The Page

A tale of intimacy and loss

Month: December, 2013

Tiergarten

Dame de la nuit I walk along the Grosse Stern Allee in the Tiergarten; the air is icy, the skies clear. In this city, it is already Christmas, with little markets springing up everywhere, selling Christmas cookies, tinsel, dolls and toys.

From far away, I see you, walking towards me, tall, smiling, your long legs covered in wool, the high leather boots, the short leather skirt and jacket: passers-by notice you – how could they not? My heart has frozen, for I know this is not possible, that it must be a mirage. But how could I reject this vision, this vision of overwhelming beauty?

But this, here, is our city; I know I will die here, meeting you like this, lost in a crowd, perhaps you not even noticing me. Why should you? After all, like you, I am a ghost. The difference between us is merely that you are younger, very beautiful, and indifferent to the world; whereas I am older by the day, and ugly, of the ugliness of people who have overstretched their time, and I still hang on.

Near the lake you have stopped, looking at children playing with little boats. Soon the lake will be frozen, and people will come skating on Sundays. Early winter sunlight is playing in your hair, as I look at your beloved face, trying to catch your eyes. But you don’t see me, you resume your walk, and as I follow the magic moves of your body, I know that I should not be here, and that, maybe, I am not. Yet, you turn round, and looking straight at me, you smile.

“Julian, it is so nice to see you here, I thought you were fleeing me.” Your voice reaches me loud and clear, yet your lips are not moving, the smile undulating on your face.

And then you are gone. And then I am no longer in the Tiergarten.

“You’re still very hot my darling,” Sarah says to me, and I wonder how long my wife’s been here, watching over my dream. But I take the medication she hands over to me, admiring the perfect beauty of her hand.

photo:Hideki Kuwajima

Another him

Sarah ~

Masaako Sasamoto I went to see Julian everyday, all the time he was an in-patient at Helga’s clinic. For a long time he was deep in his reverie, almost totally absent, other than physically, and, even then, I sometimes wondered if it was really him.

One morning he recognised me, and tried to smile. Helga explained that the partial paralysis of his movements was a side-effect of the treatment, and that he would recover quickly. At the beginning I thought I’d made a terrible mistake by convincing him to follow this course, I feared he would not, ever, recover.

Helga and Gabrielle were constantly reassuring me. They said there was nothing untested in the treatment Julian was following. It was state-of-the-art, not experimentation. I wanted to believe them.

After several weeks my husband started talking again, reminiscing some pleasant holidays we had together, talking books, asking me about films I wished to go and see, being as his normal self as I had not seen him for a very long time. He was tiring quickly, and after a five or ten minutes conversation, he would suddenly turn silent again, and then fall asleep, eyes wide open.

A month later we walked in the park together, he wanted to know about Jane, who was to visit him on her return from China, the week after. I was pleased to see him more animated, with colours on his cheeks, and we joked about pumping him up, and him resuming his normal exercising.

When Jane came he seemed to be back to his normal being, as I watched the two of them talking as only two closed siblings can, the private jokes, the little flirting, the memories. The three of us decided to arrange to go to Berlin again soon, as soon as Julian would feel the strength to travel. This time we would take the slow route, by road. Jane said she would take a break, and forget about modelling and fashion. Her brother suggested we set dates and get ready at the next opportunity.

Two weeks later, after consultation with Helga, Julian was released to my care. Back to our home he seemed to be happy as a little boy who has found his toys again; he wanted me to take him to bed, straightaway, wanted to cook me a meal, open a bottle of champagne, sit near the fire with me. As Helga had instructed me, I asked him brutally, without waiting, as he was busying himself in the kitchen: “Tell me Julian, did you think of Melissa at all when you were at Helga’s?”

He turned to me, smiling an angel’s smile. “Darling, I know that Melissa was, will probably always be, a tremor of my imagination. Yes, she came to visit my mind a few times. But in truth, we should stop mentioning her, as I intend to forget.”

My husband’s words filled me with happiness.

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