Florence is not especially pretty. Her limbs are too thin, too awkward, as if the artist molding her did not have the energy to make the limbs of a child into those of a young woman. Thin, dark hair, darkish skin - but her eyes are beautiful. Like two gems, or shiny, grey silk. One of them is slightly duller than the other. The pupil has been slightly smaller since that day when her brother Mareus squirted glue at her face when they where wrestling around the big kitchen table - Mareus, her beautiful brother, with his unending, angry energy.
Florence gives us her story, focused through a unique lens by which she sees the world. This world is full of memories; it is a world full of doubt and fear, impulse and irrationality, and desperate conviction.
At first, there is a glimpse of her childhood, of her crumbling house by the river, the death of her mother, her grandparents, the angry departure of her sibling, the emptiness that persists afterwards - silent but for the ticking of the clock. Then a convenient marriage, which brings a bare kind of salvation, and when that salvation is no more, travel, a growth in routines, independence and fear, which becomes a terrible beast that controls, makes her fear more, fear anything from escalators to having a stone roof between herself and the sky - until she does what it wants.
The journey Florence takes us on holds a lot of pain - many, many different kinds of pain and despair and denial, but also the peculiar strength that is born out of this pain. This strength is her acceptance of the terrible, terrible things life has to offer. The impression one gets is that Florence is floating through a dream that is too sharp, too real to be a dream, yet not fit for reality. This dream is undeniably sad, and undeniably beautiful.
Inga Abele, Uguns nemodina (Fire Will Not Wake You), Riga: Atena (2001)
Available at Robert’s Books
Dzirnavu iela 51, Riga.