“Life is organized around what is hollow.”
Never these words had made as much sense as in this moment. Alice thought, enthralled, repeating, to herself, to exhaustion, this single phrase, at the check-in line. She was still incredulous, after the news that made her come back from New York. And, unintentionally, it escapes her, once, out loud. In front of her, a rushed couple turns around, perplexed, and murmurs a phrase of indignation, which Alice, just, understands by the wrinkling of their foreheads and the shrugging of the husband’s left shoulder. But now what to do with that void? It wouldn’t be her, certainly, thinking about it, but she couldn’t get José’s image out of her head, in her last visit to the Bordeaux house. José’s accident had put him on a wheelchair, for a few years, and, he only got to be free again when he moved, along with his family, to the Bordeaux house. There, a whole void filled his days, the hours, the minutes that the outside world denied him. It wasn’t him that filled a void. It was that immense void, vertical, directed at the clouds, that received José and allowed him to do everything he enjoyed, without inhibitions, without restrictions. One exception only: when he wanted to take a peek at his kids in their bedrooms. A void united all the spaces in his house, an elevatory platform which was his house (and not the space around it) and one other void, abrupt, between him and his kids, who kept on growing up. But what to do with that void which was but him? It was impossible for Alice not to review all these images in her head, as the check-in line moved forward. Window or aisle? It seemed indifferent, the immensity of the blue sky, at this moment. What did it interest her? She wouldn’t be able to measure the air, to feel even the slightest change in the surface of her skin and, certainly, she would keep on breathing normally, without even having to inspire really deeply.