“Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events”. Adrienne Rich, American poet.
It was a warm but windy autumn evening. They were both dressed up sharp, perhaps a little bit too formal considering their age, the environment and the occasion. It was his eighteenth birthday, and he reserved a large table at one of the secluded saloons of a restaurant located in an old castle. As they called it, the Citadel was built on the top of a small hill and surrounded by trees and wild vegetation. The original fortification was erected from wood in the early fifteenth century, replaced later by a stone citadel. It was burned to the ground, destroyed and rebuilt several times until it served as a prison, then a warehouse, till finally it was sealed and abandoned entirely.
Although recently the place was fully renovated and turned into a restaurant, it still preserved its authentic medieval character. Quickly it has become one of the city’s main attraction. The walls were painted annoyingly white, which somewhat whipped off its history and faded its personality. Still, along the narrow winding corridors, they could felt a strange breeze of suspense and angst. The walls were decorated with imitations of traditional weaponry and armoury. There were swords, arrows, spears, shields and pieces of body armoury on display all over the place. At the main gate and on the corner tower’s inner terraces, there were also cannons. Guests and tourists have been delighted to take pictures and selfies there. The staff was also wearing medieval clothing. The waitresses were dressed with green open front overdresses, which revealed their white muslin chemises, while the waiters were wearing brown tunics and dark pants. Among them, the customers dressed in ordinary twenty-first-century street clothing looked like intruders from another time or world. For an outside viewer, it looked like a costume party or a thwarted time travelling experiment. The weirdest thing was that they all wore surgical respirator face masks, which gave the entire scene an unreal and grotesque flavour.
Julian couldn’t remember that they were wearing masks that day. He could recall an almost infinite amount of details, but he was not able to discern between what was real and what was the product of imagination. The movie projected in the back of his head was a vivid rerendering of the actual events. It was difficult to separate his own memories from created or planted ones. Time and technology make a vicious pair. Julian was defencelessly caught in the middle. He desperately wanted to hold on to things that matter and get rid of irrelevant collaterals and residues.
Julian arrived first. He was terribly excited. His palms were sweating, and he felt pretty uncomfortable in the dark suit, which was probably one or two sizes larger than it should have been, and the light blue shirt he was wearing. The colourful tie was left a little bit loose to ease the general impression. After all, it was only a birthday, not a wedding ceremony. He still felt like a smiling idiot, and the waiting only made it worst. Then, one by one, his friends were gathering, the clouds suddenly scattered, and the evening brightened up smoothly.
She came with…
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