Image credit: Normal Gergely, "Space Administration #5" : mixed media

Artist Bio
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The cold pierces my bones. I stay outside the whole night and watch all of you: the noisy, excitable mass, moving gracelessly to the rhythm of the music. You are buried somewhere in there, among them. And there are times when I cannot make out your face. Someone stands in front of you, sips his drink, hugs you and sweetly wishes you “happy birthday.” You put your arms around his neck, kiss him and continue to dance. I want to burst in with rage, to clear a way through the crowd, to shove everyone violently aside and drag you outside. To hit you for forgetting me and then force you into the car, to take you back home. I clench my teeth despite all this and control myself. Today is your birthday and a father, one who left early, can only watch from outside.



Upside down

In the middle of the noisy square, the man brandished the plastic wands, creating transparent and iridescent bubbles, which the wind would lure towards the heads of the passersby. One of the bubbles came and hovered in front of me. I glanced inside it and saw summer: sultry, sticky and wet, full of excitement, but inverted. At the top, I saw the azure chlorine of the swimming pool, red geraniums, fields with warm, freshly overturned soil, orange trees that dripped giant fragrant spheres upon the clouds. I saw the paper tablecloth barely holding on and the salad spoon that slowly poured bitter green olive oil onto the sky. I saw you afterwards, hanging hard onto the chair, your black hair flowing like water, and your white strands sinking again, like bulbs, inside the skull. I saw—I think—for a moment, your body naked, dark in the front and luminous in the back, diving towards the sky, upside down, approaching me. Quickly, I took money out of my pocket and bought the plastic wand.

One day I will create a large bubble. I will pierce it gently then will sit inside it, on a chair beside yours. I will brush your hair aside and will see you—one more time—even if upside down.


Το κρύο μου τρυπάει τὰ κόκαλα ἐδῶ ἔξω. Κάθομαι ὅλη νύχτα καὶ σᾶς παρακολουθῶ: μιὰ μάζα ξαναμμένη, θορυβώδης, ποὺ κινεῖται ἀδέξια στὸν ρυθμὸ τῆς μουσικῆς. Βρίσκεσαι κάπου ἐκεῖ, χωμένη ἀνάμεσά τους. Κι εἶναι φορὲς ποὺ δὲν μπορῶ νὰ δῶ καλὰ τὸ πρόσωπό σου. Κάποιος ἄλλος στέκεται μπροστά, πίνει τὸ ποτό του, σὲ ἀγκαλιάζει καὶ σοῦ εὔχεται γλυκὰ «Χρόνια πολλά, νὰ τὰ ἑκατοστίσεις». Περνᾶς τὰ χέρια γύρω ἀπ’ τὸν λαιμό του, τὸν φιλᾶς καὶ συνεχίζεις νὰ χορεύεις. Μοῦ ’ρχεται τότε νὰ εἰσβάλω μὲ ὀργή, ν’ ἀνοίξω δρόμο μὲς στὸ πλῆθος, νὰ τοὺς παραμερίσω ὅλους βίαια κι ἔπειτα νὰ σὲ σύρω ἔξω. Νὰ σὲ χτυπήσω ποὺ μὲ ξέχασες κι ἔπειτα νὰ σὲ βάλω μὲ τὸ ζόρι στὸ αὐτοκίνητο, νὰ σὲ γυρίσω σπίτι. Σφίγγω, παρ’ ὅλ’ αὐτά, τὰ δόντια καὶ κρατιέμαι. Σήμερα ἔχεις γενέθλια κι ἕνας πατέρας, ποὺ ἔφυγε νωρίς, ἀπὸ ἐδῶ ἔξω πιὰ μόνο μπορεῖ νὰ βλέπει.




Στο κέντρο τῆς πολύβουης πλατείας, ὁ ἄντρας κράδαινε τὰ πλαστικὰ τρύπια κουτάλια, φτιάχνοντας φοῦσκες διάφανες καὶ ἰριδίζουσες, ποὺ τὶς παράσερνε ὁ ἀέρας στὰ κεφάλια τῶν περαστικῶν. Μία ἀπ’ αὐτὲς ἦρθε καὶ στάθηκε μπροστά μου. Κοίταξα λίγο μέσα της κι εἶδα τὸ καλοκαίρι: ζεστό, κολλῶδες καὶ ὑγρό, γεμάτο ἔξαψη, ὅμως ἀνεστραμμένο. Εἶδα στὴν κορυφὴ γαλάζιο χλώριο τῆς πισίνας, γεράνια κόκκινα, χωράφια μὲ ζεστό, μόλις ἀναδεμένο χῶμα, πορτοκαλιὲς ποὺ στάζανε στὰ σύννεφα τεράστιες, μυρωδάτες σφαῖρες. Εἶδα τὸ χάρτινο τραπεζομάντιλο μόλις νὰ κρατιέται καὶ τὴν πιατέλα τῆς σαλάτας ποὺ ἔχυνε ἀργὰ στὸν οὐρανὸ πικρὸ πράσινο λάδι. Σ’ εἶδα ἔπειτα νὰ κρέμεσαι μὲ δυσκολία ἀπ’ τὴν καρέκλα, τὰ μαῦρα σου μαλλιὰ νὰ ρέουν σὰν νερὸ καὶ τὶς λευκές σου τρίχες νὰ βυθίζονται, σὰν τοὺς βολβούς, ξανὰ μὲς στὸ κρανίο. Εἶδα —νομίζω— μιὰ στιγμὴ γυμνὸ τὸ σῶμα σου, μαῦρο μπροστὰ καὶ φωτεινὸ πολὺ στὴν πλάτη, βουτώντας πρὸς τὸν οὐρανό, ἀνάποδα, νὰ μὲ πλησιάζει. Ἔβγαλα τότε ἀμέσως ἀπ’ τὴν τσέπη μου λεφτὰ κι ἀγόρασα τὸ πλαστικὸ κουτάλι.


Θὰ φτιάξω κάποτε μία μεγάλη φούσκα. Θὰ τὴν τρυπήσω ἁπαλὰ κι ἔπειτα θὰ καθίσω μέσα της, σὲ μιὰ καρέκλα, δίπλα ἀπ’ τὴ δική σου. Θὰ σοῦ παραμερίσω τὰ μαλλιὰ καὶ θὰ σὲ δῶ —ἀκόμη μιὰ φορά— ἔστω κι ἀνάποδα.

Translator's Note

These flash pieces are from a collection of mostly short prose that draws on themes of childhood, memory, unrequited love, and inner conflict through sensory imagery. Both stories are marked by absence and demonstrate the emotional aftermath of loss and grief, whether expressed in quiet longing or violent rage. What drew me to this author was her ability to turn ordinary experiences into something surreal or fantastical, to capture a world that many of us can recognize, but then present it in a manner that is startling and rousing, pushing us to view daily life with a fresh gaze, one often focused on the physicality of our bodies and the objects that surround us.

Pavlos Stavropoulos


In the Classroom