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The Desert Flower
The Desert Flower

The Desert Flower

strange_tellerstrange_teller

One. Melanie had a secret. At some point, when she was a teenager, she had read a strange novel about a young man and an old lady, lost in a mysterious forest, in which strange things happened, and the darkness claimed its due from those who said that they belonged to life. The two of them, caught in an evil trap, meet, and the young man says that the Law was wrong, this being the reason for which a lot of things happened in the forest. He openly revolts and says that the one who made the Law would suffer, should he ever meet him. The old woman, curled up suffering, responds: “Yes, but if you don’t do that, your descendants will be the sons of God”. The young man falls silent, trying to understand, and the story ends without a clear conclusion.

Since then, the girl had passed through life’s many trials, had experimented a lot, felt both defeated and victorious when facing existence, but couldn’t quite figure out the novel’s mystery: if the Law can be wrong, why should we accept it?

Ignoring her personal disillusions, ignoring the trials which, at least up until now, she had managed to pass, she could not understand things like the following: okay, let’s say that on Earth, diseases like the flu and varicella exist, but why do the plague and leprosy also exist? What is there to understand from the fact that the pestilence nearly wiped out humanity, how can you explain to a leper that existence has a meaning?

The Law was wrong.

But why did she, who was asking herself all these questions, read that fragment in her adolescence, that was going to haunt her for years to come?

Two. Stephane, a colleague of Melanie’s from college, had retreated in a universe of his own, refusing the world as it was. He always put some space between him and the outside world, he had read “Fleurs du Mal” several times, wore only grey and black, and his favourite band was “Dark Sanctuary”.

He had written multiple lyrics of the band on his wall. His favourite:

”Dans l'obscurité
Je cherche ton son
Pour me guider
Pour éclairer
Mon horizon

Telle est la vie
Qu'on m'a donné
Je dois errer
Dans les ténèbres
Pour l'éternité...” (Dark Sanctuary, L'autre monde).

His colleagues gave up on trying to understand him. After he repeatedly refused modern parties, ski trips and even a dose of marijuana, they hadn’t renewed the invitations. They were saying hello, talking about the courses and that was about it.

Quiet, reserved, depressed, he had a nihilistic philosophy and secretly liked Melanie.

The walls of his apartment also had grey and black wallpaper, from his music set funerary hymns could be heard, the ravens were knocking at his window…

In an almost paradoxical twist, he believed in destiny. However – and this was the kicker – he could not figure out for the life of him what that destiny consisted.

Three. Melanie was crying, laying on her bedsheets. Left, betrayed, defeated – and it wasn’t the first time.

Life – like a knife’s edge, love – like a suicidal rally…

But, ignoring her pain, why were things like this? Admitting that we all make mistakes and could be punished (too harshly, we consider) for our errors, what do we do with those cases in which children who cannot know guilt fall victim to crimes committed by adults? See “The Brothers Karamazov”.

Then what is the Law? Who made this Law and why?

She went out in town.

From the rush of the electrical scooter, she saw the world passing her by at a dizzying speed…people, young ones, old ones, pets, signs, commercials, malls, cinemas…

Everything goes out in a rush, she’ll stop at a café and have a Brazilian coffee, the fan will cool her down a bit, she’ll go out in the park again and she’ll want to cry again, she will pass by life the same as how the trees and the parks fade behind the scooter…

She had several cacti at home for which she cared very much… the wonderful plants of the desert.

Who made the Law?

Four.

”Ecoute moi
Entends moi
C'est mon cri
Qui t'appelle

Emmène moi
Entraîne moi
Dans ces lieux
Interdits...” (Dark Sanctuary, L'autre monde).

When Stephane heard the entrance buzzer, he was left dumbfounded. Who could it be? His parents were living in a different city and he didn’t really have friends.

He went mumbling towards the door and peeped through, determined to get some answers out of who dared to disrupt his peace.

He was surprised to say the least when he saw Melanie’s figure.

Hm.

Well, he was going to make an exception this time.

“Hi, please come in”, he said and greeted her in, giving her a seat in front of a small table.

They talked about classes for a bit, about what each of them was up to, then Melanie focused on a subject which she hadn’t approached up until then:

“Stephane, I wouldn’t want you to get angry with me, but… I’ve been observing you for a while and I think that you are on a wrong path. Can we talk about it?”

“I won’t get angry with you, that’s for sure. But what’s new under the sun?”

“Believe me when I say that I know, I understand you woes. But your nihilism Is extreme”.

Stephane took a sip from the cup of coffee.

“I’m not the one that makes it that way, people take things to the extreme. Have you ever seen a higher percentage of suicidal people? Have you ever fathomed something more absurd than a wife who has been cheated on throwing insult after insult to the mistress? Do you understand anything from the fact that the most horrible crimes are committed for money, money which will then go on cocaine, luxuriant champagne and prostitutes? Do you truly see any sense in how the world works?”

“As it presents itself, no. But maybe one day I’ll become a mother and…”

“And what?” Stephane brutally interjected. “Do you want to be a mother so that your daughter will be raped and cut into pieces by a psychopath? Or for her to become a porno actress? For your son to be dragged into a drug business and run over? Or for him to willingly become a loan shark?”.

Melanie fell silent, visibly upset. She would have wanted to teach her colleague a lesson, but couldn’t find any arguments to oppose him.

“The masses are, as ever, ruled by a small circle of powerful people, putrid and vicious, which want to keep everything to themselves – this everything actually meaning a heaping pile of nothing. But the ones that are ruled over have also become increasingly violent, without feelings, falling further and further down. Allow me to not believe in anything anymore.”, Stephane continued.

“And the ideal society?”.

“It doesn’t exist. Many have dreamed of it, but it’s a utopia. Personally, I can’t live in this misery anymore. I won’t kill myself, but I made my own refuge.”

“I can understand that. But what if one day it’ll all change?”

“For 2000 years now nothing has changed. It’s always the same old story, I dare even say that it’s starting to get boring”

“I’m going to ask you for some CDs of yours, if you don’t mind.”

“With pleasure.”

Five. It’s odd. Increasingly odd.

He wanted to make Stephane open his eyes, but now it seemed as if she was attracted to his side. Truly, what sense did everything have?

A girl that was raped, a child that was killed, an incest, a murder…The rush after money and fame, aberrant and grotesque… A sadism from which even the Middle Ages would shy away…

And what for?

Melanie laid on her back, tried to imagine that she was watching the sky, a sky of an infinite, pure blue, whose heights are chased by eagles… “Aerie – Jefferson Airplane”.

To dream, to fly, to float…

But you couldn’t send your child to this world.

That afternoon she did something that she normally would not, and that she wouldn’t want anyone to find out: she cracked open a bottle of wine and drank it all, getting very drunk. She was holding on to the pillow, the room was spinning, the ceiling had stripes, she imagined that in place of her last lover was Stephane…

At some point, through the alcohol vapours, she had remembered that she hadn’t watered the cacti for four days. Of course, they had to be taken care of differently compared to other plants, but even so she thought that it would be best that she water them.

When she opened the door to the balcony, holding a bottle of water, she had a surprise: one of the cacti had a flower!

A red, gorgeous, rare flower, like you don’t see every day.

Overwhelmed by emotions, she took several photos of it with her phone, after which she watered the plant.

Six. Prends mon corps
Je te donne ma chair
Prends mon âme
Je te donne ma vie

Etre sans complexe
En moi naît le désir
Amené par ta main
Qui elle seule me comprend” (Dark Sanctuary – Le Rêve de la Nymphe).

Again, at Stephane’s apartment.

The two of them engaged in long discussions, many times opposed to each other, but their purpose was not to impose their opinion on the other, but to find out the truth. A truth whose unveiling had been wanted for a long time.

“Melanie, I always tried giving this world one more chance. But it couldn’t be possible. Do you know what’s my favourite example of that?”

“What?”

“Martin Opitz. A german erudite poet, teacher and diplomat. Do you know at which age and especially, why he died?”

“No”.

“When he was 41, from the plague, infected by a beggar to which he had given some money. Have you ever heard of something more absurd than that? I mean – if he had been insensitive to the beggar’s suffering, if he hadn’t reached out to give him some money, he wouldn’t have gotten the disease and he would have lived who knows how longer.”

“In the middle of the epidemic, he could have gotten it from somewhere else.”

“I know, but the absurd remains. Practically, generosity was fatal to him.”

“I have an example that is similar to that. The one of the child that Dostoievski wrote about, who had the dogs put on him for the “fault” of accidentally hitting a dog with a branch. Torn apart in front of his mother.”

“See? Doesn’t that make you nauseous?”

“It does”.

“Do you remember the biblical text? God, you who permitted the devil to entrance out ancestors, Adam and Eve(…) , who permitted Satan to approach with evil your own so”…Why? Why doesn’t it say “the one who DIDN’T allow all of these?”. “The one who created this law has it coming to him if I ever meet him”, Stephane said abruptly.

Melanie went white.

“Yes, but if you don’t do it, your descendants will be the sons of God.”, she said, almost not knowing what was coming out of her mouth.

Seven.

”Tu as su réveiller
En moi tant de mystères
Que je ne puis rester là
Sans goûter à ta chair” (Dark Sanctuary – Le Rêve de la Nymphe).

“Why wouldn’t I do it?”

“Stephane, one thing amazed me. I have some cacti home, which I care for immensely. In an afternoon in which I was feeling so bad that I wanted to die, one of them bore a flower. But that’s not what this is about, that it bore a flower in my balcony, but that it can do it in the desert. In the middle of that barren wasteland, at over 40 degrees and with no water, the cactus flower bloomed…it’s a symbol”.

For the first time in his life, Stephane didn’t know what to say.

“This world that we keep talking about, it’s like the desert”.

He then grabbed Melanie in his arms, they kissed and made love for a long time…

You will want to understand “why” and you never will, you’ll get dizzy, between crucifixion and repentance stands a long way, even more than 2000 years, it could be an eternity, the Law isn’t good, but neither are we, and when and how the story ends, a story about pain and suffering, about Prometheus, Sisyphus and each and every one of us – there is, however, a way out, you’ll see soon…

What a crazy thing, this life, “I’ll be a mother”, remember, “what for, to send your child in a world of agony”, the attraction of opposites, Melanie couldn’t resist the one that was next to her, Stephane wanted to convince her, but his attraction to her got the best of him, yes, but besides children this also means sin, the passion of flesh, what will eventually happen with the child, will baptism be enough to save him, who made the Law, why did Melanie read that exact novel in her adolescence, why do we gamble our destinies away, or maybe it’s not gambling, but predetermined, but save the child, the child from Dostoievski’s story or the child of Stephane and Melanie, the fatal attraction of the opposites, Yin and Yang, what will come of all this, I have a fever, the child is the same as humanity, and death and pain will be no more, because the first things have passed, the flower of the desert, the cactus bloomed in the middle of the desert, like Noah gained pity in the face of God….

The end is not within our capability, but it is ours anyway.

Author Notes: Foto: By Tomas Castelazo, Commons Wikimedia

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strange_teller
strange_teller
About This Story
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Posted
7 Aug, 2020
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