She falls quietly in silence. That’s how she does it in any case. Slowly slipping from twilight to evening, and without a breath she becomes night. In complete solitude. Will the night be sad? I think she is, despite the colourful lights of the neon signs and men’s pathetic attempts to turn her on. She remains on the sidelines watching, observing, smiling, feeling sorry for them. I understand the night. Because she’s like me. Not just because I am always dressed in black and my hair, my nails, my lips and the bags under my eyes are the colour of darkness; it is because I really understand her. She lives inside of me. I am the night. And she is me. It was from the moment I lost everything that I understood. Nothing else could penetrate my pain and stick to it so well.
I was not always like this. I’ve had my moments of light. I have felt an intense fullness within me that almost made me burst. I was satisfied. Love and life. And perhaps precisely because of it, I felt uncomfortable. I lived that fullness like a yoke. An inappropriate swelling that made me light and heavy at the same time. I do not know how to explain it… I was too happy. And you know that you cannot stand it for too long. After a while it becomes difficult to sustain. You almost hope that it comes to an end and that a little suffering will creep in to alleviate that burden and make you regret it.
She arrived one spring day. It could not have been a more appropriate time. The sun was about to set at dusk, there was a warm and subtle breath of the sirocco and the excitement of an upcoming trip. I was laughing. And running, then slowing down, then jumping on the footpath like a child playing hop scotch. I had the world at my feet: a great job, a welcoming home, a man who loved me. And finally a trip. The two of us, after all this time. Alone. In a beach resort. I had just came out of the agency with the tickets. He had called me to ask me where I was. I did not tell him. I wanted it to be a surprise. I would have gone home, I would have cooked for him, set the table with a tablecloth, two place settings and a candle; I would have hidden the tickets under the napkin. He would have looked at the destination and would have laughed with joy. The weight of all that happiness almost choked me. Can you die of happiness?
It was while I was thinking this that I saw them. Giacomo and Roberta. My great love and my best friend. They were together and it was not strange that they were. We were always together, the three of us. Inseparable. I told her everything, I gave him all of myself. They were on the other side of the road, I had seen them. They were talking, deep in a conversation of their own. I would have run to reach them. And that day could not have been more beautiful.
Cars sped by on the road while the evening lights already lit up the sky, still blue and very reluctant to give way to the dark. The angry roar of the engines drowned out my voice which called out to my beloved ones. I raised my hand, I tried to catch their attention but they didn’t seem to care about the world around them. Their conversation had become gloomy now, their faces sad and excessively worried. I ventured forth and took on the ugly mugs of the cars, grimacing aggressively as they sped by, and plunged into the traffic. I ignored the high-pitched blasts of the car horns and managed to get to the footpath on the other side. I would have caught them, I would have surprised them, I…
I can’t say what I felt. That ‘s when the night descended inside me. At first the darkness went through me from side to side. Then it began to invade me. Intimately. I felt so light! Gone was the fullness, gone was the satiation. Even that bloated, suffocating feeling of joy. Only the lightness of pain.
I must have fainted, because afterwards I heard tell that all of a sudden I lost my footing and fell on top of one of those ugly mugs speeding over the asphalt. They say mine was a fine fall, I hit one car first and then another, and then I finally landed on the footpath. Still alive but devoid of movement. And now I’m here. Lying in this bed, motionless, with many tubes entering my body. But I do not feel anything. I’m fine. Now I’m more free. I can get up, leave behind those heavy parts of me that don’t want follow, and go wherever I choose. I can go anywhere! But I do not want to go anywhere. The only place I want to be is with them, my beloved ones.
I saw them, just as I fell. So close, almost intertwined. In a sordid and lustful kiss. Giacomo and Roberta. My love. Together. Secretly. And who knows for how long. Lovers? Almost certainly. At that precise moment I understood many things. Those calls of Roberta’s at night. She was late, she felt she was going mad with fear: a child no, I simply can’t have a child, she was saying. And any excuse was good to ask him, my Giacomo, who was a doctor and could give her advice. And he … during the past days, silence, evasive answers, abruptly getting up from table and slamming doors.
“It’s nothing, its just that I have a lot of problems at the hospital” he replied when I asked. I believed him.
But now that the night has come to embrace me, I can seek them out and tickle their light sleep. You should see them now, in bed together, hugging each other tight, happy like two children in a cot. How many years have passed? I stopped counting them a long time ago. After showing the world that they mourned me, the got married – to honour me – they said to all my friends. And they named their first daughter after me. How sweet! How lovely they are … my beloved.
I have found that I can move things. Not much, just something small, lightweight. I can breathe out a gentle breeze and raise a blind, slightly open a window, throw open a door and then slam it shut. I can send the newspaper flying in a cheeky, gentle flight and pull the blanket off their bodies, warmed by the last embrace.
I can slide the night onto my fingertips, stroke their skin and introduce it into their minds, and so give them a taste of how kind and stimulating the discomfort can be. How liberating pain can be.
Roberta is the most receptive of the three. She immediately senses me approaching their alcove. She sits on the edge of the bed and tries to grab the blanket, bringing it close to her chest, while screaming and shaking. James is a bit more difficult, but he is a pragmatic man, he never listened to my ideas on the night, now he gets angry with her too because she seems to have welcomed my dark witness.
I tickle the soles of the feet of the baby girl who is sleeping in the cot or, sometimes, I push her all the way down to the end and she gets stuck between the slats. The child awakens and cries, cries, cries. What music to my ears, the fearful weeping of a little angel. And it is then that Roberta becomes agitated. She runs to the cot, takes the child in her arm and then screams my name. Curses me. And I am grateful, because all that is negative nourishes me. It helps me to become strong, to become better at interacting with them.
“I’m sick of seeing you like this! You, too, with those pale cheeks, bags under your eyes, these blue lips, don’t you see how skinny you’ve become? You look like her …. you are becoming her! ”
And Roberta looks at him with empty and gleaming eyes. Trying to rebel, to deny it. She does not know that the night is silent and powerful. It slides with ease, inexorably. She, too, will know soon. And she will keep on asking, without finding an answer: will the night be sad?
Translation by Amneris Di Cesare (edited by Ester Tossi)