I remember sometimes, when I was a kid, my father would take me home from school. He wouldn’t bring his car so that we could walk. On the way, we would talk about school, the construction sites we saw, and ice cream. The delicious ice cream of the most ordinary, wonderful ice cream shop of the large city with its rectangular building and a door at the end of two steps, vertical to one long, curtain-less window. Whenever I asked him if we could go there, he’d agree. But I was too shy to ask. Maybe I thought it was childish. Or maybe I just didn’t want to risk being rejected.
During our walks, when we didn’t talk, I’d look down at my feet and stare at the pattern that moved past us. I can still remember that sidewalk’s tiles: every tile shaped like a four-petalled flower, some light gray, dominating the sidewalk, others red, subtly zigzagging through the gray surrounding, making the outlines of great diamonds against our feet. I always loved patterns.
In my room, I had a wallpaper made of dark and light blue rectangles, some big and some small. They seemed random, like the painting of a cubist artist. But they weren’t. I knew from experience that no wallpaper is without repetition, no matter how complicated it is. You just had to find the pattern, and I had known this one’s since as far as I can remember. I was the only one to know it. I think I still am.
Once, I was in a park, biking with my neighbor in the cold autumn weather. He was behind me, and we were both quiet, except for the rhythm of our bikes. No one else was around. This motionless, distant part of the park was reserved for those with bicycles, and we were the only ones then. I relished the immaculate quiet and stillness of it. I might as well have been on top of Mount Everest that day.
While I pedalled, my head wasn’t aligned with my body. It had turned left, my eyes grabbing the curb, digesting its red and white curbstones. They were newly painted, unweathered, and perfect. No interruption. Only a line of repetitive red and white. When I sped, I could see the two colors combine and slowly become one, turning into a light red. The faster I went, the more sameness rose up around me. Even the wind on my head was stopping its fluctuation, taking one speed as its only.
In that dreamy state of perfection, I heard a small crash, then a big one. While my right hand tightened on the brake, a few others followed. The bicycle slowed down, dragging the colors apart again. I followed the pattern backward, the same all the way until a disruption. An extra, darker red, moving over the border of two curbstones. And a head as the source of it. A person, out of a fallen bicycle that rested inches away. My neighbor. And a few meters back, the intriguer of the mess, and another disrupter of the perfect pattern: a pit in the pavement. I realized that moment that pits don’t resonate with high speed. And heads don’t resonate with stainless curbs. They kill one another.
I always loved patterns. They are the ultimate wonders of the universe, the closest I can get to utter flawlessness. In finding one, I bask in the understanding of it, and I let I mind wander through its wonderful repetition.
But sometimes, their disruption stayed with me. Like that time with the reddish interruption. It was the opposite of all that I gained through perfection. It was vicious. It caused the night to be shivered by my screams. It pushed tears out of patternless visions of the night. It made me want to escape the blemish that haunted me, the dark red that followed me through the darker corridors of my dreams, and turned them into nightmares that ate into me.