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The Land of Broken Things

And in the last few years it seems as if everything had changed and nothing would ever be as it was. The silent nights have grown longer, darker, emptier.

And the darkness. The same darkness that once sang them lullabies, is now a stranger. Its heavy layers of hostility resting on the roofs of the sleeping houses, subduing them, ever so slowly, in their stubborn, thorough demeanor, separating the skies above from the dreams below, which suddenly seem so small, so neglected.

And the walls. Those cement walls, which once stood strong and tall, stand still in their misery, barely releasing the heat they had captured by day, cracking more and more with every breeze of cool wind.

And the crickets. That beautiful cricket melody from those distant childhood summer nights is now echoing somewhere in outland, distant and foreign.

And the fatigue. That eternal fatigue slowing the pulse and hurting the eyes, deprives them of slumber, of using their hearts, of feeling. Were they always so tired? They can’t seem to remember.

And the sadness. That gruesome sadness which feeds on their always-present loss, only seems to grow bigger and stronger with every passing day, so much, that it becomes their everything.

And the loneliness. That loneliness which never forgets to pop for a visit and forces its way into their living rooms; living rooms which were once full of joy, laughter, and light. How the smell of freshly-baked pastries caressed them as they listened to the guests’ chatter, to the low humming sounds coming from the old movies which were playing on TV.

And the lights. Those powerful artificial lights shedding their pale sickening glow, reveal new wrinkles engraved on the skin and wet scars left by bitter sobs. The suffocating worrisome accumulates underneath dying eyes, sinking in between those delicate folds of skin.

And the speech. That syllable-less speech pushing itself into their conversations, making it pointless to try and converse.

And the touch. That cold, hollow touch of the hands on the neck, on the shoulders, trying indifferently to convince that everything would be alright. All it takes is a little patience and faith. There is no point to all of this without faith, is there?

And the days have grown longer as well, granting them that blessed rest; that coveted escape from those hideous thoughts haunting them at night. Hour after hour of make believe, day after day, but no one is questioning, no one is wondering, no one is resisting. It’s just the way life is around here. What’s the point in changing something which isn’t changeable? Many had tried in the past and many had failed.

No. Nothing could be worse than that hope they cling to, refusing to let go even after all these years. They can hear its roots growing weaker, of course they can. Soon, there will be nothing to hold on to. Its old moldy remains will crumble in their hands and the abyss below, patiently waiting for them to fall, will finally have its way and linger over its victory, as they come crashing down in their despair, angry and betrayed.

Try as they may, once, twice, thousands of times, they will never feel those gentle strokes of a wind long gone. Those surprise breezes in childhood summers which had crept through the open windows, sending cool shivers of delight onto their smooth young skin as they sat on the chilled floor, their childish mouths colored in a phosphoric purple from their favorite popsicle.

No. Those enchanted silent early afternoon hours, when they listened to the dry autumn wind lift up the red-yellow-orange leaves from the pavement, imagining the foliage rolling weightlessly in the sky and daring to day-dream about the future which awaits, about the life, which anxiously waits for them to live it. No, those hours shall not return.

No. Those bedtime moments of innocence, when shooting stars reflected from their window could answer their heart’s most secret desire. No, those moments shall not return.

And the silence. The silence they remember. Did it ever exist? Was it their naive imagination? Could it be that they once lived without wars? Without being so afraid?

And today? The open windows refuse to let the air in and the fear spins its invisible webs, capturing the words they all want to say but can’t and the bitter truth, which is denied by all.

And the memories? The old memories are quietly being devoured, leaving behind them spreading stains of blindness.

And they know. They know they will forever remain broken, with no one to gather the pieces; with no one to glue them back together. They, the fractions of men, are now walking in the streets, bent over, shameful eyes, wondering if there are other lands out there, in the great big world, which are not broken? Where they could have a fresh start? Where they could forget it all and breathe. Just breathe? And what are they to do? Run? Leave and never look back? No, only cowards run away, and they are, after all, anything but cowards. They refuse to be.

Never again will they be complete and, truth be told, they don’t want that. What are they without their fractures? Every crack, every bone-cleaving fracture is already a part of their flesh, their skin, their blood. What shall they do if there is no one to be angry at? If there is no one to blame? And in the land of broken things, those who are to blame are always present, are always there, breaking whatever comes their way: an old magnifying glass from science class, a scratched mirror up in the attic, a delicate porcelain which was once somebody’s wedding gift, grandma’s favorite glass, and people. Even people.

And in the land of broken things people don’t remember any more. They don’t remember how it was, many years ago, when they were still unbroken and the earth beneath their feet didn’t burn.

Note to reader: This piece was translated from Hebrew. I let myself break quite a few grammatical rules here in order to convey the idea and atmosphere of the original piece.

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