Inner insight

© Òscar Julve

© Òscar Julve

For the Magic Watermelon

The first few times, he didn’t attach much importance to it. It had just happened that, instead of getting off at Fontana as he usually did, he had got off at the station before or one or two stations after. On these occasions, he mentally scolded himself for always having his head in the clouds. So engrossed, so lost in his thoughts, as Muriel had told him a thousand times. He started to get more concerned the day he looked up from some papers he was carrying and realised that he had arrived at Poble Sec station. So he had taken line 3 in the opposite direction! That constituted a major lapse of concentration. He alighted from the carriage, crossed over to the other side and started waiting for the next metro train, promising himself that from now on he would pay a little more attention to what he was doing.

But the very next day he really did get a shock when he opened his eyes (for once he had found a free seat and had half dozed off, rocked by the gentle jolts of the train) and found himself at Urquinaona station. Line 4? That was beyond the pale: where had he gone to take the metro? Seeing how scatterbrained he really was began to fill him with anxiety, and again he promised himself firmly that nothing like that would happen again. But it did, and in the following days he turned up at stations on line 2 (Sant Antoni: he had to get out onto the street and have a coffee at the Tres Tombs cafe to get over the shock), on line 4 (once he got to Joanic and a lady looked at him scornfully when he asked her if this was Fontana) and even on line 5, which he thought was a line that was not in operation. He never managed to get to his destination on time, and he had noticed the unequivocal looks of disapproval.

He was embarrassed about mentioning his problem, but in the end he decided to tell his friend Albert, the nihilist.

“It sounds like a case of disorientation,” said Albert. “It probably has something to do with that thing with your eyes.”

“My eyes?” he said. “What’s wrong with my eyes?”

Albert looked at him in surprise, spreading his hands as though to say “Oh, come on!”

“What do you think is wrong?” he replied, incredulously. “They’ve turned inwards, that’s what’s wrong. The pupils go back into your eye sockets, so your eyes are left white, not looking at anything. It’s a bit revolting and quite scary.”

He remained silent. Albert sensed his despair.

“Had you really not realised? Had no-one ever told you?”

“So what can I do?” he finally asked, in a murmur.

Albert shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he sighed. “Try taking the bus. Or walk; it’s much healthier.”

He spent three days looking in the mirror, waiting for his eyes to turn inwards, but he didn’t see anything unusual. He no longer knew what to think, so he consulted Alfred, who was not as close a friend as Albert, but who did have the advantage of not being a nihilist.

“Look, it was about time someone told you, man,” pronounced Alfred, trying to keep his composure. “That thing you do with your eyes is unbelievable.”

“But I don’t do anything with them!” he protested.

“They go wide open and completely white, as though they’d been pricked with a pin,” explained Alfred. “It’s hideous, really!”

He swallowed and asked how long Alfred remembered his eyes doing that thing.

“Oh, I’d say I’ve always known you to do it,” he answered with certainty. “Actually, I’ve more or less got used to it, but some people find it very hard to take. Why do you think Muriel left you?”

He tried to respond, but he felt overwhelmed and couldn’t articulate a single word.

Alfred went on: “She loved you, she really did. Until one evening, I think it was around Christmas, she was crying at the bar of the club and she told me that she had tried to reason with you a thousand times about not turning your eyes inwards. And it had all been in vain. She said she just couldn’t go on like this… I’m sorry, man.”

There followed a frenetic series of consultations. He talked to Armand, to Abel, to Antonia and to Amanda. They all corroborated the white eyes phenomenon and someone called Eudald was even tactless enough to talk to him about eyeballs, a term that was really hard to swallow. Finally, tired of looking at himself in the mirror until he fell asleep without any conclusive evidence, he went to see his mother.

“Son, we’ve always loved you just the way you are,” she said in a shaky voice. “But your poor father was always saddened by that thing with your eyes. Even when he was in the hospital bed, just before he died, he asked me…”

He left his parents’ house depressed, and set off for the line 3 station to make his way to Fontana. He was not surprised when, after getting on the train, he found himself far from his intended destination, in the middle of Mar Bella beach. A group of children were playing ball and a gay couple were stretched out on the sand, undressed, under a sky covered in low cloud. And then he saw her. She was walking alone along the shoreline, with her trouser legs turned up and that white blouse she used to wear when she was in a really good mood.

“Muriel!” he called. “Muriel, it’s me! Wait!”

Muriel stopped. He started to run towards her, but after a few steps he stumbled over a root and fell outstretched onto the sand. He got up, slightly embarrassed and started to shake out his clothes. When he looked up, she was standing right in front of him. She was lovelier than ever, with a smile on her lips that was like the sun in springtime, and she was looking intently into his eyes.

One thought on “Inner insight

  1. Un conte molt sucós. Si se’m permet, el recomanaria no tan sols per la seua brillantor literària. Alguns polítics nostrats, per exemple, se l’haurien de llegir amb lupa i pensar-hi.

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