The Stranger

« I often have a truly distressing dream. The black-clothed Stranger gives me a mirror and I, little girl, look into it. The image vanishes because my mother hits it. She drops it to the ground, breaking into pieces. I never really see his face, just an impenetrable smile.»

Emma was twenty-three and had a mirror on his face. She carried it as a veil, just like a virgin bride slowly moving to the altar. She held it up preventing everyone to return her look: passing people astonished returned themselves quick looks, glances deformed by their face’s reflection not kind at all, abominable masks, aghast. They turned around, but she was always there, she foresaw the movement, she was a mime: she reflected even the action.

« The dream goes on for I see a dark body vertically sinking, with clothes waving all around. It doesn’t emit any bubble, it doesn’t even seem to move water. It sets down on the bottom, the mirror, my mirror. There’s so much light, but the Stranger has no shadow. He disappears through the glass.»

 

Emma studied art before giving up with just three exams to go. She didn’t go out much, she spent afternoons, nights, mornings, without too many distinction, drawing while lying on the bed, things that no one would see: charcoal sketches, drafts of monsters or unnatural skeletons. That is how she lived, creating and then hiding. She was obsessed with darkness, that shade that often clouded the extreme of her sight; that dimness that made her turn around all of a sudden, just to prove her that there was nothing there, right or left. «Wasn’t being here together enough? I don’t avoid people, it’s just, I can’t stand their shining eyes looking at me.» that time Emma had surrendered to him, but her mirror, she still withheld it. While lying with him, she almost threw it away, she almost abandoned herself, but the young man wheezed over the smooth surface, with his mouth he left halos and drool: he flattened his nose over it to cross the border, to crush it. She was disgusted. On that night she imagined herself passing over that vitreous limit forever, to immerse in the suspended reflection of reality, to fluctuate in a different view each time.

 

Downtown there was a Kubin exhibition and she wanted to visit it. She was fascinated in such a way she could not even depict. His art exercised a strange charm on her, slight but persistent. She even gave a name to one of his surrealistic animals: Anemorek, the divinity of fleeing and misunderstood worlds, god of the little dark things we forget in the bottom of our drawers and we even miss to throw away. Anemorek was another way she used to name the Stranger.

It had been raining for days in the city. On the bus, immediately she noticed the sullen and faceless man sitting in front of her. She remembered the darkness and the smile, she saw the indecision of the one who has an unrewarding task. She kept her eyes as lower as possible, despite her protective glass, for it was as if the Stranger could see past it: under his frown she was nude.

In an alley behind Piazza Navona she went past a building of the Renaissance, almost ruins, tending towards her, towards the street, towards the ground. She desperately tried to leave him behind, the one that wary followed her. The mirror wept tears, plumbeous as the sky it occasionally intercepted, people passing by were just evanescent and racing visions of mankind.

She hurried. She ended up in the square and ran straight to Chiostro del Bramante. The mirror just reflected brown and smoke-grey spots, the breath and held humidity fogged up her side. She turned in a darker alley: she was already running, no arms just legs, she was afraid she wouldn’t make it; she turned around once again. But the Stranger was no longer there.

She slammed into something solid and yet made of flesh: bones and muscles and lungs. The mirror slipped away and her hands writhed like earthworms: a flash. It reached the ground and crushed: the pieces flew and blended into the wind and rain, they cut it in a twirl dance. She remained static.

 

She had a pale face, faded, transparent.