the throes of the Terrible Twos, so after a day of crunching numbers she gets to come home to a screaming toddler.

Jenna is unfazed by Olivia’s comment. She seems to be taking it all in stride, the same way Olivia and Maritza had when they became mothers – reveling in the matriarchal martyrdom of sleepless nights and dirty diapers.

“And would you believe that Ethan and I are crazy enough to try for number two?”

“Jenna! That’s amazing!” coos Olivia.

“You’re going to love having two!” says Maritza. “I mean, you’ll never sleep again, but you’ll love it!”

The three of them laugh knowingly together, as if insomnia is exclusive to the procreative, but I see a twinge in Jenna’s face, a slight struggle behind the smile. She sets down her glass and excuses herself to the restroom.

“Be back in just a sec. Order another pitcher, will you? It’s mommy’s night off!” She turns and heads to the back of the bar and as she walks away, I see her hand rise to her face, and I swear I hear a sniffle.

“Grab a pitcher of water, too,” I say as I stand up from the table. “I cannot be hungover tomorrow!” Olivia and Maritza laugh, and I make my way to the restroom. Inside I find Jenna leaning on the sink, looking into the dirty mirror.

(…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

Credits

Cover photo: McKinney, Texas – Tapped – Philip Armitage (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

 

As I stand to leave, my phone buzzes – a text from Olivia.

Hey! We’re all meeting at Hunter’s for drinks at 8 – you in? It’s Margarita Monday!

I love a margarita as much as the next girl, but I don’t know if I can do it tonight. I know there’s no easy way out of this. I don’t have a good excuse, as far as they’re concerned.

You don’t have kids and soccer practice and ballet classes to deal with. All you have is work, and after that you’re home free! And you work at a school, so you get summers off! You can do whatever you want, like, all the time.

They’re not wrong. There’s a certain freedom that not having kids gives me – like impromptu meditation sessions in the park after a particularly hard day – I can’t deny that. And they may not be my own flesh and blood, but my students are my kids. I care about them, even love them.

But it’s not really like being a mom, you know. You get to send them home, and you don’t have to worry about feeding them or taking them to the hospital when they’re sick!

Again, they’re not wrong, really. But sometimes I don’t get to “send them home” until hours after the bell has rung because they’re too afraid to go home. And my friends don’t know about the cabinet full of granola bars and Gatorade for the students who haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday. And in a school of 2200, there have been more than enough sick kids I’ve had to help get home or to a hospital.

Suddenly, I feel that familiar uncertainty creep back in. Maybe I do have it easy. Maybe I’m not cut out to do anything more than be a school counselor.

I ignore the text and get back on my bicycle. I’m home within fifteen minutes, which is good because it’s getting dark. Once inside, I head into the kitchen and, faced with a fridge full of uncooked ingredients, grab a handful of grapes and flip on the TV. My phone buzzes again. Olivia.

Hello? Are you coming? We all got sitters, so it’s now or never, haha!

I hate this. The guilt trip. As if I’m not allowed to be tired or stressed and have to do everything they want when it’s convenient for them because they finally got a babysitter.

I pop a grape into my mouth as I think of what to reply. I’m tempted to ignore it again. And why shouldn’t I? Wouldn’t that show them I’m just as busy as they are?

No. It would just show them that you think you’re too good for them.

I sigh. It’s true. Missing out on Margarita Monday means I’ve got better things to do than hang out with a bunch of moms. Not that that’s all they are. Olivia’s in marketing. Jenna is an accountant. I’m not sure exactly what Maritza does, but it’s something in home healthcare. Really, they’re the women who do it all, the kind you read about in magazines, the ones who are main characters in sitcoms.

I put my thumbs to my phone and tap out a reply.

I’ll be there! See you soon!

By the time I’ve changed clothes, refreshed my makeup and closed the door behind me, I wonder if I’ve made a mistake. I love these girls – we’ve been friends since college and weeknight cocktails aren’t unusual in our group. But since they all got married and started having kids, I’ve been forced to wonder if we really have anything in common anymore. It’s starting to feel like we don’t.

A pang of insecurity punches me in the stomach.

(…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

Credits

Cover photo: Galveston Island, Texas – Downtown – Lily Miller (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Talia Stotts

The door finally closes, and I exhale deeply, letting my chin droop to my chest. My neck is sore, as it is most days. I don’t know if it’s the stress or the fact that I’m just at “that age,” but 33 seems too young to complain of achy joints.

I roll my head up slowly, the way they tell you to do it in yoga class.

“Oh shoot!” I mutter, looking at the plain school-issue clock on the wall. 5:47. I’m going to miss yoga again. It’s been weeks since I’ve been able to make it. That’s probably why my neck is hurting so bad.

I stand slowly and pack my things into my bag. Laptop. Paperwork. Phone. A student file.

Here, I pause.

Alex Wells.

He seemed like every other teenager to walk through my office door. Sweet and lost and sad. That’s the reason they come to me. They need someone to hear them – really hear them – and tell them what to do.

I find myself sitting again, looking at the boy’s picture on the inside of the folder. His chestnut hair is styled carefully, and his smile is charming. His skin is a golden brown, fresh from the long days of summer.

I can feel my mind start to wander, thinking over my own teenaged summers, too long ago, when my own black skin glistened with sweat in the sunshine. When I was on top of the world and ready to face the possibilities of life.

But just behind the smiling eyes in the picture before me, I sensed a glint of uncertainty. I knew it well. It turns out that navigating the oh-so-many possibilities of life is more than just a tad challenging, and I feel that even now I’m a child lost at sea.

“Ok, that’s enough,” I tell myself aloud. “Just go home.”

I slip the folder into my bag and heave it onto my back. I know it’s silly that I use a backpack, and my small stature doesn’t help. I guess it’s good that I leave after all the students are gone; it’s no fun being mistaken for a school-aged student and scolded for loitering around campus.

I wheel my bicycle – another mistake, I know – out of my office and into the hallway. I turn to lock the door. It’s decorated with a name plate: “Dr. Rose.” I cringe. I don’t feel like a doctor. I don’t feel like I know enough to have that title, despite the years of study and dissertations and theses. I feel like an imposter.

I turn away quickly and head to the exit, saying goodbye to the last of the stragglers – band students leaving practice, a couple of football players, two weary English teachers.

Halfway home, I make a last-second turn into the park, a sprawling hilly forest surrounding a lily-padded pond. I coast down the first hill and up the next, slowing to a stop at the wooden bench under the magnolia tree. Flipping the kickstand down, I dismount and sink onto the bench, dropping my bag next to me.

I’m too young to be this tired.

To distract myself from, well, myself, I turn my gaze to the pond below, where ducks are swimming lazily. I spot a turtle sunning itself on a log. A fish ripples the water’s surface.

I chuckle. I’ve been teaching anxious students grounding techniques for six years now, and they come to me subconsciously, I guess. I decide to continue with the 5-4-3-2-1 method. It’s a classic.

Ok, five things you can see. Duck, turtle, fish. Two more.

Suddenly it’s like I’m blind. Or my brain is broken. Like I’m seeing everything all at once but can’t pick out a single thing. Or name it.

I take a breath and release it.

Wildflowers. Spider.

Good, now four things you can feel.

Hair on my neck. Wood. The inside of my shoes. Bracelet.

Three you can hear. Easy.

Rustling leaves. A crow. Distant traffic.

It was easier now. It was working.

Two smells.

Magnolia flowers. Dirt.

One thing you can taste.

I reach down, happy that my spot comes complete with a small blackberry bramble. I look for the familiar deep purple hue, but it’s still too early in the season.

One unripe berry.

I take another breath and hold it, feeling light and calm. Funny, I hadn’t realized I was that stressed out.

I exhale deeply and let my shoulders sink down. The turtle is gone from the log, and I realize the sun is setting.

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

Credits

Cover photo: Texas, America – Back to School – Nathan Dumlao (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Seyit Ali Dastan

The light went off as my relative’s words rang in my ears. I walked in the hall to trigger it. The elevator was on the ground floor. I pushed the button again. The reverse countdown started: 1, 2, 3, 4 … and 8, our floor. The elevator was waiting for us, me and my suitcase. From now on, the apartment on the 8th floor of this old Istanbul building would no longer belong to me and my wife, just to her. I did not move for a while. Just waited a moment close to our apartment. Then, the light switched off again. I kept standing. Light sneaking through the front door and the elevator’s cabin light were disrupting the darkness. Then the cabin light went off. I got closer to the apartment. I was so slow that the building’s sensor did not perceive me. I tried to hear Sıla. But nothing was heard. I could only make out the white noise of the city. I extended my arm and tightly shut the door.

Now I was immersed in darkness on the landing. It was cool just like the mosques I visited in İzmir years ago. I caught a whiff of the moisture typical of all closed areas in Istanbul. I could still see the digital number of the elevator, which was “8,” in red lights. But its light did not suffice to illuminate the area. I felt a thrilling sense of detachment from the atmosphere I physically belong to. While I was ensconced in this feeling, our apartment door opened. My wife stood in the doorway. As she pulled the door, the hall’s light turned on with that thud, and eventually our eyes met. She said sadly and also in a maternal tone:

“How can you go? You’re afraid of darkness more than I am!”

I stopped for a while and could not take my eyes off her as before. I no longer had the emotional strength and replied:

“I remember the day I promised not to leave you. We were traveling by subway. It was late at night. Maybe the last one. We took the subway from the Taksim Square station to Levent. We were coming from the cinema, tired, and holding the same metal bar. I was hugging you, and you put your head on my chest. Then you asked me to promise not to leave you. I promised. Then you looked me directly in the eyes and said, ‘Do not leave me, even if one day I do bad things to you, I try to leave you, I threaten to leave you, or I just leave you’. I smiled and said, ‘I promise not to leave you even you jump from the Bosporus bridge!’ You, then, put yourself into my arms with a great sense of peace, such that it was transfused into my body.”

I walked away from her to the elevator and held its door so that nobody could call it again. I continued as the door of the elevator was half-open:

“You know what? Each cloth in this suitcase and every other piece in it has relevance for you. Well before anything else, we bought the suitcase as a set together. You have the smaller one. So, they preserve the link between us. I have left it with you. Feel free to give anything belonging to me to charity.”

When I entered the elevator and left my wife, she called after me:

“Your passport!”

I had put it on the bureau after finding it in my pocket before. As I had already pushed “0,” the elevator would go down if I left it. I kept the door open with one foot, taking the passport and muttering: “The travel fuss…” I raised it and said “Thanks.”

I got in. The elevator descended. I was looking at the numbers from inside now and thinking that she was also doing the same: watching the countdown: 8, 7, 6, 5…

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

Credits

Cover photo: Istanbul, Turkey – At night – Kerem Gogus (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Seyit Ali Dastan

Suddenly, the light went off as the sensor did not perceive movement. I shifted to make the hallway light up again. I held the handle of my suitcase and watched the elevator rise, with the flashing numbers showing the floor: 1, 2, 3, 4, … It was like a reverse countdown coming to take me from this apartment and terminate my life here. While the elevator was coming, I thought about what she was doing right now. Was she still waiting at the end of the corridor like a movie character? Or had she moved to the bed and continued crying? I could not hear her due to the elevator’s whirring.

Finally, the elevator came. I didn’t open its door. I moved closer to the apartment to hear what she was doing. I heard sniffling, probably in the bedroom. I looked at the elevator. Suddenly the hall lights went off again, but the elevator’s light was still illuminating the landing. After a while, it also went out. Only some pale light from the apartment’s half-open door illuminated the area. Suddenly, the elevator moved again. Somebody had pushed for it. 8, 7, 6, 5… I moved to trigger the sensor again. Each time the sensor light went on and off, a thud echoed through the space. I waited for the guy who had called the elevator. When it was no longer occupied, I pushed the button again. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. It came to our apartment and stopped.

Then, I heard the afternoon call to prayer, the adhan, from the mosques. I thought about how I really liked the adhan sounds. I started to listen to it. The call was reaching me circuitously, not very clearly, because of where I was. I inadvertently moved closer to the apartment’s door again to listen. Why was I liking it? Was it due to my religious upbringing or just the nostalgia accompanying it? It just reminded me of the days when I skipped classes in middle school. I wandered around the streets of İzmir, my hometown, and mainly the Kemeralti Bazaar. I really liked getting lost in the winding alleys and narrow streets of the bazaar while passing through elegant and stylish shops. I can still feel the scents of seafood restaurants, spices, Turkish kahve and raw clothes. Then I remembered my favorite activity of buying a Maraş ice cream, which is very “Turkish,” relishing the chillness under the Mediterranean sun. I thought that Maraş was much better than Italian kind sold around the world. After finishing the ice cream, I went to drink water from the shadirvan of the Ottoman-era mosques spread around the bazaar. I would also enter the mosques, not necessarily to pray, but to rest, cool down, and enjoy the peace next to the massive columns. Then, I would go to the kordon, the seaside park between the city and the sea, where I watched the unrivaled blue of the Mediterranean. While I was thinking that the blue of no other sea in the world can produce the impact the Mediterranean does, the elevator moved again. Oh, what was I doing at that place? I had totally forgotten that I was actually waiting for the elevator to go down.

When the elevator went back to the ground floor, the adhan was over. The light went off again, so I shifted. The elevator was moving through floors, and I waited a little for it to stop. Anyway, I was not in a rush. My suitcase and I can wait and let the other people in the building finish their business. I crouched down to get a bit of rest. When I was in the army, our sergeant let us crouch after too many exercises. I started to think about my compulsory military service which I completed 8 years ago. We were marching in columns and repeating the words of our sergeant: “I SACRIFICE MY LIFE TO THE MOTHERLAND!” or “EVERY TURK IS BORN AS A SOLDIER.” We said these phrases thousands of times under the summer sun while stomping our boots. The idea was to synchronize the rhythm of our march and cries. If you were an army commander, this was meaningful because you see the troops as a single unit under your command. But if you didn’t believe in the usefulness of your mission, then it turned out to be torture. But, wasn’t our oath in primary school making the same statement, which ends with “LET MY EXISTENCE BE A GIFT TO TURKISH EXISTENCE.” Had I not been saying the same slogan every morning since I was 6 years old? Was it because of this fact that I was borne a soldier? Is that why I had wanted to become a local governor, which I saw as the best means to serve my country? I regretted how useless my idealism was. I wished to run a bookstore. I thought about the words of an old relative of mine, a retired teacher who served all over Turkey. When I passed the exams and became a local governor, I had the love and passion to serve my country and said “Don’t forget, Akın, the more you work for your country, the more you are betrayed. You will get more enemies and fewer friends. Your enemies shall be made of iron, but friends are flimsy. If you are powerful, you will see crowds behind you; but when you stumble, they will throw you under the bus in a minute. No benevolence is left without punishment. Do not love your country and serve it if you do not accept this fact in advance.” I challenged what he said and claimed that the Turkish nation is grateful and truehearted. “Listen”, he said, “It is not about being a Turk, it is about mankind’s fickle heart, which is the same throughout time and independent of geography.”

(…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

Credits

Cover photo: Yalova, Turkey – Bubbles – Kerem Gogus (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Seyit Ali Dastan

I stopped responding to her. She also stopped squabbling. Silence spread over the apartment. I can hear her occasionally sniffling. Then, for the first time, I thought about what would happen alone in Canada. I might miss her for a few months. I might imagine her with me at my new home. These imagined images of her may accompany me during this period: She may have dinner with me. We may go to McDonald’s and order the filet-fish menu together. She may wipe the table in the restaurant with a wet towel before we sit down. Then we may talk about our day and the people around us loudly in Turkish, confident that the other patrons do not know our language. But after a few months, her image would fade. She would occasionally come to my table, sleep with me, and have a chat with me. As the days go by, I would meet new people and no longer feel the pain of loneliness. Then she emails the cold divorce documents, asking me to sign and send them back. Would we really break up after all?

While I was thinking all these things, I heard her crying again. Then she suddenly yelled:

“You will find a French chick there! Who knows, you may have already arranged one?”

“I am not going to the French part,” I replied in the stupidest manner.

“Really, oh great. I’m fine now. Then you’ll find a chubby British slut! Go ahead!”

“I didn’t mean…”

“You didn’t …, what?” she shouted again. I could hear her murmuring, “Go to hell! I hope you freeze to death on a mountain over there, and nobody finds your poor body!”

She was always harsh and relentless when she got truly angry. I intervened to appease her again:

“Listen!” But it was a futile attempt as a bottle crashed on the wall just next to me and exploded. She had thrown the perfume bottle but missed. I could see her in the black nightgown, standing at the edge of the door to the bedroom. It was now like a horror movie scene as we are at the opposite ends of the corridor, and the mascara turned her cheeks black as well. I suddenly realized that it was the perfume I bought her last year from a duty-free shop at a discount price of €49. She had rarely used it. The almost full bottle of liquid had spilled over the corridor and onto my suitcase. An intense scent of flowers spread through the corridor in this horror-movie scene.

“You will injure your foot,” I said and started to pick up the broken pieces of the bottle.

“Stop pretending that you care about me. I am sure you are now calculating how much you spent on it and how much has been wasted.”

I did not reply and went to the kitchen to put the pieces in the bin. I got back to the door and held the handle of my suitcase again. It was now smelling like my wife who was still standing at the other end of the corridor.

Taking advantage of her excessive behavior, I opened the apartment door. As I opened the door, the automatic light in the building hallway went on abruptly. I pulled the suitcase outside the apartment and tried to find my shoes. When I found them and put them outside, she called to me in a trembling voice again:

“Will you really leave your country? Your beloved country? I know you love Turkey. I know you no longer love me, but you still love the motherland.” She stopped and then stressed: “Your homeland.” Her voice trembled even more: “Your nation…”

I sighed and waited for a moment, deliberately shifted my gaze away from her.

“Sila,” I said her name directly in a cool manner. “I no longer have a nation. I feel like I belong to the entire world, all of humanity.”

She laughed sarcastically:

“If only the world knew it. Wherever you go, you are a ‘Turk’. You can’t escape it. Everybody will call you the Turkish guy. What do you think you can do? change your race?”

“No. I’m fine being a Turk. This is not about that. I am just saying that I don’t have particular concern for Turkey and its people. Yes, I want the best for the Turkish people but just like I do for others as well.”

“Believe me, you will be at best a ‘foreigner’, if not humiliated for being a Barbarian.”

“That is why I’m going to Canada. It is not Europe divided by arrogant nations. And if we have a baby…”. I stopped and restarted my sentence: “If we were to have a baby – which we have not done for five years because the spirit has not moved you – then, she would have chance to grow up in a country whose flag is made of a leaf.”

That was the first time I had incited her in this dispute. I realized that she was finally managing to make me angry. But I did not want that. If it was really the last meeting between us, it should be less painful. So I pulled on my shoes and walked outside the apartment. Now I was in the building hallway. I pushed the elevator button, but I did not close the door to the apartment. She did not come to the door to say goodbye, to keep fighting with me, or to see me for the last time.

(…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: The Writer’s Daughter – 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

Credits

Cover photo: Yalova, Turkey – Apartment bedroom – Kerem Gogus (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Seyit Ali Dastan

“Did you forget the day you promised not to leave me?” she asked in tears.

“Me?” I replied abruptly. “Besides, I’m not leaving you. It’s you talking about divorce after each quarrel between us. I never wished it. It’s your choice. I’m just packing. If you come with me, you are very much welcome. Your ticket has already been bought. And you still have time to get ready for the trip.”

It was the day I had booked a flight to Toronto, Canada, and we were having another fight at our apartment in Istanbul. While I was hastily packing my clothes in the suitcase, she was sitting on the bed, her knees pulled up to her belly, wearing a black nightshirt. I was avoiding eye contact but still saw how swollen her eyes were from endless crying. She was yelling at me, accusing me of being the coldest person in the world, a selfish monster who did not care about her. I was trying not to answer her and just pretending to worry about my clothes. I knew my emotionless attitude was making her angrier. I did not intend to do so. But any emotional faltering on my part would give her courage to play on my sensual weakness, and I could be encaged one more time. And I knew, as I put my clothes in the suitcase without hesitation, she was becoming more and more surprised. To show my determination, I had printed out the flight tickets – for both of us – and put them on the bedside table.

Then I finished filling the suitcase and closed it. When I had fastened the zipper, she stopped crying, leaned forward on her arms, and asked in a soft and trembling tone of voice:

“Won’t you?”

I sighed and sat on the bed. Now there were three on it: my wife, my suitcase and me.

“Honey,” I said affectionately, “I’m not leaving you. You know it. That’s why I bought tickets for both of us. I planned everything. We will start a new life in Canada. I already found a job at a university. Believe me, that will be a new start for our relationship as well. It will refresh everything! Please, we have already discussed it a million times. Just trust me and come.”

After seeing my determination again, she shouted at an even higher pitch:

“I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!”

Then I stood up, watched my angry wife and gazed at the calm suitcase on the bed. I thought that I would never sleep on that bed again and took the suitcase, extended its handle, and started to pull it through the corridor to the apartment door. When I reached it, I thought that I had forgotten my passport.

“Do you know where my passport is?” I asked unemotionally and without showing any affection. I spoke without any term of endearment only when I was angry with her. She knew it and yelled from the bedroom:

“I’m not the guardian of your stuff!”

“No problem!” I replied and went back with the suitcase. I checked all the wardrobes and drawers one by one. It was not there. She looked at my baffled concern. Then she said:

“You, stupid! Did you check your pocket? You already put it in there.”

“Oh, I’m a bit mixed up. Just confused by the trip.” – I kept hiding my eyes from her and left the bedroom again.

I put my passport into my suitcase and started to pull it again. Its handle looked like a hand to me now. I was holding the hand of my suitcase. When I looked down the corridor, I could see the bedroom door half open. I wanted to see her again but did not want her to see me. Yet she was out of sight.

She called from the bedroom in a reasonable manner:

“Do you think you can go alone? By yourself? Remain whole throughout your entire trip? You look like a little boy in need of parental attention. I am sure when you are at the airport, you will forget or lose something at check-in.”

I leaned on the door and kept listening without responding. She was teasing me and threatening: “Anyway, when you spoil your journey or just ruin you plans or realize that Canada is not the perfect place to live, please do not dare to come back here, to my home. You know, from now on, this is my apartment.”

“Come on, I am 36 years old and I had a life before you. I survived pretty well.”

After a minute of silence, I continued:

“I am not sure everything will be fine in Canada. But it is worth trying. Compared to my life in Turkey, there is not much left to lose. Besides, it’s a good place to live. I got a good offer from the university. And if we go together…”

“We? You still say ‘we’? Stop making plans for us. There is no ‘we’ anymore. You and me. We will join the army of ‘former couples’.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“Why? Is there any hope to reconcile?”

“Come on, there is discord in all marriages.”

“Don’t make me laugh. This is not discord; this is a fight!” Then she added emphatically: “Especially considering that you are leaving me…”

(…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: The Writer’s Daughter – 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

Credits

Cover photo: Alanya, Turkey – The bazaar below – Aleksandar Todorovic (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

And just like that, South Africa’s FIFA World Cup came to an end. A month of celebration, hard work, too much drinking, too little sleep, and copious amounts of adrenalin. That is the epitome of youth. Youth is a time for living life to the fullest and not thinking about the consequences. It is living an eternal now, a time of staying forever young.

All these years later, I look back on the World Cup as a magical time. The friends I had then have moved to other countries or cities. I have also moved on. Those easy connections and spontaneous activities are much harder now. Some of us have lost touch, and bonds have been broken that may never be fixed again.

Perhaps the world too has become a harder place. It is as if the underlying magic that formed an invisible layer on every part of life has dissipated.

Or perhaps the magic ended when Mandela died. His appearance at the final match of the World Cup became one of his last public appearances. He was already 92 at the time and quite frail. Three years later he was dead. The youthful optimism that our country could transform itself into a leader among nations died with him.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Madiba Magic.

We were watching the World Cup Final in the same pub where Sausage Guy had met his match. I was there with Pauline, Dave, and others who lived in our commune. We were dressed up in the colours of our teams. Dave and I were wearing yellow and red to support the Spanish. The others donned the orange and blue of the Dutch flag.

The finale was prefaced by some Madiba magic. As Mandela arrived at Soccer City in Johannesburg and waved to the spectators, the crowds of patrons in the pub, to a man, rose to greet our struggle hero and man of peace. The spectators blasted their vuvuzelas and the applause roared across the stadium and onto all the television screens of the world. We felt that magic of possibility in the pub. Never mind soccer, this was our champion: the man who conquered a regime and his own demons, the man who started out as an armed fighter and became a peacemaker. He was the quintessential symbol of the resilience and transformation of the human spirit.

The bar was filled to capacity and the audience cheered when Madiba appeared. And then an almost religious hush came over the pub. For the next 120 minutes, only cheers and groans could be heard until Spain finally delivered the winning goal.

The pub exploded into cheering when Spain finally brought home the prize. The supporters embraced each other. Team colours and nationality no longer mattered. We all recognized that something was happening at a far deeper, more spiritual level. Although we came from different walks of life and cultures, we were united by a common love – the beautiful game.

Sport has this magical quality of uniting people. Madiba knew that. That is why he rallied a divided nation behind the Springboks at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Similarly, after the political turmoil of the opening years of the Zuma presidency (which would continue for the next decade), South Africans thirsted for the magic of unity as an antidote to the fear, anger, hatred and distrust that had set in.

For a moment, we were reminded that there is more that unites us than the things that divide us. We were able to holds our heads up high before the concert of nations and proudly proclaim that we had delivered a magical spectacle for the greatest show on earth.

But it was also more than that. It was a reminder that we can do better. The K’naan anthem of that World Cup “Wave your flag” encapsulated so much of what we desperately needed to remind ourselves:

When I get older I will be stronger

They’ll call me freedom just like a wavin’ flag

We were very young then. Democratic South Africa was only 16 years old. She was a child living in the euphoria of her newfound freedom. Everything was possible. Everything was achievable. Filled with the elixir of Madiba magic, we believed that everything would be alright in the end.

But the magic died. We did not live up to our youthful expectations. We failed to make our dreams come to life. “Hope springs eternal in every human breast,” wrote Alexander Pope. We have learnt the hard way that, unless nurtured, hope can wither.

Hope will die if it is fed on corruption, lies, dishonesty, lack of education, crippling poverty, poor health care, and the absence of prospects for the future. That is what the Zuma years did to us.

It took nine years for his party to finally oust him. Cyril Ramaphosa took his place but the long shadow of the Zuma years continues to threaten to reignite the cauldron of despair. When Ramaphosa took office, there was talk of a new dawn.

It has been slow in rising. What can one man do in the face of a deadly virus and a crippled economy? We are older now. We are wiser and more pessimistic. We know better than to believe in magic.

And yet…every time I hear our national anthem, I am moved, and the final verse stirs up something deep inside:

Sounds the call to come together,

And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

Maybe some of that Madiba Magic will live on forever.

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: The Writer’s Daughter – 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

Credits

Cover photo: Plettenberg Bay, South Africa – Setting – Thomas Bennie (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed