Other Lives

01:03

For a brief moment, there was no future.

00:00 He is frozen weightless in midair. Everything is moving around him, but time seems to stand still. As long as it lasts, he doesn’t worry about a thing. When there is no future, there is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing is unknown. He knows gravity will soon pull him back, but he doesn’t think of it. He closes his eyes 00:01 as he starts to descent. He still feels weightless when his bare feet touch the ground and use the momentum to keep moving. Movement has always been awkward, as if he was not sure what the next step would entail. But as he dances now, it seems so natural. He is simultaneously 00:12 aware of the movement and unconscious of making it. There are dozens of people around, but they are all a blur. He moves like a hurricane through the still air. The music is loud 00:19 and disorienting, yet he knows exactly where he is. Where he should be. His fears are replaced with a smile. Nobody can see 00:32 it. This is how it should feel. This is how it should have been. Could it still be? It doesn’t matter because 00:37 for a brief moment, there is no future. There is only now, and it is as good as it could ever be. He runs in circles, 00:38 jumps again, trying to take in another shot of weightlessness. His arms and legs 00:46 seem to have a mind of their own, and 00:51 yet they are in perfect harmony. He recognizes the cue. The music is about to end. He wants 00:58 to hold on to this feeling. To 00:59 capture it and relive it tomorrow, 01:00 and the next day, and 01:01 ever after. But for now, there is 01:02 still no future, and at the same time, there is so much of it. And he is 01:03 perfect.

Walking Backward

He always walked backward,
all across town.
When you walk backward,
you have to slow down.

He could watch a tree
until it became as small as a flower.
He could watch a stranger
for almost an hour.

Once, he watched over a kitten
crossing the road to the other side.
And once, he walked by the ocean
and was hypnotized by the tide.

He always walked backward;
people thought it wasn’t wise.
When you walk backward,
every step is a surprise.

An amazing skyscraper
could just appear in sight.
An old friend can suddenly
make your day bright.

He once passed by a lion
and froze for a minute or two.
And one rainy day, he suddenly realized
the sky had become blue.

He always walked backward;
everybody wondered why.
The reason was
he didn’t like goodbyes.

Haze

She didn’t feel gravity. Mesmerized by the tiny raindrops, falling in slow motion, she felt as if she was floating in the air. The sky was black, empty, and infinite, just like her past and future. She wished the haze would continue to dance around her forever. And it did.

Tyche 

He was dreaming more and working less. He was arguing all the time without having anyone to argue with. He ate what he found in his fridge, but he didn’t remember buying any of it.

He kept moving from the cube at his work to the cube where he lived. From the bedroom to the bathroom. They all felt the same. Except for the small apartment where he met her.

He went there three nights a week with a small amount of money, which was a small fortune for him. He didn’t even remember where he got it from. Did it matter?

She was always standing there, silent, as if she had traveled in time and lost her way. Nobody talked to her, and she obviously didn’t come to play. But it didn’t seem to bother anyone. It didn’t bother him.

She kept staring at him with a blank expression. He couldn’t read her mind, but it felt like she was inside his. By the time he lost his small fortune, she was already gone. So was his hope. He never saw her leaving, but he knew she would be there the next time he came to play.


She was dreaming less and working more. She couldn’t get him out of her head. It wasn’t professional, but this was the one thing she could not control.

She knew his routine. It was her job to know. But it was more than that. She was worried about him. She felt responsible for him. After all, it was her doing, but she didn’t have any choice, did she?

She stared at him as he tried to read her mind. As he rolled the dice and closed his eyes, she could hear his words, although his lips were not moving. Maybe just once. Perhaps she can make him smile just this one time. Would that change anything? Would that make him stop?

She closed her eyes too as if to stop time. She had her orders. She was there to make sure the rules were kept — not broken.

When she opened her eyes, she was no longer there. She didn’t have to wait for the dice to decide who lost. It was her job to make sure the house always wins.

Real Estate

She went in and headed straight to her desk. Her MacBook was already turned on. She opened her backpack and took out the camera.

She closed her eyes. She is eight years old, wearing a summer dress, and her father gives her the camera just before he gets into a car and drives away. “Take good care of it,” he tells her. “It can do magic.”

She loaded the memory card, and the screen got filled with dozens of tiny dark photos. She knew exactly what she was looking for. It was just an hour ago when she stood in front of that old building — so old it was a miracle it was still standing. It had been standing there for who knows how long, waiting for its turn to be discovered. By her.

She loves the feeling of getting lost in the less attractive parts of the city, like an explorer, and then finding such a treasure. A magical building, ignored by most people, calling her. A building not suitable for living, keeping the stories of all the people who have found shelter in it. A ruin for most — a home for few.

She found the file she was looking for. The screen went black for a few seconds before it was filled with her latest treasure. She had all the time in the world to get familiar with it. She stared at her monitor, hypnotized by the details she had managed to miss. She followed each crack and fell in love with every broken window. She imagined the people living in it, looking at her from the inside. Her eyes moved across the screen, swallowing the pixels.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and started to work.

When she was sixteen, she took a photography workshop. She hated every minute of it. Everyone was so excited, but she didn’t see the magic in a bowl of apples, a vase with flowers, or even a live model. She wanted to capture something real. She wanted to tell its story and give it a second chance. She waited for each class to finish so she could take the longest route possible to her apartment and hope that something would call her name.

She started with the windows. Many of them were broken, leaving the inside to the grace of the weather. She zoomed in on one and carefully began to fix it, pixel by pixel. Glass was never easy, but it was December, and it got colder by the day. She continued with the other windows on the first floor. The higher floors were probably more challenging targets for the bored kids.

She went on with filling the endless cracks in the walls and carefully painting over the numerous layers of graffiti. She wanted to leave some nice or funny one intact so that the building would have a memory of its past life. But this particular building was probably less attractive for serious street artists. Instead, it was a canvas for anybody who thought they had something clever to say. She fixed the doors and gently painted some flowers in what used to be a small garden. She worked on the entrance and straightened some stairs. She lightened up the stairway and repainted the number of the building so guests could find it.

And that’s when she noticed the piece of paper, printed with large black letters, hastily glued to the gate. It was a short obituary. She took her hand off the mouse without moving her eyes from the printed name. Fixing walls and windows, adding bricks, and retouching stains, were all magical. But this was different. She knew she was going to do something she had never done before.

She picked her magic wand and touched the black letters. It should have been the easiest thing to change, but it wasn’t. She closed her eyes again and, without looking, pressed Delete.

He woke up out of breath. It was still dark. It took him some time to calm down and realize it was just a dream. Wasn’t it? The room was pitch black. The lights in their old apartment were not working for weeks. He reached out to his left and felt her warm body. She was still here. He didn’t want to fall back asleep and risk losing her again. He hugged her until the first light came through the perfect, clear window. It was like a painting of a magical little garden with red flowers he hadn’t noticed before.

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