“When lifestyle, livelihood, social connections, belonging, knowledge, power, prestige, esteem, the roof over your head, the ground beneath your feet, your history, your traditions, your language, your land - when it’s all been stripped away, mostly without you even realising… at what point do you actually wake up?”
He looked out across the vineyards, down towards the smudge that was the village in the distance. Low lying. Mosquito infested. Stagnant with heat in summer, a chamber of echoes in winter. Houses too big. Streets too wide. All that was left but not really (never really) his.
Another tumbler of wine would make the noise less offensive. Yet another would ease the edges of memory into a strangled tune. Time would pass. Night would fall. Sleep would come. Morning would start it all again.
Even at his lowest he knew his melancholy was probably nothing more than middle age - shaken resolutely with the only power he had left: contempt. He was old enough to know that nothing was coming back - not youth, not identity, not a thing called home. The earthquake only accelerated what was in the end inevitable. Everyone, everywhere, one day would feel the same.
“Always remember,” he continued, head tilted back, speaking to the sky and not caring, particularly, if he was heard or ignored, “the world you come from will vanish. You think that nothing changes - a stone is a stone, a sword a sword, a good salsa a good salsa. But you’ll wake in time to discover ridiculous notions: that artificial breasts are beautiful, or melodies no longer popular, or priests raping children. Everything repackaged, rebranded, reconfigured, renamed. And posted on some hideous, homogenous digital timeline.”
The unmarked bottle was empty now. A good drop it was too, whatever year had made it (not that it mattered now).
“Sometimes I’m glad my days are numbered.”
He slumped a little lower in his chair.
A dog’s bark echoed in the distance.
“Who has the stamina?”