The Hanged Man


He had put his elbows on his knees and his hands in the air. I observed this structure that was now resting in balance. His eyes were darkened by his scowl which imperceptibly creased his face. I lingered on the curve of his long eyelashes soaked in the same ink as his pupils riveted on the gray sea. The fresh sea spray shook the crumpled rags he seemed to have put on in a hurry, rattling them in the wind. I had really taken a liking to him. He had a bad temper, was a bit of a hothead and didn't really resemble me. But he had triggered something in me. A soft late afternoon light came to color his face with gold, tied to the waves and the gray. It smelled like a wood fire.

-”I'm going to leave," R mumbled, without taking his eyes off the gray expanse. I watched him for a few moments.
-”So it's true?” I sighed.
-”Yes. And I will never play music again.” Something dull was beating inside me
-”Why?" I whispered. The beating was getting stronger.
-”A revelation. Making music is useless. My illusions are gone.”
-”You're not serious?” It was swelling. I was mad at him. I was angry at him for doing what he wanted to do, for his mood swings, for his indifference to N's fate. I suddenly stood up. I grabbed the collar of his shirt.
-”WHY?" I shouted. He frowned and pushed my face away with the palm of his hand. I threw him to the ground, he hit me. I grabbed his clothes and rolled him into the sand, out of my normal state. I needed to scream, to shake him, to make him react. I desperately scanned his pupils, looking for an answer. I let go of him and lay down on the beach, breathing heavily. He fell painfully beside me. The waves slapped against our feet, the water splashed against our pants. I was shaking violently, from cold and frustration, my face convulsing from sobs. I stared at the sky, huge, monstrous and dizzy.
Something made a noise next to me. R had taken something out of his pocket. He grabbed my hand and placed it there, closing my fingers over it. I sat up on one elbow to look at what he had given me: it was a kind of iridescent plastic, slightly swollen. I held it in front of my eyes: a few pale rays of sunlight were shining through the pouch: I could see moving shapes through it. He sat up and dusted himself off. I buried the paper in my pocket and let myself fall back. I drowned my glance in the sea. I was alone. A strange feeling of uneasiness ran through me.

The sun had begun its descent over the sea. I could make out a small silhouette against the light, not far from me. I stood up awkwardly and tried to shake off the sand that had accumulated on my clothes. I then approached the shadow who had his back to me.

-”Excuse me," I said. There was someone here, a little while ago. He had to leave, you wouldn't have... I interrupted myself. The child had turned around. Or at least what must have been a child.
-“Who are you exactly?" I said, taken aback. He looked very puzzled.
-”Uh... I don't know yet...” The shape had everything I needed to call it a boy, but there was something strange about it: it lacked a certain consistency, vaguely devoid of relief. Only certain features were defined: his eyes were blue and his hair was blond, a beautiful soft blond like wheat: the rest was colorless, as if infinite.
-”And... and what exactly are you then?” I asked, so surprised that I lost the most elementary politeness.
-”I am his imaginary friend...”
-”Whose?“ I cut him off.
-”Of the rose!" he exclaimed, shocked that I didn't know such an obvious fact. I calmed down.
-”I'm still dreaming, aren't I? You gave me a fright...” He looked at me carefully, slightly anxious.
-”No, I don't think so.” I pretended not to hear.
-”So you're her imaginary friend.” I paused.
-”Is she that lonely?”
-”Yes, very.” So I try to cheer her up a little bit.
-”But did she create you?”
-”I don't know," he evaded. Of course he didn't know: he wasn't finished yet. A gust of wind ruffled the golden wheat growing on his head.
-”But you really have beautiful hair," I said.
-”Yes. That's because it was the most striking thing about him. And his eyes too. She remembers them very well, so I remind her a little bit when she sees me.”
-”Who is he?”
-”I don't know," he admitted. I thought so.
-”And if not, what do you know about yourself?”
-”I resemble you, I think”, he said with a shy smile.
-”In what way then?”
-”Me too, I ask many questions.” I remained silent. I had let myself get a little carried away.
-”Sorry”, I apologized. He smiled at me, a smile so sweet that it would have made the stars fall. We gazed at the waves.
-”I see things a little differently too. For example, I don't really think that the rose needs me the most, but rather that I need it.” I didn´t say anything.
-”I'm going to go. Goodbye”, he said.
I gave him a little wave and he did indeed go away, towards the city. A wave, more powerful than the others, crashed against my legs. I blinked. There was something a little too real about the wet feeling that invaded my pants, the sand that crushed under my weight. I sniffed. The smell of salt water, shells and fish came to me, along with whiffs of food and flowers typical of the red light district. So I was not dreaming. I squatted down at the edge of the sea and dipped my head in the fresh water, rubbing my face vigorously: I was extremely confused. In the distance, the sun was spitting its last rays.
I walked hesitantly away towards the pagoda.

︎︎︎PART I︎︎︎