Courtyard (and other stories) - Stefano Pastor - ebook
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Three fantastic stories.COURTYARD. At the end of existence, an old man finds himself in a courtyard. It is identical to that in which he played as a child. Even that child who is playing just looks like him. And if it was really possible? Correcting mistakes, preventing the one that destroyed its existence from happening. Perhaps helping that child will give himself another chance.OTIS. A couple is sitting at a table in a bar. They are ready, their initiation path is finished, only Otis await, to know the next step. Because the final prize is the most coveted: immortality. But when Otis arrives their amazement is great: they are faced with a child. More surprises await them.THE RAVEN. What prompted Poe to write his most famous poem? The encounter with the animal, which took place in a cemetery, drags him into a self-destructive and distressing game.

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Illusion Short Stories # 10

Courtyard

Original title: Cortile

Translated by Manuel Cecconi

Otis

Original title: Otis

Translated by Cinzia Albanese

The Raven

Original title: Il corvo

Translated by Alessandro

© 2018 Illusion

© 2018 Stefano Pastor

Graphics: Angela M.

COURTYARD

To the old man

in the courtyard

which has changed

my life

“Of course he loves you! He always asks about you! He sends you many kisses!”

This is what the woman says, when they call. But it’s already been two years that I haven’t spoken to anyone, least of all with her. And I don’t have anyone to love. Certainly not them.

My children have found the woman. Not to let me alone, they said. To get rid of me, in truth.

Eighty, eighty years down the drain. I reached that age few days ago, but nobody remembered. Them, my children, grandchildren, all hate me. And they are right, even I have never loved them. I have dominated their life as my father had dominated mine. I have grown them up with severity, discipline, without love, as he had done with me.

Besides, I have never felt them as mine. I had not chosen to have them, as I did not choose to marry their mother, nor did the teacher work that I hated so much. My father had decided everything.

When he died of a heart attack, I was already more than forty years old. For a moment, I thought of finally being free: I could realize all my dreams, be what I wanted.

I left the job and decided to become a writer. I shut myself in the studio, in front of a blank page, but no matter how hard I tried to find the inspiration the only thing that came to my mind was a tale I had thought when I was just a kid.

It was not easy, and I had to improvise escaped memories. But I managed to sell the story the same, and it had a fair success.

Then I tried again, but it was a catastrophe, I did a couple of other books, one worse than the other, that no publisher ever wanted to publish. In the end I gave up, the secret dream of my whole life had died before I was born. This, too, could make my father: make me dry, completely empty.

I went back to teaching, and to a family that I did not love and who did not love me.

The Princess, the Knight and the Seer.

This is the title of my book. A fragment of my soul.

I remember the day I confessed to my father I wanted to be a writer, and all the beatings he gave me. It was the first time he hit me, but it has not been the last.

My life has been pointless, even more empty and barren of the one who dominated it. And now that it comes to an end there are only these few pages to be the witnesses of my existence.

If I was still talking, I could recite them.

The Princess ran towards the sunrise, attracted by its splendor. She was the supreme being of creation, absolute perfection. Her beauty took the breath away to everybody who met her. Her voice was sweet as the song of a nightingale; her eyes were pools of pure water. Gold hair that framed her face…

Yes, she was perfect; the most perfect being ever been conceived by divine mind. She gave joy to the world: if she was dead, the very existence of humankind would have been useless. The sadness would have wrapped everything like a shroud.

Just as it happened to my existence.

I never knew her name, or even if I met her now I forgot it: in my book, I invented one, Aurora, but it was not the right one.

I have changed many things in my story, so many things that I did not remember anymore. What did happen to the princess, did she lived happily ever after? I had no memory, maybe I never discovered. I made her live happily ever after with her knight. It was within my power, after all.

The woman does everything for me: she cleans me, she dresses me, and she takes me around. She even speaks for me, as if she had any idea what goes through my mind.

I cannot walk very well anymore; I have to use a cane. She supports me, but my feet are getting shorter. She takes me out every day; she says that it is good, that is why I have to insist. When she realizes that I can no longer go on, we sit on a bench.

Why all this effort, don’t you see that it is useless, that I am at the end, I’m dying? Day by day, step by step, bench after bench.

She leaves me alone, sometimes, like today. When she has to do some errands and she cannot take me with her. She lets me sit on the bench, so she knows I do not escape and she always finds me when she’s back.

Today she abandoned me into a courtyard. She spotted it passing by, she saw the grassy stretch, the benches under the trees. It was open, a courtyard surrounded by palaces, an oasis of green in a sea of concrete. She brought me there, she made me sit and she left.

I don’t mind, it’s very quiet there. There is peace, there is no one except me, only a playing child.

It reminds me of another courtyard, where I went as a child. It was my refuge, the place to go on dreaming. The grass was tall, large golden spikes, like wheat, and in the middle the skeleton of a machine, just like this one, in front, where a child is playing.

He’s small, he seems seven or eight years old, and he is kneeling on the ground, in front of the broken seat through of the car. He plays with something that is inside.

I look at him, I follow his every move, because I have nothing else to do. He is cutting out a magazine. I focus that little bit of sight I have left. He cut out people, maybe it’s a fashion magazine. I smile: I did that as a kid too. I forgot that, but looking at him, made the memory immediately came to my mind.

I did cut out characters, then I created stories, I moved them like puppets and I made them talk. I gave voice to all characters: my private theater.

The child’s voice is faint, distant, in falsetto. He seems to recite a poem.

“The princess ran into the woods.”

“Majesty, stop, where are you going?”

“Chasing sun rise.”

…the wood was green. Then the colors began to change and everything is grey; the darkness were looming. All traces of dawn had disappeared. The Princess looked around the edge. She knew no more of the road, she had forgotten where she was playing…

“Go away, dark! Let me go!”

“The branches the tear your clothes.”

“The Princess screams.”

My hand trembles, more than usual. That kid is telling my story, my story. I should be happy, right? Have passed so many years, I thought the world had forgotten. Instead, someone must have read it, and he liked it, because now he’s representing it.

He noticed me and lowered his voice: maybe he’s ashamed to be heard. I try to listen better, I move toward the edge of the bench, in his direction.

“Fight against trees.”

“Runs away.”

“Coming out of the Woods.”

“It’s located in front of the Dragons.”

The Dragon, not the Dragons. Only one, fearsome, an immense Dragon.

…his eyes were blazing flames, seemed to devour the soul. Stinky breath smelled of sulfur. His heart was black, very long tail flickered towards her. A blade that wanted to just stick. The darkness enveloped him, walked with him. The Princess began to run desperate…

“There are many, come from all over. Everyone against her. She is paralyzed, unable to move.”

“Their eyes are bright, they dazzle her. Their screams sneer at her.”

“She cries, she’s terrified.”