2009 Targetti, Light Tale Competition, 3d place.
I get up early in the morning, when the rays of the sun begin to filter in through the rolling shutters. The white wall to the right of my bed lights up with lots of slivers of sun. Butterflies of dust glint on the corners of the furniture, and my barely furnished bedroom fills with life. I like staying in bed a bit longer. I prop up the pillow behind my back and watch. On my left, through the shutters, the sun shines from the east: clear, strong, it is the cockerel that announces the new day to human beings. But the few that have not yet left on holiday are asleep. They have heavy bodies that weigh down their own dreams of escaping into their mattresses. On the right the same light shines onto the wall. It filters through the dust of my clothes, my shoes, my old age. It is a light just for me. A hundred, a thousand specks of fire shimmer on the plaster, a window on exotic and distant worlds that I explore day by day. It is the magic television of my dreams. This screen costs nothing, and exploits all the rays of the sun, from the infrared to the ultraviolet. Recently the picture has become even more beautiful, apparently because the alpha rays are no longer blocked by the ozone. Well, welcome to all alpha rays. “What’s beautiful can’t do any harm,” my uncle, Brother Assenzio used to say to me when I was young. He would whisper it in my ear, as if distrustful of the serious faces around us. And his hairy beard, which rustled in the lobe of my ear, was a burst of laughter that guided me to the discovery of things.
Apparently I will be the sole inhabitant of the large building this summer. Everyone is going away, even the Pasqualotti, who live on the fifty-seventh floor on the north side and who don’t even know what the sun is. My son says I would get bored at the sea. But I know he says that because of his wife. I’m not afraid of being on my own up here. I’m just sorry about Erica, my grand-daughter, not being able to see her for so long. And I reckon she’ll suffer too, she’s very fond of me. My son bought her a dolphin-shaped water mattress to win her over to the holiday. But in her eyes I can see a hidden melancholy. And what bad taste it is to go to the sea with a plastic dolphin! Everyone knows they’re now extinct. I watch the specks for a little longer, thinking about these things. I think that I shouldn’t be so offended. The world moves forward and things change. Who am I to wish to resist the wheel of life? The specks move towards the right as time inexorably passes. My television is going off. Everyone has left. The last to go were the Pasqualotti. From my bedroom I saw their car going out through the fence and heading south followed by a reflection of the sun. The horizon is bare again, and the dust stirred by their haste is returned to the surface by the dry air. I go to the window and wave at that distant dot, without expecting any answer. I am alone now. The day passes slowly. Clutching on to the skyscraper stuck into the ground, we float aimlessly in the infinite.
At least in the morning there is the television of light to distract me, to take me to remote worlds. But the night is terrible. Time stands still, and no dream can shift it. Inert, I listen to the silence as I hear darkness entering and emptying my head. I wish I was mad so I could invite in ghosts and monsters, and dance with them. But madness is a rare thing. I feel lonely. So I go out. I turn on the old lamp on my bedside table. It still has one of those old incandescent bulbs that have long since been banned. Apart from anything else, it’s the last one I have. On the landing there is absolute silence. As I’m the only one left in the building, the lift has been shut down. The stairs are interminable, and it seems there will never be an end to the nightmare of the descent. But then finally the large reinforced door comes into sight. I leave it open, given that even the thieves and muggers are on holiday with their brood. I venture outside the fence. It’s about a hundred steps to the old tyre that I use as a bench. With a white tissue I always carry with me, I remove the day’s dust, and with a long sigh sit down. The large building stands desolately on the barren land. The horizon is a blur. Land and night come together to form a grey, opaque stain. A hint of a breeze and its light rustling on the surface are the only signs that anything is alive. And then there is that light up there, in one of the building’s thousand bedrooms. A faint light because of the distance, but distinct. Someone lives up there. I can’t see him, nor do I think the person up there can see me. Yet this certainty of their being someone else is enough to satiate my lonely soul.
Sometimes I seem to glimpse a shadow. But it might just be soot making the light shimmer in the distance, and I put down the tissue I had instinctively raised in greeting. I carry on sitting there for a little while longer. Then tiredness gets to me and I start feeling the damp night sighing between my bones. It’s time to go back in. The stairs are even longer going back up. I arrive home exhausted. I lower the shutters, leaving the holes just open enough to let in tomorrow’s sun. I lie down on the bed and turn off the lamp on the bedside table. I fall asleep almost happy, thinking of that man sitting on the tyre. He’s alone too, poor chap.