Home by Bleriana Myftiu20 Oct 2017, Posted by Short Fiction in
Art: Altar by Jieun Beth Kim
One summer night in Tirana, on the balcony on the second floor, I lay on my back feeling the cool breeze and listening to the croaking of frogs from the artificial lake, a strange lullaby. I found myself wondering about sad things and I begged the stars to take me away.
I imagined myself a statue made of marble and I climbed inside but the marble cracked and I became someone else, my favorite Titan god, Prometheus the creator of men. He told me the stars were dying, and that it wouldn’t be long before the sky turns into a dark fright. There will be no more wishes, he said, for the pain to subside, for this terrible weight you carry within because there is a void in the center of the Cosmos and in that void there is only an endless fall.
Nonsense, I said, and a week later I boarded a plane. I flew across the Atlantic. Suspended, weightless among the clouds. Headed for a new world where I didn’t need statues or gods. Who needs stars when you can leave everything behind? I fed on forgetfulness and reinventions till the day he found me. Wake up, Prometheus said. The stars are dying and there’s no place left to hide. He motioned with his hand. Reluctantly, I followed.
I went back home last night. Not to the one I live in now, but to the one of my childhood. Past the grape vines dripping with fruit as violet as a thunderous sky, the kind I was not supposed to
eat because it was only meant to produce wine, a wine so rich in texture and taste that it betrayed your senses and numbed your tongue like venom. I didn’t have time to stop. Down the narrow brick
way covered in spongy moss. I finally reached the entrance and pulled open the dusty screen door that led to the kitchen. It was deserted but I still felt the heat of the stove in the middle of the room, the smell of iron, liver, and onion, sizzling on a blackened pan, droplets of oil dancing in the sunlight, feeling nostalgic, that heavy feeling which my heart bares so naturally, and content, I leaned on the windowsill just for a moment, taking deep breaths, holding them as long as I could. Outside, the pine trees still grew tall, shading the garden, and orange fruits littered the wild grass that grew everywhere.
I left the kitchen and followed the tiled hallway toward the staircase that led to the upper level of the house. That’s when I saw my mother, at the wooden base of those wide steps, talking to my father’s head. I kept my distance and said: My father’s dead. And she knew, because she’d been crying and holding the head, pressing against those lifeless cheeks with both hands, looking straight into his still eyelids. My father hardened and cold like the marble head of Euripides (or was it Eros?) that he used as a bookend on his shelf. And I was afraid—because my mother’s fingers were clutching so tight—that my father’s smooth grey skin would crack and then tear like rice paper. My dear, she was saying, I miss you. I told her to stop. Stop, I said, he’s been dead a while, and my mother, not in an uncaring way, said: You don’t have to come here anymore. And if what she said is true, that she means to save me grief, then she does not understand. Where else would I go?
About the Author:
Bleriana Myftiu grew up in Tirana, Albania and immigrated to the United States after the communist regime was overthrown. She has worked as a translator for the United Nations and holds an MFA in fiction from San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in Atticus Review and Red Light Lit.