Mental imagery of Aleksander Michowkonensky.
This is the story of Aleksander Michowkonensky. A young man, whose head is always in the clouds and never stops being suspicions. He is a modest, middle ground man. He is just an ordinary person, who happens to have the ability to see bubbles. Yes, he can see all sorts of bubbles, even those that surround every single adult. Michowkonensky had no idea why he had this ability. He also was not sure whether he was crazy or not. Nevertheless, he learned to live and accept these phenomena over the years.
Every day he woke up, opened his eyes and saw a giant bubble that surrounded him. No matter how hard he tried, he just could not break it or lose it. He noticed that from time to time it changed its colors and its shape. He tried to come up with an idea on why these things existed. He had trouble finding out why the elder had it, but not the young. He remembered that they popped up out of nowhere, as soon as he turned twelve. At first, he enjoyed the company of these bubbles, but as time went on, he learned to hate them. They always got into his way and bugged his mind. Nevertheless, he chose to ignore them and thought about them when he had nothing better to do. He kept this a secret.
The neighbor's roosters had not crow, but the Michowkonensky house was at a buzz. Aleksander was the last one in bed. He turned back and forth but could not find a good position to sleep. One of his little sisters thought to bother him. “Come on lazy brother, wake up!” Feodosia urged him, while she used his side of the bed as a trampoline.
“I’m up, I’m up!” Aleksander repeated with a cracked and tired voice. He opened up his eyes and saw Feodosia's smirk. She showed her tongue to him. “Lazy, lazy, never stops daydreaming!” she rhymed when the third eldest sibling, Boryslav grabbed her from the bed.
“That's enough Feo, get dressed! We don't want to be late, as I’m taking you and your sisters to school today!” he told on a strong note. He spit into a washbowl as he took his toothbrush out of his mouth. “Move Alek or I’ll kick you out of the bed!” he threatened to his dull brother.
Michowkonensky nodded in silence, as the wet patches on the ceiling looked down on him. He crawled out of the bed and felt like an old man. He stretched him arms in the little space he had and stepped into the kitchen. Breakfast was long served for the whole family. There leftovers were cold and disgusting to look at.
“Look who showed up?” Madja, his mother greeted him. She was upset by his late arrival. “I’m glad you’re father is away, he’d be ashamed of you!” she told as she dropped a couple of cold French toasts on his plate. “You do the dishes afterwards!” she ordered as she wiped her hands in the kitchen towel.
Aleksander said nothing, just sat down at the small table and started to munch his food. He was in the middle of first his slice, when her mother came back. “You’re still here?” she said in her surprise.
“I just started to eat Mom!” he defended.
Her mother thought he was all but lies. “Get to work and stop being useless! We need your money, just as the rest.” she lectured, before Boryslav interrupted them from the doorway. “Do what Mom says Alek or you’ll find yourself in trouble!” he warned as he guided their youngest siblings through the door.
Michowkonensky flinched and started to panic. He did not want to be punished again. His back was still hurting from last time. Instead, he rushed to grab some paper, wrapped his food around and changed his clothes at an instant. The door handle was still warm, when he left the house.
He chewed his food with great care, on his way to work. His mind was occupied by heavy thoughts. He was shaking and felt weak. He wished he could escape from his life and wander off to a better place, where everything was different and happier. The more he walked the darker his bubble of thoughts became. He ended up in a circle of hatred, by the time he reached the wooden bridge.
He started to feel cold, even though it was well above freezing. He tightened his wear and moved to the side. He gazed for a short moment, when his grandmother showed up.
“Don’t just stand there Mister, you’ll be late!” she ordered as she was adjusted her bags. They were filled with goods from the market.
He raised his torn hat. “Yes grandma, I’ll better go now.” he replied in fear and started to run. He was a nimble person. Aleksander moved like a cat between the people, the hand and horse pulled carts. He waltzed between the old folks, the leftover boxes and barrels that lay on side of the road. The Sun was just rising, when he reached the workshop.
“That will be five penny from your wage, young boy!” Zdravko the Foreman said as he entered the main gate.
“But I wasn’t late Mr. Mihaylov!” he worried as he tucked away his still unfinished breakfast.
The large man smirked at him. “Don’t you dare speak back to me!” he responded with a rude expression on his face. It even made Michowkonensky jump a little. He wanted to defend himself, but he had no chance against his superior. He was small, vulnerable and just an apprentice. Zdravko on the contrary was wide, strong and reeked of vodka. The man reached for his apron and smeared his nose in it. Something moved inside Aleksander, as he thought he could turn his situation around.
“Please Mr. Mihaylov!” he begged as he dropped to his knees. “My family will break my back, if I don’t bring my wage home!”
The man just shrugged his shoulders and kicked the kid away. “Get to work you lazy bastard or there will be nothing to take home!” he argued as he scratched his behind.
Aleksander felt crushed, while small droplets of tears appeared on his chin. He stood there for a couple of seconds, before he was pushed away by his fellow workers. He had no choice but to accept his fate and hope for the best.
He went up to his small and rusty locker. He hanged his coat up, put his stuff inside and grabbed his safety apron. Then he looked for an iron tong and delivered the first piece of steel rod to the kiln. He placed half of the piece inside the fire and went back to grab another one from the large pile. He did a couple of turns, before doing anything else. He paid attention that the rods would heat up to the right temperature and at the correct place. When the first one was ready, he took it to a presser machine and dropped the burning hot end of the steel into the mold. Then, his colleague pressed the button that smashed it into a neat bolt and took it out from the other side.
He loved his job. It was simple, yet elegant. It made him happy and less stressed. It was a something of a safe heaven. It was a good way for Aleksander to get lost in his thoughts and forget everything that ever happened. He looked at this as a game of clockworks, where he was a piece in the intricate machine.
The clock struck six o’clock. It signaled the end to another twelve-hour shift. Michowkonensky felt exhausted and hungry. His stomach snorted like a boar. He put away his tools, cleaned his workplace and made sure everything was in order for the next day. Then, he took a short trip to his locker and hung up his patchy apron. He stood there for a minute and contemplated a little.
Once done, he checked out with his card and left the site with great steps. His mind was troubled, while he walked down the main road. He had the urge to rub his payment in his pocket. “What am I to do now?” he kept asking, as he foresaw the consequences of his misfortune. He saw dark and uncomfortable images in his mind. He wanted to neglect them, but his mind yearned after. He was so deep in his thoughts that he managed to bump into a man, who stood not far away from the butchery.
“Watch it kiddo, who do you think you are?” he argued as he pushed back.
“I’m so sorry Mister, it wasn’t intentional!” he mumbled after he regained his stance.
The man growled at him. “Get lost, I’ve got better things to do!” he continued, before he turned away.
Aleksander realized the man was interested in the shop. A crowd gathered, where everyone waited on what was about to happen. He was too small to see a thing. He heard some shouting, but nothing else. Thus, he jumped on a nearby telephone pole and peeked into the butchery. He saw a small woman, with a colorful bag over her shoulders. The butcher was yelling at her with his cleaver in his hands.
“What could they argue about? It must be something important!” he thought when two mounted officers turned up. They pushed through the crowd to investigate the situation. Moments later the woman found herself in custody. They handcuffed her and took her away. Everyone, except Michowkonensky threw bad words at her. They hated her with pure hearth. Some spitted on her clothes, while others threw things at her.
The woman took her awful treatment like a statue. She was strong, calm and peaceful. She even had time to look around. She had an unusual feeling. That was the moment, when their eyes met. Her dark brown eyes pierced his soul and made Aleksander anxious. He jumped off the pole and started to run as fast as he could. The woman just smiled in response, while a constable took her away.
Michowkonensky had no intentions of stopping. He was scared and had a weird sensation. Her stare was the single thing he could think of.
“What the hell did you do this time?” her mother asked as he sat at the table. Nicholai, his father was just about to enter. “Madja, have you heard the news? Something weird happened in the village today!” he spoke, as he walked through the house.
His wife crossed her arms. “This dirt lost four pennies today! Can you believe that?” she stated.
The man's expression changed from pleased to angry. “For once, I want to get home and not worry about anything! Is that too much to ask?” he stated as he begun to wash his hands in a bowl.
“Aren’t you going to do something?” Madja asked in her fury.
The man said nothing until he finished drying his palms. Then, he stroked his beard as his eyes fired up. “No dinner for you boy and twenty whips for the trouble!” he argued as he showed the way. Aleksander started to cry as he pushed his chair away from the table.
“It wasn’t my fault, I said it already!” he spoke as he dragged himself out.
Madja hit the table. “Make it twenty five, for this little brat!” she raged. Nicholai agreed as he did his preparations. Michowkonensky went outside and took his shirt off. The cold bit his skin at an instant. He walked to the fence and hung his torso over. He waited there for a couple of minutes, before his father showed up with his belt in his hands. Aleksander did not dare to look back. He did not have the courage to do so. He listened with great anxiety to his slow footsteps on the frozen ground.
The man swung the belt with all his might. The first hit hurt him the most. It hit many of his old scabs. Then his father continued for a while, before he started to count. Michowkonensky tried to keep his mind closed and focused. He did not want to feel a thing.
“Let the pain go away! I don’t need you anyway!” he mumbled.
They were half way through, when his method started to fail. His red skin begun to burn up and weep in pain. He felt that of his wounds became open.
“There you go. I hope you’ve learned your lesson! Now wait here!” his father said as he went back to the house.
It was hard for Aleksander to stand. He had to stay close to the fence. His back pulsated and screamed for mercy. He felt his wet back that froze in the cold.
“Please hurry up!” he repeated over and over, until his father returned. He popped open a brown bottle and drenched Michowkonensky’s back. The young man almost bit his tongue as the vinegar burned his fresh wounds.
Nicholai threw a towel at him. “Clean yourself up and get to bed!” he commanded, before he went inside.
Aleksander started to cry as he wiped his back. It took him a while to settle down. He changed his clothes and bathed in a hurry, before he went to bed.
Nobody spoke to him that evening. He was forced to sleep next to the cold wall, which made it even more uncomfortable. Michowkonensky tried his best to not to flinch as he did not want to wake up the family of twelve.
Midnight was about to arrive and he still could not rest. He listened to the sounds of the room. Some snorted, some talked in their sleep and some moved from side to side. He heard a pigeon cooing, but he thought he was already dreaming. Then, it started to echo in his mind. He felt his head would explode in any second, but it stopped before he knew it.
“What's happening?” he wondered as he turned to his other side. He fell into a deep slumber. His pain gone away, his mind became clear and his body lost its tension. Dreams of plenty awaited him and carried Michowkonensky to another place. He felt free and elevated that night. It was something that he felt, when he was a young kid.
Aleksander was the first to awake the next day. He moved like the wind and left the house before anyone would wake up. He walked down the same old road, but somehow he felt different. He did not even stop at the bridge to contemplate. His mind was set on work and he wanted to bring out the most of his job.
The day flew by just like the rest. There was nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary. He did his work to the best of his knowledge. He cleaned his are at the end of the shift and headed straight back home. The snow started to fall along the way. He was counting his payment in his pocket, when he reached the village bridge. He chose to stop and gazed into the river.
The flakes kept falling on him, like fine paper. He felt every one of them as they covered his coat. His wet coat started to drag him down as the minutes went by. Michowkonensky closed his eyes, grasped the wooden railing and trembled. He felt lost and tried to look for answers. He would have stood there longer, if someone had not called for him. The same old woman stood at the nearest riverside. Aleksander looked at her in with surprise, as she appeared out of thin air.
The woman said nothing and left with heavy steps. Michowkonensky looked around. “Did anyone see her?” he mumbled, while no one was around. He hesitated a little on what to do next. “Should I follow her?” he wondered, while his legs carried him off the bridge. He stopped where she was a minute ago. The gentle wind gained momentum and formed into a slight storm. It started to become difficult to see. “I mustn't go, what will my family say to me? I’ll be punished, if I stay a minute longer! Although, I can barely tell where I'm at!” he thought with anxious heart.
He turned around in hopes to return to the bridge. It was nowhere to be found, for his great surprise. He panicked at that instant. “Where did it go? I’ve to go back, then to home!” he argued, while he tried to find his way.
A wall of snow covered his trails. No matter how far he ran, how hard he tried, he could not make his escape. “I know this place like the back of my hand! I can’t be lost just like this, this is impossible!”
The landscape changed over and over as the minutes passed by. He was started to become desperate, when he recognized something familiar. The old woman stood in the midst of snow. She waved her arm and invited him into her hut.
Aleksander stood there in the blizzard and questioned his situation. He felt cold, miserable and hungry. The longer he stood there, the more his limbs started to freeze. He gave in after a while and entered the shady hut.
“Took you awhile, kiddo! Have a seat, you must be frozen to death!” she spoke as she put some water to boil.
Michowkonensky acted as she demanded, whilst he kept his silence. He found a plethora of herbs, small bottles and incense inside the small hut, as he looked around. The smell overpowered his nose.
“Did a cat eat your tongue or what? Speak up bubble boy!” she spoke with joy.
Aleksander gulped. “What are you talking about?" he asked. The woman said nothing, just coughed a couple times. Then, she reached into her pocket and grabbed a small, carved stone. She showed it to him. Michowkonensky was shocked. "How did you get that?" he asked as he searched his coat, but did not find his precious stone. "That belongs to me!" he urged.
"Yet, you lost it just like that! I know you more than you realize, boy." she noted, before she gave back the stone.
Aleksander felt deep regret and shoved his charm away. "What do you know about me? I haven’t told nothing!” he replied with mixed feelings.
“I know things, that's why I'm here.” she spoke as she returned to him. He just realized, that the old woman bare scars from her troubled past. Michowkonensky felt anguish and he tried not to look into her white eye.
The woman pulled back a little and put her hands on her chest. “Little man, don’t feel bad for my soul! This scar was from long ago. A lover of mine felt jealous and did this to me.” she looked at the cattle, “Come now and let’s leave the past behind and taste my lovely tea!” she spoke, than prepared two wooden mugs. She filled them with herbs and poured some hot water on them. She sat down in front of the fire after she was done.
“This will calm you down and warm you up, you’ll see!” she encouraged the man, who was reluctant to drink. “I’ll drink it first, look.” she took a couple of snippets, "See, nothing bad happened! You'll be fine too!"
Aleksander gave in as the mug warmed up his hands. “Who are you?” he questioned with uncertainty.
“A healer, just a regular healer, nothing more. My job is to seek out those, whom need help. Who are willing to accept my aid, that is. You're the reason why I was brought here!” she spoke with honest heart.
“Why would I need help? I'm living a poor men's life, I could make my own fortune!” he argued.
The woman saw lies in his truth. “Those who seek, does not deserve. Those who reek, but could not preserve. Those who weep, but never learn. And those who know, but cannot live.” the old healer rhymed, before she drank her last snippet.
“I just don’t get it!” Michowkonensky replied as he scratched his head.
She clapped out of pure joy. “Of course you don’t, that’s why you're here!” she stood up and grabbed his hands, “You aren’t mad, boy. Those bubbles you see are part of the knowledge! It’s simple as that!” she spoke.
He felt the warmth of her hands and the energy that the conveyed. He felt light and refreshed, just like the day before. “Did you help me last night?” he asked with frightened heart. He was not sure, if he believed such things could happen.
The healer did not answer his question, just smiled instead. “Listen, take this gift that you already have and embrace it! Don’t fight against it or it will be forever a burden.
“The bubbles you see are only in your head. They are there to show you, how men and women live their lives. How they see things and how they act.”
Michowkonensky tried to act as if he had no idea what she was talking about. She slapped him on the hands in return.
“You can’t fool me, boy! I’ve seen it way to many times! The truth cannot be hidden forever! Accept my offer or live in misery for the rest of your life!” she lectured with sincere intent.
Aleksander did not like the sound of that. He felt bad and started to apologize, “I deeply regret this Ma’am!”
She shook her head. “Don’t apologize, just listen!” she urged with anticipation.
A woman started to sing in the distance. At times her tone was warm and welcoming, while others she used disharmony. Michowkonensky was disturbed and it was all too surreal for him.
“Listen to her voice, just as I said! Listen and let her into your mind. Let her see, what you see!” the healer spoke as her voice deepened by the minutes.
Aleksander tried to say a word, but his lips were sealed tight. Instead, the room started to spin and bright colors and shapes appeared out of nowhere. He thought he landed in a painting. He saw how the forms of magnificence came to life or were destroyed.
“Show her what you see, show it!” she urged again.
Michowkonensky then let his guard down. His eyes opened as wide as they could, while the woman sang. She looked through his soul and saw the bubbles. Then, something unforeseen happened. The many colors and shapes flung away and Aleksander found himself on top of a cliff. It was dark and there was no way down. He peeked to the abyss with weary eyes.
“Don’t look at that, just listen to her voice!” the old woman argued.
Michowkonensky struggled to keep his attention at bay. He was torn inside, split into different ways. He tried to stay put, but his legs wanted otherwise. Before it was too late, the healer yelled at him, “Deeper than thoughts are holding your hands. Don’t let go if you choose to live, a life that is worth a while! Don’t let go and let her see, what is the thing that can set you free!”
Aleksander started to shake, while the dark storm blew in his face and pushed him down to the ground. He felt pain in his chest and could not breathe. “Let me be for once!” he struggled to speak, after he understood.
An explosion occurred and torn the image away. The woman stopped her melodies and the sensations that numbed Michowkonensky faded away. They were back in the hut, while the snow poured outside.
Aleksander sat there with swollen eyes and a racing heart. His throat was dry and his limbs hurt. He was angry, disturbed and did not know what to say.
The old woman just smiled at him. “You passed the test, boy! Now we can talk a little bit more, as soon as you get better. Don’t worry, it won’t take too long!” she reassured with kind heart.
Michowkonensky sat there like a bag of potatoes. He still felt weak and exhausted, while the healer kept the fire alive. She tossed the ash outside on occasions, to make room for some fresh wood.
“You must be honest with me, if you don’t want to fool yourself!” she spoke after she entered the hut.
“What do you mean and what's happening? Why are you helping me? I'm just an unknown person from nowhere.” Aleksander spoke with bitter tongue.
“That's good, an 'unknown person from nowhere', never heard that before!" she looked around as if someone was listening, "The vision proved it that you bear the gift that not many of us didn't have!” she replied then chose to rest a little.
Michowkonensky frowned. “What gift are you talking about?” he questioned in sincere doubt.
The woman shook her head. “Don’t be like that, boy! You know what I meant.” she paused to clean her nose, “I saw how you look at that bridge, every time you pass it. There’s a good reason why you stop there and gaze into the river. However, there’s another reason why you won't do anything. That’s what caused your vision to succeed!” she spoke to reassure him.
Michowkonensky leaned towards her. “If you say what’s true, than what do the bubbles mean?”
“The truth about people, nothing more and nothing less. You see them because you want to. You just can’t accept the fact that these bubbles exist. However, you can get pass that.”
Aleksander stood up in an instant. “Tell me how, I’m begging you! Is there a potion or a spell?” he spoke with excitement.
The healer laughed at him. “What are you talking about? This isn’t a fantasy and I’m not a witch, that would be absurd!” she giggled, “You’ve quite the imagination, I’ll give you that!
“No, the magic happens in your mind. You do it every day, without even noticing. Tell me, how is it that you accepted your life?” she spoke with a grin on her face. She saw that he was about to say something mediocre. “Think about it before you speak!” she interrupted.
Aleksander contemplated on the matter for a while. He scratched his nose when he felt he was ready. “I simply ignore it, I think. I’ve learned to accept it as I can’t fight it.”
The woman snapped her fingers. “That’s it, although not exactly what you think! You might be able to change that, but you have to find your own way!”
Michowkonensky felt like an idiot. “That doesn’t help me at all!” he complained.
“It does, you just don’t understand it yet. How easy would it be to just hand you over the golden key to every problem? How would you appreciate that?” she questioned, before she tossed another piece of wood on the fire. The flames burst out a little, just like Aleksander's feelings.
“This is taking me nowhere!” he spoke to the woman’s great surprise.
“That’s the spirit, but try to use it for other things, boy! In a weird and good way, frustration is what keeps us going, what teaches us about life. You have to accept this, but not let it overwhelm you!
"The same goes for the bubbles. You see how everyone lives in their own little circle. They can’t see that, even if they wanted to. But, you do!”
Aleksander started to put the pieces together. “You want me to forget them, like my life but accept them as well? How would that even work?” he asked with solid intent.
The woman chiseled her throat. “Accept it as a part of your life, but reject it so it doesn’t clog up your head. It’s a fine balance that is hard to achieve, I know. But, you only need to search for it once, then the rest will come naturally.” she lectured.
“Ma’am, that sounds confusing, to be honest!”
She smiled and was relieved. “Good, that’s the point! You need to think about it. Change will only happen if you let it. You need to experience it, otherwise it won't do its magic.” she spoke, before she sighed with sorrow. “Unfortunately, it will take time.”
Michowkonensky feared that she would say that. “For how long will it take?”
“It depends on you, boy. However, it will happen much sooner than you think!" she spoke when she realized it was time for Aleksander to leave. "Our time is up, you need to go. Your family is already furious about your absence!” she spoke as she stood up and pulled him out of the hut. “We’ll meet again one day, if luck has it!”
Her words vanished in the air and Aleksander found himself at the Andonov watermill. The wind blew hard into his face and it was difficult to see. “Where did she go and how did I end up here?” he questioned, while he stepped on the dirt road. It took him a while to get home in that awful weather.
Things remained the same for a while. Michowkonensky did not know whether the old woman was just a mirage, or a real person. Nevertheless, the seed was planted in his head and started to grow. Month passed by and he began to understand what the healer meant. The bubbles started to fade out from his vision. Life became less hard and more enjoyable. Aleksander felt the difference in his mind and soul. Hardship became his companion that forged him along the way to success...