Simon Sileghem

Gebruikersnaam Simon Sileghem

Teksten

Een bocht naar rechts, een bocht naar links

Als je door mijn raam kijkt, zie je een baan die donker kleurt onder windwolken. Regenvlagen spoelen dagen weg, maar de straat geeft niet op. Die zal er altijd blijven. Naast de klaprozen die zich verspreiden over de velden rondom. Vanuit mijn raam, zie je de weg twee bochten nemen. De eerste is naar rechts, de tweede naar links. Alsof het weet dat het fout zit, maar er niets aan kan doen. Het moet die mogelijkheden nemen, die ervaringen van beweging opzoeken. De wandelaars moeten proeven van het leven, maar ook niet al te veel. Te links of te rechts en je komt uiteindelijk op hetzelfde punt terug terecht. En een straat weet dat het leven zo niet in elkaar zit.   Na de eerste bocht naar rechts, herinneren kleurrijke paaltjes dat er een gasleiding onder de grond zit. Je kan maar beter op de baan blijven, ook al spoort de straat je aan om af en toe de zachte grond op te zoeken. Aan beide zijden van de baan is er geen voet- of fietspad. Het asfalt helt wat naar beneden en groet daar het gras. Wandelaars kunnen gerust zijn, ook al komt er een wagen aan, ze hebben steeds een plek om veilig te staan.   Tijdens mijn jeugd werd de straat ooit opengebroken. Een geraamte slingerde maar wat voort. Het gezicht verdwijnt onder voortdurend gestamp van gemeentewerkers. Na verloop van tijd komt het terug. Het slingert niet meer, het waadt door het landschap. Terug de bocht naar rechts, daarna de bocht naar links en hup, verder naar het volgende dorp. Over het kruispunt, maar daar eindigt een kleine wereld.

Simon Sileghem
0 0

The killing of logical thinking

In the silent night, red flames of  torches were visible from a distance. Out there, in the middle of lonely fields, a crowd had gathered. They stood next to each other, row after row, in a disciplined way.   The torches lightened up the outer faces but not those standing in the middle. There were animals of all different species coming together. In front of them, in a yellow robe, an owl stood. As the wind crawled through his clothes, he spread out his wings to silence the whispering among his followers. The air became filled with his thunderous words. “My fellow outside dwellers, we stand here today united in face of a common danger.” Eyebrows tilted upwards, his chest stretched out. The owl knew how to speak in front of a crowd.   “We have to meet in the dark, because our enemies eyes are everywhere. They come from the south, year after year they come”, the owl said while pointing towards the sky behind his audience. “Those animals have come to steal our homes, our seeds and our lives.” The crowd became louder “Don’t let them take our seeds!” a small mouse yelled. “Hush now my friends! We all know who I’m talking about of course. It are those filthy sparrows, small birds but always with enormous troops.” “Kill them all! Kill them all!” the crowd started to yell.   “But this year my friends, we’ll have a little surprise for them! We have managed to devise a plan that will set in motion the extermination of those lazy flying rats!”, the owl exclaimed. “Hey, nothing wrong with being a rat”, a faceless creature yelled from the middle of the crowd. “Ssshhhtt!”, his fellow followers said. “Just saying you know”, the creature defended himself.   “We will use the humans!” The Owl spread out his wings yet again, his eyes opened up wide. “Oooooh, the humaaaans”, the crowd whispered. “Yes, those killing machines will become our weapon… Do you want to hear the plan?”, he asked his followers. “Yes, Yes, tell us the plan!” “The humans have shiny vehicles they drive around with. They wash them every week, making sure no dust remains on it. We will attack those treasures, meaning we will defecate on them. But… there is more.” The Owl looked into the faces in front of him. “We will make sure they are only small shits, so the humans think it comes from the sparrows.” Raising his head, the Owl was still proud of  producing this plan.   The crowd was silent, and the leader knew now was the time to get them. “You”, he pointed to a small rat in a purple robe. “You, what do you think of the plan?” The rat had two shiny little teeth, and a long tail coming from under his robe. He clapped his little paws together and said “Yes, I like the plan…” “He likes the plan!”, the Owl yelled with a smirk. “… But I don’t see why we need to kill them all. I mean, is there no other way?” The Owl stopped smirking, and turned his head sideways. “Of course there is no other way. They are the enemy my friend, we need to get rid of them.” “Oh yes, they are quite a nuisance, but they are also very pretty to look at”, the rat said. “What… No no, they are not pretty to look at, they are the enemy of our entire society!” The Owl couldn’t believe his ears. “Now just wait, when I’m out in the fields and they are flying over me, those sparrows are actually nice, they never steal from me.” “They steal when you don’t see it! How many seeds have gone missing from our fields this year? That’s not because we take too much, but because the sparrows eat it all!” The crowd yelled “yes yes, they steal it all!”   “But we still have enough, don’t we? I mean, nobody of us is starving or dying”. The rat couldn’t help himself, logic had struck his little brain. “No, not yet you mean”, the owl pointed upward with his long feather. “Because we have learned to defend ourselves. We have learned to hide the food that belongs to US, AND NOT TO THOSE DAMNED IMMIGRANTS”. His followers threw their fists in the air, exclaiming “DEATH TO THE IMMIGRANTS!!” “Now, that’s another thing that strikes me as weird. We call them immigrants, but they come back every year. So are they truly immigrants?” The Owl stood baffled. “Of course they are immigrants. They’re even worse. The American squirrels were once immigrants as well, but they adapted and learned our values of hard work. The sparrows simply come when our food is in abundance, they eat it all and then when the cold swarms over the land, they leave for better weather!” The rat thought about it. His tongue sweeping over his two teeth, and his tailing waving gently behind him.   “So there is the solution”, he said. “Solution to what?”. The Owl was getting irritated, how could this rat possible think to have solved such a problem? “To all our suffering of course. It’s true, when the snow comes the sparrows leave, and we are left with cold feet and hard nuts. But what if we act like them? What if we simply migrate south as well? Maybe the sparrows aren’t the problem, but the solution.” The rat smiled, he had found a way out of the killing!   The Owl, however, watched his opponent with hatred as if the last sparrow in the world was standing in front of him. He clinched his wing, and pointed his right feather to the insurgent. “Kill him. Kill all the rats! They are spies of the enemy!”, he commanded.

Simon Sileghem
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The killing of logical thinking

In the silent night, red flames of  torches were visible from a distance. Out there, in the middle of lonely fields, a crowd had gathered. They stood next to each other, row after row, in a disciplined way. The torches lightened up the outer faces but not those standing in the middle. There were animals of all different species coming together. In front of them, in a yellow robe, an owl stood. As the wind crawled through his clothes, he spread out his wings to silence the whispering among his followers. The air became filled with his thunderous words. “My fellow outside dwellers, we stand here today united in face of a common danger.” Eyebrows tilted upwards, his chest stretched out. The owl knew how to speak in front of a crowd. “We have to meet in the dark, because our enemies eyes are everywhere. They come from the south, year after year they come”, the owl said while pointing towards the sky behind his audience. “Those animals have come to steal our homes, our seeds and our lives.” The crowd became louder “Don’t let them take our seeds!” a small mouse yelled. “Hush now my friends! We all know who I’m talking about of course. It are those filthy sparrows, small birds but always with enormous troops.” “Kill them all! Kill them all!” the crowd started to yell. “But this year my friends, we’ll have a little surprise for them! We have managed to devise a plan that will set in motion the extermination of those lazy flying rats!”, the owl exclaimed. “Hey, nothing wrong with being a rat”, a faceless creature yelled from the middle of the crowd. “Ssshhhtt!”, his fellow followers said. “Just saying you know”, the creature defended himself. “We will use the humans!” The Owl spread out his wings yet again, his eyes opened up wide. “Oooooh, the humaaaans”, the crowd whispered. “Yes, those killing machines will become our weapon… Do you want to hear the plan?”, he asked his followers. “Yes, Yes, tell us the plan!” “The humans have shiny vehicles they drive around with. They wash them every week, making sure no dust remains on it. We will attack those treasures, meaning we will defecate on them. But… there is more.” The Owl looked into the faces in front of him. “We will make sure they are only small shits, so the humans think it comes from the sparrows.” Raising his head, the Owl was still proud of  producing this plan. The crowd was silent, and the leader knew now was the time to get them. “You”, he pointed to a small rat in a purple robe. “You, what do you think of the plan?” The rat had two shiny little teeth, and a long tail coming from under his robe. He clapped his little paws together and said “Yes, I like the plan…” “He likes the plan!”, the Owl yelled with a smirk. “… But I don’t see why we need to kill them all. I mean, is there no other way?” The Owl stopped smirking, and turned his head sideways. “Of course there is no other way. They are the enemy my friend, we need to get rid of them.” “Oh yes, they are quite a nuisance, but they are also very pretty to look at”, the rat said. “What… No no, they are not pretty to look at, they are the enemy of our entire society!” The Owl couldn’t believe his ears. “Now just wait, when I’m out in the fields and they are flying over me, those sparrows are actually nice, they never steal from me.” “They steal when you don’t see it! How many seeds have gone missing from our fields this year? That’s not because we take too much, but because the sparrows eat it all!” The crowd yelled “yes yes, they steal it all!” “But we still have enough, don’t we? I mean, nobody of us is starving or dying”. The rat couldn’t help himself, logic had struck his little brain. “No, not yet you mean”, the owl pointed upward with his long feather. “Because we have learned to defend ourselves. We have learned to hide the food that belongs to US, AND NOT TO THOSE DAMNED IMMIGRANTS”. His followers threw their fists in the air, exclaiming “DEATH TO THE IMMIGRANTS!!” “Now, that’s another thing that strikes me as weird. We call them immigrants, but they come back every year. So are they truly immigrants?” The Owl stood baffled. “Of course they are immigrants. They’re even worse. The American squirrels were once immigrants as well, but they adapted and learned our values of hard work. The sparrows simply come when our food is in abundance, they eat it all and then when the cold swarms over the land, they leave for better weather!” The rat thought about it. His tongue sweeping over his two teeth, and his tailing waving gently behind him. “So there is the solution”, he said. “Solution to what?”. The Owl was getting irritated, how could this rat possible think to have solved such a problem? “To all our suffering of course. It’s true, when the snow comes the sparrows leave, and we are left with cold feet and hard nuts. But what if we act like them? What if we simply migrate south as well? Maybe the sparrows aren’t the problem, but the solution.” The rat smiled, he had found a way out of the killing! The Owl, however, watched his opponent with hatred as if the last sparrow in the world was standing in front of him. He clinched his wing, and pointed his right feather to the insurgent. “Kill him. Kill all the rats! They are spies of the enemy!”, he commanded.

Simon Sileghem
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Heaven and Hell for Gerard

While mister and misses Clementine were waiting in the faintly yellow waiting room, the man started to scratch heavily behind his ear. He turned his head to the left so he would get the right spot. “Stop it Gerard, you’re making me nervous”, his wife said. Miss Clementine was a small woman, with a hair fool of dense curls. Along with her sharp nose, her hair made her look like a grey poodle.   When the doctor called out their name, the couple walked into his office. “You sit down here Gerard”, the wife said pointing to the second chair. The doctor knew the couple all too well. They had come to him ever since they got married, some 40 years ago. The man, of quite a size but with a remarkable small head, smiled at Gerard. “So, what can I do for you?” Mister Clementine opened up his mouth, but it was his wife who spoke first. “Hush now Gerard, don’t tire yourself. I’ll explain it to the good doctor.” She bent over a bit, keeping her hand seated on her lap. “You see doctor, our daughter just bought a house. Right in the middle of James Street. Yes, such a lovely place!” “Well, that’s nice to hear, kids grow up so fast”, the doctor smiled. “Yes, very fast. But there was still some work to be done in the house, so Gerard offered to help. He’s such a handy man, you know that.” Gerard smiled gently, tilting his head a bit sideways. “During his work, he had to get up the roof, but while he was getting up a ladder, he fell down! Right on his head!” The woman touched her soft curls. “Ouch”, said the doctor and looked at Gerard’s head with an investigative frown. “No, you won’t see a thing doctor, it’s his mind that got hurt.” Miss Clementine started to whisper, “I fear he’s broken.”   “What do you mean with broken? He seems fine to me.” “Yes, he seems fine, but there’s just one thing doctor…” The woman paused, staring at her wriggling hands. “What is it?”, the doctor asked. “Well, … Sometimes… Oh my, It’s quite embarrassing.” “Now, don’t you worry miss Clementine. Everything said here is in complete confidence and without judgement.”, the doctor reassured her. The wife looked at her husband and back at her hands. “Sometimes he… starts to shake his buttocks…” “You mean like in a dance?”, the doctor asked surprised. “No, that’s just it, Gerard never dances. I mean, take yesterday for example. I was cooking when he came home from work. Normally he would give me a kiss and watch the telly. But now, he gave me a kiss and stood behind me shaking him behind!”. “Mmmh I see”, the doctor looked at Gerard who was still smiling gently with his head slightly tilted sideways. “Maybe he’s just looking for attention?”, the man suggested. “Unless he hit and damaged a nerve during his fall of course.” Miss Clementine shifted on her chair. “That’s not all doctor… He also makes this noise. When someone’s at the door, the postman for example. Instead of just opening up, he simply stands there making this growling noise.” The doctor sat back, and started to list up all the mental illnesses in his mind.   “But that’s still not all doctor.” “Oh no?”, the doctor lifted his left eyebrow. “This morning, when I got out of the shower, Gerard was shaving himself at the sink. When he saw me in the shower, he fell on hand and knees and came crawling to me…” “Now miss Clementine,” the doctor held up his hand. “Uhm, I’m just a regular doctor, not one of those fancy new sex therapists.” “Oh no doctor! No, it was nothing sexual, I assure you. He simply licked my wet legs and started waving his buttocks again!” The woman shifted in her chair again. “However, there is one thing though…”   Hearing her tone drop, Gerard dropped his head and stared at his shoes. The doctor became weary. “You see, sometimes when I’m walking through the house, Gerard does this thing.” “This thing?” Gerard’s head was sinking deeper and deeper. “Yes, when I’m walking through the house, he comes standing beside me, and falls on his knees.” “Uhu”, the doctor nodded slowly. “And then he grabs my leg and clinches onto it, but he also makes this upwards and downwards movement. “How do you mean?” Miss Clementine looked at the doctor and whispered, “He humps on my leg doctor.” “he humps?”, the doctor asked. “Like a…” “Like a dog yes, like a dog in heat who needs a bitch. And it’s disgusting doctor. You should see the look on his face when he does it.” The woman took out her handkerchief, and dipped her forehead softly. “It’s unbearable. The noise, the licking, the humping. I can’t stand it anymore! I want my nice little Gerard back.” The doctor thought about it for a while. Gerard looked at his wife like he had just taken a beating.   “I might have a solution.” “You do doctor?”, miss Clementine leaned forward with big eyes. “Yes, we simply have to neuter him.” “Neuter him? What does that mean?” “Well, simply pluck the seeds, cut off the bollocks, remove the bricks if you will.” “I see”, the wife wondered about it. “And how will he be afterwards?” “Oh, he’ll be a lot quieter. Maybe he’ll sleep a bit more, gain a few pounds. But the humping will stop for sure. “Oh, that’s good news, isn’t it Gerard?”   The man, who had kept quiet all that time, finally jumped up. “Now wait a minute”, he yelled. “Sit down Gerard, be a good boy now”, Missed Clementine waved her finger sternly at her husband. He sat back down, staring at the ground. His wife looked back at the doctor. “How will we proceed?” “Well, we can operate tomorrow morning if you will. “The doctor started to write down the appointment in his agenda. “But might I suggest you give him some nice treats tonight? It will keep him calm.” He stood up and opened the door for the couple. “That’s a very good idea doctor. Come now Gerard, follow me.” They stood up, and Miss Clementine shook the doctor’s hand. When Gerard passed him, the doctor stroke the poor man’s hair. “Tomorrow it will all be over, don’t you worry”, he said with the most sadistic smile.

Simon Sileghem
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The Clouds

Hank pressed the bell, and not even two seconds passed before the door opened up with a cracking sound. A man appeared with a bald spot on top of his head, but long hair on the sides. He must have been close to fifty years old, was wearing a white shirt with stains on it, brown pants and black leather shoes. Taking a step back, Hank watched the man look at him with a wondering stare. He looked like he had been painting, and had been disturbed during one of his most intimate artistic endeavours.   “Yes?”, the man asked. Hank spread out his arm, and handed the man a piece of paper. “It’s for the room sir, I saw the newspaper ad.” “What…”, the man looked over the paper, and wondered through his mind. “Oh yes, the room, of course!”. He gestured Hank to come in, and stepped forward into the house. “I’m so sorry, I completely forgot about the ad”, the man said, “but yes, I do have a room for rent”.   They left the dark blue hallway and came into a living room. The walls where covered by books in oak tree bookcases. Some of the cases were divided by painting of clouds. “Oh, you’re a painter?”, Hank asked while pointing to a picture of a thundering storm. “Yes, you could say that I’m a painter”, the man smiled.   “So, this is the living room, but your room is on the second highest floor”. “And how many floors are there?”, Hank asked. “Not sure”, the man proclaimed while holding his hands in the air. “I only stay at the lowest and highest floors, not sure what happens in between.” “wait, what? You don’t know what happens in your own house?” Hank just couldn’t believe it. “Well, I know the floors are there, I just don’t know what they are used for”, the man said. “But how can you not know?” “You tell me, do you know what every mouse, every insect, every bird or every sparkle of dust does in every building you know?” “No, but..” “Then don’t assume that I know what happens on every floor of this house”, the man interrupted him. “Come on, I’ll show you your room”.   They left the living room, went back into the hallway and started ascending the stairs. Hank looked up the staircase, that looked like the deepest cave hanging upside down. How high was this house? But the man didn’t seem to notice Hank’s shock, so they continued their way upstairs in silence. After what seemed like an age, but what was only five minutes, they stood in front of a light blue door. “So, this is your room, well, if you like it of course!”.   When the man pushed down the handle and stepped into the doorway, Hank was struck by the glares of light. A big round window was placed in the northern wall of the room. It offered a splendid view of the sky. Hank could see the summer blue in between white fluffy clouds. How marvellous they seemed. They looked like a picture you might see in a museum, he thought.   The man stood in the middle of the room and spread out his arms. “So, what do you think?” Hank, still mesmerized by the big window, looked around. Just like in the living room, the walls were covered by bookcases and paintings. There were no paintings of thunderous storms, but only of bleu summer skies. The room was a gentle one. In the left corner stood a small wooden bed.   “It looks fine, splendid even! Hank couldn’t believe it. Sure, the man was weird, but the house and room looked amazing. “I’ll take it”, he said with a smile like he had just made the deal of his life. He turned to the man. “I’ll unpack right away, so my stuff won’t be in your way.” “Oh, that’s quite alright. You can take your time. I’ll just be upstairs for a while, but why don’t we have dinner together? I’ll cook something up for you.” Hank was surprised, the man didn’t really look like much of a cook, but then again, so didn’t he. “That’s nice, I’d love to. When will we eat?” “I don’t know, I don’t like to eat before it gets dark. How does 8 pm sound?” Hank was used to eating sooner, but he didn’t want to be impolite, so he said “that’s fine by me. “Okay, I’ll see you then.” The man turned around, walked out of the room and closed the light blue door behind him.   While the clouds passed by, the sun lowered itself towards earth. Time passed, and soon it was 8pm. Hank went back down, into the book-filled living room. Darkness was being chased out of the house by two lights. They gave a warm glow to the books.   The man had just set the table, when he turned to Hank. “Ah, just in time, please sit down.” Hank sat down, and watched his plate, that was filled with sausages and cream puree. It looked delicious, how can a puree be so soft and creamy? “So, if you don’t mind me asking sir, you said you are a painter. Is that all you do?” “Yes, but I’m not just an amateur, mind you. My work has been seen by the entire world.” “So, I might have seen your work is some museum?” “That depends, you could say you can see my work while being in a museum.” “How do you mean?” “Well, if you see something while staring out of a window of a museum, is that something then in that museum?” “No.. So you’re a street artist?” “I wouldn’t call myself that, it just sounds so … cliché. I mean, yes, most people see my work while walking down the street, but I’m not a guerrilla hippie with nothing else to do then painting the pavement.”   Hank couldn’t figure it out. Until now, the man had been nothing but a mystery to him. While eating another piece of cream puree, he became determined to look for answers. The semi-bald man would become a light in a dark forest.   But for now, Hank was happy to enjoy his meal. Once again he wondered about just how fluffy cream puree could be. it was like a soft southern spring sky in his mouth. When they finished their meal, the man said “so tell me, what do you think of the house?”. “It’s very nice,” Hank said “but I still have to figure out how many floors there are though.” “Oh, I wouldn’t mind that. I’ve lived here for an eternity, and I still don’t have an answer to that.” Hank sat back, and took a sip of his wine. “Just explain me if you will, how can you not know how many floors your house has?” The man chuckled. “Well, everyone has a favourite room in his house, right? I like floors. I like this floor and the highest. This is where I relax, and up there is where I work.” “And why do you work on the top floor? You must have really strong legs to walk up and down the stairs all the time.” “Yes, my legs are wonderful, believe me. But I need the height for my work, you see. The second floor wouldn’t do.” Hank thought about that one for a while. “But, why exactly do you need the height?” The man frowned, “Now young man, don’t be stupid. Every painter needs a canvas, right? That’s where mine is!”.   Hank lost it completely. “But that hasn’t got anything to do with the height? If you put your canvas on the second floor, you’d be fine!” The man sighed. “You simply don’t have the imagination to understand, and that’s a pity. How old are you?” “I’m 24 sir, but what does that have to do with it?” The man suddenly stood up, with his fists planted on the table. “See, it’s the disease of our times! 24 and already you have lost all your imagination.” The man walked round the table, stood beside Hank, raised his finger and said “Tomorrow you’ll see me work, and you’ll understand. But until then, no more questions. Good night”.   The man left the room. For a while Hank sat there and watched the cloudy darkness out of the window. He felt sleepy, so he got up and made his way up the long stairs. In his room, he closed the curtains from the big round window and got into bed. He fell asleep instantly.   The next morning, Hank woke up at a huffing and puffing sound. What on earth is that? “When you get your rigid mind out of your bed, come join me on the top floor. There’s no time to waste in the morning”, he heard the old man shout through the light blue door. Hank heard the man pause for a while and then the huffing and puffing sound started again. He got up and spread out his arms. A pity, the bed is so soft. I wonder where he got it from, Hank thought.   He made his way up the stairs and stopped before a white door. This is it, now I’ll finally know what the hell is going on here. Hank knocked on the door, and heard the man stammering “Come on in, mmpff!” He opened the door and saw the bald spot of the man going up and down. The guy was doing push ups! After two more times going up and down, he jumped up on his legs. “No need to be surprised young man. When you paint, you need strength. You need to be a force against the powerful paintbrush”. Hank smiled. Obviously, the man was a looney, a simpleton. But when he looked away, he watched the room in full amazement. There were no books or paintings covering the walls here. they were simple splattered with paint. But what struck him most, was that the northern wall was made of glass. The window had massive wooden frames, made out of oak tree, Hank noticed. it looked out over the morning sky. it was still dark, but a lonesome cloud was hovering next to the house. A tiny companion to the mighty sea of stars.   Hank saw the man crossing the room towards the window. He spread out his arms and started pushing the wooden frames. With a gentleness that surprised Hank, the window opened up. “It’s spectacular huh”, the man said. “I have never gotten used to the sight. It’s just too beautiful.” A soft breeze filled the room, but the man didn’t seem to notice. He took some cardboards and divided them over the floor. Then he started to pour out tubes of paint on them. Each colour had his own place. First white, then yellow, afterwards blue and finally black. “But where is your canvas? You said you needed this floor just for your canvas?”, Hank asked “Still you don’t see it, just wait”, and the man took up his paintbrush. First he pushed it heavily in white, spread it over a vacant cardboard and then dipped the brush gently in black. With a patience only old people and artists have, he began mixing the colours. It became light grey. Then he pointed the brush to the sky and started moving it. “What…”, Hank shook his head. “Now just wait! have some patience dammit!”, the man cursed.   As the brush moved over nothing but the air, a soft grey form appeared. It looked to Hank like a pillow someone just slept on. “You see, I paint the sky”, the man said with a smile. He started colouring in the pillow. He added some dark touches, which gave it some depth. “But… I mean… How does it stay up there?”, Hank asked with a bewildered gaze. “It stays up there, because I painted it there. But wait, the best is yet to come”. When the cloud was done, the man put aside his brush, watched his creation and simply blew on it. The pillow slowly moved out of the window, like when you walk to the toilet in the middle of the night.   That can’t be, he must have drugged me. The dirty bastard is probably playing some tricks on me while I’m fast asleep. Wake up Hank, goddammit! “I see you still don’t believe it”, the old man started cleaning his brush with an old cloth. “But this cloud will be taken by the western winds, all over the world you know.” He put down the cloth on a nearby table. “So you see, I didn’t really lie when I told you my work has been seen by the entire world.”   Hank stood amazed by what he had seen. The freshly painted cloud floated next to the house. It would begin its journey over the entire world. Pass through storms and keep the moon company is pure silence that only true friends can appreciate. Outside the house, the sun rose like a sleepy child, slow and warm. Life had just started over for Hank, even though he didn’t know it yet.   The man stood by the window. He closed his eyes halfway, as the sunlight came into the room. Suddenly they could see all the dust particles hovering in the light. Hank came closer to the man. “I don’t understand. Does this mean that every cloud I’ve seen in my life was painted by you?” “Most people don’t get it, but clouds are silent witnesses to their lives. The first time you kissed a girl, and looked up to the sky with the feeling you don’t need anything else, a cloud was there. When thunderstorms came into your head as a loved one died, and you sit hurled away in your room, the clouds see your sadness as they pass your house. They are the most intimate pieces of art you’ll ever see.”   “You know what the most beautiful thing is about clouds?”, the man walked away from the window and picked up his paintbrush. “Their beauty lies in their form. No one will ever see the same cloud. You might see a duck in it, as you lack the imagination, but others might see a white cherry tree in full blossom. Something that helps them through the day. A storming wave over the land that inspires them to unknown symphonies and poetic activities.”   The man dipped his brush in the white and yellow paint. “It feels like a good day, doesn’t it? Time for some colour to brighten the mood.”

Simon Sileghem
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Tip

Lost in the Alps

Snow fell over the dark, night time Alps. The stars, that are always more beautiful the higher you go, were blocked by winter clouds. The man stood guard along the ridges of one mountaintop. It served as an outpost, from where he could see the enemy’s trenches. The snow had halted the war, or at least the great offensives. Nothing would happen tonight, the man thought, but he could not hope it would remain so for the rest of the war. The dying of men was a discomforting pleasure to some, the man thought. And it seemed they would not give up their bloody addiction any time soon. As the wind blew up snowy dust, the man closed his eyes almost completely. It was cold, but the soldier was at ease. There was a silence at the outpost, and to a soldier’s ear, silence was the most beautiful noise. No shots that silenced the golden eagle soaring over the mighty snow peaks. No cannons that overwhelmed the crushing thunder of distant avalanches. After standing in the cold for two hours, his guard duty was over. He returned to his little shelter. To ordinary people, the shelter was just a hole in the ground. But to the soldier’s eyes, it was home, and the trenches that covered the south side of the Alps had become a neighbourhood of fighting men. When the man crawled into his small home, he lit the gasoline lamp and sat down at the improvised desk. It was time to write to Anna. She lived in the brown gold Tuscan sea of farmland. He had written her countless letters, and when he read her answers, there seemed to be no distance between the cold Alps and the fertile Tuscan soil. He took his pencil. It was sharpened carefully, and was now a small witness to his words of love. His letters to Anna always started with the same words. “My little olive orchard”. They had met in an orchard with spring blossoms. It was, as he told her numerous times, the symbol of Italy. “I hope you are doing well, and that the war hasn’t touched our small village.” He knew the war wasn’t fought in Tuscany, otherwise he wouldn’t be on top of the Alps. But what do you write in times of war? “The snow has halted the fighting, but it won’t last. When the winter landscape melts away, the hearts of war loving men grow cold. And we are left with the warm barrels of our rifles, but the icy feeling of killing fellow men.” “I don’t know when I will see you again. But when I do, our hands will no longer be separated. There will be no sigh of wind between our chests, or floods of dark thoughts between our minds.” “How I need you Anna. Out here, on these forgotten mountains, it feels like I’m touched by the cold of the moon. I don’t know what people in the backcountry really know about us. It feels like we are in the middle of the ocean, with the coastline far away. Nobody to see, and nobody to help us.” “How is it Anna, that sometimes a heart can be surrounded by barbed wire? Isn’t it terrible sight to see my body so divided by trenches.? They say it’s our duty. That we fight for a greater cause. But when great men say that the faith of humankind rests upon the barrel of a gun, you know there’s something wrong.” He sat back for a while. How can a man just sit there and do it all again the next day? He felt like he was touched by the cold of the moon. Standing up, he grabbed a blanket from his bed and hung it over him. The gasoline lamp flickered through the small room. He missed her. He sat back down, and started writing again. “I don’t know how we are led to sail away on this darkened moonlight. Tell me what it is Anna, that keeps me from you? I can no longer see or hear without you, I need you. Away from these frozen mountains that steel the love of so many doubtful men.” “Let me be, back in your Tuscan hands. Can’t they see I want the warm soil back under my cold soles? For you I would fly off this mountain… But forget it Anna. This war has no place for hope. I only know that when I sleep, I feel your touch and smell your hair. And even though it’s not much, it’s a slice of life that feeds my hunger. I will see you again, either during these lonely nights, or in warm Tuscan days.” He stopped writing, stood up, and dressed himself up. Then he left his little house, moved up to the outpost and stood on top of the trenches. He only saw the white landscape and Austrian lines. He spread his arms and yelled “if I die, the silent whispering words of love have lost all their power”.

Simon Sileghem
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