Decisions (c)

There are four primary players in this story: two supernatural, and two human.

Lailah, the first of the former, is a creator of opportunities and a sower of desires, working to bring humans closer together using desires like magnets.

Rikbiel makes those opportunities either accessible or unattainable, giving or taking away courage, or providing or hiding the right words at critical moments… metaphorically, creator and overseer of windows and doors.

Then there is Ourania (name means sky), the female human—bright, courageous, wiser than her years… and a traveler who had already been to and worked in some four or five countries in three continents.

And, the male human… oh, what to call him? Perhaps Achilles would be a cruel joke but a good fit nonetheless. This human is the opposite of Achilles in that vulnerabilities and weaknesses cover almost the entirety of him, from jealousy to emotional insecurities, impatience to clumsiness, and fears leading to being prohibitively judgmental as a coping tool. The one possible strength in him, hidden, deep and out of the way around his heel, is loyalty, and persistence, arguably one and the same. The man could be loyal and persistent to a fault, so much so that he required it of others, in turn leading to his perpetual disappointment and frustration.

The story begins with Lailah, the first of the two supernatural beings, who at some point decides to help Achilles break his patterns of disappointments through a female match. At the ‘time’, Ourania was searching for a destination, a place to visit, a family away from home with whom to spend a few weeks. Lailah presented to both of the two humans the one attractive option, or rather the only viable option. It would be the house where they meet.

Days later, Achilles finds himself at a home with a large vegetable garden and three chickens. On his first day, he gives in to those chickens and lets them peck at him. To his credit, he eventually finds a way to feed them quick enough and run away before they make holes in his shoes and jeans.

Ourania enters the scene on Achilles’ fourth day in the house. He takes a quick look, and his habitual judgment of others goes to work. He sees lousy and too-short hair, average nose, peculiar gate; hears screechy voice yelling hello; then a huge smile appears and Achilles takes it a step further and decides this person is abnormally elated; but… Lailah is present and at work, and helps him feel something in Ourania that trumps all his judgments. He feels her beauty. The next day that beauty is affirmed when another man visits the house and meets Ourania. That man would not stop talking to her, would not stop touching her. This other man, Achilles concludes, is annoying beyond redemption.

On the days that ensue, Ourania and Achilles share a room and chores. One of the chores, or rather project, was to build a fence around part of the garden, such that the three birds—likely hens, not chickens—could roam freely inside the rest of the garden while the vegetables remain unharmed.

As these two humans started to build that fence—digging holes for poles, using crates, adding some linked wire— they had to think as one and decide on solutions together. After a couple of days, it hits Achilles: He liked Ourania. In fact, there were a few moments through those days when he stared and admired her face.

Beautiful, he thought every time.

Then, I really don’t mind the nose.

He was not falling in love, and had in fact decided not to because of another certain pattern, a certain brick wall he ran into every time he liked a woman. Some months before he had committed to no longer try. Part of the problem was doubt. What if she does not want to? What if I approach her without tact? What if I scare her? What if she screams… what if what if what if.

But now, with Ourania, and Lailah’s touch, he acknowledged he liked Ourania’s company, and so faced a dilemma. So, he changed his mind and made another decision: Use the two weeks to be with Ourania. Two weeks of her company without declarations. And so he did.

Then, eleven days pass. The fence was done. The chickens were free. The vegetables safe. All was good in the world of this garden, except inside his head, and heart. The end of their companionship was approaching, and allowing it to end with those two weeks was no longer an option. She was too special, and he desired more time with her. Something had to be done. He wanted to cut off and break his pattern.

That night, the twelfth of his stay, a dream comes to him. He sees three elevators in front of him, lined next to each other, and with three glass doors between him and the doors for the elevators. He walks across from left to right, and notices the right-most is for the sixth floor; the one in the middle is for the fifth floor; and the left-most is for floors one to four. He pushes the button for the sixth floor, then realizes it is not where he wants to go, and not the fifth either. He wants the fourth floor, so he pushes the button for the first of the three elevators, but instead the doors for the sixth floor elevator open; the glass doors for that elevator open, close, and the elevator leaves. Frustration overcomes him. How do I get to the fourth floor… how? Then, the left-most elevator arrives. Achilles feels a bit of hope. The doors for the elevator open, but the glass doors do not budge. Achilles feels more frustration. He is being blocked, he decides.

When he opens his eyes in the morning, he recalls the dream, considers it a premonition, and dreads the morning and the day. Little time is left, he thinks. During the day, he tries to speak to Ourania, to somehow reach and connect with her, but she is too busy for a conversation. By then they are working on different chores and no longer together at the fence. Feeding the chickens—hens—does not require two people; cooking a meal for the family is done alone, while everyone else is working on something. When the two are not working or are in the same room, there are other people around. At day’s end, there is a moment when she goes alone to their shared room. He follows her, and then tries to start a conversation; but, unfortunately for him, he feels something around his throat blocking his voice; he tries to think of words but his thoughts are hazy and jumbled. She looks at him, waits hopefully, but little comes out. He wants to move closer to her, but feels some strange invisible force in front of him blocking his path. He turns around and leaves the room.

One more day, the last day for them in the same house, passes. She sends him an innocuous message on the phone. He feels a bit of hope, and replies. But little else of significance happens. The final morning comes and Ourania leaves. He helps her with her bag and hugs her. The next day, he drafts a short message, saying that he misses her already, and builds the courage to add a heart. She replies, miss you too!