The Pool by Anna Favero
Short Story

It was like diving in pools of liquid past. Suddenly I’m eighteen, an awful glass of amaro and a cigarette in my hands, listening shyly to my brother’s friends putting up conversations like theatre pieces, rehearsing a play they know by heart and never dared to modify one bit. The photographer with long arms and more piercings than I could ever count, the depressive designer with long hair and a flat, sarcastic voice, the Englishman who’s gone away soon and silent but always comes back like a magnet with iron. The tall architect who has decided to be aggressive not to be seen as a girl, the handsome one who’s disguised a fundamental lack of spirit behind his green, bright eyes. I’m eighteen, stories follow and images with them, while I float quietly among them all, paying attention only to the details that remain the same, eternally.

I walk away and out of the pool then, only to jump down into another one. Alongside medieval crooked little streets, the fish market slides by on the left and the half-covered moon is drawing shadows on sixteenth-century buildings. Frescoes everywhere as I look up and uneven cobblestones pavement under my light footsteps. I take a turn on the right and I’m walking now along a narrow path I know will lead to another time. It’s dark here, roofs pending over my head and keeping my expression as a secret for the walls to keep. Hidden as I am, my features transfigure and I’m no longer eighteen, I’m younger now, and older at the same time. I’m sixteen and running in circles on a racetrack, covered in mud, my hands freezing and a prize waiting for my absent-minded sense of competition. I’m twenty-one also, Karamazov Brothers in one hand and a pack of cut-up snippets of letters to send out from a village covered in snow.

I’m all these things and all I see is faces wrapped up in old coats and brown scarves, the light of the old tavern illuminating a dark tiny square filled with people I don’t recognize at first. I walk towards the noisy crowd that sounds melodic in the silence of the old town, a song is sung and one familiar face appears. I stop and smile openly, an ironic grin as I wait for her to interrupt a rant on trade unions I overhear or imagine well only. The hair has changed but there she is, as fierce as always, as cumbersome as always, and I start shaking for I realized how much I’ve missed her. She comes to me, comment on my weight and grabs my breasts to see what has changed. Then hugs me so tight I can’t breathe.

And there I notice how this scene has happened in the eyes of someone else, a diagonal perspective from the glass window. Long legs crossed and a glass in his hands, he talks to someone and yet I know precisely how all his senses are leaning out to observe who’s arrived. She’s not eighteen, sixteen or twenty-one. Five years have passed since last time their eyes have met and tonight, they won’t stop counting. A glimpse of blond hair and a silver earring and he’s gone with his thoughts, impressions and a light blue scarf around the neck. There’s a moment of silence that breaks the tingling noise around me, then old faces reappear, one after the other, a film that fills my line of vision entirely. I recognize the little sister of a friend in the young woman in front of me and say to myself: time seemed immovable then.

Verena Spilker

Anna Favero: Letter writing, dream drawing Italian living in Berlin.

Verena Spilker likes drawing and taking photos. She would like to be more diverse in the subjects she chooses but somehow ends up with pictures of cute animals over and over again.