I am there
Lior Ophir
Not even one bird graced me with its presence, to hover above me like an umbrella. If it had, I would have run under it. Run like a rabbit. Catching its shadow. The empty horizon. Desolate. Mountain-less. A black line above a white-yellow-blue line was closer to me than any other human being. The vertical horizon. The earth. The earth was locked like a safe. I couldn’t dig through the asphalt. There I stood, only in my underwear. Asking myself about this place to which I had been exiled. Who built this desert. Who laid out this black carpet from horizon to horizon. Paved a wide road without signs. As wide as it is long. Buried the sand. I couldn’t stand in that place. The sun warmed the black asphalt and I had no choice but to move without stopping and sometimes I had to start moving on all fours or just on the palms of my hands. So that my body could withstand contact with the hot floor. How did I get here. I do not know. No traces remain that can attest to where I am from. Maybe I am in the middle of an open heart surgery. Dreaming about the pain. Burning up under the spotlight boring a hole into my brain. My brain is burning up. Because of the anesthesia, there is no movement. Maybe I am imagining all of this. I wish. But I know that I am not. I am in an asphalt desert. Hard and flat. A black continent. Sizzling under the sun. What is it covering. I have no idea. I do not know. 

What hope is there. What point is there to wait for the night. To wait for the night so as to wait for the morning. And then all over again in the morning. To fold into a ball. To become a small ball across from a big ball, not to kneel or bow, but rather to fold. To resemble the dead. To knock my head into the asphalt. 

Once on the beach. I saw. Yes, I saw. With my own eyes. Why it is that of everything, this is what I remember. Maybe I didn’t see. Maybe I want to remember. In my mind, an image of a chef on the seashore. Turning on the gas. Taking a big black pan out of his bag. Later dragging a large jellyfish from the shore.  Washing it in the water. Frying this white transparent jellyfish. Above it the sun and below it the gas. The jellyfish melted completely. Dissolved. Like instant coffee. Dissolved. Disappeared. A small worm left behind in its place. A strip of silk thread. 

I prayed for a miracle. That my body would shade itself. I thought that maybe I could save myself. If only the palm of my hand would shade my foot, and after a few minutes, my foot would shade my hand and my palm would shade my head and my head would shade my chest and my chest my stomach and my stomach my chest and on and on. That way, I’d get to the night. The sweet. The cold. The dark. All the while, I’m running from side to side. On all fours and on my feet and on my hands and on some of my fingers and later on on some of my other fingers. Running diagonally, all bended and distorted, running toward the horizon as if it matters what we’re running towards There is nothing anywhere. Nothing to be seen. Running toward the horizon so as to see another horizon from there. But not too fast. Without thinking and not so as to preserve energy but rather to suffer less in that same moment. So as not to fall straight down. So as not to surrender to the sun and burn up. 

Is it that I believe deep down that someone will come . That maybe someone will come.  That a jeep will appear on this open road. A limousine. A motorbike. A galloping horse. A donkey to hide underneath. All the while exerting effort, I think, as much as it is possible for me to think. Running. Who am I. Why am I here. How did I get here. What do I remember from before. Am I really here. Will it end. Is this part of a bigger plan. How can it be that I know how to speak but can’t remember anything.

I feel the skin above my pelvis, sticky and sweaty, and I hold out my hand. My right hand. I feel peeling skin and touch it. This isn’t skin, this is masking tape. And underneath it, attached my skin, a newspaper page. I unfold the page and look at the article while jogging. In these words. The suspect fled the scene of the crime and during his escape hit his head. He doesn’t remember who he is. He doesn’t remember what he did or where he lives. The suspect lost his memories. The lines in the article describing the crime were stricken out with black marker and however much I held them up to the sun, I could not decipher what crime he had been charged with. 

I looked at the photograph of the suspect attached to the article. Black hair, a bit frizzy. Five or six centimeters high. Stubble, a day or two old.

Thick rounded eyebrows with two or three hairs shooting up like horns. A scar across his chin the shape of flat wide pasta. Near his lip A small scar near his lip, the size of a staple. A somewhat bird-like nose. Thin with oval nostrils. Tanned skin. Brown eyes with a very small hint of green. A high forehead and a sharp chin pointy like the tip of an iceberg. Oily skin and large pores. Was that me? I have no idea. I have never seen myself. Up until now, I’ve seen only my hands. My legs. My long, broken fingers. Thin and delicate. Supposedly delicate. With nothing to compare them to, that’s how they seemed to me.

My middle toes were attached up to their middle. My right big toe was broken. I started to touch my body. I felt the top of my hair, five six centimeters high. I felt my face, but not any stubble. My skin was as smooth as my calves. I searched for a scar on my chin and felt one. My leg as tanned as the face in the image. So that's how I look, I thought to myself while running. But maybe everyone looks like that. Is there any difference between people anyway. I stared into his eye. Eye to eye. I folded up the newspaper and put it in my only pocket. Into my underwear. There I could feel my dick hitting it. The only picture of me.] If one day they’d find me. If I’ll die and they won’t come get me]. If an old man will pass by here. He will see me. Not me anymore. But rather a pile of bones on black asphalt. Maybe even the bones will disappear. The underwear and fabric would last for days the underwear and fabric would last . The bone like a stone on the tombstone would hold them.If there will be wind, it will not blow away. And the underwear would be my tombstone. Inside, my picture. This is me. Apparently me. Am I sure that this is me. They will find me. They will find me and in any event they will think that it is me. What I’m capable of. I look at my palms. Smooth. Without a scratch.

I walked as if on a treadmill, in front of a monitor screening only one thing, a black horizon line coming up against a yellow blue sky. 

My hand moves. Covering my eyes. My skin. I walk. The sun shining on the contours of  a small body. The shadow appears to my right. To my left. The sun is above me. Standing upright like a candle. The shadow disappears. I am a burning torch. The wind will cool me down. Running with all my might. Falling. Running again. Thinking. Maybe the wind is kindling me like a fire. Running slowly. Slowing down. Stopping. Standing. My legs were depleted of their strength. Turning my hands about like fans. Flapping forward. Standing on one leg. Switching legs. Getting down on my knees. Lying down. Beginning to roll. No descent. No ascent. Everything flat. Stopping. The blazing hot asphalt. Shiny new. Sliding from side to side. Getting up. Kicking my foot. Stopping. Falling. Getting up. Running. Falling. Getting up. Going. Falling. Folding. Releasing. Folding. Releasing. Lying on my back and watching the sun. Raising my legs. Hiding my head behind my legs. Under the sun. Releasing. Closing my eyes. My back burning. Flipping over onto my stomach. Flipping over again on to my back. Raising my feet up. Letting my legs fall. My hands move forward. My hands fall down. Looking at the sun. Lying down on my side. Switching sides. Burning from side to side. Crawling. Stopping. Lying on my stomach. Breathing in the asphalt. Flipping over on to my back. Closing my eyes. Opening my eyes. Closing my eyes. The light passing through my skin.

A fish out of water. Lying on one side. The sun rises. It rains. Still alive. Living like this. Dying like this. Old. I am not. Not dying old. Looking up. No clouds. Not one. Nothing. Sun. Sun. And nothing beside it. Nothing in my hand. Nothing. Eye toward the sun. Opening my eyes all the way. Looking at the sun. Looking at my stomach. Looking at my arms. Crying. Stopping. Crying. Stopping. Trying to remember. There is nothing to remember. Trying to remember. There is nothing to remember. Closing my eyes. Feeling the sun. Folding. Tired of being folded up. Opening up. Closing up again. Opening up again. Slowly. Slowly. Spreading out. On my back. Spreading out. Lying down. A hand on each side. Each of my feet turning away from each other. Breathing. Breathing. Breathing.  

Now I have fully  evaporated.] Lying on my back as if on a bed. Like a cockroach burning up in the strong sun, I cannot flip over. Flickering white light. Black spots. Boiling blood. Morning kettle. Draw blood and to drink it up. draw blood and drink it up

I tried to find a hole. To hide my body inside it. To cook only half my body. Face down. The back of my head providing shade for the front of my head. My eyes protected, hidden like grapes in the sand.

Soon dead, forever dead. Here. The sun will blacken me. I remember what it was like to wake up, just this morning, to wake up like a sweaty fuse. As the sun rises. I move. Trying to escape the sun, a clock hand, and me, myself, the hour. In this clock of black asphalt, now I am not moving. Lying on my back. Staring. I'm hallucinating. Trying to think of something.


English: Amy Sapan
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