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The Wish

Jöerg Liesegang - ten wishes, ten temptations,
which would you choose?

So there I was, trying to help again. Out on the street. Any street. Almost any town. Busy. Stinky. Filthy. Rotten. And in this heap of misery and misfortune this tiny old woman. Lost. Ferocious cars coming from the right, charging from the left. Her insufficient legs having a hard time holding her in the upright. The crutch. The green felt hat, with a worn-out, a little less than shiny hat band. The overcoat. The aged dark leather shoes bulged from her arthritic toes. The shiver in her arms. The innocent stare of her presbyopic eyes gazing at her surrounding.

I had to help. Pushed the button for the pedestrians traffic light. Saw the nice WAIT scripture flash up on the other side. My reassuring smile at the old bones besides me. Told her everything would be alright just to surmount myself. All she had to do was trust me. Not anybody else. Just me. I would get her across the street safely. And she turned to me, still trembling, failing in the attempt to get her head upright to mine without loosing her fragile balance and so taking an affectionate peek at me through her lifted brows. You’re a very kind young man, she said. And I said, thank you.

WALK, the sign showed, I offered my arm as an aid, and she accepted. Deliberately, at less than snail’s pace, we waded across the leaden street parquet. Reached the other shore after a long and fearful crossing. The WALK-ing order had long extinguished, the cars were in line ready to leap upon us, the accelerators pushy, we showed cold blooded probity, or call it ignorance. Proved ourselves to be folks of principles, to continue once started, to follow on through till the end.

We were both happy, reaching the opposite sidewalk in good health and I had my farewells waiting behind my teeth. But strangely enough, my story was just starting, my old rescued woman now in turn taking my hand and offering me her help. Let me reward you, she whispered, breathless from the effort, for your amiability. Let me be grateful. It won’t be much, I have to give, but it may be of some interest to you.

Reluctant at first, but me profoundly lacking anything else to do to keep myself occupied, I joined in. Eternities passed while walking, stopping, looking around. I wasn’t sure at time whether her brain remembered where her bodily home was. The old woman sometimes seemed totally stripped of any senses, her eyes following the rows of houses we were running after. Then again she was attentive, receptive, as if some hidden voice was giving her directions.
Nice houses we walked by. Mysterious ones fit for occasions like this one. But all we left behind without a second look wasted on the passed. I still believed there was a goal somewhere in her mind. I followed. With microscopic steps, always minutely an inch behind hers. And then, close to a tube station, with white houses raised against a grey sky, with the evening lights on the street going on, my companion said we were there at last.

A fairly large wooden door with a golden knocker, a nice entry with neat mailboxes for all the tenants. A set of stairs went up on the left. A narrow little space on the right and a door coloured in bright red in the middle. We took the stairs. Up three floors we went, the old legs before me surprisingly agile and light. Then a couple of doors on the third floor, a light bulb shining from the ceiling, bare, alone. The old woman took the handle of a door, the words let’s take this one today between her lips, jerked it open and gave me way. Hardly was I in the door step when a slight push from behind shoved me on. I was in a little room, the door behind me banged shut. I heard her steps disappearing and then I could hear myself breathe and nothing else. Three by four yards were the measurements of the walls around me. A sole chair welcomed guest to make use of it. No pictures. A carpet floor, brown with blue flower ornaments upon it. Obligatory wall paper, it too with the flowers blooming in full. I seated myself. Three doors. Not one window. A nice chandelier, an antique heating unit. More I couldn’t see. I decided not to be disturbed. Why should good deeds lead to ill fate? I tried to enjoy myself waiting. And waited.

And waited.

Then one of the doors I had not come through caught my attention. There had been a noise behind it. And right, the handle moved, was consequently pushed down, the door creaked open. A veiled person entered. Veiled completely in a warm red orange yellow fabric. Gloves and something like a thin net before the face. The person spoke. A woman. The voice maybe young, unassigned. You’re the young man who helped my grandmother? Maybe she thought she had entered the wrong room, and there were other men waiting in the other rooms? But then, she didn’t really wait for my answer. Come, young man, come with me.
It was at least five steps we went up and down. Dozens of corners. My new companion hadn’t talked to me apart from the first set of words. She had just lead the way. Her long orange cloak vibrating before my eyes with her every step. We came to a corridor. An exceptionally long corridor. Five doors to the left, five to the right. The walls white, a stone floor, stairs to the back of us, another door far in front. She turned. I guess she looked at me through her veil. I hoped she was.

Here we are, young man. These are your ten choices, choose. Her voice was slow and earnest and wonderful. And she opened the first door and bade me enter with a movement of her gloved hand.

It got dark as I went in. No floor. No walls. Vastness. For a moment nothing happened. Then, from an immense distance, something light came towards me. A crystal ball, round and clear, floating. A beautiful woman in a silver gown was standing on top. Brown hair, splendid deep eyes, very narrow lips. She didn’t speak. All she did was hover around me on her crystal ball, looking at me intensely, concurrently looking at nothing, at herself. Whirling around me in slow motion. Disappearing again. I thought that I was supposed to reach for the door behind me. I did.

And? Do you want her? Her voice was soft with a modest jingle hidden somewhere. I was in the corridor again. Surprise. Want her? Why, yes! Grandmother told you she could help you, didn’t she? Do you want her? No, I don’t think so. Okay. Let’s go to the next door. Don’t you want to know why not? Do you want to tell? I paused. Her hand was on the handle of the second door. The woman in there just didn’t say anything. She was as silent as a statue. So distant. And she almost had no lips at all, they were so thin. Fine, my companion said, and gestured me on.

It was dark again. I could hear somebody talking. Somewhere. And there was a warm chill around my ears, coming from somewhere in front. Talking. I waited a while. A long while. The talking didn’t really stop. Tried a polite cough. Raised it to a hollering roar. The voice stopped. I can’t see you, I noted. Oh! You can’t? The voice was uniquely feminine. Maybe I’m too close? Wait! Something crackled. It got very bright. Turned out I had been looking into her nostril the whole time. Thought something smelled good, she said. With a shrewd I-know-it-all-smile in her face. Continued talking. An appealing open face in a blue roll neck jumper. The way I see it, we had to meet sometime, and you know what, babe, I’m glad it’s now. That was the last sentence I heard when I reached for the door. I guess she was still talking.
She’s preposterous. Full of pungency. Too much self-esteem. And she’s got that unbearable as-if-chewing-bubble-gum tilt of her cheeks that always tells you she couldn’t care less. She’s a nightmare. And on I went. You can just say no, you know, my veiled companion said while introducing me to door number three.

Red velvet everywhere. Soft beneath my shoes. Nice on my hands. A huge world of drapery. And then this slightly wet voice. It’s you! Something moved. Quaked. And then there was this huge tit falling upon me, foiled in a lavishness of satin cloth. It stopped short of smashing me. Rested dangling right before my face. Her voice again. Hi... Like I wasn’t the only one searching for words. I’m... Like she wasn’t capable of finishing a sentence. Her words more sighs than anything else. Hi, I’m... Uh, boy,... I’m... so moist. And then she let her tit drop and she literally pushed me back against the door. I opened it just in time.

Now, that was just too... But my companion wasn’t eager to listen. The corridor was long. Next one.

I was in an old style opera house. Sitting in an old wooden folding chair. A lamp fastened to a little table. The table right before me. And this girl on stage. All the main spots on her. Dazzling. Blinding. Don’t you think I’m beautiful? That I’ll make it? Do you like me? You don’t think there is anybody like me, do you? What if there is no applause when I finish? Oh my god? What if they don’t do anything and just sit there? I mean, it must be alright when they shout and boo? Isn’t it? But what if they just don’t do anything? Will I be able to cope? Do you think so? Was I audience? Was I critic? No matter what play she was rehearsing, it didn’t amuse me. I stood up and went out the big wooden double swing door in the back. A green EXIT sign was flickering above.

She’s boring. Trying to be bigger than she is. It’s like she’s always standing on her toes, looking up somewhere, trying to reach for something that has long fallen to the floor. I thought that was put rather cleverly. I thought it deserved some recognition. All I got was the door. Number five.

A forest. Weird bird cries, poisonous snakes sure to be hiding somewhere beneath the carpet of leaves. Apes knocking on their chests far off. I didn’t see her at first. Blended perfectly with the botany. Her nostrils flaring was the movement I caught. Poised in an eucalyptus tree. Her body ready to jump. Yet one leg slithering down loosely from the branch she was sitting on. Her eyes steady. On me. Like there was only two things I could do. Stand still and wait to be killed, swallowed, and digested. Or kill her first. And right, had I mentioned the machete dangling from the coconut fibre cord around her hip? I was out. Open retreat. Banged the door behind me. Shut.

The veiled one greeted me with her calmness. Stood while I caught my breath. The corridor was nice. Pleasant temperature, no humidity. Her head was pointing towards me, as far as I could tell. Observing? Asking me whether I was ready for more? I nodded silently. The door opened.
Really? That’s amazing! A high pitched voice intruding. Whatever interesting story I had been telling so far, there was no way to take it on, after that. I was sitting in a restaurant. About afternoon time. Over a nice cup of coffee. A gorgeous blanche with a black mane opposite. I remembered. I had been telling the joke with the business advisor driving through Nepal with his Audi TT meeting the shepherd with his 1200 sheep. That was how far I got. And then she said, that’s amazing! An Audi TT in Nepal! Isn’t that the one without a roof? I wasn’t willing to waste anymore time or words. Didn’t even bother to ask for the bill.

You’re a bit choosy today, aren’t you? Her voice echoed in the bare walls of the long passage. Choosy? She was as blunt as a spoon! And her eyes were like the little wide set oculars of a greenfinch. She was insufferable! Okay, okay. You don’t have to insult her. Next one? My ruffled feathers were smoothened. Yeah, next one. And I added to amend: Please.

I was sitting on a black leather chair. Reclining. Rotating. Rolling. An executive’s dream. She was sitting vis-a-vis. A huge oak desk split us in two halves. Somewhere underneath her legs were crossed in smart silk stockings. Listen, I don’t have all day. I’ve got this portfolio prepared which you can get from my secretary. She’ll also give you the keys to my Jag, my address is in the GPS computer, just click on HOME. The swipe cards for the house are in the glove compartment. But then, my butler knows you’re coming. I’ll need the Jag back by four sharp. Have a look at the house. James will show you your designated apartment. You can ask my secretary for my tax forms. They are quite satisfactory. I had something like ten grand a month in mind for you. But we can talk about that. And now, if you would please excuse me, and remember, four sharp. I jolted out of my chair. I wasn’t really sure whether she had taken a single breath while speaking. And please, she interrupted my exit, don’t use the pool, today is disinfection day.

What do you think? I was trying to close the door behind me as quietly as I could. Her voice was as soothing as ever. I must have had quite a baffled look on my face. I gathered a few words together. She’s a razor. Her chin, her brows, her legs. I bet even her... Excuse me. I just think she cuts like ice.

My next room was empty. Just a horizon somewhere at earth’s end. And a voice that asked me whether I was in want of something. Whether I could be helped. I didn’t know. As if my silence was an open invitation she asked again. From another direction. Can I get you anything, darling? And from yet another direction. Are you cold, love? Her questions were surrounding me. Do you want something to drink? And then I could see them. Little, narrow, straight lines. Slices. Cut from a self-giving whole. Pacing towards me. From everywhere. Encircling. Flat slices of a thin woman, creeping upon me. Full of servitude. Are you’re feet hurting? Bonded by utter magnanimousness. How is your back? Are you all right? What is it, darling, you can tell me! Fine streaks of herself getting themselves to form on helpful nature. How are your haemorrhoids, dear, can you sit all right? I hadn’t let go of the doorknob for one second.
So what didn’t you like this time? It was plainly in my face. Her voice was adding a tone of harshness I hadn’t yet discovered. I was stealing my way around an answer. Well, I don’t think that is good enough, she said. We were almost at the end of the corridor. What did she want to hear from me, anyway? I said that the woman just didn’t have any buttock. Is that good enough? I saw something behind her veil, thought I saw something. Brilliant! Her voice now definitely had something fresh. No buttock! Now that’s a brilliant answer! Door number nine. Go on!

There was a cold wind. I was outside. High up outside. On something like a tower. A city beneath. Not a tone was reaching. Nothing. A tall lady with an immensely long neck was standing close to the edge of the platform, leaning on the railing. Waiting. Silence. Everything was full with it. Her slim body was bending over the abyss, forming a crude, but recognisable question mark. I had never felt the necessity to say something more. It was undeniable. No noise. Nothing. I could see her neck grow over the precipice, her head evolving, her ear magnifying, increasing tremendously in size. Her ear becoming a giant tube, opening up to a gigantic floral trumpet, eagerly waiting to pull itself over me. And when I and my silence were about to be gulped, I turned on my heels and was gone.

We were at the end of the corridor. My last door. Your last door, young man, she said. Talking about mutual thinking. She took the handle and made a little ceremony out of opening it up for me. Bowed as I walked in, the cloth of her headscarf dropping from her back onto her chest. I answered the bow while passing.

Something horribly forceful grabbed me by my hair. Pulled me painfully. I stumbled, my face fell into sand and I opened my eyes. I was in a desert. Lots of opened, emptied leather flasks were lying around me. The bones of a dinosaur some hundred meters off. I jerked my head free, but another fierce grip immediately had me by my shoulder. A six armed woman was confusing me with her multiple hands. Fidgeting around with them. Three of them on each side to be exact. She looked Asian, with a glittery bra and a golden dress and lots of jewellery. She was dancing to a tune the sand dunes had borne and was chanting along with it. Again I freed myself. Started to run. Headed for the dinosaur bones in lack of any other aim. When I reached them, I saw that there was more. The bones of four tigers were scattered around what must have been a brontosaurus. And then the remains of six or seven vultures were gathered around each lion. And then there was something around the vultures, quite a wreckage all together, but that’s when the six armed woman caught up with me and grabbed me by my penis. Got you for good this time, she said. Now don’t you go running again, boy. I didn’t really dare to do anything. She had a reasonable grip. I counted my chances. I had one. Look, there is your mother, I shouted! I pointed behind her. She let go and turned. And me off like a blitz. She could eat my dust.

I had made it back to the corridor. My companion was there with me. Faithfully. Waiting for my breath to catch up with me. I propped my hands on my knees and tried to get my lungs back into my body. I saw stray grains of sand on the floor beneath us. And young man, after you’ve seen them all, whom do you want? I straightened myself. Looked down the corridor. The steps far in the back like a memory. The five doors to either side.

You. I want you, I said. Turned to the veiled lady. Of all the women, I want you. A wind came as I said the words. An unprecedented strong wind, tearing at my bones, like they were going to be ripped out. The wind came up the stairs, the ten doors flew open, more wind joined from them as well, pushed me flat, against another door, the eleventh one. Pushed me until my cheeks touched my ears, until my muscles lost their nerves. The door behind me gave way, burst open, I was slung on a floor. The wind died down.

I was in the first room with the three doors. I gathered myself and found myself in one piece. Sit down, please. My veiled lady was standing there. You say you want me, young man? Of all the women you have seen? And you know you’re answering a question I didn’t even ask? Well fine, young man. Here you are. And she pulled the veil from her body.

There she was. The narrow lips. The as-if-chewing-bubble-gum tilt in her cheek. Her big breasts. Her standing on her toes as if reaching for something that had actually fallen on the floor. Her nostrils flaring. Her wide set bird’s eyes. Her sharp chin. Her thin waist line. Her long neck. Big hands. There she was, smiling.

There she is. It’s only been a second, me seeing her. But putting it all together, I think I’ll love her forever.

© Jöerg Liesegang, 2001


Seeing Myself
by Joerg Lisgard

by Joerg Lisgard - a Hackwriter First Chapter

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