The Stars Collector
I had fifty five oranges collected in the summer of seventy two, thirty five starfishes in the ‘73, eighty two stones in the ’74 and then I kept collecting different kinds of sea water, slippers, broken glasses, bricks, wheels of bicycles, straw hat and innumerable objects. Innumerable, maybe for you! I have an up-to-date archive of each collection, and nobody could never dare to damage their perfection. Each and every one of my collections is numbered and any of my objects is equal to another one.
When I started my collection of oranges, the main problem was clearly their preservation, but I became a master in preserving the entireness of any kind of object or food. Like when I started that collection of fishes. The only way to preserve them was, in fact, make them objects: to embalm them. I became a master in this art too.
I was immediately fascinated from the art of the embalmment. I started with this technique with starfishes: actually they are easier to handle. A summer, I cultivated the classic passion for the butterflies collections, then I started collecting lizards. I remember that also my uncle, my father’s brother, had this insane passion when I was a kid. He used to take one of those long leaves that seemed like threads and made a slipknot out of them, catching the lizards; then, he used to embalm them, let’s say so!
My technique was clearly more careful, cleaner and more lasting.
I went on with this summer “obsession” exactly for twenty two years, twenty two different collections. You would wonder how I spent the rest of my free time. Basically, I lived my ordinary life as an employee, sometimes I went to my warehouse, a little bit outside from the city. I had taken an old barn and I transformed it into a sort of museum. I used to call it: my cubbyhole.
I showed it to my sister when she visited me, just once in all her life. I didn’t have a good relationship with her, neither with the rest of my family; with anyone, actually. When she entered, she was astonished and for a moment I wanted to read in her eyes a sign of a wonderful astonishment, but the next second I realized I was so wrong. “What do we have to take?” she asked, rushing me because she didn’t want to stay over and she knew the last train was about to leave.
She was the only one I showed my cubbyhole to; the only work I was proud of. In some moment of few lucidity I even thought about selling it, believing that it could have some value for someone. If my sister had no interest in it, who would appreciate that pile of things?
I just remember that some nights –yes, sometimes I loved to spend my Saturday night sleeping through my collections- from the barn, I could see all the stars in the sky, and I just imagined to collect them all. In my mind, I actually did it, and I still do, every day.
That same night I called the commissary to give myself up.
It was the spring of ’95, I knew they would never find her body, divided into one hundred pieces, perfectly preserved in the center of my cubbyhole.
Still, I called and I told everything, from my point of view, forcing my hand to her faults, obvious, according to me.
The heart is revealing, I was a miserable collector.
Now, I list the stars from my cell, hoping that finally I can have some time to look at my collection.