"Setenay’s Apartment with Eda and Ceren. 1:14 AM"
The room was filled with half-full boxes, as if someone had begun to pack but forgot they were set to move. Setenay continued on. Check out this picture of Robert Redford and I at the museum last week! He’s 76 but looks about 60. Turns out he’s very well versed in Turkish art. The cat across the room kept falling over. He would stare at me, and then with a slight tilt of the head, the weight on his left side would be too much to handle. Then kapoomf, flat out on the floor. It’s a real pity, one of his legs is shorter than the rest. What a cruel cycle to be caught in, falling over every minute. I felt terrible for that cat. There was a snake balloon deflated and pinned to the wall beside an array of paper with Japanese writing. I’m finishing up my track in Japanese, but I need to memorize more characters before I finish. She began talking at length with Eda and Ceren about her boyfriend of three years and her recent love for another. He’s always working on restoring that fucking apartment he bought three years ago. He loves that place more than he loves me. I don’t think it will ever be finished.
My mind drifted around the room. A cardboard box with a printed image of a flat screen rested where a TV would be normally be situated. The wall paper in the apartment was peeling off, revealing additional layers from times past. The high ceilings grew dark near the top with the dim luminescence emitting from the floor lamps. I noticed a paper heart pinned to the lapel of Setenay’s maroon coat jacket. Would you like me to tell you your horoscope? This caught me off guard as I had left the conversation minutes ago.
Setenay took my hand in hers. What time were you born? She asked this with a forced seriousness, meant to reveal her awareness in the absurdity of this question.I didn’t actually know the time, but told her 1:14 AM with an assured confidence. I guessed her age to be about 23, 24. She was actually 35, to my surprise. Her left hand held my wrist as her fingers ran lightly across the grooves in my palm.
This is your last life. You have no more reincarnations. Life is going to be very tough for you in the next year. But don’t worry — things will start to look up. You were once a king in another life—but you need to get over this. Do you have stomach problems? — No. — Well, you will. She took a long drag from her cigarette.
After a while, I asked her, how about your reading, what does it say? There was nothing good to be found in my horoscope reading. It’s quite tragic actually. Her hair was falling over her eyes. She made a deep sigh and lit another cigarette. That’s why I’ve come to learn so much about this. Maybe just trying to figure out a way to set things right.
It was pouring down rain when we left. Eda called for a taxi and we piled in. As we drove across the city back towards Beşiktaş, a view of the Bosphorus Bridge emerged—its blue LED lights fading into yellow and then red and orange and back to blue. I began to imagine the bridge lit up every time a child was born in the city, made possible through a direct link with the electronic hospital records across Istanbul. I thought of all the new lives, faces and stories I would never know, brought into the world with each flash of light across the dark waters.