Six Walls


For a long time, you thought the walls were rigid. Hard concrete. Grey. With some yellow patches. Covered with scratches and inscriptions. Some that only a really tall man would reach. Some men are giants you thought when you first entered your new home. Then you realised that they were probably standing on the narrow stool. The men before you. Some writings in languages you do not know. The fact that there are so many languages you do not know gives you comfort. You are well learned and well-travelled.  But there is a big world out there. Outside those six walls. 

For a while you were banging your fists against the walls. The harshness of it all. Rugosity all around. All the softness gone. You never thought it was unfair. After all the accident was all your fault. But it was hard nonetheless. 6 hard walls. Around you. Over your head. Under your feet. You inside the walls. The world of possibilities outside. You thought at times that you should not idealise the outside. It is a hard world too out there. But the simple thought of having the sun brushing on your fade. Your eyes blinded by the light. Needing sunglasses desperately. The smell of the outsides. Cities with bakeries and coffees shop.  Car fumes. Parks after the rain. Smells of autumns in the wood. And the scent of the beef stew which has cooked for 5 hours when you entered your house. This recipe you have been perfecting over the years. Outside. 

You thought the walls were hard at first. Dam right they were. Your fists were bruised from trying to push them. The floor and the ceiling were grey and humid. Made of the same concrete. Six walls. Lying on your narrow bed you sometimes imagined that the ceiling and the floor were walls. Your body was floating vertically. 

When you realized that your boxed world had several dimensions you could shift around you, you started to play with the walls. One was a movie screen were you could see your life in Cinemascope. Those faces. Places. Then you started to play movies. The movies in the movies. This film you loved and which made you cry. Movie night with no popcorn. You would stare at the wall for hours. You projected for yourself Casablanca, Paris Texas, Blue and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

You then decided that the wall facing the bed was a large bay window. One of those large transparent windows defying the laws of architecture. One of those windows which did not open. Like your 30th floor office overlooking Bryant park. Overlooking a deep garden, facing some woods. Facing South West. Sunny most of the day. Sunset every night. Different colours in the story stretching lenticular clouds. Like the ones you saw in el Torres del Pane in Chile when you travelled there 20 years ago. The woods reminded you of Canada. Red trees. Sometimes you thought you could see the silhouette of a bear. But surely this was your imagination. Bears were rare those days. 

Sometimes you thought you should have built this window facing East. To be woken up by the sun flooding in. Getting up day after day was so hard. No kids jumping on your bed. Laughing. So ready for the day. And you lying in bed. And them joining you in bed. Tricking them into sleeping a little bit more. Playing a game. Pretending to sleep. It would give you 5 mns more in bed. Maybe 10. Here, there was no time to protect. The walls surrounding you, the time stretching in a regulated continuum, the end of your time there so far away, and you. Just You. 

You explored every corner of the view through the window, your eyes deep beyond the wall. You watched the seasons passing. month after month. Season after season. Year after year. You watched all the movies a thousand times. You could play them in your head, forward and backwards. You tried to add to your collection other films you liked. But you could just remember fragments. Too many gaps. Scripts with blank pages. Silent characters. Happy endings which were no longer believable.

Some nights, you could hear the drip of the water in your sleep. The small rusty sink in the corner. The drip drip drip noise somehow blended in your sleep. Dreams of water and streams. The one at the back of your childhood garden. Where you used to launch some improvised sailing boats made of wood and missed the water, the pools of water after the rain, the streams, the rivers, the lacs, the ponds, the grey oceans and the blue seas. During one of those nights, you dreamed of a clear blue pool, long and narrow. With small dark blue tiles all around. You dove silently. The water was caressing your body. You were naked. Alone in the pool. The water was cool first. You swam and swam. Ripples reflecting the sun and the clouds in the sky. You swam until dawn where you woke up between your six walls. 

From that point, you decided that your walls were liquid. A three dimensional pool. Blue all around. With small ripples. A pool like in a giant Hockney's painting. A pool just for you. You swam regularly. Your shoulders and arms grew stronger. You swam for long hours, alone, immersed in the blue water. You swam with your eyes wide open. Like a stubborn kid, you refused to come out of the water. You swam and swam. Until you were shivering and exhausted. Your skin wrinkled by the time spent in the water. You would not stop. The liquid walls around you. So deep and blue.

When they found you, you were wet and pale. Your skin wrinkled by the time spent in the water. The autopsy confirmed that you had drowned. No one ever understood how you could have drowned in an 8 m2 prison cell with a small rusty sink in one corner.