Beyond the horizon c’è il al di là
Ofelia Genovese was sitting on the bay window of her apartment, leaning back against a fluffy turquoise, square pillow. She had a copy of Poesia Italiana del Novecento, on her lap. She was reading “L’infinito” by Giacomo Leopardi, and she was holding a small notebook – with messy notes – and a black pen. Her dark hair was held in a bun. Her puffy, long-sleeved, grey sweater smelled of baked chocolate chip cookies, she wore it over her dark blue leggings.
A light orange mug, with hot chocolate -halfway full, – was sitting in front of her, next to a plate of cookies. She was deep in thought, staring out into the forest, as the sun started to set. She liked how the buttery-warm-light seeped through the trees; the sun, far beyond the forest, descended slowly to meet the horizon.
The sun warmed up the living room, as the light flooded into the room. Ofelia looked back to her reading. She was enraptured by Leopardi’s words. She could see the siepe in the trees of the forest, they too limited her gaze to the orizzonte. She wondered what existed within the space beyond the horizon. Does it really hold silence and profound stillness?
She noticed a light, or a glimmer reflecting on her notes. It caught her attention, and she looked up to see where it was coming from, but the glimmer was gone. She dismissed it and continue reading. This time the glimmer – diamond shaped with light colors along one side – was over her book. It gleamed for a few seconds and disappeared. Distracted she put the book down and looked around for the shape. She looked outside, the sun was setting, and there was something gleaming in the forest. It seemed to be just west off of one of the trails she liked to jog along in the mornings.
Ofelia decided that she could take a break, she put her notes and her book down and headed to the entryway to put her grey-knitted boots on. She grabbed her jacket, her gloves, her beanie, and a flashlight. She made her way down the hallway to the stairs. There was no one around, perhaps everyone was staying in, getting ready for dinner.
The leaves crunched beneath her feet as she stepped out of the building. The glass door closed behind her, she looked into the woods, to where a twinkling beam of light lead her. She crossed the main road and headed to the back of a healing center across from where she lived; the trailhead was just past the center.
The sun was just about to set by the time Ofelia got deep into the forest. The wind rustled through the branches, the crisp air heightened the smell of the bark of the trees, the ground was covered in colorful leaves.
Ofelia walked at a brisk pace, making her way along the trail, the wind picked up and started blowing in the direction she was headed. Up, down, and around she went. She reached a sign indicating that the trail continued towards the right, and noticed the reflection of the glimmering-diamond-shaped-light on the wooden sign. She looked to the left and noticed a glimmering lump just off the trail, it was under a dark-root of a hollow, old tree trunk. The root came out of the ground and twisted upwards, the lump was almost fully covered by the colorful leaves.
Curious, she walked off the trail, leaves crunching as she made her way toward the tree trunk. As she walked toward the tree trunk, she thought of the poem again. She thought of an infinite space that holds everything within itself. Where could such a place exist, if it did? Surely, it was just constricted to the eternity of Leopardi’s words.
Ofelia reached the tree trunk, she could smell the dirt, it smelled wet. It was a strong earthy smell. “Hmmm that’s weird,” she thought. It hadn’t rained in weeks, how did the area around a dead tree trunk smell wet? She reached for the lump, it gave off a delicate glimmer now, barely perceptible anymore. She picked it up and turned it around in her fingers. It was similar to a crystal, perhaps a quartz?
The lump was cold to her touch and covered in dirt. As she moved it around, holding it with the tips of her fingers, she noticed a rod-like shape on one of the facets of the crystal-like-lump she picked up. She noticed that at certain angles it just looked like a rock – easily dismissed within the forest – she turned it back to where the rod-like shape was and examined it closer. The rod-like shape had a slight elevation to it, it looked like they were tiny shimmering-silver rocks encrusted onto the quartz-looking-lump.
“What is this?” She thought out-loud, as she kept inspecting it. She looked down to see if there were more, but all she found was a display of orangey-yellowish-brown foliage. She crouched down to where the root of the tree-bark left the ground, a light shimmer caught her attention. With her left hand, she reached to the shimmering silver tiny rocks – meteorite-like – that delineated a familiar shape. They were encrusted on the ground, beneath the root.
Ofelia realized that the shape matched that of the quartz she held on her right hand. The three-minute rocks that were aligned into a rod-like shape on the front of the quartz, were the same as the rocks delineating the diamond-shaped-hole on the ground.
Instinctively she reached with her right hand and pressed the quartz into the hole, beneath the dark, moist root. “It fits perfectly,” she noticed. Within seconds, Ofelia sensed a buzzing-vibrational-pull towards the inside of the hollow tree-trunk. All of a sudden, the energy within the tree-trunk had shifted, and it was no longer limited to the space it was in, it moved inward, somehow.
Ofelia felt blissful, just by standing near it. Her energy felt light, she was vibrating at a high frequency, she could sense it all around her. Absentmindedly, she leaned in closer, she was enchanted by what seemed to be water droplets suspended in time and space. They weren’t really moving, and yet, they were not fully still.
Unable to resist herself, she removed her dark-fuzzy-blue glove and reached into the tree-trunk with her right hand. Her hand moved in circular motions, freely about the dark space, she opened and closed it; nothing, there was nothing to grab, nothing solid to touch. Her fingers moved around the dark -infinitely inward – space. The wetness of the droplets, spread-out throughout and within the dark, hollow tree-trunk was perceptible. However, Ofelia still couldn’t quite touch the droplets. She was even more surprised when she pulled her hand back, out of the hollow tree-trunk.
“Weird, I figured my hand would be wet, it just feels cold, somehow moist,” she thought to herself as she inspected her right hand. She held it up, slowly twirling it around in the dim light; the buttery-setting-sun was forgotten in the, now, dimly lit evening. The cold autumn air tossed the leaves around, as it murmured its way through the trees.
Ofelia put her glove back on and straightened herself a little, holding on to the tree-trunk for support, awestruck; the warmth of her breath dispersing through the crisp air. She looked around to make sure she was still in the forest; the trail was still to her right. Nothing seemed to have changed. “I can’t be dreaming,” she said as she touched the leaves around her feet, the tree-trunk, the ground.
It was twilight, the trail was barely visible now. “I should probably go home,” she thought as she looked around her quiet surroundings. She looked back into the tree-trunk, the water droplets appeared to be closer together – though not quite touching, – was the space shrinking? Did they all move at the same time? Did they move at all? Or were they like that before?
Overwhelmed, Ofelia went to reach for the quartz and stopped halfway. She was thrown off at first. She hesitated for a second, all she could see now was a rock, a silvery, small rock. “Beh! Where did the quartz go?” She thought, perplexed -that inexplicable, vibrant-pull inward, into the space of the hollow tree trunk, was getting stronger. She then remembered that the quartz had resembled a rock when she had moved it around, before pressing it into the ground.
Bellow the old, dark root, just where it took off from the ground as it wound upward, laid a smooth, small, dark rock; easily lost within the dark dirt that surrounded it. Ofelia couldn’t help herself anymore. Enchanted by the droplets, she leaned into the tree-trunk, and she let herself be pulled inward.
She swooshed down, infinitely down, or so it seemed. She was aware of being amongst the darkness and water droplets. She was aware of having dropped into the hollow trunk of the dead tree, just off of the trail she had walked on. But her body was missing.
“Cazzo! Where is my body?” Ofelia thought anxiously. Then, ever-slowly, she became aware of herself, of her body, as if her body had finally caught up with her soul, or her consciousness. She wasn’t quite sure.
“Dove cazzo sono?!” she thought. She took a deep breath. “Interesting, I would have figured I wouldn’t be able to breathe here. Where ever here is.” She felt herself say, but her voice was a dim echo; she could barely hear herself.
A dim circular light revealed itself within the dark. Ofelia suddenly became aware that she was standing on a solid surface. She stood in a vast space, darkness embraced her surroundings. Symmetric shapes and clean lines materialized themselves in the distance.
Ofelia looked up, the water droplets were precipitating down, toward the vast grounds, hardly visible in the dim light; their wetness more tangible now. She was mesmerized by the crystalline exquisiteness of what surrounded her.
“L’infinito,” she thought, lost in the wonder that embraced her.
Long reads Short Stories Beyond the horizon Fiction Giacomo Leopardi Italian poetry L'infinito Short Stories Stillness
missejjessim View All →
An incurable passion for writing; a poet and storyteller at heart. I am a writer on the road.
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