Children on the Seaside Wall

May 5, 2018

I received my assignment in the warm evening air, head propped in hands. When I bit into the first signs and symbols the next morning, I was already tired. Faraway clouds passing by, that piece of square blue sky, framed by the window in which a familiar figure appeared, with bottles of beer in his hands.

He whispered impatiently: “Why are you still here? It’s time to play. We have a new kid from the northern country. Let’s go to Acre.” I looked at him as though looking into the mountains or into thin air. After indulging in this still act for what felt like a long pause, I jumped over the windowsill. And we broke through the morning light with our heads – except for once before we completely disappeared from the watchful town, his mom called out to caution him. He answered in a deep voice with composure like a real adult does, because he knew the rest of us were silently making jeering faces.

In a loose long train we passed the narrow streets, noticing how the cat, approaching from behind an Arab little girl in pink stripes, cast a polite and anxious glance at her while overtaking her. We ran through the tunnel, out to the open, around the gun turrets, and over the old city wall. Then I found myself rolling on the choppy waves, embracing the temperamental sea. I could trace the whirling wind and reached out for it, but of course it did not even notice my feeble hand and roared away. The sea foam sprayed fresh salty mist onto my face; the pearly droplets that are her daughters danced around my head and wetted my hair.

The cloud grew heavier and the wind blew colder. The city wall was close at hand again. I ascended the parapet and balanced myself on tiptoe between the crushing waves on one side down below, and the scattered puddles on the other on the terrace. The waves tried to pull me back with their thundering laughter “Don’t go! Let’s keep playing!” But the smooth puddles that are the mirrors of the bright grey sky calmed my heartbeat. And I missed the human voices; I had drifted afar. There they were, two muted, black, hardly distinguishable figures at a distance about to disappear around the corner. My heart cried out “Wait! Wait for me!” I tried to speed up but the crenel gaps were too wide for my timid steps.

We joined together again, this time walking closer and came under the lighthouse. Looking back towards the bay, I descried a patch of light out there on the water created by a fleeting opening of many layers of clouds – a usual sight on the sea in the calmer moments of the stormy weather. But as magical as ever: a gleaming pool in the middle of a body of gloomy water. The gods were going to descend upon there, if not, aliens would. We fell silent as if waiting to behold them. But it must have happened when all three of us blinked at the same time.

A lighthouse, always has that appeal, especially on a violent sea: solitude, romance, permanency, mystery… The modest height seems to tower higher above anything I have seen in a metropolis. I faithfully follow its everlasting light cycles over and over; my curiosity and longing modulate equally endlessly. Try to imprint in my mind the instant of flashing, but the impression dissipates as the next cycle renews.

With the corner of my eye, I caught the familiar figure joining me for perhaps the same endeavor. But he was frustrated by the profuse moisture brought by the waves who eagerly wished to topple the light house, and had to wipe his glasses with his shirt. He wiped them for so long that it afforded me the time to remember my unsuccessful attempt at tricking him into taking off his glasses – it was long time ago. I seized the chance and triumphantly fixed my eyes at his face without glasses – as long as I could endure. The leakage of my unguarded grinning was captured by our northern country friend, who now smiling, also joined in the lighthouse gazing. Distracted by the exposure of my secret delight, I lost now how his face without glasses looked like. Maybe not much different from with glasses, to my slight disappointment.

It was time. We headed back. As now I was getting drowsy, one of us declared: “Time for work.”