Sunday, March 14, 2010

L'Impasse [fiction fragment]

[I haven't been blogging much, and maybe that's a good sign: I've been writing my thesis and I should be done with one chapter in the next couple of days. Though rather slow, things are looking up. Writing has never felt as smooth and pleasant as it is nowadays. It's almost flowing out of me, though I think it ought to, after almost two years of research! And since I haven't been blogging much, I thought I would post a fiction fragment-- something I haven't done in months now! I didn't take the time to rework this piece, so please feel free to tell me what you think.]

It was in one of those narrow alleys, une impasse, as we call it back home that I met him. Une impasse, a dead-end road with houses flanked on the two sides, like think paint fallen from the drunken brush of Jackson Pollock: some big, some small, some rich, some poor, some painted in blue while others barely stood erect with the grey of the unpainted bricks showing the scar of their misery: of what went on in there, of the untold stories whom everybody knew about, the arrack, the creaking of wooden beds in the peak of the night, the unwanted pregnancies, the broken bottles... And then there were the barriers between those houses: the weak bushes of bamboo stick, the grey bricks, yet again, misery hiding behind misery, and some of the walls were built out of wealthy rocks, boulder over boulder, maroon over brown over grey over red... Sometimes, there were lawns or garages or flowers in small earthen pots. The narrow alleys, with their dead-ends, where neighbours spoke across the walls, where the kids played on the road in the crisp summer heat, where dogs roamed around and barked at strangers at night, where two cars could not pass each other without one giving in, parking its metal structure to the side to let the other pass by...

... It was in one of those narrow alleys that I met him. "Une impasse with its dead-end," I thought and out of all the possible places, out of all the open spaces of an island, this is where I had to come face to face with him. Ibrahim, my first lover. He had changed now: he was taller, his shoulders square and broader and he walked with the confident swing of men who've proved they could use their penis, and use it well. He also wore a thick beard and the playfulness in his eyes had given way to something serious, something adult, something that betrayed responsibility. I thought of our first embraces, him nineteen years old, and I, just a few months younger. I thought about his clumsiness, of his tongue like a wet towel on my neck, of the ways he would kick me and twist my arms and crush me-- unintentionally so-- of how it pained when he pushed himself in me. It'd be painful just the first time, he said, and yet, it was as painful the next time and the next time and the next... I wondered whether his experienced beard now made him a better lover.

Out of all the streets of our small town, I had to meet him in that impasse. Our affair had lasted a few months, beginning with intensity, with the assertion of lust, desire and promises we both knew we couldn't keep; it was in many ways like the robust grasp that he had on my body: audacious and confident like a square brick that wouldn't smash itself on a tar road, even when thrown from the seventh floor. Soon, however, it waded into tediousness and shallow confusions giving both of us the dreamlike sense characteristic of afternoon naps in tropical islands-- somewhere between the real and the unreal, a bit like a ghost too weak to do its haunting.

I looked at him, he looked at me. Our eyes crossed, he looked down. He looked up again and smiled: "Hey!" and that was it. He walked away with a swing that didn't seem so confident anymore. I stood there, looking at that impasse, looking as the world it summoned. I thought of my own feelings, six years later, and here I was, with a heart that still felt like a dead-end road, claustrophobic, caught in the same impasse that my body was in.

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