Memories gathered dust among the cigarette fumes. The smoke had always surrounded them in times of love and pain. A silent witness to the affair, it rose in spiralled clouds that vanished into the atmosphere, the hint of its existence trailing behind in scent. Consumed yet lingering, like the hurt in her heart.
She sat on the open deck of the channel ferry, as the scenery passed before her eyes. Her thoughts eclipsing the images, life seemed to evolve without her participation. Sunsets and sunrises, the moon and the stars no longer evoked feelings of wonder. Their charm exhausted, their meaning lost. A meandering melancholy had stolen the colours and transported her into a scene from a black and white art film with little conversation and tedious gazes shot in slow-motion.
In a state of detachment, she continued to stare into the distance, as the ferry approached the terminal. A scurry of muffled footsteps and snippets of conversation sneaked into her reverie. Silhouettes passed her by and disappeared, until new figures emerged and left at intervals.
Cruising back and forth across the channel, the vessel made its scheduled trips, as she sat unmoved through the motion. Daylight turned into night, electric beams lit up the distant hills like a shower of fireflies.
A ferry conductor’s voice broke her thoughts. “Lady, this is the last stop for the night. You must get off.” The pixels of his face materializing before her, she tried to command her paralyzed legs to get up and move. Holding onto the barrier, she stood and staggered to the stairs. The abyss frightened her. One step at a time, shaky limbs proceeded towards the set destination. Reaching the bottom platform, she paused and took a deep breath.
The conductor following her asked, “Are you on drugs?”
“If memories are drugs, that’s what I’m on.”
“You lost someone.”
“You could say that, but not to death.”
“Ah, to someone else? That’s even sadder.”
“You seem like a ghost in the land of the living. That’s bad.”
She resumed her steps and froze when she came to the portable bridge connecting the ferry to the quay. Images of falling into the gap and of being squashed between the vessel and the concrete rushed to her mind. Cold sweat broke out on her forehead.
“Here, let me help,” the man said. He held her hand until she landed safely ashore.
“Thank you,” she said, her voice quivering.
“Stop and think,” he said, and smiled. “Fear of death means you want to continue living.”
“Live it up, then, instead of ignoring it.”
“There are no buses at this hour, you must take a taxi.”
“Thank you for your help. Good night.”
Her steps now more confident, she ambled to the taxi rank and took a cab.
Home she thought, and the sanctuary of her bed. She needed a rest from the memories. Tomorrow would be a new day, when, perhaps, she would allow them to gather more dust while she followed the cigarette smoke to new destinations.
Smoke Works, Cutting Edge by Mehmet Özgür, Mehmet Ozgur