by Mileva Anastasiadou
He lost his job the day Athens became the world book capital. That was a sign. He spent that day wisely, filled it like the empty pages of a book he would one day write. He crossed the streets that led to the Lycabettus hill and then climbed as high as his feet and breath allowed him to climb, searching for a place to sit and rest. He opened the book to a page at random, choosing a random paragraph and started the repair, the difficult task of putting himself together.
He then looked up to the sky, choosing the pieces carefully. He started by grabbing a piece of the Attic sky, smoky with exhaust fumes or even tear gas, then caught some city buzz, a honk or even a bird tweet, a few voices or even screams, drops of philosophical discussions that echoed through centuries, and went on grasping pieces of a glorious past. He collected a few sips of ouzo or even of that bitter poison that Socrates once drank, took hold of a couple of contaminated particles of past and future ideologies floating like invisible islands in the air and mixed them with the smell of defeat from the present and a trace of hope from the future.
He mixed the ingredients, improvised, until he achieved what he longed for, until he formed yet another piece which would someday complete the puzzle of his fragmented self, of his broken life, of his lost sense of freedom. And he felt as if he stood firmly on the ground, yet he was flying, beyond the clouds, high in the sky, taking deep breaths, to fill his lungs with oxygen and the book he was still holding in his hands served as a balloon which took him to other places, brighter, less dark than his own gloomy reality. Once he watched the sun set, when it was getting dark, he took the scissors and used it to cut off all the yarns that had kept him high, trying to land as gently as possible.
Once again, he had mistaken lightness for freedom.
He then touched the ground and scattered all the pieces he had collected during the day back in the air, still as confused as before he had started collecting them, unable to find the perfect recipe for his salvation. He remained a captive of circumstances. He walked down the hill, storming into the open stores to consume, to buy all the liberty he could still afford, as long as he could afford it. It was air that he needed, hoping to fill the empty spaces of his lungs, or of the puzzle he hadn’t managed to complete. He went back home exhausted, holding the book tight, as if every hope to find the missing pieces was hidden inside its pages, in the book that had opened another window to the future.
He then closed it firmly and fell to sleep.