Lakis Fourouklas, Freebird

She wanted to do something, something small but different, not too weird but a little bit out there, out of her widely known persona. What, though? There were so many things through which she could express herself and her innermost feelings and that could really talk about her well-hidden truths, that she felt at a loss. Confused, that’s what she was, confused and kind of happy. She’d been waiting for so long and in such agony for this day to come that now that’s finally arrived, she just couldn’t decide what to do; to make up her mind as to what the gift she’s supposed to give herself would look like.


Truth be told, choices there were aplenty, but for the time being she could do nothing more but stand there, as if in a trance, and just look at them, studying their every line and curve, marvel at their beauty. What was she to do? What? She was reluctant, felt almost scared, over choosing one thing rather than the other, and she hated herself for that. Whatever she did in her life thus far, she did after giving it serious thought, after obsessing about it, and always having to worry about what the others would have to say.
The others! That’s the two words that she was going to use if anyone ever asked her what the cause of her misery was. She wanted to make love when she was sixteen, she made it when nineteen; she wanted to travel the world, she travelled too little; she had big dreams, she dreamed of achieving great things, but she’s spent thirty years of her life living a slightly different version of the same day; a routine that reminded her of death. She used to be a dreamer, now she is, as a friend puts it, the ghost of her own being. She was not who she wanted to be. She did not become the woman of her teenage fantasies.
And now, on this special day, the cursed and the blessed one of her birthday, the day that she’s decided that it would mark a new beginning in her life, she feels all the old persistent fears rising as by themselves and for themselves, out of her tortured psyche. She was afraid that she could not swim into unchartered waters; that if she escaped her routine she’d be lost; that it would be impossible for her not to follow the established itineraries and allow herself to wonder the labyrinthine paths of the unknown; she was scared of taking the stairway to an unknown heaven; of finally trying hard to make her dreams come true.
She remained standing in front of a shop’s show case, admiring the objects and the delicate designs, with almost non-seeing eyes, drifting in and out the corridors of her mind and soul, and fighting with her demons, the ones that had never given her a chance to pave her own route in life. People kept coming and going, circling around and observing her with an ironic smile or a sense of sadness, but she could not feel or see any of them. A fierce battle was taking place inside of her, and it kept getting more and more violent by the minute, as if composing an ode to psychological violence.
Every now and then she would close her eyes, trying to picture within the image that she so desperately seemed to seek, but to no avail. However, she knew; she knew that today was the day that she needed to take that first step, the most decisive one, because if she didn’t then all would be lost, her last chance would burn to ashes. Her future, tomorrow’s life, seemed to be hanging for the treacherous thread of that given moment; a decision had to be made.
The solution to all her problems and her worries was there, right in front of her eyes, staring back at her, when she had them open, but yet she could not make up her mind about how that solution should be like. She’d look at one thing and say, No, that’s not me, that’s not my world, and then she’d look at another, and a spark would momentarily lit her eyes, before receding again into the shadows.
There was an image though that kept returning time and again into her mind’s eye that has finally managed to bend her resistance, which has made her believe that, “Yes, this really talks about who I am, or rather of who I want to become.”
She stepped into the shop. There was a customer there already, so she took a sit at a not so comfortable chair and waited her turn. Little by little, a smile started taking shape on her pale lips. And then she started laughing. I can’t wait to see their faces when I show them the gift I’ve got myself, she thought, and she laughed. And she laughed! They would think she was crazy, but so what? Enough was enough; the time has come to live her own life.
When her turn finally arrived she took her sit and allowed the expert work his magic on her. Three hours later, in physical pain but a psychological high, she came out into the real world again, and she was somebody else. Half her shoulder was covered by a big black and white tattoo of an ancient boat. Yes, she was at last ready to set sail into a new life, to let the breeze lead her to a new beginning.
©Lakis Fourouklas
Photo©Stratos Fountoulis, «Ancona 1», 2011