The river was quiet. I saw a boat that had been abandoned at the same dock for years, losing its mirth day by day, while the soundless water remained calm and hopeful, as if I could have walked over the surface. A breeze from the south tasted salty on my tongue when I opened my mouth. I also smelled something rotten in my salvia, that of coming from the river and I imagined not fishes but a bunch of decomposing human bodies which slightly ruined my appetite for coffee. Nevertheless, I kept on walking my usual path. On that day, the seagulls weren’t hovering in the sky, but floating in the river without crying. My cheeks were exposed to the freezing wind. The blue sky looked pale and the south felt remote, as if spring won’t come back again.
There was a man in suit, seemingly killing his time at a bench beside the river, watching the gentle flow before him. He looked unhappy but certainly not depressed, just showing no emotion. The Sun was leaning into the west, I sat down on another bench, where a few benches away from his. The early evening light added a nuance to his unknown impassiveness, the tiresome, unidirectional male gaze looking away from mine that instantly attracted me.
To the right, I saw an old woman in white dress, standing and looking into the river. Her back was hunched, leaning wildly towards right, that could have been said, it was almost bending over, like a one of those Bosch-like monsters. Her face was hidden as it was covered by a wide brimmed hat which was also in white with a white ribbon. It made a strange, a sort of suicidal posture of elegance towards the water. I stood up and came to the edge of the river to mimic her thoughtful figure, since I have a poor posture too, although I knew I would have seemed less dramatic. The water flooded into the pavement and soaked my shoes. It was high tide.
Feeling a little anxious watching the river which was slowly expanding towards us, I saw a few white dots in there. First, I thought they were plastic bags. But the bags were increasing more and more which forced me to stand up and look more closely down there into the water. The white bags turned out to be dead jellyfishes that had become thousands of white dots, carried by the backward current, up to the dreadful freshwater surface. I panicked in the next instant, but apparently, the other two weren’t bothered at all, minding their own businesses. Like a silent river flowing, the calmness stayed in their eyes that pointed to the void.
Convincing enough, that they made me go back to the bench. I sat down back again, feeling a little embarrassed. My shoes got soaked again, with the smell of expiration that reached onto my toes. Certainly, there was something detached from the substance within me, which had started to lift my sumless burden, as though it had celebrated the detachment among us. To be honest, being in that odd circle of the detachment felt good, together with these two unexpected guests.
It was the lady who broke the pact. “We are all in the dark age.” She said to me, still covering her eyes with the hat. “You have to make up your mind otherwise you will be burnt in the eternal flames of hell.” “Excuse me?” I replied. “I know you are lonely. You have fear which makes you vulnerable and blind. You better to get ready for the darkness to come. It’s true. It’s written.” “You fucking idiots...” The man in suit murmured wearily, still looking into the river, and started to smoke irritatingly. And obviously, I found that the lady was talking to someone else, the fourth guest, that I could not put a persona to, that appeared from a different perspective, as our eyes would never meet. Their impassive insults surprised me, that it felt like my sense of companionship for them just fooled me. I saw the white dots were nearly overflowing the river which looked indeed apocalyptic, that it should have been regarded in any kinds of doctrine, to deceive the poor old-world witnesses. “Foods are gene modified, as doctors say it is bullshit and you’ll get cancer. Viruses are spreading around the world while drug companies are making money from them. A microchip is implanted in your body. What are you going to do then?” She kept mouthing these delirious words in the air. “I can see your fear, but it’s true. It’s written in the book.” She stressed it loud. The man was chain-smoking. “The more you say, the more it sounds fabricated.” I said it to her humbly. “You cannot flee famine, drought and flood. They will burn the crops. Big players have already started to restrict trading. The food shortage is for real!” “I hate to break it to you but these natural disasters are pretty much everywhere even before the Devonian period. And the food restriction might be a practical measure to take for the excessive use of fuels that impacts the ongoing climate crisis. Some of you may get cancer and it’s not funny but that’s the one of processes that all the organics have to get through, like, even trees have cancer sometimes.” Finally, she turned towards me, although her eyes were still hidden, and said, “Why don’t you come over to our church, my dear?” I thought that I went too far as soon as she mentioned that. “Um, er, yes! Oh no, I just meant, no. I appreciate your kind invitation though, I’m afraid to say that I’m not a believer and I won’t be the one, as your theory sounds pretty much untrue to me, I’m sorry.” “Are you going to sell your soul to the devil?” I heard a little angst in her voice. “Probably.” I shrugged my shoulders and smiled. She smiled back at me, that I saw her corner of the mouth was mysteriously lifted. Yet I knew she despised my ignorance behind the smile, as our conversation just went in parallel. Then she started to walk away from me. The man in suit threw the cigarette into the river and sighed with evident disgust.
I started to walk again, to the south. Looking down the river, I also saw the hundreds of dead fishes glittering in silver among the dead jellyfishes, that were being carried towards the north. My eyes were filled with silver and white objects, that desaturated the colours around me as well. The obvious backward current halted the whole scenery as I went further, and there was more and more the smell of lifelessness.
A tall, half-naked Caucasian jogger approached towards me from up ahead, wearing a pair of airpods, breathing hardly but rhythmically and passed me by at full speed. I was almost hit by him and didn’t realize him until the last minute. He just kept running, as if there had been nothing before him and it made me utterly speechless, with his aggressive behavior. My legs felt heavy and numbed and sensed the ground falling apart. Abruptly, the heavy legs reminded me of a nightmare of a manic getaway from someone that I had almost forgotten. Someone said that that’s pretty common and it happens when your brain misidentifies the ground in the dream with its idle signal to run. It seemed like lots of things had been interrupted and become unpalpable or unreachable. Maybe it’s better to visit the church to find the right decision to make, despite I felt sick when this idea came up to my mind as if I have been half-brainwashed by the dark age theory that the lady in white dress had spoken of. The jogger was gone. Assuredly, the nightmare had had passed, and I wondered if this would have been written in the book too.
I changed the direction and walked a little further towards a local church that I’ve known of, yet have never visited, which is located right next to a Buddhist temple. A weird combination of religious homes decompressed me from the darkly theorized fate as they looked as if they had absurdly cancelled each other out. The church just looked like a cozy café as well, since there was no onward religious impression except for the Cross installed on the rooftop. I looked inside discreetly, and I found that, really, they were serving drinks and snacks there, then I found the nameboard besides the door which was written as “Heaven’s Door Café.”
A certain amount of exuberance was visible through the window that seemed to depict their vulnerability and solidarity that I couldn’t touch or comprehend. Everybody seemed to be trapped and I reckoned that I might not be able to find the answer here, because I also don’t know how to validate a faith as well. My tongue felt tingling. A seagull flew high above my head in silence, that reminded me of the colourless river I saw and the salty breeze taught me that the river was still full, rocking from side to side from the boats that were coming and going, scattering the dead fishes around which smashed them onto the river bank afterwards. Some were eaten by the seagulls, the other ones would be taken by the mud in the water, adding a profound coloring back into the river indefinitely. I sensed my doubtful faith was merged into the current and I felt myself in nothing but a piece of fish flesh that the seagulls had left on the water surface. Consequently, it was quite self-explanatory that the answer was right here in my own hands, that I needed to go back to the riverside that turned out to be my holy temple.
I didn’t go inside the church café obviously although I felt like I was starving. I sneaked away from there anyway with no regret. As soon as I started to walk again, I saw a monk just coming out from the entrance of the temple, then got into a BMW. There was a Land Rover, next to a Mercedes. It’s funny to see how much they love their luxury cars, that I also imagined them popping a bottle of champagne after the services. The revving sounds and smoke hurt my throat and eyes. He departed without noticing me looking cursedly at him in the car, which made me feel revelated.
He was irritated. Yesterday’s high tide made him feel indignant even more, as he had heard two ladies’ senseless conversation, one had kept talking a load of bollocks and the other one had been showing a sickening leer which, thanks to God, helped the mad one to talk more and had blown his break time. The high tide itself had been threatening and suffocating to look at, as it had all turned into a dumpy grey, including the two. The river was bulging with the smell of a suicidal spree that had gone well with their paganish propositions. Unfathomable layers had covered him up and he had been petrified under the pressure even after the ladies had gone. This morning, it seemed there was nothing changed but the tide had left. The pigeons were like dirty rats as always, sneaking chances to be fed at his feet. A plastic-drape covering an empty cardboard hut where one of those homeless guys sleep remained brutally ripped off. Carousing from a group of tourists on the boat was drowned in the noises from the highway, and in his eye, both cars and the boat seemed to have gone to nowhere. It was senseless.
He remembered a car accident there on the highway, which actually had happened in the south part of the city though, that had been in the early-morning news a few months back. A young driver in his early twenties had jumped off into the river while speeding or sleeping, nodding off on a curve. What an unmemorable event, he had thought at that time, but now it arose clearly into his thoughts for no reason, and he imagined the very last minutes when the car violently penetrated the water surface. This just added the pollution already in the river, with an odor that was like shit. He looked at the people who sitting and looking into the river, apparently in need of simple meditation, and he wondered how any one of them could find a way to be enlightened by looking at it with this turbidness. He saw a yellow baseball cap floating in the river in the next instant, which seemed to imply an abstract form of a ghost who was slowly coming out from the water. He lit a cigarette. The flickering flame enhanced a mirage of the drowned figure with the yellow cap.
It seemed acausal, he thought. His shallow sentimentalism just synced with the cap but it had been lost in sight in a second which was too quick to call it a fluke. Smoking moderated the awkwardness and smoothed the pulse, though, it stayed somehow in his heart and he realized that his tongue had started to tingle.
His tongue was burning. Glssodynia, that was a word that he had learned from a surgeon dentist. The doctor added carelessly that it is mostly common in middle-aged and older women. The nurse standing beside him was looking at a wall inattentively, which confused him more. Things seemed messed up, he murmured and felt offended when he looked at the pills that were prescribed for him. They were antidepressants and were neatly aligned in the plastic tubs, like a little army, waiting for the commander’s cue.
The coffee tasted like muddy water. With his tingling tongue, he couldn’t taste its harvest-like flavor, while it left him a sense of indifference in his mouth. He came back to the riverside and sat on the same bench. His coffee was still fresh and hot. He looked around sneakily and saw everybody’s nonchalance looking just like the taste of his coffee, that towards the current which seemed otherworldly calmer than usual. He poured the coffee into the river slowly. The darkness of the black coffee was mingled with the profuse obscurity of the river so easily and so quickly, that he couldn’t track down the point of the coffee contacting the water. He thought he was a perpetrator against the purity of the river, leaving a little crime in his wake, which made him feel better and triumphant, as if the maturity was coming back to his smoke-screened mouth.
“Can I have your coffee if you don’t want it anymore?” A jogger spoke to him out of nowhere. His hair was dyed in bright red, which seemed artificial to his Asian decent features. He couldn’t react to this red-haired stranger’s voice. It had a light sound. “It’s bad for the river. I can drink it instead. It’s better than pouring it away for nothing, right?” “I can’t taste it as I have a trouble tasting.” He answered. “Ok, then. I’ll have the rest and I’ll tell you how it is.” I handed the cup to the rad-haired jogger as it seemed there was no choice. He drank it up as soon as he got it. “Oh, it just tastes the same as one of those overpriced exploitative coffee companies’. But I like it.” He laughed as said it. He saw the jogger’s reddened face all sweaty and his moist lips glistening with perspiration and the coffee that both looked unexpectedly seductive. “Yeah, it’s exactly the same as one of those mega-coffee companies as you can see its logo on the cup, and I like it too, because it’s not awful, the shop is clean and there is always free Wifi.” “I’m with you on that. Honestly, I really don’t care about the quality of the taste. I just need to indulge myself but the indulgence is unstable.” “So, you are a capricious, environmentally concerned type of jogger.” The red-haired man smiled at him. “I’m not concerned about environmental issues as you can see from my dyed red hair. I’m the one who is polluting nature too. You are not alone.” He threw the empty cup into the river unnecessarily violently. The two watched the cup being carried away in the undulant motion of the flow until it became a tiny white dot. “Nice to see you. Thanks for the coffee.” The red hair jogger said it nicely and started to run again. He became a tiny red dot fading into the distance. In the opposite direction, the white dot had become like a molecule in the ocean that the eyes could barely see. He found himself being left out from these repulsing flecks, and he was alone, crestfallen.
The melancholy brought the epitome of romanticism and upshot when an idea of synchronicity cut in, that an image of the whimsical coquetry from the red-haired guy had started hovering quietly. He sat on the bench again, thinking to buy another cup of coffee to get him back. Tiny fishes were creating infinitesimal ripples in the river before him which looked sweetly hypnotic in the daylight as if they had planted the fantasy. He felt unknown ardour inside and out of his body although the redness had been completely out of sight. Another jogger passed behind him, who looked less enthusiastic in running, but breathing unnecessarily hard, had no airiness in any sense as the red-haired man had had. A pale pink-haired female jogger shot ahead of that breathless man. She was a rigid runner making the strong spring impression, showing an attitude of semi-professionalism, with the smell of floral perfume, which he thought, didn’t match the riverside freshness. Her pinkness recalled the red-haired man but he knew that it was just because of the warm colour. It sounded less synchronic as he found the degradation of the colour, that her black hair was growing from the hairline. A few more joggers passed behind him but nobody wore warm colours. He saw the colours fading and the meaninglessness in them. How true that the design of synchronicity could be? Is it quantifiable? The answer would never be explicable and his doubts about himself as well as the red-haired man, permeated slowly and after all he felt like he wanted to call it all a coincidence. The tiny ripples merely insisted on the magic trying to stimulate the colours of water though they were too weak. Woodchips, twigs, leaves, pieces of plastics, cardboards and oil-like substances and so and so, he also saw the trashes of all sorts in the river, being gently carried along from the upper stream, all passing him by, leaving no clues of where their sources were. Such a state of alienation changed his mind that this may be synchronicity as it was all meant to be like this; things are passing outskirt of him. In that sense, the red-haired man’s presence was the synchronicity for him. He missed the man when he found a still-bright red leaf floating among the clouds of dust down there. He kept watching the river flow, there weren’t the ripples but another boat erasing the calmness he needed. When he stood up and left the bench, he saw a woman in a red mini-dress, sitting on the other bench and smoking. She was tall, and her big arms and legs were exposed. They were exquisite ones with muscles, like a professional athlete would have had, that looked pretty masculine. Her face was hidden in her summer hat, only disclosing thick makeup on her cheek and lips which made her face look red too. He was drawn by the redness again and so went back to his bench to scrutinize her. He didn’t smell her smoke as he was windward. It seemed that she didn’t realize him. She kept smoking. The smoke disappeared into the air when it was turning into the afternoon from the morning while the river stayed heartless and cold.
I bought a vintage flowered dress online. It was an impulsive shot, but to be honest it was planned as I had wanted one for a long time. The flowers with no roots, no stems and being away from the soil, source-less, merely showed the pretty faces, upon the dusky colour of the dress. It reminded me of petals I had seen in the river when I found the drapes of the dress in the picture, which created a worn-out river-like flow. I like drapes. They are full of mystery, like a river, an unquantifiable amount of water. In this dress, I thought I could have worn the whole water by clicking the “add to cart” button.
But I felt embarrassed when I put the dress on. It was too big for me, and my tits were almost exposed because of its too wide collar, and the hemline was sweeping the floor. A mirror showed the miserable witch-craft-like myself, in the oversized floral gown. My miserable tits, I exposed my left one. Bit it looked fine, preserving its shape that reminded me of the old days when my ex-boyfriends used to tell me that they loved it better than the right one. Being triggered by the thousands of their lustful imprints, my misery turned into a sense of confidence in the dress with my exposed dried skin, even with my dried nipple which looked divinely flourished, well deserved to be sucked.
It was getting dark outside, but I wanted to go out to the riverside, in this childish confidence. Though I took a jacket on, because of my commonsensical sense of shame. The river was wavy but it wasn’t windy, smelled awful as always. I sat on a bench. A seagull smoothly landed on the water surface without sound. The darkness was about to take over the sky, it was too late to call it twilight but the magic hour wasn’t completely defeated, as though the coldness could be called warmness as well. Cruising boats started to illuminate themselves in neon pink and yellow but they looked empty because the lights were too strong, yet I could hear someone’s scream from there. They were perfectly mixed in this undefinable time of intermittent universe and I lost words. I unbuttoned the dress and exhibited my ones towards the river. The coldness nourished my warmness which reshaped me non-linguistically. Goosebumps run over my arms and stimulated my bottom belly then I felt aching and something was leaking. I set my eyes on the bloated river, which extrapolated my cravings and hunger under the darkened sky which made me feel like I had become a blind concubine.
A weird couple passed me by when the sun had almost been set. To the northwards, they walked arm in arm tightly in silence. The lady was tall and big, compared to the guy who was skinny and small. They seemed like a mother and a son rather than lovers. She was in a red mini-dress, her arms and legs were hairy and as big as a soldier’s, that was enough to pique my curiosity. I smartened myself up hurryingly and I started to follow them. They strictly kept the reticence, and walked obsessively then I realized that on the riverside path, we had come to the point where there was nobody but us. The flow and the waves lulled but feeble wind bothered my bangs. My heartbeat accelerated. These two seemed like they didn’t notice me. We, the three of us kept walking a little further but suddenly they disappeared from my sight. I tiptoed discreetly the best I could, and moved forward carefully to the point where I lost them. Then I saw the red dress lady who was devotedly giving her head behind a tree. I stepped back, and sat on a bench nearby, pretended not to know their business but hearing everything. I couldn’t see his face as the leaves hid it but his heavy breath was rhythmically delivered to my ears. Sometimes it made polyphonic sounds with water bird’s quacking and it orchestrated the darkness that had fallen upon the other parts of the riverside which impressed me a lot. I saw the river flow was getting numbed, seemed almost conjugated, in contrast to their musical frequencies. Again, something was leaking from between my legs. I touched mine, and felt fresh, warm liquid and I found out that it smeared my middle finger in the colour of dark cherry. I heard his groan a second later, followed by a tiny cry from a seagull far up in the sky. The liquid kept gushing out and I cried faintly that it imbrued my dress and my thighs and the bench in the same luminance of the dark river. I sneaked out there, as my uterus said “Go home.”, when another outburst grabbed my ankle.
He was feeling sick even while she was doing it to him, as he hadn’t eaten anything but the pills that had caused mild nausea all day. It didn’t improve neither his mood nor stinging on the tongue. He left there after he thanked her and promised to see her again, despite he knew he wouldn’t. She was sweet, so was her tongue that it eased his tingling on the tongue when he thought about that nebulous interaction with her. He thought about to buy a cup of coffee as he was dizzy and needed to take sugar. Taking the southwards on the way to a café, he found that all the riverside strangers who passed him by wore indistinguishable faces spoken in indistinct words as though they had given him a cause of amnesia. It merged the red mini-dress lady’s tongue as well and he realized that the sweetness remotely cured his pain. He didn’t go to the café as he had much of her residue in his mouth and he didn’t want to be bothered by drinking anything. The river shone iridescent which created another level of darkness. Seagulls had left home. He overheard someone said “Going home.” He inhaled the salty air and tried to remember the colour of the coffee he had poured into the river the other day, but it was absolutely impossible to recall it under the moonless night. He went home, in his vertiginously animated steps. His steps, that was hopeful for the first time in a bloody long time.
“Is what you see what I see?”
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