by Alina Noir
Marion #01 “Soon after I became the satellite of her daily universe”
Just as a medieval scientist could not draw up the chronicle of a
solar eclipse without abusing mathematical data and astronomical
foreseeing, I myself cannot write about
differently than in the awkwardness and the imperfections of my
memories of her: for example, I remember for sure that, when I first
saw her, my blood flourished and covered the world.
She appeared from nowhere, without the normal echoes of remoteness
in her steps: she was so small that, rolled up, she could have fit
in one of my eye orbits. She made her way, apologetic, through the
hushed clients of that obscure railway station cafe with panelled
walls and heavy furniture, in which, for the last few hours, I had
waited for my train to take me further.
She sat at my table without asking anything,
monstrously beautiful and smelling of perfumed soap,
with phosphorescent glitter in her hair and a drop of honey on her
with gracious neck and icy hands,
stubborn and rebel,
fertile and with humid womb,
with lilaceous skin and eyes solemn as a funeral convoy,
with bones delicate as a baby bird’s and mysterious deep scars on
her left arm, as if only some hours before she had taken off the
numerous heavy lead bracelets which she had worn since early
a poor teenager, indecent in her lasting loneliness,
who looked at me deeply,
erased with her finger the mark of the red lipstick on my cup
and told me, alarmed and without any introduction, as if it was an
alchemical mystery, this story:
“Once there was a swamp in the centre of the city, surrounded by
thick reeds, in which wild ducks and herons made their nests. People
cut the reeds and drained the swamp, and then they put gravel on the
ground and built houses and roads. Every summer, wild ducks and
herons fly madly over the city, looking, though the fog, for their
I diminished and trembled and petrified and looked for refuge in the
warm comfort of common sense, and then shook my head and answered:
“Who told you all this nonsense? As far as I know, there was never a
swamp in this city, or even in the entire region. The soil here is
Marion looked surprised; she did not expect to be contradicted, as
she had put a lot of nostalgia and maturity in her dishonest story;
I caressed her cheek with the back of my hand and I added:
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to offend you. I’ve been in this city for
two days only, I’m an architect, I just happen to know a thing or
two about soils, that’s all...”
Strange thoughts were already flowing between our eyes, like sand in
an hourglass, to and fro.
Of course, afterwards I put together many versions and myths of our
first meeting, and what I just wrote might be untrue, fabricated by
“Very soon this place will be full of a strange fauna, drunkards and
hookers, she said, let’s better go to my place, you’ll like it
there, it’s not that far.”
We stood up and walked along the labyrinth streets, spying together
on the unpredictable silhouette of our beginning.
We stopped in front of a sombre building with high windows, on top
of Rue de la Cathédrale.
“I live here, on the top floor.”
We climbed the spiral staircase, to her flat. She opened the big
blue door and let me in.
I smiled. All of a sudden, we had nothing to say to each other. In
the dark, I kissed her eyelids.
After some hours I entered in ecstatic trance and saw Marion on the
seashore, surrounded by warm fog. From the other shore came a
diffuse voice, calling:
“Take fire wings and come to me!”
At the end, Marion caressed my hair, turned on a coloured lamp and
went to the kitchen to make a tea, or a coffee, I can’t remember.
Soon after I became the satellite of her daily universe, and stayed
in that apartment for a certain amount of unlimited time, though
every day I would promise to myself “This has to stop, this will not
Marion #02 „The
goddess of perfume was watching us through her half-open eyelids”
It was a cold, bright morning. The spring equinox was approaching,
with its invasion of foreign insects. We were drinking peppermint
tea, with lots of sugar, and we were kissing, surrounded by
transparent curtains and cushions wrapped in luxurious fabric. On
the radio, the weather forecast for the following days was
announcing wind and rain. Marion tattooed on her lungs our zodiac
“I want to be beautiful for you, just for you”, she said.
“I don’t believe you. I saw you yesterday looking with envy at the
strolling dancers passing on the street with their music and happy
Marion looked down and covered her pubis with her palms.
I made a sublime and wide gesture of disgust, but I happened to hit
an oriental porcelain ashtray, which fell on the floor and broke.
Marion got furious, as it was a souvenir from a trip she had made
several years before she met me.
“How many times did I ask you to take care of this ashtray? How many
times did I tell you you’re going to break it?”
To show her how sorry I was, I took off my shoes and walked on the
Marion washed the blood on my feet and nurtured my skin with soft
cream of perfumed essential oils.
“I almost killed you, she whispered to me in her mind, but, as I do
not believe in humans’ justice, I clustered myself in my own prison,
and I only feed myself old bread and stale water...”
“Don’t be afraid, I answered, and I don’t question your deeds, just
tell me what you think is good for me to know...”
During all this time, the goddess of perfume was watching us through
her half-open eyelids, immobile on her marble pedestal.
Marion #03 “The goddess of circus never let us down.”
I went with Marion to the bank, to open a deposit account. The
financial counsellor gave us a charming secretarial speech and
Marion grew an interest in him.
After a while she ran away from me, leaving me alone and furious
like that warrior without arms whom I once saw in an old Japanese
print depicting an incomprehensible war scene.
I sent a famous artist a recent photo of her, as well as a detailed
description of her body. After some days I received by post a long a
heavy parcel. Inside there was a wax doll with porcelain eyes and
human hair, which looked exactly like Marion. I sat the doll on the
couch, I dressed her in a vaporous cape made from the old silken
wallpaper I had torn down from the walls of the apartment, and I
notched on its forehead’s arch some mysterious signs. Then I kissed
it and humiliated it.
Then I left as well. I was sitting in expectation at the margins of
life, reading the matrimonial ads in the old newspapers I found in
the garbage bins. I was spending my days on the stone steps of the
cathedral in the centre of the city, my elbows leaning on my knees,
looking, with inflamed eyes, at the passers-by. The sun was moving
in straight arches above me, aging prematurely my already ugly
One day, Marion sat next to me and rested her head on my left
shoulder until my fear and uncertainty mummified. She arranged with
her palms her skirt’s folds, took me by the hand and brought me back
home, where she pulled the curtains together. In the living room,
the nightfall light became viscous.
I waited for her on the couch, smoking with my eyes closed and
caressing the wax doll’s knee.
opened the door and emerged from the penumbra, a frozen smile on her
lips, wearing an old imperial dress of mouldy lace and decayed
ribbons, her hair adorned with feathers of rare exotic birds and
small wooden fish.
I put out my cigarette on the doll’s wax flesh, I unbuttoned my
shirt and laid on the couch.
took my shoes off and kissed the scarred wounds on the soles of my
feet. I took her by the shoulders, I pulled her towards me, and I
unfastened her corset. We were shrouded in a dazzling mousse of
veils and laces, we were two breezy twins, with paper skin, isolated
at the horizon of a arid sky.
In the morning, when I woke up, I was afraid of mediocrity. Marion
held me tight in her arms and comforted me, and later woke up and
went to make coffee. I was looking at her legs through her
In the evening we went to the circus. A pregnant trapeze artist,
dressed in a glitter dress, started her show with an easy dance in
the air, because of her weightlessness I thought she was wearing a
false belly. Suspended in the air, she took off with one hand her
glitter panties, and executed a perfect split with her legs. Through
the dark, humid hole appeared the baby’s head, who slithered
smoothly and rotated in the air, hanging by the umbilical chord.
“Why is the baby not crying,
“I don’t know”, she answered, filling her mouth with caramelised
At the end of the show, the audience applauded, intrigued. We came
back every night, until the circus left the city. The goddess of
circus never let us down.
Marion#04 “In her dream, she steps on dead leaves rotting in the
Once a week Marion
organises in our living room her now-famous cocktail parties,
intimate and elegant, to which she invites erudite academics,
scientists, fashion designers, artists, explorers.
She writes the
invitations on delicate paper, with black ink she makes herself from
the ash of the rice she burns on the terrace in the honour of the
Goddess of Southerly Wind.
Our guests come
one by one, climb the wooden spiral staircase, knock at our door and
enter, timorous, into the living room.
bringing Marion a timid and respectful present: freshly cut flowers,
black chocolate with lavender cream, collector’s old bottles of red
wine, cigars, abstract paintings (which we take out of their frames
and put on top of the others in one high drawer of our wardrobe, so
that they would not occupy our space), embroidered shawls, toys made
of precious metal.
The guests sit on
armchairs around Marion, trying to be as close to her as possible.
Our rule is as
follows: each of them can talk without the others having the right
to interrupt him, but if one tries to touch her, I sting his hand
with a long, pointed needle, though I am always terrified of their
Marion holds in
her palms an hourglass, measuring the guests’ speeches.
Once, an erudite
academic, interrupted in the middle of his diatribe by the fall of
the last grain of sand, flew apart violently, trying to break the
hourglass. I had to sting his palms many times, until he calmed
down, and he was never again received to our cocktail parties,
though for a while he kept sending us, by post, photocopies of his
articles published in prestigious academic magazines, in which he
was advancing audacious theories, or simple letters of threat
destined to me. Nobody was mentioning his name, but his example
remained deeply imprinted in the guests’ memory. His image, crushed
on the floor stained by the blood flowing from his palms, horrified
them all, in some cooling their sensuous impulses, and in others, on
the contrary, interiorising them to the point of mad obsession. They
were all living in the same geometrical delirium; we were all in
love with Marion.
eyelashes creep out of her lids like ivy, cover themselves in
vegetal flakes and become like snakes, of an elastic woodenness.
Blinded by her beauty, the guests, with burned eyes, grab the ivy
branches and crawl on the floor towards her pupils. They putrefy her
sight, perforate with their nails the soft tissues, and take shelter
in the warm substance under her crystal skull, exploding in frenetic
squeals. And then, every so often, Marion raises peacefully her
velvet skirt, allowing the brainless trajectory of their gaze to
rest on her narrow hips smelling like hot toast. While they grease
her hips with salted butter and bite them with voracious appetite,
she plays with a long necklace of black Tahitian pearls, staring in
the distance at the phosphorescent cathedral.
At the end, when
everybody leaves, I sweep the bread crumbs and store them on a
copper vase, and then I wash the coffee cups and the traces of
saliva, sperm and tears off the floor.
I raise Marion in
my arms and carry her in the bedroom. She falls asleep
instantaneously amidst putrid flower petals, and leaves me alone. In
her dream, she steps on dead leaves rotting in the rain, through the
palpable flesh of the autumn.
Marion is the
guardian of the virtues of silence and of the death of words, but
when she does not desire me, her body looks to me as an ugly statue,
covered in purple velvet, or like a cemetery of old bicycles,
enclosed in an artificial bamboo forest.
Marion stores, in a drawer of our wardrobe, dwindling livers of
migrating birds, bought on the street from a thin monk with eyes
gone astray like jelly-fish, who was crunching an old bread loaf and
was secretly watching the denuded flesh of the women passing by.
Marion#05 “The goddess of music, ailing and torn, kissed my right
At the end of summer we went on vacation, in a fishing village near
the ocean, to enjoy the last days of sun. There was no hotel in that
isolated place, so we rented a room in the house of an old lady who
was spending her days on the veranda, sewing rubber raincoats for
the fishermen. She was cooking for us three times a day, each meal
consisting of the same salty molluscs and vegetable soup; that’s why
our lips were always cracked, and our kisses tasted like blood and
From the only shop in the village we bought cigarettes, much cheaper
than in the city, dry biscuits, coffee, peppermint candies, and
makeup cleansing tissues. We would up late, have our breakfast, take
our shower with cold rain water, exchange some words with the old
lady, and go to the beach. We werelying for hours on the beach
covered with white, oval, smooth pebbles, watching how the
fishermen’s boats went on and came back from the sea. They had grown
used to us and they were smiling when seeing us.
One morning, Marion took off her wristwatch and rotated quickly the
hour hand, until time started screaming from all its joints and the
sun hurried its trajectory on the sky, towards the zenith. We leaned
on our backs, our shoulders touching. Seagulls were crossing the
sky, the beach smelled of seaweed and putrid fish.
A mature woman with very long hair and velvety and receptive face
features approached us. She was dressed in black and her wrists were
adorned with thick copper bracelets. She started to talk to us
politely, with a foreign accent. She was a Greek singer who had left
years before her home country. She had come for some days in that
village to collect her thoughts after the loss of a very dear female
friend. She did not want to tell us more, and we respected her
She liked our company very much, and she would come every evening to
visit us. We would stay in the old woman’s garden until the night
was falling, drinking tea and smoking. Sometimes she was singing for
us her songs resembling outlandish vocal calligraphies, which I
would accompany with my guitar. In her songs, she was singing about
the lost island of her childhood. Marion did not understand the
words, and I could not translate them to her, because some things
can only be told in the language in which they were lived.
In the language in which she was leading her unusual loneliness, the
woman told me, almost singing, about the loss of her dear friend.
“You know, agapi mou, that since I decided to dedicate my life to
music, I have never drunk my fill from anything on this earth, not
even plain water. Too many knotty roots had my soul, and each of
them was tortured by countless desires. Only my friend made me feel
replete. All I needed was to be with her, and maybe the ancient gods
got angry. One unexpected morning the sun rose in millions of rays
from her broken skull. I was petrified, my ears were still hearing
the echoes of the blood exploding from her skull. Since that moment,
the time’s hands are rotating too fast for me. Take care”, she told
me, looking meaningfully at Marion, who was rotating her watch’s
hands, half bored, half furious, half childlike.
After a long silence, during which we all listened to the waves, the
goddess of music, ailing and torn, kissed my right temple, shook
Marion’s hand, passed her fingers on the cords of my guitar, and
We smoked one more cigarette and then went to bed, without talking,
because we were reconciled with ourselves and with one another.
All of a sudden, in my dream, from Marion’s broken skull rose a big
artificial sun with tiresome light. I opened my eyes and, after some
seconds, the light rose to the ceiling, leaving me blind and
holding the lantern, glided down from me, and ran outside.
I dressed hastily and followed her on the beach, where the lifeless
body of the Greek woman was resting on the sand, surrounded by
silent fishermen. When they saw us arriving, they moved aside,
whispering to each other. We kneeled down near our friend, smoothing
down her wet clothes and sprinkling sand on her cement lips. We
watched her till morning, when the police arrived.
In the last night spent in the fishing village, while caressing her
toast hips, I murmured to
in the language in which the singer had relieved her last thirst:
“I am your unseen prison, agapi mou, and I hide from everybody’s
sight your delicate skin made of precious glass. I will cut with the
razor blade your fragile wrists and you will flow slowly from your
own body, in waves of red, liquid lace. In the morning the old woman
will find us, she will call the fishermen, and after some hours, the
ambulance’s sirens will cover the seagulls’ screams.”
In the semi-darkness,
stopped smiling, and answered:
“Not today, next time, tomorrow we must go to the city, we have so
many things to do, we stayed for too long here...”
After some weeks, in a rainy day of late, mouldy autumn tasting of
bitter nutmeg, we went out to walk on the streets covered in ashy
mud of the unknown neighbourhoods.
On a platform near a half-demolished building an old dog was
“Do you think he’s dead?”
Above us were flying without direction hungry seagulls and late
In a garden, on the branches of a half-dead chestnut tree were
sleeping cicadas, with madrigals incrusted under their shells. One
century of dead leaves was lying on the ground.
Two streets away we met the keeper of the sewer pipe.
“Here lays the city’s soul”, she said, and hit three times with her
foot the manhole cover.
Later we went to visit the museum of the military aviation.
“Why did you bring me here? It’s so boring.”
“That’s exactly why. I want to make love to you in a boring place,
with few visitors.”
Still, the few tourists, flattered by the free show, were coming
close, photographing us with their cheap cameras, and then leaving
without saying a word.
Marion#06 “Our zodiac signs were hidden under pillows”
I lay on the couch and I smoke. At my feet, Marion is looking at me
with half-open lips and tells me that her breasts are fragile like
two soap bubbles, and that they hurt when she is thinking of me. I
start to laugh and I crush the rest of the cigarette in the
porcelain oriental ashtray, and then I put an old jazz record on the
turntable. After the needle touches the vinyl, the song fills the
living room with its filigree of twisted threads of delirious music,
and Marion starts to move her hips to the mysterious rhythms.
Later, dressed in an embroidered shirt, she steps, barefoot, into
the cypress forest of sleep. Behind her still linger white orchids
in a jar, miniature bottles of expensive perfume, coloured metal
boxes, a bottle of medicine for menstrual pains, a pearly lipstick,
a corrugated skirt thrown on an armchair, a lit lamp, the silence of
the summer night after the rain, our zodiac signs hidden under
pillows, a used makeup cleansing tissue, an azulejo ceramic tile
showing a hunting scene.
In a wall mirror framed by a garland of yellow silk roses, I see the
image of a fox-witch steaming with her fetid breath the shiny
surface. Its hideous and disgusting spirit tortures my evil body,
because I’m being asked the most important questions in my sleep.
I undress Marion with slow movements. Afraid to be seen naked by the
neighbours in the front building, she is trembling in the candle
light, intimidated, adorable. I am inundated by an incredible
courage, so I dip my fingers in disinfectant alcohol and take out
her palpitating eye balls, which I heat in my palms as two big
pearls. I keep one in my jewellery box and I push the other in her
secret hiding, to explore her silky interior. Two crimson fleshy
petals are closing around my finger. Sliding, milky as two snails,
her screams are puncturing, persuasive, my sense of hearing,
convincing me, embracing me.
In the morning I descend from her body through the fire escape. I
wear around my neck a fringe scarf and, in my fist, the car keys.
Above me, the sky is compact and clouded, without dimensions.
“During the night we exchange our names”
One day we transformed our living room an elegant clockmaker’s
workshop. We published an ad in the local newspaper and waited for
our clients. As we had bought from the bookshop the complete
clock-and-watchmaker’s manual, it was not difficult for us to repair
watches. We liked this work because this way our common time, which
usually screamed unused from all its joints, passed faster.
The last watch we repaired belonged to an old prince with
exophtalmic eyes, syncopic gaze and a pianist’s long fingers. When
he entered our flat, without any kind of false introductory
dialogue, he smiled to us in a princely manner, took out of his
pocket an expensive watch, and gave it to Marion. She weighted it in
her palm, turned its hands, approached her ear to the hour plate,
Royal Highness, this watch works perfectly, it is a real jewel.”
“I know. This is why I want you to open my chest and replace my
elderly heart with it. I feel like an old slave, whom nobody wants
to buy, but I know that my true life has not yet started. I lost the
precious years of my first youths in the midst of foreign peoples.
My lips are dry and sore, because I said many lies, and I burned in
myself everything was once aristocratic. Now behind my retinas I
only have a desolate landscape of defeated mist. But you two can
help me revive the fire in my palms: I trust you. Dog-fish with
sharp teeth swim in the waters of my sleep, but with you I could
sleep again. I want to lie on your bed, as on the grave of a
stubborn and rebellious son, and say good bye to the limitless
nights of fear and insomnia. The temple of my thoughts is built on
soft foundation, but together with you I could have the courage to
Marion made herself a cup of strong coffee and drank it silent and
standing, while admiring herself in the baroque mirror framed by a
garland of silk roses. “Sir, I don’t know how to do this. You are
asking too much from me.”
The old prince, who had watched her drink her coffee with anxiety
and hope, answered: “I came prepared. I wrote down everything you
have to do. You only have to follow my instructions, and my reward
for your charitable effort will be munificent.”
Marion accepted the deal with a reverence and washed her hands three
hundred times in the kitchen sink, then asked me to do the same. She
invited the prince to take his clothes off and lie on our table in
the living room. As an anaesthetic she used her rose perfume. I was
reading aloud the instructions, and she was doing the heart
After some hours, the prince opened his eyes and told us with hoarse
voice: “I feel young again. I want to make love to you.” With
dresses stained by his aristocratic blood, we started to caress him.
We received a lot of money from him. With it we changed the
wallpaper, we bought expensive clothes and went to the hairdresser.
We decided to start a new life.
One evening, Marion took out of their covers two vinyl disks and put
them on her two index fingers. “Look, my two indexes have black
halos!” I laughed. “Your fingers are two depraved saints.” All of a
sudden, Marion became serious. “Tell me, are you happy with me?”
“Yes.” “Are you sure?” “Yes.”
With her right haloed finger, she wrote down some words in the dust
on the furniture, and then deleted them. “What did you write there?”
“It’s a secret.”
We could hear outside hoards of strolling dancers going towards the
cathedral. Marion printed on my eyelids the trace of her lips
coloured with pearly lipstick, and started to laugh. “When you close
your eyes, it looks as if you had mouths instead of eyes!”
Clouds heavy like phosphorescent deer were crossing the infinite
sky. Between us loitered past traumas, phrases which had once
carbonised our hearing, decomposed memories.
was painting in front of the window a still life with a snake
skeleton. The city’s fool crossed our street, laughing desolately.
I wanted to take a hot bath. In the bathtub I closed my eyes and
felt my bones like wax. I was touching the necklace of rusted coins
around my neck, imagining that I was an old fisherman in a wrecked
ship. I drew with my finger, on the steamed tiles, a still life with
a snake skeleton.
I came back in the living room wrapped in Marion’s bath gown. She
was talking on the telephone. Polite, I did not want to listen to
her conversation. She interrupted it abruptly and looked at me
getting dressed, with her head bent on her shoulder.
Afterwards she asked me to go visit with her some old friends in a
retirement home. She took from the drawer the car keys and a map of
On our way we stopped in a shop on the motorway and bought for the
old people sweets, soap, CDs with classical music and troubadour
songs, little orthodox icons, play cards, small ivory boxes with
makeup, and some bottles of anise liquor. From a big cage, parrots
with shiny feathers were looking at us wisely. Marion bought one,
after having bargained ferociously its price. When we went back to
the car, we found under the screen wiper a fine for being parked in
a forbidden place. We shrugged and put the piece of paper under
another car’s wiper.
The manager of the retirement home was waiting for us at the main
gate. She greeted Marion happily, and we all entered in the
building. We started to give the gifts to the old pensioners, who
were looking at us gratefully, trying to kiss Marion’s hands. She
offered the most venerable of them the cage with the parrot, asking
him kindly to feed him daily with nuts and dry fruit.
We drove back in silence. At home we found bats hanging from the
exposed wooden beams on the living room’s ceiling. “Maybe we should
fix the light one of these days”, I said. “You destroyed it, you
should repair it.” “You always blame me for everything. I’m so sick
With her best intentions, Marion insults me, thinking that this will
change my ugly personality. I slap her in the face and light a
cigarette. To calm down, I imagine that I make love to a woman
with delicate hands, smelling like freshly grounded coffee and
expensive perfume, without feeling guilty. And then we start it all
over again, of course.
During the night we exchange our names. When my name is Marion, I
make love to myself or I eat with my finger rhubarb marmalade
directly from the jar. During the day we interchange our vertebras
and our eyelids, with a surgical precision. When I am wearing
Marion’s vertebras and eyelids, I have the courage to invite my
father for dinner. He comes dancing, dressed with grey suit and
wearing light paper shoes, and knocks on our door with the tip of
his nails. Marion opens the door gracefully and kisses him on his
mouth. I kiss him on his shoulders, without looking him in his eyes.
For a while I was quite afraid that
would eventually fall in love with his vague and dreamy personality.
From time to time my father comes accompanied by a young, silent
woman wearing an old-fashioned hat. They barely step on the ceramic
tiles on the floor, sit still and silent for a while, then leave. I
look after them from the window. A triumphal chariot passes on the
sky, from which my father is waving his hand to the unseen crowd,
who honours him for his past glories. Flying pheasants, trees with
floating roots, and plaster saints are following the chariot, and
then darkness comes.
Once, wanting to forget my father, I wrote on a piece of paper, as
an incantation, the words of a fashionable song. Without knowing
what it was, Marion crumpled the paper and threw it at the garbage.
I lost my temper and started to scream at her. Afterwards I felt
sorry, and very much so.
Another time I watched all night old westerns. “What the hell do you
like about them?” asked
“The grave and threatening intensity in the actor’s eyes. I would
like to be able to imitate it.” “Let’s try.” We stared at each other
with our chins a little bit raised and contracted lips. After some
seconds we started to laugh. “Let’s do it one more time, we almost
made it.” The following morning, at the dawn of a new life, I was
waked up by the galloping through the bedroom of a herd of wild
horses. “Marion, how many silly things my eyes are seeing!” “What
are you saying?” “Nothing, I’m sorry for waking you up.”
I could hear on Rue de la Cathédrale the florists singing and
praising loudly their merchandise. I went near the window, rolled up
the blinds, and watched the parade of the clean little horses
pulling carts full of fresh flowers. A young florist threw me a red
carnation. I caught it and smiled to her. I never saw her again, and
I was sorry, because I would have liked to start a new life with
her, and leave everything behind. I closed the window and went back
to bed. I put the carnation in Marion’s hair, and laid my head on
In the evening we went to the opening of the exhibition of a famous
artist suffering of a heart disease, whom we knew quite well. When
he saw us coming, he greeted us enthusiastically. “My dear friends,
my heart is now diseased and faded, a poor atrophied muscle in a sea
of ill blood, but I can still love you. Thank you for coming.” His
heart, like the rich prince’s, was sick, but he did not possess the
same wealth, so could not shell out a new one, and we did not have
the habit of doing these things for free. The artist grabbed our
arms and walked us in front of his large-scale paintings
representing dead hearts on silver trays. “For me, the world’s
infinity is now reduced to this”, he said, bringing his hand to his
After he showed us his entire exhibition, the painter apologized and
went to greet other guests. We started to whisper to each other,
while drinking cheap champagne and eating greasy canapés. “I hate
paintings which I don’t understand.” “Yes, me too.” “I also hate
books I cannot understand.” “Oh, yes, me too.” “And movies that are
too pretentious and obscure. I am also quite upset when I cannot
understand you, and in those moments I really hate you.”
An emaciated artist approached us, he was a quite well known fog
sculptor. In his refined manner of speaking he told us that, during
the damp months of autumn, he would make provision of mist, filling
his studio with entire compact blocks, and that he would work
incessantly for the rest of the year. Marion, insensible to his
talent but genuinely curious, ordered a pair of shoes made of this
famous mist of his. The artist measured the soles of her feet and
after some days he sent her the shoes, in a beautiful box. Marion
tried them on and went to the terrace, to root out the wild weeds
growing in the ceramic pots with exotic flowers. The weeds were
screaming ferociously. “Where did you take this soil from? It’s no
good.” “From the cemetery.” When she finished weeding, Marion tied
my foot to the charpoy with a golden chain and went to do some
shopping. This was she was sure I would not run away, “my poor
little darling, what would you do out there without me”. With an
oval white stone I hit the chain to break it, but I did not manage,
so I loosened the screws of the lock with the tip of my nail
When I finally managed to free myself, I put red lipstick on, made
myself a pot of nice green tea, sat on the couch and waited for
Marion, repeating in my mind my discourse. I wanted to tell her that
everything would have to end one day. That our contours would
dissolve and our lungs would slowly burn, melting our flesh, but we
would not be reborn. I wanted to remind her that at the end our
memories of each other would be wretched, that the only traces of
our passage in this world will be our useless ashes of unashamed
I was listening, in the light growing paler, how sick birds and
frozen rain were hitting the windows. Marion was not coming back. I
would have liked to turn the clock’s hands, to force time to pass
faster, but I lacked inner strength, and I hated everybody.
Marion #08 “In the distance a red flame blazes out”
(The scene represents a living-room adorned with abstract drawings
pinned on the yellow walls. On a short coffee table the TV without
sound shows a documentary about a famous painter. On the shelves can
be seen hourglasses of different sizes and boxes of coloured metal.
Two twins sit one in front of the other, on couches covered with
crocheted blankets. The first twin wears strident makeup. The second
twin is dressed like a deity that had just created a true world, in
which true adventures take place. A large window is adorned with
crimson velvet curtains. All of a sudden, the rusted locks on the
twins’ lips fall on the floor with a metallic noise.)
Me: Marion, I dreamed that the city burned down because of your
Marion: You know that I love when we commit glorious antisocial
Me: I could very well see the golden buildings burning, they were
consumed by a thick, violet smoke. (Marion lights a cigarette)
Me: Marion, please stop smoking.
Marion: But this is my only true pleasure in life. The rest is all
but a spectacular imposture.
Me: What you say is a horrible crime. And still, my love for you
lingers between these walls.
Marion, blowing the smoke towards the ceiling: Our bed’s mattress is
full of living thorns. The city in which we live is a splendid
putrid empire, decomposing under our eyes. High stone walls conserve
its decay. I can feel in my marrow and in my kidneys its future
Me, grabbing Marion’s cigarette: Don’t be afraid. Everything will
dissolve around us, but we will stay together. Take this stone and
hit it! (I take out of my pocket a perfectly oval white stone and
put it on the table, in front of her.) Will the stone cry?
Marion, with uneasy voice: No.
Me: That’s how you will become as well, you will forget everything
Marion: I have already forgotten everything. My days with you are so
full, that I have to exile my memories in unknown dark places.
Before you I used to have certitudes in life, but now I am left only
with you. Everything can burn around me, but as long as you are with
me, I am happy.
Me: Your body is so thin, Marion, that sometimes in the night, when
I hug you, it feels like I am hugging myself.
(Marion smiles. I crush the cigarette stump in a painted faïence
ashtray. Marion takes out of its pack a second cigarette, which I
light for her with a match. During all this time we look at one
another uninterruptedly. Our gestures are mechanical, many times
Me: Sometimes you lie for hours near me, without breathing, and it
feels like you are a gigantic dead fish.
Marion: I know.
Me: Why do you leave me alone? Tell me.
Marion: Sometimes the light in my eyes is suddenly turned off, and I
start to run away, because everything around me is threatening, even
you. I never see the face of evil, but its presence makes me shiver.
Me, humming in low tone: You are like a storm, like a thunder, like
a breaking of clouds.
Marion stands up, opens the crimson velvet curtains, opens the
window and throws outside her lit cigarette. In the distance a red
flame blazes out. The fire spreads quickly. I go near her, I put my
arm around her shoulders and put my temple near her temple. We are
watching, startled, how the city burns to its grounds. Around us
raise the prison of the infinitesimal cerebral processes, during
which the nervous cells die gradually.
Me: All the city’s inhabitants will die suffocated, in horrible
pains. Don’t you feel pity for them, Marion?
Me: Not even for the children, for the pregnant women, for the frail
Me, kissing her hair: I’m happy to hear this.
Marion #09 “Marion
is my sunken territory with closed frontiers, and I will not let
anyone enter here.”
Sometimes an unknown woman, dressed with a green long dress, comes
in our room during the night, lies on the bed between me and Marion,
and breathes deeply in her undisturbed sleep. We would sometimes
light a candle and watch her wounded feet with compassion, while
letting her rest, but we never managed to understand the temporal
mechanism of her visits. “Poor her”, Marion whispered once, and this
is the only commentary she ever made about our nocturnal visitor.
One night the woman came dragging after her, by a thick chain, an
old fishing boat which she left in the middle of our bedroom, as a
thank you gift for our hospitality. We got up and examined it; we
liked it so much, that for a while we slept inside it, hugging,
covered in white cotton sheets embroidered with our initials. After
a while we sold it to a collector of rare ethnographic objects.
At the end of the month we had no money left, and Marion started to
cry with wax tears. “I could never live without manuka honey and
good wine”, she lamented. “I am so tired of eating every morning
only stale bread dipped in tea. With my mind busy with these mundane
details, how would you want me to make love to you? Or to anyone? Or
ever again? I feel poor, and ugly, and useless, and it is all
because of you.” I gathered in my palms Marion’s wax tears, I
moulded them and created tiny zoomorphic figurines, to which I
painted with red nail polish intense eyes and belligerent jaws. I
then aligned them on the shelf and started to pray to them daily,
for protection and peace in my home.
Marion stopped crying and poured on her palms the hot wax of the
decorative candles burning on the coffee table. Shortly after, we
went to bed. For a while I did not move, listening to her breath.
Later I squeezed her breast under the blanket. She woke up and asked
me what the hell I wanted, why did I have to wake her up. “Marion,
only one thing can save us now”, I told her. She turned her back to
me and fell asleep again.
In the morning she told me that we should prostitute the cathedral.
“What do you mean?” “Well, you saw what a relaxing effect it has on
the people coming to visit us. We could invite more of them here,
and, in exchange of a small financial contribution, we could serve
them tea and let them gawk at the cathedral in the distance, and at
how its living stone changes colours every hour. We should just wash
the windows, and buy more cushions and futons, to make this place
cosier.” In order to reward her for her good idea, I did the dishes
for her; she would stay with her elbows leaned upon the window
frame, watching for hours the passage of the firemen trucks.
The following day we started to make paper roses which we sold to
our neighbours who bought them out of pity, but we didn’t care.
After a while I complained to Marion that they are brutal and
silent, obsessed with the games of chance, and that they attacked me
in the night with white arms made of whale bones, on the narrow
stairs, with too high stone steps. She asked me to stop our illegal
trade, for our safety, and she stretched a calf’s skin over the
With the money gained from selling paper roses we paid our bills and
bought from a flower shop a figus elastica rubber bush. We put the
pot on the terrace and after some days
made a cut in the flexible trunk and sucked the liquid hungrily, so
that her supple body would freely stretch to the clouds. Then, out
of charity, she packed water plastic bottles and send them by post
to fake addresses in various desert countries. In the evening she
combed her hair in front of the mirror and arranged it in a bun with
a metal needle. She burned strong cedar wood essential oil and
invited home an erudite academic, a scientist, a fashion designer,
an artist and an explorer and, for their amusement, five exotic
dancers, who flattered our senses in the rhythm of the African
drums. We ate goat cheese with cumin and we drank wine from the tall
glasses full of secretions and melancholy. It was a long strange
night, one of those one cannot forget easily. Our guests fell asleep
towards the morning, hugged in the corners. In order to revenge
myself on their insulting hunger for life, I cut the small toes from
everyone’s right feet, so that they would never be able to dance
again, but I spared Marion. I was saying to myself: “Marion is my
sunken territory with closed frontiers, and I will not let anyone
I put on a necklace of rusted coins and boiled the toes on a small
twig fire, in a ghastly mixture of urine, rooster blood, almond oil
and vinegary wine. I brought this magical liquid to the cemetery and
poured it on Marion’s ancestors’ tombs, so that she would completely
forget her life and memories before me. The soil was instantly
moulding and turning into humid ash. When I returned home, I sewed
her torn socks and our red curtains and thought violently about her
ferocious love. We are two twins sharing the same horoscope and the
same heavy gaze, but Marion is airy, while I am the imperfect
sister, the counter-example, the product of the annoyed physical
love. After I finished sewing clumsily, I woke Marion up, and went
for a walk.
We entered secretly in a mint garden, to explore its paths and crush
between our fingers its scented leaves. All of a sudden we saw
between the summery grasses a naked man lying in the sun, and we
left running and laughing.
We then went to the Notre-Dame market to buy a dead rabbit, with
fibrous flash, and Marion hugged it closely in her arms as if it
were her baby. In front of us walked a fat woman dressed in dark
green trousers and a pair of phenomenal eyes the colour of
water-mould, and Marion became sad all of a sudden. “I saw you
looking at her breasts, you don’t have to lie. You like her, don’t
you?” “You’re insane.” “I know exactly what I saw.” She stopped
walking (she was dressed with a silk dress with polka dots), let the
skinned rabbit fell of her arms (he started jumping up the street
with equal hops) and started to hit her head on the wall of a tall
medieval building, to which some contemporary owned had added
dreadful metal balconies. I waited, arms crossed, for her fury to
pass, and then continued walking.
In the window of a pet shop we saw some puppies dressed in carnival
costumes. One of them, dressed like a marquis and wearing a
miniature wig, started to lick to window. Marion kneeled in front of
it and kissed the glass, on which remained the mark of her cerise
lip-gloss. At the entrance door in the shop there was a little
copper bell with frightening sound, which Marion, raised on her
toes, tore out hastily and threw away into the river.
At home, she put her head on my knees and asked me: “Is there any
part of my body which you do not like?” I took the magnifying glass
and started to examine her conscientiously. “I actually like
everything about you. Especially your wrists – you have the most
delicate wrists in the world. I also like the pepper taste of your
lips. Oh, and I love the way you puff with pleasure when you’re
eating fine chocolate!” In order to prove her that I was honest, I
photographed her naked, developed the pictures in the bathroom, put
them in wooden frames and hanged them all around the house. She
laughed, cut from old fashion magazines elegant though obsolete
dresses, which she glued over her naked body in the photos, and then
coloured her eyes and lips with wax pencils. When she saw herself in
a badly-framed photo, she all of a sudden exclaimed: “Do I really
look like this? “Yes.” “Why didn’t you tell me I was so ugly?” “You
are not ugly.” “What do you mean? Just look at this tired skin, at
these deep circles under my swollen eyes!” “This is because you
sleep so little, I go to sleep and then you stay up till morning,
reading those cheap novels.” “It doesn’t matter why. Anyway, it
seems to me that you made a big mistake in choosing me!” I thought
about this for some seconds. “I actually think you chose me.” “You
mean you had nothing to say when it all started?” “Not really, no.”
“So you could have been with anyone?” “At that moment yes, I think
Marion #10 “In her eyes I could read millions of
years of vegetable memories”
The wild herbs in the neighbourhood gardens were
losing their colour from the drought. Marion was still sleeping. I
washed my face in the kitchen sink, put on a black dress, and
adorned my left ankle with a delicate chain with tiny red crystals.
Standing, I ate half a spicy cake with dried fruit and almonds. I
wrapped the other half in aluminium foil and put it in my backpack.
I took the car keys from the drawer and left.
I was not wearing shoes and the asphalt burned my
While driving I was thinking about Marion’s
vaporous body, which I had left back home, covered in soft blankets.
I stopped the car near a fig orchard. I opened
the old rusty gate with an old key I found under a rock nearby. I
entered the orchard and lay on the grass, between two tall fig
trees. I felt the grass stinging my skin, and the earth’s coolness.
After a while I felt hungry. I ate the half cake, and then I filled
a small fabric pouch with humid soil. While digging with my fingers
I found a blackened ancient silver coin, which I cleaned with the
bottom of my dress and put in my mouth. I put both the pouch and my
backpack in the car and went back to the city.
I parked the car in front of the fluorescent
cathedral with lines of sculptured antique pews, immense organ and
statues of saints with glass eyes. I rested my chin for a while on
the steering wheel and caressed the coin with my tongue. Then I went
home where Marion, dressed in an almost-invisible cashmere shirt,
was sitting on the couch, drinking tea and immersed in deep thought.
She did not even turn her head when I came in.
I washed her feet in a basin of warm water, and
afterwards planted them in the fresh soil I had brought from the fig
orchard, in a big ceramic flower-pot in which a dwarf silver fir had
died a while ago.
I sat on the couch near her and sipped some tea
from her cup. The time was passing slowly; history was conserving
the illustrious corpses of its heroes in vinegar of noble wine.
Marion started to grow roots. Her hair was
gradually turning greenish. In her eyes I could read millions of
years of vegetable memories; her skin became a wooden, fragrant
bark, on which I cut words and phrases.
Starting with that day, Marion became my secret