The End of Us and Everything Before and After by Mileva Anastasiadou

We’ve been like Sisyphus for long, going up and down, but we always move on, for that’s life, he says, a bit absurd, and I nod and hold his hand as we climb and climb and climb.

There comes another turn and I see it, I see disasters before they happen, I see them even if they don’t happen, he drives steadily as I close my eyes and see the cliff, the bus coming onto us, and we won’t have time, we will fall all the way down, onto the rocks, onto the trees, I’ll watch him bleed to death, unable to help, for I’ll be trapped, my legs won’t move and for a moment I can’t breathe, my hands go numb, my heart stops, if only for a minute, until we take that turn and there is no bus, no crash, no fall, for it’s too soon for us. This isn’t how our story ends. It’s not the end yet.

*

We’ve been like Sisyphus, but not exactly, for we take two steps ahead, one step behind, and we’ve been moving forward, for long, we’ve been like Sisyphus, only it’s not that absurd, for we may fall behind sometimes, but we move on, and nothing can stop us, until we reach the top.

He steps out of the car to fetch us food and there it comes, I see it again, another disaster coming our way, as he crosses the street, the car hits him before he reaches the other side, it hits him and  he falls down on the street, his blue scarf turns red, and I see myself running to his side, unzipping his jacket, searching for a heartbeat, crying for help, only my eyes are closed, my legs cemented, my heart skips a beat, as he steps inside the car, handing me a chicken sandwich, that’s all they got, he says and I can’t eat, I’m full, I tell him, full of relief I mean and he laughs for he knows, he sees right through me, he knows I’ll soon be hungry and I’ll ask for food, he knows anxiety is tiring and I will get sleepy and hungry soon, while wondering how many possible disasters we have evaded, how many possible endings remained unnoticed, for it’s too soon now. This is not the end of us yet.

*

We’ve been like Sisyphus for long, we’re on the top now, he says and he screams and screams and jumps around like that’s where we headed all along, like we finally are where we’re supposed to be, like now we can be happy at last and we are happy, we are the happiest we’ve ever been.

We are the happiest we’ll ever be. So I ask, what now? He says I should stop bringing him down, I should enjoy the view, life, but he doesn’t see it’s not me, it’s fate, it’s life that wants us dead, for pestilences keep recurring, disasters happen all the time, we’re going down now, I tell him, but he refuses to see the road ahead, he closes his eyes to the future, to everything before and after, he’s right here, right now, fed up with my imaginary disasters, the rabbit holes of my mind, for it’s too soon for us to end. This is not yet the end of us and everything.

*

We’ll still be like Sisyphus, only we’ll let go from time to time, we’ll let the rock roll, but we’ll let go together, we’ll pretend we still move forward, even if it’s downhill we head to, it’ll be less lonely if we stand side by side, the rock will be less heavy if we carry it together.

I see him stand still, as he says, we’re on thin ice, talking about us, that’s what I’ve been telling you, I say, talking about life, but he shrugs and laughs, certain no disaster can touch him and all pestilences will pass. They will pass and that’s soothing but also terrifying, for once you realize it’s true then everything passes and nothing really matters. He rolls his eyes and performs a pirouette, like he doesn’t care, cause that’s what you do on thin ice, he claims, you dance, but I imagine him stumble, all it takes is a pat, a push that proves harder than intended and he will fall, but this time I refuse to give in to the fantasy, my logic denies access to imagination, to that exhilarating feeling of relief that always follows my disastrous scenarios. His body isn’t crushed, but his mind is. He says I’m an addict, I long for failed disasters, for that coveted emotion that comes after they prove false alarms, he looks right into my eyes, while standing there on the edge, his blue scarf still blue, his hands steady, and I’m almost angered, I’m angered he’s still there, his chin up, his mind untouched, but I know better, I know there will come a time when I won’t feel it, I’ll long for it, but it won’t come, for I’m right, disasters happen and not all of them are imaginary and they will come for us in time, to destroy us, our tiny world, our minds and all neuronal circuits inside them, all memories of us, all proof we ever existed.  The story of Sisyphus is not a myth, it’s a reality show, with us in it, lingering, staying afloat, barely breathing, as we move forward, step by step, not uphill, but to an end that seems more absurd than the beginning, to that disaster that will fail us, that won’t prove a false alarm, but at least we’re in this together, carrying the rock, till the end, the end of us and everything before and after.

 

Biography
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece. A Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions nominated writer, her work can be found in many journals, such as Litro, Jellyfish Review, Moon Park Review, Okay Donkey, Kanstellation, Open Pen and others. @happymil_

Image via Unsplash.

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