Tripping in Amsterdam

Paper Bird wants to Fly by Ilman-Lintu

Can paper cranes fly to carry you and I up towards the blue blue sky, will we see the fairies skip as you take cherries for a sweet trip to Amsterdam and back. Except you never came back and tears don’t stream down my face no more, never did, not since the day you left, and I am left behind with paper cranes in a bottle, and no they do not fly. Paper cranes do not fly. She knew that long before she started folding them.

Maya never stopped folding them paper cranes although that truth resonated within her soul, that now seemed hollow. The thing about a hollow soul is that it around it, beneath skin and flesh and blood, reality reverberates and echoes loudly, painfully bouncing against it. And this reality bounced and reverberated like a constant monotonous drumbeat that never goes away. But I guess she had learnt to dance to it, and it is amazing that a girl with a hollow soul could dance.

But she could not stop dancing to it, not after he died, half past nine, in the midst of her folding the 99th crane. If I were her I would have crumbled but when the life that she knew, the one she had spent the last seven years building crumbled all around her, she stood, 99th crane in hand, in the middle of the mountain of sawdust that was her crumbled world. She had to start dancing to get out of the dust that came up to her waist.

Then she had to keep dancing. So she never stopped dancing to that resonating beat that was her reality. And to that beat she raved halfway around the world to California and down to where cherry trees blossom in October to bear fruit in December. And to that beat she danced her hollow soul the long way from here to Amsterdam. Head bobbing to its monotonous beat.

Trains became a common thing to Maya. She got on and off them and on them again seated in the same stance, on the same seat, staring out the window, cigarette in her right hand  and playing with the ends of her long black curly hair with her left index finger. No one ever sat next to her, and of course, she so often chose routes that were uncommon, or travelled at such ungodly hours.

Most of the time people left her well alone anyway. I guess it was her face, she often looked far away, with eyes that bore a vacant sort of longing not to be disturbed. She was most comfortable withdrawn to the very back of her mind where they were still alive together. Her memories were sweeter than her present. She needed to be left alone, so the pit that was her soul will not cave into the middle of nothingness. She needed to keep dancing. So she kept moving with a sort of numb desperation.

His family held a grudge against her for packing up and leaving, with the cranes, the day he died. She never came to his funeral. Never visited, not even once. She just packed her bags and left. They thought she bore a heart of stone, because she never cried a tear. Not a single one. Not when he was bleeding in the head and rushed to the hospital. Not when the doctor mumbled words that revealed his life would be a short one, a very short one. Not when he was taken from them, raw, full of potential and not even thirty. Not a single tear that girl cried. Heart of stone.

But then the thoughts she carried hidden came to mind time after time making the drumbeats louder. And when that happens, no amount of memory, even the ones she had replayed over and over, can drown out them beats. And as the beats got louder, she had to dance harder. Soon enough she got tired of dancing.

And then one day exhausted she stopped.

And when she stopped dancing, the drumbeats stopped. But the sound of life begin to whisper its sweet sound into her ears before a silence, long and drawn fell around her.

Before long, the life that stood suspended before her flooded back into vision, the mortgage she still had to pay, the job she had to go back to, the people who relied on her, the ones that did not, the ones that loved her. The hospital, the sickness, the death, the funeral. The empty life, the empty house. The paper-cranes. It all hit her.

In those silent moments, numbing pain crept into her limbs as she picked up her bag and walked out of the train, up the hill, and down the valley in her brown leather boots. She crossed the bridge and walked onto the plance. And numbing pain throbbed as she flew home and kept walking and walking and walked on until she came to the green meadows with the grey, grey headstones, until she was standing before the stone that bore his name. The stone with his name. An anger surged up within her strong.

She lay her backpack down and reached inside it to retrieve the glass bottle bearing the 98 and a half paper cranes. In anger she threw the glass with all her might upon the grey headstone. And as the breeze came around her to embrace her a pain she never knew she could endure gripped her. Her heart broke a million pieces that day and she cried and howled and bellowed. The breeze blew and blew around her as if to comfort her. And the breeze came stronger to lift each paper crane from the ground. Sobbing, letting the pain out onto the grey headstone she was huddled against she watched the wind took each and every paper crane to flight carrying them under its wings.

Watching the paper cranes fly into the grey grey sky, she rested her head and closed her eyes and lay to rest upon the stone and when she opened her eyes, the sun had come up, shining and colour came back to fill her sad, sad heart and flooded the grey scenes before her eyes.

Then she heard the sound of the birds, and the silence was broken, but not by the drone drumbeats that accompanied her dancing through amsterdam. She heard music, it was in that instant her ears heard melodies, oh, music again.