MEETING A STRANGER

 

Nature kept pounding down upon the earth as if enraged by our insolence and lack of respect towards her. Fueled by our disregard and her need to cleanse away the layers of concrete that imprisoned her beauty, she sounded her fury and wept on. I stood among the many that had grown annoyed by the sorry spectacle, shielding themselves from nature’s pleas to seek shelter, from where they could ignore her until exhaustion drove her silent once more.

I forced my way through the whimpering multitude, towards shivering doors and hesitant bodies quickly stepping over the threshold, and instantly releasing myself from the suffocation brought about by walls. The cold wetness engulfed me and soaked swiftly through my clothes until it stung my skin and stole the warmth from my essence, yet proved to be far too kind a punishment in return to what my kind and I have done to her. Her burning breath and gentle slaps felt much like those of a lover whose love would still not heed the desires of her broken heart.

I followed the gale’s tender tugging at my clothing pretending knowing where the stream of tears that ran at my feet was leading me to. Yet as I stood within sight of the valley, like a bright star engulfed by an artificial blackness, her magnificence seemed to burst through me, sucking away the poisoned mist within my lungs and fill me with her own living breath. How could I have replaced the house in which I had existed for the home I felt this place to be?

I ran barefoot, for I would not allow myself to infect the earth with man’s perversion in desiring to separate ourselves from everything natural, and as I came to the bank I became mesmerized once more, joining the ranks of wise trees as they bowed low in her presence. For a mere moment the heavens seemed to open up before me, blinding the darkness, to vanish into the nothingness just as swiftly as it came. Then she let out a deafening cry that echoed through the ground and amplified the silence that followed.

The stranger had been beside me long before I had sensed the light presence. Yet surprisingly I felt no alarm or uneasiness, and when I finally forced myself to glance at the stranger, my heart fell silently stunned.

She stood barefoot facing the storm with warm dark eyes, grayed at the sight before us. Black rivers of tears seemed to engrave her pale face and lips, blue with cold and sadness that portrayed her cry. Her long brown curls traced her curves and danced around her body, clad only by a simple pale dress that stuck to her and seemed to fade into her skin. Skin that felt like the ethereal drapes of the heavens, which lived like wind and light. Fiery surf seemed to glide underneath it, breathing and beating like a touchable spirit.

Then she looked at me and smiled, instantly breaking the barriers of my pride, as I felt a tear, bearing the anger that had consumed me for so long, join the countless others that had been shed by the sky. And as I fell into her gaze, the silver outline of her pupil seemed to burst and shred into the darkness of her iris and the tiny teardrops that rested gently on her eyelashes tore through light as knife through flesh and heart. I could feel the last drops of rain break upon me and the clouds slow retreat and I wondered how meeting a stranger was all it took to save me.

 

MEETING A STRANGER, by the viewpoint of contributor Luqa Galea*, translated by the viewpoint of Gianlluca Simi

Read it in Portuguese.

Read more of our short stories in our Acervo.

*Luqa Galea studies Nursing at the University of Malta (L’Università ta’ Malta)