She calls it saving good daylight. I call it too damn early. I’m not much more than sleepwalking, holding onto my hot coffee in a paper cup. I told the waiter, it should be able to wake dead. With a grin he made it extra strong. He even gave me an extra cookie, so I tipped him fine too.
Sugar and caffeine… The most wonderful things in the morning. Sugar, caffeine and Mona.
I curse myself for promising, to get out of bed this early. What was I thinking? I don’t have to.
We’re off, on a photo shoot. It’s usually nature photography. It’s one of her ‘bug-hunts’. I accompany her again, carrying all the equipment, food and water.
This means, we go for a hike. For several hours straight, or the whole day. Usually into the woods, climbing further up the mountains, looking for glades. Sometimes we just walk the forest’s edge.
She’s always with her camera glued to the face. Being unbelievably clumsy doesn’t help at all. So I watch her, walk beside her, constantly keeping her from bumping into trees, walking into shrubs, falling over rocks, or tripping over roots.
She never pays attention to such things.
The first time I went with her, she sprained her ankle, and I had to carry her back. Piggyback. Her excuse? “Concentrating on important stuff. Trying not to waste moments of poetry, ”she says.
“You know what ‘monono aware’ is? It’s when a fading moment blossoms into perfection and life. And you see it, and realize, it’s never going to be this perfect again. You’ve witnessed that. It makes your heart break… How can I not try to catch that moment,” she explains.
I have absolutely no idea what she means by that, so I shrug. What could I tell her?
Yes, she’s an amazing photographer. Going through her pics the other day. Lots of pictures documenting tiny details of the world. Things I would never pay attention to: the veins on a dragonfly’s wings, the patterns on butterfly wings, or dead leaves, position of a spider’s eyes, or flowering moss.
Why I accompany her? Not only because I have a crush on her… No.
At least I admit it… I get time to spend with someone so coy, and sweet as her. I truly thought people like her went extinct, that you can only find them in books of the last century…
I enjoy the peaceful atmosphere around her. Sometimes, when I watch her, I get the feeling, that she transforms into a compound of nature. She blends into the environment, like a human chameleon.
She doesn’t give a damn about normal social behavior. Lucky me, cause I’m an old fashioned weirdo. She’s not much of a talkative person either… But has extensive knowledge, of nearly everything. Her sister calls her “walking encyclopedia”. Which is pretty much true, I guess.
Yesterday she asked me, if I knew, that the large earth bumblebees sometimes eat the eggs of their queen. She asked, if it was possible, that they love their queen to bits… I mean, how do you pick up such knowledge? And why?
Suddenly she freezes in motion, going all stiff and tense. Her back radiates unease. Did she step into an anthill? Just now, she was taking photos. I could hear her hum and smile, over the clicking of the camera.
“What is it? What happened?” No response. The whole scene – surreal and in complete silence. “What is it? …Hey! Are you ok?” Her chest, shoulders, legs shake – heavy body response. Is that a crying fit. Without tears, without opening her mouth or eyes, though. Cold sweat on her forehead. What’s happening? She’s like one block of tense wire before snapping. My hand on her shoulder. No reaction. Eyes don’t open. Lips pressed together. She doesn’t recognize me, nor does she react to the shaking. Her legs give up, letting her fall down. “What is it? Look at me! Hey! Are you ok?” No reaction.
She curls up, face buried in her hair and fingers, knees pulled up to her forehead. She’s retracting into herself.
I can see it. It’s her moving back to somewhere else, somewhere far away from here. Then the motion stops. All of a sudden the tension disappears. Like throwing a switch off, she’s limp.
I sit down near her, taking the camera from her still hands. Never seen her like this before. What just happened? I look at the last photo she took.
A tiny blue snail on white pebbles.
They look too regular for me, like – teeth!
Those are human teeth! Then it comes to me. The blurred outlines of a human skull.