Thursday, October 15, 2009
The night is wings of crows, flapping silently over my shoulders. A thousand whispers of leaves, or mice, scurrying at my heels.
Only three more streets and I’ll be home.
The wind is brother to hungry wolves. With iced fingers it seizes my eyes, tears my hair, dies quickly only to be reborn through another crevice between buildings.
An operatic voice rises behind me, too close, too loud. A tremendous bass-baritone from a tragic opera I vaguely seem to recognize. The voice is close, the instruments far, in a discarded dimension. Is it in Italian? Or German? Who listens to opera in these deep hours of the night?
I think I can hear my name. How can it call my name? The wind is meowing, mocking my ears. It must be.
Only two more streets and I’ll be home.
Again. My name. I hear it now with aching clarity. I chance a glimpse back, just as I force my march into a trot. The street is a valley of stone, with nothing animated but the white wings of abandoned newspapers, tumbleweeds blown on a prairie of asphalt. No car even sleeps by the curb. No window is alive, behind me, in front. Darkness has engulfed everything beyond the meagre streetlights. Is there a power outage?
Where does the music come from?
Only one more street and I’ll be home.
I pull my jacket tighter, unable to repel the chill in my heart. My name echoes wildly behind me, around me.
My trot morphs into a sprint, the soles of my sneakers slapping the sidewalk impossibly loud.
Finally. But my house is dark too. There’s nobody home. It takes an eternity to fumble with my keys. An eternity of operatic madness.
At last, the door shuts behind me, enclosing me in the cocoon of safety built by the familiar feels, and smells, and noises. The tic-tock of the grandfather clock, the clanging of a water pipe from the heating system, the sweet, humid smell of earth and plants. The absence of opera sounds.
The light switch is dead. I feel my way along the wall to the kitchen. A muffled humming permeates the door that leads to the lowest entrails of the house. What’s in the cellar?
Against all caution, against all hope, I open the door. A milky glow bathes the staircase. The opera music builds in a sombre crescendo from which the bass-baritone voice calls my name.
I have nowhere to go home.
I am home.
(photo from moviegoings.files.wordpress.com)