(in the past weeks I have spent a lot of time on Threads. An app by Meta for text-based messages similar to Twitter. Pouring random thoughts out of my brain made me remember days when I have spent more time on writing, then these past year. And not just writing on blogs. Writing a story. A novel. So I went back to my notes and read through varies concepts and chapters I had drafted between the years 2018 to 2022. All are far from finalized. But I don`t want to wait to have this story come to life. It might take years. It might may never happen at all. So I`m releasing excerpts. In the hope to get my motivation back to finish this story one day. This is excerpts from „Evolve“)
There is a place of time somewhere between day and night which cannot be defined by words. The sun has not yet climbed the horizon, but yet the night has left. Birds are chirping softly and the light is shimmering in a pale grey-dark tone. That was the time he usually woke up without needing any alarm to tell him the arrival of a new day. There is no specific time for this place of the day. It moves with the seasons like the moon moves with the earth. Although there is one specific time of the year when this phenomena has its climax. During fall with the change of daylight saving time. Suddenly the day starts and ends earlier than usual. But just a few days before the abrupt change of time zones the morning night, as he used to call it when he was a child, seems to be endless. Before the virus, this was the beginning of the dark months – leaving for work in dark and returning from work in dark. But now with the virus, there was no leaving to or returning from anywhere anymore. There was just this one state of work. Working from home. Or living at work. There was no distinction between those anymore. It didn’t matter if it was dark outside or not. Sometimes it felt dark all day long. Sometimes there was no light left. No light at the end of the tunnel. No light shining bright on the future. Just a state of endless monotonous days without meaning. He opened his eyes and did not see a thing. Is this how death feels? A nothingness of endless monotonous days without meaning? He didn’t remember if today was a workday or weekend. A brief glimpse on his alarm clock provided him with two pieces of information. 5:33am – Monday. Well, out of all the workdays of the week, it must have been the worst of it.
He tried to get back to sleep. Thinking about all the work he had left untouched during Friday which will haunt him through the week. Until next Friday, to be left for another week to come. 5:48am. It was foggy outside. Summer was a bit longer here than he was used to from Home. But end of October was definitely not summer anymore. The leaves had already changed colors and started preparations to leave the trees blank for winter. Is this why it is called fall, he was thinking. Because the leaves are falling from the trees? Why does everything has to die during fall? Why do all the trees turn into beautiful colorful creatures and then kill all the leaves to stand there naked and ugly in the barren cold of winter? Why didn’t the trees just keep their beautiful costumes forever? A year long Indian summer. 6:12am. And then in spring the trees have to grow back all the leaves and start from scratch. Isn’t it just a waste of energy? Maybe that is what life is about. Life is movement. Life is change. Without getting rid of their old leaves the trees would probably be stuck in the same costume all of their life and never change for the better. And probably they would die. While all the other trees which keep renewing their leaves every year are better equipped for the forces of nature. 6:19am. Without change there would be no life. Life is evolving constantly. Evolution – the basic concept of nature and human mankind. Just like the virus which is evolving into new variants keeping up with the human brains, science and vaccinations. Who is going to win the evolutionary battle this time? 6:24am. Time to get up.
The morning sun did not touch the balcony of his apartment. The angle of the sun was too steep. Once he placed the coffee mug on the table to sit down he instantly started to shiver. Winter is coming, he thought. And lately winter did also come with high infection and death rates. He still had some time before starting with work, so he decided to go for a walk to warm himself up and get fresh bread. Usually when he left his apartment complex he had two choices. Turning right to buy groceries and immediately going back to the safety of his four walls or turning left and heading for the Danube. The first option would come with cheap bread from the discounter, but today he chose the second option and turned left. Three streets to cross, he could already spot the Buda hills shimmering in morning dust on the other side of the river through the tall buildings. On the promenade he turned left again. It was one of his favorite views. Walking alongside the Danube river and the Margit Sziget heading towards the city center of Budapest. From afar you could already spot the Parliament building, the churches and the castles, but the busy parts of the city still felt far away. Yellow trams crawled over the Margit hid like caterpillars.
He crossed the street towards Szent Istvan park. Two golden retriever were running in the fenced dog area. A sudden sadness came over him while he was thinking about Asa. The metal of the gatekeeper was icy. He put his fingers back into the jacket to warm them up after he closed the gate behind him. Why are all those parks fenced?, he thought. Was it to keep something out, or to keep something in? The park was still empty during these early hours. It would fill up quickly in the morning. But now he had it to himself. The fountain in the center had already stopped working in September, only an empty pool with dead leaves remained. He left the park through the main entrance. Next to the bus station he crossed the street. Poszonyi utca. His favorite street in Budapest. It was one of the first streets he walked once he arrived in the city during summer and went looking for apartments. He instantly fell in love with the paved sidewalks, the cafés, art galleries, flower shops and cocktail bars. The street was well maintained and surrounded by large trees and baroque buildings. The flair of Paris, London and New York City came with this street. He was in love with Poszonyi utca. And once he was in love with something or someone, this love was forever.
After four months in Budapest he still had not visited every café in Poszonyi utca. Today it is time to cross one more from the list, he thought. He had walked by this one a dozen of times. It was a very small coffeeshop, easy to miss. Just two tables inside, two tables outside. A place for a coffee to go, he said to himself. Five minutes, then back to work. The wooden door was heavier than he expected. He had to close it by himself, to keep the cold air from entering. The coffeeshop was empty. No guests. No one behind the counter. But it said: Nyitva. A Hungarian word he already learned. Because it was basically on every door of the stores and restaurants. Zarva is closed. Nyitva is open. He scanned the shop. There was a large, expensive Italian coffeemachine. Of course. Some pastries and croissants. Granola. Coffee beans. Juice. Just the usual coffeeshop setting. Prices were normal as well. Not as cheap as brewing your own coffee, but still way cheaper than coffee in the city center or at Starbucks. Which one would he get today. Probably just a black coffee. His decision-process was interrupted by a loud crack, followed by indistinguishable Hungarian words which could only be curse words. Hungarians had a thing for cursing. And then he realized why no one was behind the counter. Because someone was below the counter.
She had tried to pull cups from the counter shelf. But something had slipped and at the same moment she had hit her head on the corner of the counter. And this was not just a light hit. He could see some blood running down on the left side of her head.
„Everything ok?“ He started the conversation in English. He still was not able to talk to anyone in Hungarian, he didn’t even try to start it today. But once he looked at her, he regretted not being able to express himself in her language. While she tried to get back on her feet, her head was slowly rising behind the counter. She briefly exchanged looks with him. Her eyes showed a mixture of embarrassment and hurt. But also a toughness he had never seen in a woman before. If it was her against the corner of this counter, the counter would have no chance. Those hazel-brown eyes with the temperamental-painful look in it were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
„Igen. Yes. All good.“ she responded firmly. She was back on her feet. He heard crunches of destroyed cups which must be coming from her shoes. She was trying not to step on the mess below her. Blood was now running down on the left side of her head, almost reaching the corner of her mouth. She did not notice it.
„I’m not sure. It looks like you are bleeding“ She touched her head and looked at the blood on her fingers. Another Hungarian word which probably meant something like fuck. He did not need to know the language to understand what that word meant. „Let me help you clean up. Should we call an ambulance?“
„Hell no. The hospitals here are a shit show. I would be better off stichting this myself.“ She touched again the side of her left eyebrow, took a napkin and brushed the blood away. A little bit was still left close to her lips. „It is not that bad. I have seen worse. I worked in Finance. Haha.“
„Really? What a coincidence. I work in Finance too. I moved here to Budapest from Germany with my company few months ago.“
„Why would anyone move from Germany to Hungary? Everyone I know leaves.“
„Well. That`s a long story. You still have some blood left there“ he touched his own face with the fingertip and smiled. While she removed the last red spots from her face he was not able to take his eyes of her. Was she the reason the universe brought him here?
„You said you worked in Finance? You`re not anymore?“
„I left last year. It was a shit show“ She seemed to like to use this word. „When I was younger I always dreamed of having my own coffeeshop. But then I had to earn money. Studied economics. Worked in audit. Moved to New York City. You know…money.“ The way she pronounced the word money made it sound like selling your soul for it.
„Money rules the world, right? Which company did you work for?“
„Not important. Something with alcoholic beverages.“ The fact that she did not ask or care about his work felt strange. Was she too shy to ask or did not care at all? She started to clean up the mess on the floor.
„Can I help you with cleaning up?“ He had to go back to his flat and start working. But something told him to take the chance and spend a bit more time with this strange ex-finance barista.
„No, Thanks. You still want to order? The coffee machine is not destroyed. Yet. Haha.“ There it was again. A strange laugh that was almost emotionless. He could not tell if it was sarcastic or not. He liked this women.
„Small Cappuccino, please“ He ordered in broken Hungarian. She just smirked and started to pull the cap from the coffee machine. No rings on her finger. Why did he care? He just met her and already started to plan their wedding. Stupid.
On the walk back he thought again about her eyes. The first time his and her pair of eyes met a feeling of familiarity grew in his stomach. Like they had seen each other before. But he had no clue when and where. He was sure he never went into this coffee shop before. Maybe they walked across each other somewhere on the street and he just did not remember it. Her emotionless laugh. Her shameless use of vulgar language. Her lack of interest in his background or work. Her messy aura. And these fiery brown eyes. This women was fascinating and frightening at the same time. He knew for sure that this was not the last time he went for coffee there. Even though the coffee tastes like a shit show, he thought to himself. Haha.