LONDON, SPRING 1999
When there was nothing else but an open suitcase, Lola decided to get in and close it. She was one of the rare and pure products of this sullen world. Because of her astonishing ability to taste life, Lola could enjoy the presence of sky, clouds and she always laughed when the leaves turned orange. She only ate three things: porridge, hummus with cucumber and cheese on toast. Most of the food repulsed her. Lola felt sorry for eating something that used to be alive. She could not possibly imagine eating meat or fish, something that had blood. Lola hated big dogs, jelly and cable cars terrified her. Lola was at theatre watching a play. She felt like there was no other place where she could belong more. Theatres and cinemas enchanted her wandering mind and refreshed her inexhaustible soul. There was nothing insanely pleasurable about sitting in the dark, absorbing the new dimensions through the tired lungs and damaged eyes of everyday life. Momma Sykes worried for her being constantly stuck in a different scripts and stories. She wanted Lola to be more in the world, to meet new friends, attend parties, have crushes and well just to be young. Lola didn’t care for it. The real world frightened her; she didn’t understand it and looked for solitude instead. Her family was the only people she could be with and didn’t feel like the little flower in her breast wasn’t losing its colours. Lola didn’t desire for any kind of profession, power or dream home. She didn’t feel the need to get married, have a family or to gain something. Lola would rather touch the frozen leaves and smell the spicy aura of cemeteries and stare at the people from the distance. She was seventeen and unlike her blossoming and sensual sister, Lola was scared of sexual experiences. The exchange of the fluids, gasping and allowing someone to get so deep inside her felt almost sacred. How could Constanza do it with anyone? Accidently she had seen and heard her sister during these sweaty and glossy encounters in several rooms in their house including the roof, balcony and an old playroom. Constanza enjoyed it immensely. Lola knew it was who she was, that it was one of the only things that kept her alive and made her wonder about the possible future. Lola was different; she would wait and wait till the stars and broken grass send her someone she’ll love. She had to go home soon to catch fireflies with Henry. Henry always wanted to catch something, the light was never too fast for him, the stars and clouds were never too far and the love was something so familiar that it encircled him. These days Lola felt his unease, she knew Henry started to realize that dragons can’t be killed and that he no more dreaded the dark but the light. Henry saw world’s light pollution and sometimes it was hard for him to go out during the day, the light wan him too much. The ease and lightness of the night was affable for him.
Momma Sykes broke all the fine porcelain cups in their kitchen. She enjoyed it immensely and the look at the disaster and mess of the kitchen excited her tired hands. It took her a great deal to suppress the thought of stepping on it barefoot. For some reason she had to feel the pain, a sharp pain that would circulate through her anaemic blood and she’d be able to feel her veins again. The house was empty just few ghosts hanging around the piano staring at the old family portraits. What happened to Momma Sykes today was a mystery. She was teaching violin as usual, talking cheerfully to one of her students about the imaginary trip Sykes family took to Australia a week ago when in reality Momma Sykes couldn’t deal with the household and went to a wellness centre by herself. In the middle of the conversation she got a call from the airport security that Poppa Sykes tried to fly to Spain claiming that his boarding pass was a Kleenex tissue. This was the fourth time Poppa Sykes wanted to take off with the only difference that this time he named the existent destination. Before he wanted to take a train to Valium, then a boat to Peace and a hot air balloon to the closest Hell. Constanza, Lola and Henry thought it was adorable. Of course they did. To them Poppa Sykes was an inexhaustible inspiration and unreal innocence. As if there was a 60 year old baby in the house that Momma Sykes had to feed, remind him to put clothes on when going to the supermarket and that having a shower once a month wasn’t enough. ‘Where do you want to go for heaven’s sake?’ she asked him impatiently in the car when she picked him up from the airport. ‘The sky is too blue today.’ Poppa Sykes replied. At that point something exceedingly heavy exploded in Momma Sykes heart, she stopped the car and walked away. When she arrived home hours later, the house was empty. And she started to worry about Poppa Sykes, leaving him in the car. She hated herself for constantly worrying about him and everyone and that was when the smashing started. Lola doesn’t eat anything. Ned looks like he’s suffocating all the time. Constanza doesn’t need to wear knickers most of the time and Henry.... Momma Sykes stopped breaking the porcelain. She looked up, flustered and looking so very exhausted when she noticed Poppa Sykes was staring at her. She didn’t know what to say or how to look at him. He came to her, cupped her startled face and gently kissed her.
Constanza was gasping on a kitchen floor. Her purple orgasm finished right after the heavy body of a politician fell on her. Annoyingly she tried to push him away. That was it for her. No more touching, cuddling, kissing or any kind of contact was acceptable any more. It was so easy to do it like that. To leave them undressed and breathless, startled maybe a little hurt that she won’t even look at them. Undoubtedly Constanza enjoyed having a power over everything. Sometimes she wondered how come she didn’t end up as a psychopath torturing animals and eventually men. Her career of a prosecutor was about to begin. In her early 20s she was already successful enough not just in the court but also in any other room, toilet or possible intercourse place in the house of justice. For a reason still unknown to her she loved sending the bad guys to the jail. Maybe she even felt proud about it. Ned said she did it for Poppa Sykes. She was so sad about how devastated Poppa Sykes felt about injustice of the world that it made her defend the victims and innocent. Constanza stood up, put the dress on, looked at her satisfied face in the small mirror and applied lipstick. The politician murmured something, supposedly if she wanted to stay longer or eat something maybe have a bath. Constanza just waved him off. In the lift she felt beautifully tired and full of joy. That’s what she liked the most; somehow the unknown sex subject could offer her a strike of recognition of herself. Constanza couldn’t explain it but throughout the years it became an obsession for her. The more men she slept with the more she seemed happier with herself. There was another middle aged couple in the lift with her. The man was eyeing her short dress while his fading looking wife was observing her expensive shoes. Constanza smiled not looking at him, loving what he was imagining he could do with her. Without looking at him she slowly touched his crotch. The man’s shocked gasp was silenced by the lift door opening. Briskly Constanza walked away to the crispy London’s night.
Ned was about to propose. He had an engagement ring in his pocket. The tube he was in was heading to South Kensington where Lucie lived in one of those gorgeous mansions where everything was sickly right; clean and so unbelievably perfect that one could only think of tragedy when entering her neighbourhood. Lucie was a perfect girl, almost beautiful in an ordinary way, blond with blue eyes. She looked so immaculate that sometimes Ned had to touch her to find out if she was actually alive or if she somehow became a wax figurine. Lucie wanted to have a perfect house, family and an adorable husband who could make a good living. Someone as handsome as Ned who looked stunning in the suits carrying a briefcase and certainly very successful doctor to be. The idea of being a doctor didn’t entirely please or excite Ned. He chose to study medicine because it was so normal, one of these occupations that guaranteed and immediate job and decent if not a lot money. He could have it almost all, the normal family with a normal job something he had never had. Whole his life he wanted a normal family where he could feel comfortable, safe and in the right place. He wasn’t sure if he was in love with Lucie but the idea of warmth and comfort of ordinary life without drama, shouting, crying over the news, bizarre sexcapades and entire strangeness, was more than irresistible. ‘But do you actually love her, Ned?’ Lola asked him various times. Who cared about love? Was it even that important? Lola said it was and that he would find out at some point. She said she didn’t mind suffering for love because that kind of suffering was beautiful. Ned didn’t want it. He only craved for normal life. He got off the tube and head to that perfect neighbourhood where the family tragedies where beautifully hidden behind happy faces.
Henry got lost again. He loved being lost. Not knowing where he was, meant he didn’t have to come back. First he followed the flock of birds, then a gentle melody and in the end it was only the whisper of the stars. He just wanted to reach those birds and maybe talk to them or fly away with them.