A Red Cloud by Darya Tsymbalyuk

I’ve woken up, made coffee and now I am looking out of the window.  There is no snow. It’s cloudy. For some reason, I feel like crying. In the past week, I’ve felt like crying every day. There is no reason for it, but at the same time there are all the reasons in the world. Day after day, brick after brick you fight for your own self against your own self.

When such days happen, if you don’t escape in time, there is a danger of staying in bed until evening and losing all hope.

You come into the kitchen and I offer you coffee.

– Sometimes I feel so very scared and lonely, and I don’t know why.

– Fancy a walk?

My big city map shows that there is an island in the centre of the city and a lake on the island. Since long, we’ve wanted to find it.

It’s an early morning and not the best weather, so nobody is around. We are all alone, crossing a bridge. The river beneath us is cold and indifferent. No matter how long you stare into it, you won’t see anything, neither us, nor the bridge. There is no sun, and the river looks even darker without it.

We are heading into the heart of the island. Every now and then lorries are passing by. A road is framed by trees on both sides, and the trees are covered with big balls made out of twigs. I used to think those were bird nests, then I found out that they were some sort of tree cancer. Nobody takes care of trees in the depth of the island. I heard rare birds live here.

Slowly we keep walking in silence, until we reach the lake we have been looking for. On the map, it looked big, blue and surrounded by trees. In reality we see grey water and an ugly industrial bridge above it, which we cross. Another dirty lorry passes by and disappears behind black trees. We go down to the water.

– Do you think this is the lake we were looking for?

– When you see it on a map, you imagine it somewhat differently.

We come really close to the water. The lorry has passed and it’s quiet again. It’s odd to know that we are in the very heart of the city. The river embraced the island with its cold hands, hiding it in a space with no wind and no sound. No sun gets through the clouds.

– Maybe happiness is just an ability to believe into something really strongly? – I turn to you.

You are starring at the sky, hands in pockets. You keep quiet for a moment, and then:

– I remember when S. and I were on holidays in Rome. Somehow, we managed to fight in the most beautiful places. I almost have no memory of the city from that trip. Even though now I think we did not really have that many reasons to fight. Everything was so meaningless. Accidentally, we eavesdropped on pilgrims, who were waiting to meet the Pope on Wednesday. By then we felt completely exhausted from being mad at each other all the time, we sought comfort and for some reason thought that if we had managed to touch the Pope, we would have been able to save our relationship. We anxiously waited for the Pope to come out. He appeared, and we were trying to reach him, extending our arms, trying to pull ourselves out of annoyance and anger of the past years together. We managed, we touched the Pope and he went on, into the crowd of believers. Later, at lunch, we kept looking at each other, kept searching for a miracle in each other, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing.

You keep looking at the sky and I stare into the grey water, which reflects my red jacket. The island is a dark well of the city, and the lake is its bottom. There is nothing in the bottom, absolutely nothing, except a red spot of my being. It is trembling, it can’t find peace in the grey water. Turning into a red evening cloud, I take off and leave the well.

– But there is a red cloud! – I suddenly laugh and turn to you.

You look surprised, or maybe just indifferent.

– The red cloud, why don’t you understand! – and laughing, I wash my face with the grey water.



Darya is finishing a Master’s in Comparative Literature in the South of France and is working on several art projects, some of which can be found here.