I have attempted to write this many times. Each time, there is something that is lacking. Somewhere, in the words and punctuation marks, I can see the face of Marija, the Estonian girl. Somewhere, I can see her shadow fall across the keyboard now, and I can see slim silhouette in my mind’s eye but I can’t do justice to it. I met Marija last evening after my colleague insisted that I do. She had got drunk and taken something potent enough to cause her hallucinations. She had a bad trip, one she is not going to forget, and as her screams filled my colleague’s phone, he knew that the time had come for drastic steps. He took her to the hospital where she lay for a few hours, supine and unfeeling. The doctors insisted that she be taken to a rehabilitation centre, but since there was no one who was legally related to her, she had to be let go.
She was discharged, and I was summoned.
I walked through the streets of my city with trepidation. Her condition was stable, she’d had too much too drink and took a pill that (fortunately) reduced her Blood Alcohol Content. It was an accident, but a fortunate one. She was a little irritable and was unwilling to either see my colleague or talk to him. He called my phone to tell me that he needed me to meet her at her flat.
“Ativ, brother, please,” he pleaded on the phone. I could picture him, smoking a Marlboro or something like King’s because it was so strong. He was clearly distressed. “Just go and try to convince her to go to rehab, please.”
I walked to the edge of the city where her flat is. It is right at the top of the building. I was glad that her balcony was barred and not open. It was a sense of grim relief that Marija wouldn’t be able to jump. I knocked on her door after climbing up to the 10th floor in the elevator. In my hand I had a bag of sweets, some pizza and a bottle of water. I waited patiently for her to answer.
“Who is it?” she asked, irritated. her speech was not slurred, so it meant that she wasn’t on anything then. she could her, respond and speak with strength, which meant that at the most, she had a hangover from the booze.
“Who is it?”, she called out again.
“Ativ Schuberg, from the second group. I just wanted to see if you were okay”.
A moment of silence follows. I am unsure of what to say next.
“I’m fine, thank you, Ativ”, she calls out again.
“I’m glad to hear it. But I wanted to see if you were okay. It is a different thing”, I reply, feeling like an arse.
i heard her soft footsteps approach the door. She opened it and there she stood, a slim girl of about 20, black hair, black eyes, lips to die for, dressed in a gown. She stood aside and I entered a dimly lit flat, with books strewn everywhere. It was untidy, dark, and cold. The balcony was open and I could see the countryside extend into the far horizon. I set the package of food and water that I brought on a table by my right and turned to Marija. She stood, flushed, tired and possibly very hungry in the foyer. She looked at me with a little fear, i could make out. Was it shame? Was it fear? I can see her eyes now, they were downcast, as if she had done something that wasn’t expected of her, something indecent. I saw those very eyes from whom the light had gone, and as I looked deeper into her dark eyes, I couldn’t find any light either.
“you are an avid reader,” I remarked, picking up Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the shore’ from a heap of Asimov and Chekhov. It is one of my favourites and I told her so. She said nothing. I could tell that she was nervous, and I asked her if she wanted something to eat. A moment of silence followed after which she shook her head.
“Marija, ” I began, ” you must eat something”.
She turned away from me and I just stood there like a moron. “I’m not hungry” she said, and her voice was hollow. She turned away and all I could see was her slender back, draped in a dressing gown.
“You are, Marija”, I said. My voice was deep, I noticed it. It echoed through the house. I opened the bag of sweets, dug out a Swiss chocolate. This one was filled with nougat, kind of like a Mars bar in the shape of a small sphere. I walked towards her and she turned to me. I could see that tears had filled her eyes. I put my hand around her and I admit this was the first time I had done it. I am not used to comforting crying women. I say crying, because Marija had burst into tears.
Great. Within two minutes of me turning up, she is crying. Great, just fucking great. At that moment, I could have kicked my own teeth out. I led her to a sofa and sat her down. She is so thin that I could feel her collar bone under my fingers. The sense of alarm is increasing with each passing moment. I opened the wrapper of the chocolate and laid it on her palm. She cried softly, wordlessly, and just each sob sent a spear through my body. Dammit it was painful.
“I don’t know what to do”, she sobbed. At that moment, I didn’t either.