My name begins with the first letter of the alphabet and it’s a scream, a faltering, a falling, a promise of a B and a C that can’t exist in the absence of historical causality. It’s a mistake to think that people who go through the same things will come out together on the other side. I know a lot of people whose lives have followed the same path as mine, but their faces are differently hewn; they wear different clothes, play musical instruments, eat pickled herrings at their parents’ every Sunday and manage to sleep through the night afterwards; they have jobs, buy flats, holiday in the south and return at the end of the summer to a place they call home. I’m not like that; I feel unable to state anything with certainty, to adopt a point of view, develop a voice of my own, a voice that would speak for me. A clear-cut ‘Я’.
For me, time is a turntable. Images blur before my eyes, and over and over I guess how things might have looked, guess the names of streets I’ve never set foot in, of city stairways and empty boats. I try not to mix up the people whose names repeat themselves down the centuries.
I make up new characters in the same way that I piece together old ones. I imagine my brother’s life, imagine him doing all the things I can’t do, see him setting off into the world because he has the courage I’ve always lacked. I miss him.
And what did I do when I thought he was calling me, when I got this sign? I misread all the signals. I hung back, trod warily, did all I could to numb my tension and bury it inside me. I lay down on a sofa, willing it to eat me up. I hardly moved; I waitedfor what is waiting if not hope?
Tr. Imogen Taylor