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        Soda kind of art


“So many pigs!” Rachele said; she held her hand straight out facing the ceiling, ten fingers, long and thin, spread wide and sliding through the air as if she was stroking the pigs in her head. I held her tight and kissed her on the forehead. 

"So so many pigs!" She repeated, snuggled in my arms.

"How many pigs exactly?" I asked.

"Uhmm… There were around a hundred pigs, no, no… maybe hundred-fifty pigs!" Rachele squeezed her eyes, trying to remember how many pigs she saw. 


"Two hundred." she gave me her final answer after a quick pause. 


I looked at the ceiling, trying to picture the massive amount of pigs on it. I imagined pigs beside pigs, so many pigs in the same room, so many pigs shaking their snouts and bodies, making so many pig noises simultaneously. The imaginary pig noises suddenly overwhelmed my head by bringing me back to when my uncle got married and moved into his new apartment next to the slaughterhouse. It was the summer of 2002; at that time, I was in foster care at my uncle's house... The acute pig's screams from the slaughterhouse have been with me every morning for that entire summer. I didn't understand why someone would think that moving next to a slaughterhouse would be a good idea. However, the apartment was right in the centre of the town where my uncle used to live. Maybe a slaughterhouse shouldn't be next to my uncle's house.


I was absorbed by my childhood memories amidst the cries of pigs. At the same time, Rachele yawned and stretched her arms, then leaned her head on my chest again. "I saw some pigs were big adult pigs, and some were baby pigs, you know, they were all grunting the same way, and they looked pretty much the same as if they didn't have a pig identity", Rachele explained. "You know, they were oinking with the same frequency, like oink, oink, oink". Rachele made three invisible horizontal lines in the air while oinking, and I burst out laughing. I gently ran my fingers through her hair. "So there were around two hundred pigs without pig identity, is that what you saw?" I asked her; she replied with a concerned nod.


Since the day we started to sleep together, I wake up having that kind of conversation.


The first rays of the morning sun shone through the window glass into the mattress, beams of light reflected on her rosy cheeks. As she slowly opened her tired eyes, freshly awake, the sun rays lit up her dark brown pupils as if they had been layered with honey. She stretched herself like a cat and told me she was hungry.


I kissed her softly on the cheeks and went to the kitchen.


Her kitchen looked like it was built in the 70s, with a tall ceiling, an old stove and no kitchen hood, so we always had to open the window when we cooked. Despite the modesty of her apartment, somehow, I could feel she kept everything clean and well maintained. I turned on her Electro Brand 2960 radio, and soft jazz music started to play. I switched the oven on, there were two stove plates, but only one worked. I cracked the eggs I bought before coming there, the fresh eggs flowed into the pan with preheated olive oil, and the oil stains instantly fried with a sizzling sound. The scent of fried eggs in the early morning blends softly with the smell of jasmine flowers wafting through the window. The oil smoke scattered out from the window while a ray of sunshine came into the kitchen through the curtains. In addition to eggs, I added some extra bacon and lemon pepper as seasoning. "So many pigs..." I thought. 

"Where is the salt?" I yelled from the kitchen, "We don't have salt anymore!” Rachele replied, "But you can use the remaining noodle seasoning powder; I think it's still good!"

I opened the creaky kitchen cabinets and found a small jar with different little plastic bags with the labels:


"Satay rice noodle chicken flavour seasoning" 


"Sapporo Ichiban original spicy powder »


I put the remaining chicken seasoning on the eggs and took two plates from the drawers. I always thought something sweet and nostalgic about having every plate different from the other, even though the plates themselves didn't recall anything nostalgic.

When I went back to the bed with the breakfast on a wooden tray, Rachele was buttoning up her painter's shirt, just a second-hand man's brown linen shirt with some paint stains.


She picked up the fork and started to eat her eggs and bacon with great gusto. "So, as I said, there were a lot of pigs, many of them were big pigs, and some of them were small pigs." She was chewing her eggs; she took a sip of her soy milk from the glass and continued... "The installation was well made, but I find it funny that I have never seen so many pigs at the farm, but I did in an art show!" I smiled and asked her: "Have you met someone you know there?" She puckered up her lips and lay back" Yes, as the exhibition gate checker. I met everyone there for the exhibition, Denise and her friends, you know Denise, the painter from my class?" Her fingers kneaded the bed sheet into a ball, "Yes, Denise from your class, what's up with her." I asked. "Well, she came at the entry and recognised me, then she asked me if I could let her and her friends in for free!"

Rachele visibly got furious, as if that was happening right at the moment. “I told her it was not up to me… but, who does she thinks she is, ugh! I can't believe how people are so careless about the others, I could have lost my job on the spot by doing so, and you know how short I am with money… I stood up the whole night to be the guardian of the exhibition. I can't afford to lose anything!" her speech speeded up exponentially. She looked as if she was losing her job at that very moment. 

“So… did you let her pay for the tickets?" I asked, and then I took her hands as a sign of empathy. "No! She just went inside with her friends to see the pigs, ignoring my words." She said, furious. I put the tray down from the bed and held her in my arms. Her breathing became fast, and her palms became cold and sweaty. I held her until she calmed down. I felt terrible for a girl who has so much anxiety just to get 150 Francs by checking the tickets at the entry of an exhibition. Rachele must take her job very seriously while people were paying to see some pigs; although sad, there was still something hilarious about it. 


Before I opened my mouth to say something to comfort her, I saw her laughing in my arms. "Are you ok?" I asked. Rachele pushed me away and said:" I just remember that someone did look like one of those big pigs." she laughed. "I was checking the tickets when a big, fat guy with a dark blue pinstripe suit and a tie on his inexistent neck..." She busts out laughing and continued:" He was… he was… he had enormous nostrils and… and when I asked him five Francs for the ticket, he took his wallet… ahahah…! With his chunky and short fingers, he opened his wallet and said, look, I only have banknotes of two hundred Francs, ok!? And I told him that I was sorry but I didn't have enough change for him, and guess what? Ahahahah!" "He insulted you?" I guessed. "He snorted…He snorted like a pig! Ahahaha… And I laughed. He looked at me as if I was a giant cockroach that he found inside his sink in the morning, and he asked me if I knew an alternative solution. I was trying so hard to not laugh that instead of ATM, I said, there is a MTA at the gas station… and he was… he was looking at me incredulously, as if I said something illegal, he rose this left eyebrow and asked me: MTA? I was about to correct myself… but then he snorted again, so I said:  yes, sir, MTA!” 


Rachele was more than amused by this memory. 

"So, tell me about the pigs; what were they doing?" I wanted to know more about the show. "Mhmm... ok, so the pigs were eating." She replied. "They were eating? What were they eating?" I asked. "They were all eating from a big digital trough", she replied. "A digital trough?" I repeated; I was not expecting to pronounce such a combination of words that morning when I woke up. "Yes, this digital trough could generate apples", she said. I was genuinely confused at that moment. "How… I mean… why, and how?" contemporary art is such none-sense, I thought. "Well, I am not the artist, and I haven't had the chance to talk to the technicians, so I have no clue how this trough could generate apples for the pigs." She explained. "But I met one of the technicians at the entry. He showed me his ticket and entered the exhibition room. After a couple of beers, I saw him flirting with absolutely everyone. Maybe he is tired of being just a technician…?" I shrugged my shoulders; "Maybe that's the whole meaning of going to an art opening: having beers, seeing pigs, and increasing your popularity, expanding your network”, I said. Rachele laughed. “I am joking.” I laughed too.

Rachele got up from bed and went to her painting easels. She took a glass half-covered with dried paint and filled it with water. "The room floor was covered with a red carpet; the walls were made of some reflecting material, almost like a mirror, but more transparent. It felt like the pigs were having dinner between a luxurious hotel and a mirage." She said while mixing a blue turquoise with a small brush. I was listening to her from bed. Her bed consisted of a mattress without a bed frame, simply placed on the floor. Somehow, the room's configuration made it feel very cosy: easels for painting near the windows, a mattress in the middle of the room and the wall behind covered with bookshelves.


She diluted the blue turquoise and started to paint a very transparent and light circle with a bigger brush. I watched her paint for twenty minutes before she began to talk again. 

"I met Carla at the exhibition's entry." She said while mixing another colour. "Carla, the director of the art space?" I asked. "Yeah, I knew her because I was dating her cousin once. She was shocked to see me working at the entry for some reason, and after she visited the show, she stopped at the entry to talk to me." Rachele said while applying carefully another layer of a very pale yellow on the previous circle. If I wasn't following her movements, I could barely see if there was anything on the canvas or if it was just water. "She asked me if I was still doing art, and I said yes. She told me I would do great, and I said thank you for the encouragement, then she said that it was normal because we were a family." 

Her brush kept stirring inside the glass, but her eyes were looking at the floor as if her mind was full of unsolved thoughts. "It's very nice of her to say that, isn't it?" I felt it was not. 


"Yeah… she was very nice. When I was about to ask what her cousin was doing, a random boy walked close, dressed like the classic fine art student who listens to French rap. With all the enthusiasm on his face, he rudely interrupted my conversation with Carla by introducing himself as a young  fine arts student." Rachele sighed and continued:" She didn't even blink to switch to a new conversation, it felt like someone had pressed the "next" button somewhere, and the scenes just shifted in one second, with no hesitation." Rachele explained with disappointment in her voice and put a bit of green in the palettes. She drew many tiny green circles around the big transparent one this time. I went to the kitchen to wash all the dishes and made two latte macchiatos. I put the coffee I made for Rachele on the small desk next to her easel and silently watched her fill up the canvas with those tiny circles. After she made around twenty-five green circles, she took her latte, turned around and said:" When the boy was talking to Carla, he had a super-wide eyed smile on this face… almost so blissful that was closer to hysteria than happiness, kind of reminded me of the small pigs." She said. "The small pigs? Were those hysterical?" I took a sip of coffee from my cup. "Well, they weren't eating much as the big pigs, you know, each time the digital trough started to generate apples, the small pigs had to run very fast and jump very high to get some bites. I felt there was something very similar on that boy's smile, something hysterical." She said. "Indeed." I agreed. 


She stood up from the stool and asked me to sit down so she could sit on my legs. She put her arms around my neck and asked me to pick a colour, and I chose magenta. I held her waist while she was diluting the paint and mixing it with a bit of dark brown. "Did you liked the show?" I asked her, "I kind of did." She replied uncertainly. 

"What kind of art do you want to make?” I looked at her, making some irregular red circles (if those could still be considered as circles) on the canvas. 

"I don't know what kind of art I want to make, but I know what kind of art I don't want to make. ” She said.

"Mmh?" I put my head on her left shoulder.

"Soda kind of art." she replied. 

"Soda kind of art?" I asked.

"Yeah, soda kind of art. A bottle of soda is fresh at the first second you open the bottle, but after a while, it becomes a glass of sweet and greasy liquid, and no bubbles will emerge. Not a single one!" She exclaimed while making another circle with her brush.

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