06.02 - 07.03. 2021
The writer felt as though his heart had crawled a few inches higher up in his chest and re-settled there, just beneath his collarbone. It behaved as a thing unto itself that moved about without heed to his anatomical schema. The organ’s growing autonomy was made more pronounced by the almost hostile fervor with which it was performing its pumping lately. Was it fed up with its tedious duties? The writer picked up his stride and focused on meeting the pavement with the centre of his heel and only shift his weight once his entire foot was flat on the ground. His nervous system hungrily sucked up the impact data transported through the thin soft soles of his new undyed minimalist trainers.
The artist was already there when the writer arrived, three minutes late, and had struck up a conversation with a man and a woman seated outside on a bench next to a sunlit patch of wall. Coming nearer, the writer realised he knew them too. It was his friend the film editor and the film editor’s colleague, another film editor, who the writer knew only vaguely. For a second he pondered if the two were romantically involved but decided it was unlikely. The artist and the film editor, the one who was the writer’s friend, were exchanging niceties. The other film editor looked as if she had been sitting there smiling passively for a while. The writer walked up to them, smiled, said hello. Hello, everyone said back. No hands were shaken or hugs hugged. A moment of silence, then a back and forth of how-are-you.
The writer felt a pang of desire to escape. He knew the situation would soon peter out on its own. Still, he couldn’t stop himself from abruptly suggesting to the artist that they head inside. Hadn’t he just mediated their mutual desire for this drawn-out loop of smiles and nods and empty chatter to terminate? The writer felt inexplicably hurried, battling a compulsion to get everything over with. Yet, he also wanted everything to slow down, for time to dilate. He was mixed up about the appropriate pace of life and its encounters, especially his own role in determining it.
His possible faux pas lingered with him as he and the artist sat down across from each other at a wobbly table inside. The barista had beckoned them away from the counter, where they had been heading, signaling that he would come wait on them instead. His compact figure soon appeared from behind the large espresso machine that took up most of the bar, and began gliding towards their table with practiced poise. The artist was talking, but the writer’s attention was shifty. His gaze fixed on the barista. The man radiated enviable patience, an emerging smile was playing on his thin lips. He probably considered himself a crafts person, the writer thought, even if his day was spent endlessly pouring warm water over ground beans in place of machinery that arguably could perform this function with the same aptitude. At least the barista was performing with conviction.
The barista's thick build intimated a struggle with limiting calorie intake, diminishing his aura of self mastery. But the extra bulk also added an attractive groundedness. Heaviness has its own elegance. The artist had begun talking about pineapples, listing curious facts about them that he had picked up from a documentary, like the unfathomably high price that European royalty had been willing to pay to get their hands on one in medieval times. The writer unsuccessfully attempted to imagine a scarcity that could give a fruit such value today, before he tried to nudge the conversation onto the topic at hand, the reason the artist had wanted to meet. Without exception, his altercations with others of late had professional purposes. The barista had arrived at their table, his smile now fully expressed as he took their orders.
- Stian Gabrielsen
Photos: Thor Brødreskift