The City by Anastasia Polkanova

Stop it! It is inhuman to keep me in this dusty cement box, gobbled by fungus! I bet it is just the same in your head, you, freaking educator.

I will escape from here. Twenty minutes left. Twenty minutes hold me from the abiding, nearly habitual rush. Not much…and at the same time an infernally long patch.

Incredible tension – and tear down! I break out.

I am being dissected by the sharp cold winter air. My lungs are burning and my heart (surprisingly I have one, the doctors tend to assert its existence) is echoing my heavy landings, my anguished but somehow firm steps.

I experience the fever every single day. This torturing but sweetest, addictable, taming pain of unbearable desire. My personal aesthesia of the intention, of the target, of the aim. The nagging, morbid sensation you are unable to resist. The only silhouette, the only gestalt you are able to see while the whole city seems a blunt memory of a tasteless nightmare… You.

I run across the grey square, jumping over the huge familiar cracks in the asphalt.

Down the aseptic street, along a weirdly, diagonally curved path that comes through several yards, past blocks of houses.

Houses. Each is a pimple of a house. All alike though differing in their ugliness and spreading. Spreading as if there were an epidemic, forcing to build these useless cement boxes. As if a gigantic toddler had no cubes to play with and people risked to please it – or at least, if the toddler were not happy, to find an asylum in these. Like there can be an asylum.

They want to sell me a flat. I get their calls every day. In fact, I am homeless. Not houseless, however. And here is a fact. Buy whatever fancy flats – you will never have a home. I know some people. Gorgeous apartments, shabby homes. Why not give up this ridiculous prison? Breathe in some fresh air and accept all the essence of being a loser. This might be called freedom.

Running. Seeing – finally seeing something – an accurate piece of gold, sparkling humbly. The church, you usually avoid to walk by when with me. It is as fragile as you. Thin, exile lines of the steeple, in which I recognise your brows, your cheekbones and your hair, calm me for a few moments. Hidden with the dusty curtains of houses already, I don ‘t see the church any more.

The city is full of houses.

All of a sudden, I start recalling the half-an-hour-ago events.

Prison-looking classroom. I cannot refrain my wrath. I detest this plain person with shallow eyes, trying to make me believe that I am unaware of the great knowledge, which is in her disposal. In hers – and nobody else’s.  Extremely eager to get me to respect her, trying to run me down… She will never be the one she imagines in her head.

An old woman is standing on the corner. She’s here every day. So am I. We even recognise each other. She’s eager to sell belief and hope. Anyway, she’s far better than the one in the classroom. Not arrogant. Willing to help, not to feel superior. In a way, I feel apprehension for this old lady.

There’s a book in her puckered hands. It’s rather thick and rather threadbare as well. I always run too fast to read the title. Something, starting with a G and ending with a –pel. She offers me some kind of support; she suggests my getting into the ideas she reads in the book. She does every day despite knowing that I’ll refuse.

The city is full of fools.

There is a tiny shop, lost among all kinds of supermarkets. I pass it every day. And every day I watch the poor creatures crawling and dropping off and lurching out of it. It sells cheap alcohol. I guess, illegally. Cannot claim for sure.

So many times a day am I keen to enter and get a bottle of anything recommended, so to say, by the regular customers. It is unbearable sometimes. Sometimes it seems the only way. I am powerless and desperate – and there is no need to keep on, I am no longer interested, what is going to happen next. I am empty. I am only alive when you are by my side. All the other time, oh Lord! I don’t know what can fill me the other time. At least any longer.

Then I observe those, whom I am willing to assimilate to. Talking to themselves, crying, shouting in despair, hitting everything on the way, falling and not getting up – and suddenly I realize, I am already in this condition – so why bother.

The shop also offers a large variety of adult movies. Can’t help wondering, how it manages to succeed in selling those in the era of the Internet. Probably, the shop’s success is in its essence. It sells pleasures. Fake – but who cares.

The city is full of sins.

I feel my cell vibrating in my pocket. The shrink. No, I am not coming, as usual. Texts from acquaintances lacking in logic. They ask whether I would like to talk – why should I if I never answer your calls?

Not a single text from you. You know, I’m coming. You might even feel I’m getting closer.  From time to time I think you may be scared of me. You never show but we both know I can kill you one day – so that I finally have the guts to get rid of myself.

“Your depression lasts way too long. I have this psychologist…” or “Heard of these pills…” It is all about selling me pills.

The city is full of doctors.

I am exhausted. Seriously. I breathe too hard, I am panting. I have to stop. I am going to faint, otherwise. Every day at this point. Damn.

Is that you? So beautiful you are! My only treasure… No, that’s not you. You are waiting for me at your place.

I see you in every woman – I cannot wait. I need you. I want to smell your hair. Right now, I almost hallucinate – I can hear your mild voice and I can feel you touch my shoulder gently.  I want to get dissolved in your smell. I am neither crazy nor trying to look like a perfumer. I simply do enjoy breathing in your natural scent. Imagining it now, I can smell it…

Oh dear, I am driving mad. Or probably have already driven.

Now and then I question your existence. You are too beautiful to be a real person, to be a human being. I often doubt whether I am enveloping you or I am just a loon sitting in an empty room and hugging air. It is far more believable that my frail mind created you as some kind of anodyne. A rather treacherous anodyne. You seem to be the best cure. And the one to take you is blinded, is too riveted to see the incredible number of side effects. Among which the worst one is definitely “causes addiction”. “Causes delusions” is also one of my favourites. It is quite hilarious, indeed – a delusion causes delusions. When with you, I am afraid to wink – I am too scared to open my eyes and not to see you.

The city is full of delusions.

I am half-dead. Running has never been my strong point. Panting and panting and panting. Being diseased in body and mind is not a piece of cake, I should say. In fact, I do have a heart disease I simply don’t care.

I only care about you. I am doted upon by you. If only you could feel what I feel… No, I would never want that – my affection towards you is too strong and sincere to even think of you being hurt.

I will never be able to describe my feelings in a proper way. Words distort reality.

Besides, I am anxious, I am obsessed. An obsessed freak will hardly manage to express himself with all the accuracy….

Here I am. The house you live in. My heart is no longer beating. I must be dead.  Lucky I!

Slowly do I make myself press the doorbell. I swallow. I can hear the doorbell ring. So far away. Everything is so far away when you’ve forgotten how one is supposed to breathe.

I hear your footsteps. Defibrillation. I hear you unlock the door. Pulse. I guess, it is pulse – low and weak. The doorknob starts to wind. Am I coming back to life?


The city is full of you.


About the Author

Anastasia Polkanova is twenty. The daughter of two doctors, she was born and still lives in Ulyanovsk, Russia. At grammar school, she took part in the school theatre and published several poems in the school paper. She currently studies linguistics, as well as English and German. She is going to be a teacher of English.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s