The Maloré of Eventualities
By Gergo Sastyin
She passed the ball. Vigorously! Yes, this was the kind of locution a reporter would’ve consciously chosen to use, if there were any. Their complete absence, however, didn’t make the phrase less appropriate, at least not for her brain circuits.
She was convinced thereupon that without sufficient vigor, the throw would’ve been easily hijacked by gravity, interrupting the ball’s curve and adamantly pulling it towards the shiny wooden floor—that blasted flatness, the smooth corpses of dead plants! But since this wasn’t the case at all, the flying object reached its addressee, just in time to be promptly returned to her. So hurriedly, as if the ball burnt everything it touched. It felt like it hadn’t even left her fingertips: exactly the type of tingling feeling she was fond of.
She enjoyed possessing the ball, becoming one with it, and that’s why she was always so reluctant to give it away. But every now and then she had to—allegedly, that was the unwritten rule of team play. A flimsy lexical connection was triggered: symbiosis. Such profound analogies drove her nuts, especially when they appealed to the rational beast in her. Therefore she made a practice of shooing them away lest they spoil the precarious equilibrium; for fear they should unbalance the seesaw impishly ridden by logic and emotion engaged in a Sisyphean battle. All she knew, all she conceded to know, pro tem, was that each time they forced her to execute this selfless act, this absurd code of sportsmanship, she was instantly overcome by a strange sensation—almost like a post-amputation phantom pain. As though a crucial piece had disconnected itself from the rest of her body with sudden determination…
It didn’t matter how abused, how torn that ball was; in fact, the more battered it looked, the more she felt the globe of air down to her very core. It was reminiscent to her moth-eaten inner self in so many ways! She couldn’t tell how, or why; even if you went up to her right now, in the middle of the game, and asked her, she would be unable to come up with a response. It was just so. She hugged the ball to her chest while marching ahead, pressing it to her ribcage in such a desperate fashion that one would think—anyone who was lucky enough to be there and watch the whole thing go down—she was even trying to shove it through her jersey, skin and perhaps flesh… In order to incorporate it into her heart that was, in all likelihood, beating with the rhythm of the jittery footsteps, an imaginary dribbling far, far away, and the melody of the referee’s whistle. The whistle that was chanting: Release the lousy ball! Immediately!
She didn’t give heed to the warning.
Then again, had she ever? Her movements said no, her dehydrated lips remained closed. She was in no position to pass now—it should’ve been obvious. She was left all alone, surrounded by the opponent players. They formed a firm circle around her, hand in hand, arms on shoulders, facing downwards, where her forlorn figure began to curl up on the ground, still unwilling to let go of the ball. As a matter of fact, she’d gone so far as to tuck it under her shirt.
An unborn child from an unwanted pregnancy: that was her idea of team play. To hell with that! She cursed the rules, the painted white lines on the sides of the handball court—oh and those idiotic goal nets! No, she wasn’t ready to stand up again. Nor was she too zealous in granting them what they yearned for: some frivolous victory they’d forget soon, some glistening trophy they’d shove to the back of the shelf even sooner, to the spot designated for dust gathering bygone relics. Not a chance! The referee could whistle as much as he wanted. He could choke on his whistle for all she cared—it wouldn’t change a thing.
All eyes moved in their sockets and locked on her, even the camera lens was focused, not to miss anything, not a single jerky movement, a paroxysmal twitch of a leg. Shivers and tremors, almost epileptic, were taking place down there, in the puddle of her own sweat, mixing with dirt and ant carcasses from the outside. An explicit defamation of the “Indoors footwear is mandatory” sign. Ok, I’ll give you this one, her body admitted, utilizing the quivers to transmit the Morse coded message. The left side of her torso was intensely moving up and down, as if the ball that had somehow finally entered her abdomen wanted to exit that way—everybody was seeing this too, of course. She sort of got what she wanted: a violent unification with the ball. Now she just needed to avoid being picked up by mistake and used as sports equipment. Although, the fact that she’d become the center of attention, the epicenter of everything, but most importantly, of the game, gave her an incredible serotonin rush, enough to hold her vexation in check.
She pulled her legs in like mad, as though a fictitious magnet were attracting them to her head, and the next thing she knew, they were so close that she could’ve licked her knees if she’d wanted to. And she did want to, for some odd reason; her tongue, however, was too dry. Now it wasn’t anything more than a flattened piece of stale steak tartare caressing the kneecaps, a meaty gargoyle projecting from the face that had no liquid to spout… Twisting her attention, she circumvented this fiasco by fixating on her heartbeat instead, catching it mid-act as it was crawling up through the esophagus and—hark!—it was already throbbing in her throat a moment later, and then far behind her eardrum, progressively making its way to the neuron-container carved out of human bone. She slowly started echoing this beat, translating it into silent cardinal numbers. One, two, three… But such an endeavor to mark the minutes in order to pinpoint the end of the game was never meant to succeed, as the pulsing of her cerebellum was gradually overridden by the external cacophony: the dissonant buzz of her various organs indulging in a grotesque bacchanalia, the arrhythmic breathing of the other players bowing, crouching, nearly squatting, sucking in air and blowing it out consecutively. Like a bizarre machine, they were. A machine that consisted of several interconnected parts, hungry for oxygen.
The world began to spin, and just kept spinning, along with all the athletes, the referee, the blurry audience, and the lamps hanging from the ceiling. Oh, those lamps annoyed her the most! They made her squint, virtually blind, as they continued twirling, rotating, causing nausea. Was it the world that kept on revolving, or herself? Her instincts bet on the former; it was a long shot, but when it came to her gut, she knew she could trust it. She wanted to ask someone, how can you all still stand there, but she was afraid of her words turning into fluid mid-air. Therefore she didn’t utter a thing.
They were practically kneeling next to her by now—or on her? She was feeling an intense pressure on her chest, her shoulders, her stomach... Was this anomalous weight even coming from outside, or was it internal? Another answerless question, another burst of cephalalgia. The shrill whistling got sharper, interfering with her vision, cutting into the movie screen, where the latest feature called “Life” was shown—she didn’t care for clichéd melodramas and the like, not one bit. Little did she know that she’d been watching this picture all along, from seat F7 to be specific, as the sole spectator; for she’d never made an effort to look high or low, left or right for the rest of the audience.
Nonetheless, this was no longer of any importance, since the theater cancelled the rest of the show due to technical difficulties. The screen fell in tatters, behind it: pitch-black darkness. Nothingness. A nihilist’s paradise. A welcoming ambience, an overwhelming déjà vu awaited her, as if she’d been here before. Moreover, a peculiar déjà vécu telling her that, veritably, she was the one, who’d turned off the lights, Who’d caused this perpetual blackout. What was this place anyway? The beginning and the end of everything: terminus a quo, terminus ad quem. That was her very first instinct, but maybe she was mistaken. Possibly a complete delusion—quite in character for her, one might say, as she did indeed have the tendency to mangle, to embellish almost every slice of reality she came across, and deemed worthy of misrepresenting. In the next moment she found herself flying, floating through this vast void. Or was she even moving at all? It was admittedly hard to tell in such a vacant, somber space. She attempted a great variety of methods in order to propel herself forward, or backward, whichever proved to be successful first: freestyle, breast- and backstroke; even though she was petrified of swimming, to say the least. Especially since a traumatic incident during one of the competitions she attended years ago. That fateful day she came in second place, because of a disturbing case of fatigue, mind you. And what a splitting headache... She wasn’t to blame for the nonperformance, for not diving into the pool as effortlessly as seagulls hunting for luncheon, for not paddling with her limbs as...
Ah, never mind. What significance did it have after all these full moons and one particularly mesmerising solar eclipse? Speaking of which: yes, she shouted voicelessly into the vacuum. Umbra and penumbra! Had she been, after all, exiled to the land of murkiness, the empire of shadows cast by assorted celestial objects and satellites? Did they, at long last, condemn her to ostracism for her inexcusable, un-atonable crime of prolonged ball possession, obstruction of athletic justice, and last but not least, being an accessory to a premeditated joy killing? An affirmative response to this otherwise rhetorical, utterly nonsensical question would’ve, perhaps, consoled her somewhat, and made her feel as though she’d made sufficient amends for her wrongdoings, intentional or not. But, alas, once again she was misled, for she didn’t—at least not physically, that is—leave her original, material location behind. Instead, she simply submerged deeper and deeper into the gloomy cerebrospinal fluid of hers. This realisation struck her like a neon thunderbolt, like a fake electric shock from a Milgram experiment, causing her surroundings to brighten up just for an instant, but nevertheless long enough to notice the lurking varmints all around her. Welcome to the aphotic recesses of your head, the critters greeted her, snickering grimly. Their disdainful susurrus sounded exceptionally familiar—which makes a whole lot of sense, because there’s hardly anything in this universe that could be more familiar than one’s own brain-progeny! These haphazardly organised clumps of meat... Oh, what an extravaganza of amino acids, what an orchestra of migraine they were, pounding, thumping and pulsating the rhapsody of human tragedy through her cranium. The glioblastomas advised her often whilst, just as frequently, feeding her copious amounts of gratuitous medical terminology; but rarely did she wilfully listen to their wicked instructions. Until now, until this very moment that is, when they finally had something worthwhile to say, something sagacious and philosophical that intrigued her and shook her to the core, urged her to kneel down, to beseech them to elaborate.
Our ill-fated daughter, the perishable one, they began to preach, your sorrow is written already, without possibility of amendment. Do as you will; however, know that wealthy and penniless, fortunate and doomed exit through the same gate into the warm embrace of Mother Nature. The knolls in the landscape they form as they bore into the soil like blind mole rats are all the same and signify no difference, no virtue for the departed.
This ominous yet invigorating message was all she needed, apparently, as she was already in the process of standing up, wasting no time, mimicking the phylogeny of Homo erectus. She retreated to reality so gloriously, with a thirsty gulp for air, as if resurfacing from under water after almost drowning, with a subtle upwards leap to thrust herself away from the suffocating near-death experience. A mighty jolt out of the blue! For fear of being abandoned, the others hastily assumed a vertical position as well, bouncing back into a not-so-perfect circle, which, in a way, reminded her of the mangy ball’s pitiful shape. Innumerable altruistic fingers still tangled in her clothes, hair, shoelaces—that can’t be... Was she indeed helped up, tugged onto her feet, by them, the rival players? Despite the verisimilitude of her perception, that borderline phantasmagoria presenting her with an alternative reality, in which she straightened her spine single-handedly? She could no longer tell. Looking at each mien, facial distortion one by one, rotating about her axis, orbiting around the sphere-like appurtenance of the game that had fallen out of the shirt-belly prematurely, she found herself in the crossfire of a dozen glances, piercing into her glabella and orbital bone, performing a pseudo-lobotomy. Or perchance a pranic craniotomy, in a futile attempt to remove the swelling that had been ever eager to prise her skull open? And then! She abruptly halted in front of a notably askew sight upon spotting a lonesome teardrop emerging from the depths of the lacrimal gland: a driblet of salty water shed for her, for her alone, gliding down in an unruly fashion, without any regard to the crevices of the rumpled skin—a cutaneous autobiography bearing the imprints of long-forgotten adversities. Why bother, she inquired by wrinkling her nose along with a slight squinting of the eyes: a trademark expression of hers. The ball, rolled in the answer in the form of another limpid droplet timidly trickling down.
Of course! She howled pantomimically, flaring her nostrils just about five times until the muscles got sore, and with an impulsive decision she picked up the aforementioned object, the embodiment of her peculiar stance on life: memento vivere, memento mori. For the buoyant globe represented both verdure and aridity in her avant-garde mind, preoccupied with intrusive images of well-fed and aborted feturses, inadvertently reminding the reader of the renowned rabbit-duck illusion. When she, as reluctantly as possible, handed the ball over to the profusely sentimental individual, her personal messiah, their hands touched for a moment. For a very brief instant a moist palm and a warm dorsal venous network joined in a sacred union impregnated with orgone energy, predestined to conclude once the exchange was complete. On the verge of being excommunicated, she could’ve still cancelled the trade; yes, she could’ve very well changed her mind and… Nay. Belatedly it occurred to her that no coordinating conjunction, no grammatical eloquence was going to do the job, nor do justice to her plight. Because she wasn’t called “Malory”, or at least its equivalent in the local vernacular, without any reason: she was, without any doubt, the unfortunate one in this tale, wherefore it was her responsibility, and all the more, her fate to grapple with the current debacle. To confront it without further ado.
Sloshed with pride and nonchalance, and after knocking back an additional 1.35 ounces of courage, she proceeded with the operation, surgically removing her own fingers from the object of transaction: a histrionic dactylectomy was in progress. The prognosis of which was too apparent—almost eye stinging, one might deem. Yet she felt no remorse whatsoever while returning the requested item, entrusting to them a bittersweet keepsake of her worldly struggles; the time has ripened for her resignation, tantamount to the demise of her role as a left winger, as a rusty cog in the communal instrument. Had she imprudently rushed into this surrender? Was she, as long anticipated, ultimately losing her grasp on reality? On the contrary: she was on top of everything, more than ever, as she’d found peace in denouncing her earthly status. Forgoing this superfluous social cachet that had been weighing her down, the forecasted sweet release of death began to dominate her actions. And in a roughly simultaneous fashion, the switch was flipped, as if autonomously, and there was, anew, bedazzling light everywhere. Once again, absolute brightness governed her vision. This was enlightenment at its finest, forsooth; and, rather abruptly, the lost secret of immense euphoria was revealed to her: Back to nature, back to Reichian ecstasy, to the perpetual epiphany of existence! Yes. That seemed to be the utmost solution to all of her worriments—nigh an antidote to the postmodern human condition. Praise the folly, she mumbled, no, growled faunally, free as a wolf, as she unclothed herself on the way, bidding farewell to the grounds.
Gergo is a Hungarian-born polyglot, and a restless digital nomad with daydreaming tendencies.