Prose by Timothé Bouchouar
Artwork by Xurian Dively
You find your identity standing in a dark room, dismal and cold. A bucket with crusted thick rims and screws protruding from the sides, splattered with the sickly oranges and browns of rust. The substance within is close to spilling over, a sticky, viscous concoction of honey and Mercury, heavy and dark and sweet. Beside your identity lies a chair of frayed leather cushion and pale metal- a chair soaked with uncomfortable anticipation, sweat and a hint of fear. The torn leather swallows, its grasp on you cloyingly tight. An almost otherworldly contraption glares at you, only inches from your face.
Dials, knobs, and switches decorate plates of shining metal so bright you feel the urge to squint, home to two lenses in the center that beckon for a fresh set of eyes. While peering through, your vision blurs, and heavy footsteps thump beside you. Countless sharp clicks echo throughout the room as calculated adjustments are made to the device, causing a series of scenes to flit past, fleeting images of moments in time. “How does this look?” A heavy metallic click rings in your ears. The lenses ripple to reveal a boisterous family of over a dozen sitting on a floor lined with weaved straw mats, surrounding a short wooden table adorned with a large tagine in the center. Laughter bubbles from their chests as they eat with their hands and fight one another for the treasured bits of the meal. “How about this?” Another metallic click. A young girl with hair draping down to her knees is wearing a dress of sparkling pale lace. As she is fawned over by adults she shifts her feet and her eyes dart, searching for comfort. Click. The girl, several years older, sits at a desk, the countertop littered with drawings of her fear. She sketches a boy, and fills him with her hope. Click. The girl faces a boy in a brightly lit bathroom, both wielding a pair of scissors. Locks of dark hair decorate the floor, slain . Their movements mimic one another, eyes shining with the same scrutiny. Separated by the bathroom mirror, they flick off a lightswitch, and the girl is nowhere to be seen. Click. The boy, a young man now, is confronting a microphone, speaking to a room of other adolescents. He holds a sheet of dreams in his left hand, and paints them in the air with his right. Out of his mouth pours ambition and blood and Mercury and honey; heavy, dark and sweet; spilling into the floor, filling up the room until there is nothing else. Click. The young man is suffocating in a living room, struggling for air as an older woman speaks aside him. They share a face, but lines of wisdom, culture, the love and hate of a parent are sunken in hers . Out of her mouth oozes religion, betrayal, devotion, and premeditated beliefs that tangle together and create a tight hold on the man’s throat. Confusion and self doubt create streaks on his cheeks. Click. The young man brandishes a pen that holds ink of endurance. In front of him is a form that seals his future. He illustrates his courage, hands tracing the lines between himself and the world.
He signs it, ‘Timothé Zakariyya Bouchouar’. “You should be able to see clearly now.” A clink indicates something being placed beside you, and footsteps thump away. You peel your head out of the machine, and blink several times, clearing the final traces of history from your vision. A pair of glasses coax you to peer through, and you do so, resting them gingerly on the bridge of your nose. The young man stands before you, carrying the bucket as if it is weightless.
Note: This work was featured in the Uprizine Fall 2019 print edition.