Fifty

I saw locks of hair attached to a line, blowing in the wind, like clothes to dry. There was also hair lying around on the floor in my mother’s kitchen, and outside, all over the yard, half-covered by sand.

Suddenly, they became butterflies and flew towards the cemetery where my father is buried. I wished they had brought him to me alive, instead of visiting his grave.

Then there was a little girl whirling two bowls of fire attached to two strings. She turned around and around herself. Now she transformed into a very small man with a burnt face and now she was a little girl again.

Next, we were surrounded by a herd of paper birds. I was worried that they would get on fire. They did, but with such fragile beauty… they were burning in all colours until the wind carried them away.

The night was approaching fast and the burning paper birds became iridescent, weaving their light into the darkness like northern lights.

Then I saw little girls jump off a cliff, one after the other, spinning in their fall. They floated in the air for a moment before they plunged, as if dancing. The Siberian man stood right under the rock and caught them each, one by one.

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Forty

I was on a rope between two cliffs. There was a village deep below. A group of people were standing on the rocks behind me and the Siberian man was in front. They were holding the rope I was walking, heading towards him. I had a pole in my hand for balance, but it was not easy.

Then two eagles descended onto the two ends of the bar. They were heavy. Suddenly, they grabbed the pole with their claws and took me for a flight. At first, I was just holding onto it, hanging, like a piece of cloth, but then I pulled myself up to sit, one leg in front and one behind, stabilising myself. I started to enjoy the journey. The eagles made a few circles with me, high up in the cold air before we landed on the rope again, exactly on the same spot I had been before, right in the middle.

One eagle pressed the end of the bar downwards, and pushed me into a spin, up and down, up and down, while my feet stayed fixed onto the rope. When I was upside down, the colours around me changed into their reverse, as if on a negative, but as soon as I was upright, they changed back to normal.

When we stopped spinning, I was upside down. It felt as if there was water between my feet and the rope. I could feel some kind of surface tension that kept me in place. The cold was getting sharper, but I started to go forward anyway. My flesh was freezing solid.

As I arrived to the cliff, I tried to flip back upright, but I couldn’t. I had to bend so that I could reach up for the rope and pull myself up to sit first, and then stood up. And all the while, I didn’t let go of the pole.

I went on walking towards the Siberian man, and handed him the bar. When I looked at my hands, I saw that there was nothing but bones left on my left side. He reached out for my hand. For a moment, I thought he would somehow put the flesh back. Instead, he splattered the bones of my left hand with a sudden gesture, as if sowing seeds. My whole body went with this movement. I turned into small pieces of bones falling into the depths like rain.

In a million bits, I was still aware of myself, aware of falling and falling. And there came such a torrent that I could hardly make out the Siberian man or the people, high up, in the distance. But I could see the fire arrow he shot into the dark. And the people on the other side did the same. Another fire arrow, followed by a cluster of flames. Again and again.

They were helping. I tried to gather the splattered me-s and drift towards the fire arrows, and we slowly started to ascend. The Siberian man and his friends were always shooting at the same spot, and I wanted to be exactly where they were aiming at.

When I got there, I was hit by the fire arrows and lit up for a second. The bits and pieces of me drifting around merged again, and I was floating in the night sky. Then I started to descend gently, arriving right in front of the Siberian man. “Welcome”, he said.

I sat on my heels, and he put his hand on my head. I was filled with warmth. The people from the other side walked across the abyss to greet me, too. They all put their hands on my head, hand on hand on hand, and started to circle slowly. I could feel my whole body pulsating.

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