The spring of elephants article image 1

The spring of elephants

Words from lockdown

The spring of elephants article image 1 The spring of elephants article image 1

I haven't spoken for days. My mouth dries up from time to time. I keep a glass of water next to me and carry it from room to room like a squire. Like a squire and I'm the knight. The knight of nothing and nowhere.

I am afraid of moving my tongue until I take a sip. I don't want to taste my dry mouth. It feels like paper. Like cardboard. A dead thing. And in there my tongue stays. In a coffin of meat. A dead clam inside its shell.

I am a shell. I'm not a knight. I am the armor of the knight.

My kitchen is drenched by the colors of a sun dying down. I cross the long shadows of the plants on the kitchen windowsill. Diagonal lines on the tiles of the floor. I know every angle, every reflection. I have seen this show day after day after day after day. After day. I've gotten tired of it. The sun hasn't. But who cares about the sun.

I haven't spoken for days. I don't need to.

Sometimes I hum to myself. Since nothing but I make any noise at all, all I hear are my thoughts all day long, spoken out loud by a voice that is not mine. So I hum. I make a noise my mind can focus on instead of the endless, pointless, hopeless internal monologue. A concerto of regrets neatly arranged to repeat: failure, failure, failure.

The spring of elephants article image 1
The spring of elephants article image 1

I wait in the shadows of the kitchen. I count the leaves on plants with a single glance. I know them better than I know my entire body. They're the only thing left that won't go on without me.

The rest will.

I move to the living room, taking exactly three steps, keeping to the right of the kitchen door. I have walked the same paths in this place so many times that I don't feel like I'm walking anymore. I just slide. Inside a tube, where the extent of my movements are limited to between walls. I can't possibly go any other way in this space. I'm a knight riding a mechanical horse. My legs are on trails.

I just want to say, we saw this coming.

My mind wanders around the catalogue of conspiracies that were crafted to find meaning in all of this, just as our predecessors did with thunder and fire. It's the gods, it's the Chinese, Obama did it, it's planet earth protecting itself. It sounds like a prayer. And like a prayer, it tastes sour in my dry mouth. But a prayer for what? All I can think of is extinction. But we've never been good at that. Even when we thought it was just around the corner.

The spring of elephants article image 1
The spring of elephants article image 1

My windows shake as I make sure they stay fixed with tape. A pack of elephants storms past my living room windows, their loud trumpeting accompanied by the sound of broken glass.

Now my hands shake. I reach for the controls of the camera trap in the corner and there it is, the only thrill of my day: all my cameras down the street were triggered, and the computer is now assembling a multi-angle image, animated. The government-provided 4k lumen projector casts it on my empty wall.

The animals are stunning. Some still have paint on them.

The picture loops and I stare at it. I stare at it until I am convinced that life is a good thing again.

I take a sip of water from the glass and I close my eyes. The gods, the Chinese, planet earth. I take a long breath of sterilised, tasteless air.

The spring of elephants article image 1
The spring of elephants article image 1

A siren blares outside. Finally. I like to think that there's someone pressing the button at the same time every day. And that someone is my friend. That's why I collect all these images of everything that triggers my camera traps. Every day, at the end of the day, I put them on a USB drive and leave it next to the door, ready.

Because one day I will prepare everything and get down the street just before the siren, and follow the sound. And I will walk all the way to where it comes from, find that somone and give them my collection of images as a thank you. Thank you for your company, I will say. “Don't worry, I understand why you don't flash the light every night to signal your presence like we are supposed to during lockdown. We all need some peace in these stressful times.” I admit it stressed me out a bit, being the only one in this city adhering to the law. But I understand.

And I will say hi, I was born on November 12th, 2021, during the very first lockdown on planet earth. I will turn 56 this year and I am happy to see you. I haven't spoken for days, so it's nice to have a chat. Life is a good thing today.

The siren stops.

I start humming louder.

The spring of elephants article image 1