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Elle Jauffret

Absinthe Tainted Reminiscence


(Painting: La Muse Verte by Albert Maignan)

Year 2115. Saturday, May 4th

A bottle of emerald liquid stood in front of his penthouse front door in place of his daily delivery of hookers and cocaine. He picked up the unexpected gift, wondering what psychoactive drug his personal concierge had fetched him. A gold tag dangled from the flask’s neck. On it, a stenciled green fairy smiled mischievously and two words in cursive read “Drink me”. He shook the artisanal container and looked at the dubious green booze swirl.

What the hell. He took a swig and contemplated the jungle of concrete and steel below him. A sleepless metropolis where workweekss were 7 days long, residents never bore wrinkles, and where children couldn’t be found. The city he had created but for which he failed to be proud. A hole had deepened in him, as he grew in financial power and notoriety, that even his addictions couldn’t fill.

The flavor of anise burned in his throat, reminiscent of the hot summers and wormwoods from his childhood landscapes in Switzerland and France.

The cool air, the plants and the wind. The soil, sand, and grass under his juvenile feet.

Absinthe. An illegal drink praised as an artistic stimulant but with purported degenerative effects—whatever that meant. He didn’t care. He was already debauched and corrupt. He took a long swallow that emptied the bottle and faced the gathering dark behind his window, experiencing so many emotions at once—from his first love, success and fame to a strongly rooted sense of loss—experiencing what Oscar Wilde did, centuries ago, after three glasses of absinthe. “You see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.

He loosened his thousand-dollar tie and unbuttoned his shirt. The vision of his monetized present life and emotionally barren future hindered his breathing.

I need fresh air. He pushed on “ground level” of his private elevator and ripped off his clothes. And he dashed to the only place that felt real. A small patch of grass had been preserved from extinction, just a block away.

I need to feel. He ran nude and barefoot as his pre-pubescent self did down the hills of Neuchâtel and the fields of Provence. He lost the security guards trying to catch him, slid below the gate, and crawled on the soft soil and grass.

This is where I am meant to be. He lied on his back, flapping his arms and legs to feel the grass’s caresses, oblivious to the growing crowd around him. And he curled in a ball, sideway, waiting for something he couldn’t name. He was exhausted of faking to be the man society wanted him to be. He was chagrined by people who feared his financial and political influence, and by women with eyes devoid of twinkle complimenting his sexual prowess.

He wanted to be bare and be held. And loved for who he really was: a simple man.

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