There are certain moments in life that represent a turning point. These events just happen without a warning, and within a matter of seconds your life changes forever. Just like that. You can´t undo. The worst part is, you are totally unaware, that something extremely important is taking place in the very moment.
Where is your guardian angel when you need him? Couldn’t he say “Hey Gia, beware, something will happen tonight with Lokie. Two outcomes. One: your wish is granted, and you get what you´ve been dreaming of all these months. Two: you don´t want to know, but it´s not good. Good news is, that it is in your power to choose the outcome. It all depends on what you say and do, and especially what you don´t say and don´t do. Remember Gia, tonight is the night!”
“Gee, thanks a bunch my guardian angel! Not…” I guess, there are certain lessons in life, we are supposed to live through and figure out on our own.
24th September 1993
It was Friday evening, and the class has been on their annual Autumn painting expedition for two days already. The students travelled almost half a day by train to a tiny picturesque town in southern Bohemia, near the mountains, that form a natural border with Germany. A perfect setting to practice landscape painting.
The mood of this trip was very different to their spring adventure. With October just around a corner, there was not that much time in a day to work during natural daylight, gone were the hot summer days and warm evenings. The girls were forced to wear several layers of warm jumpers and sweaters to keep warm, the chill pinching their cheeks on the way back from a drawing site to the camp. The colours of the land were breathtaking though. Gia´s favourite visual feast and food for her soul.
The students were accommodated in a camping site, a few kilometres out of the town. There are about twenty small cottages surrounded by a dense woodland, and a tiny shop, a pub and a kiosk short walk away.
Gia shared a cottage with Anna and Leni, and Silvia joined them as planned, much to Gia´s delight. They quickly settled into a routine. After breakfast, if they had any, they walked through the forest up the hill, all the way to a nearby village. They chose to paint a road, weaving its way to the village, to practice perspective. Gia also liked how the roofs in the background seemed to reflect the colours of the nature around them, with rusty browns, dark reds and burnt orange tints.
Lokie and Peter broke camp on the other side of the road in the field. Gia was happy, Lokie was nearby, and she could still lock eyes with him. He soon started to come up to Gia just like he did at the Spring trip, as if he just picked up where he left off. It made Gia all fuzzy and warm inside, however all of this still confused the hell out of her.
The teacher assigned a large, five bed cottage for all the boys, so Lokie and Peter ended up sharing with Ozz, Kai and Tiny. Lokie obviously hated it. Gia was thrilled at first, because it meant they could go visit the other boys and be in Lokie´s place at the same time. However, it soon proved to be unfortunate, because no matter what the girls did, Lokie was not interacting with them much. He mostly laid on his bed, with his headphones on, and he had almost permanent expression of annoyance on his face. The others were having fun teasing each other and playing drinking games. Even Peter joined in.
Someone brought a bottle of vodka, and the girls were taking little sips followed by a gulp of water, but Peter really impressed them by almost guzzling the whole bottle straight, if they hadn´t stopped him. Sylvia was trying to help Gia by encouraging her to behave kind of crazy, like taking Lokie´s stuff and teasing him. That evening was particularly crazy, because the boys from a graphic studio, that were on the same trip, purchased a keg of lager and invited the painters over to share it.
So they were spending their evening moving between the two cottages, staying a little while here and a while there. Until suddenly Gia´s mood shifted, she started to feel the effects of the alcohol, and she wasn´t enjoying the “games”, they were playing with the boys any more. She could sense, that Lokie didn´t approve, he still seemed annoyed, and Gia felt so frustrated and sad, that it was going nowhere. She had enough and headed back to her cottage.
It was situated halfway a long hill in the middle row of cottages. The building itself was a simple wooden structure with three steps leading up to a porch. The main door opened directly into the only room that contained only basic furniture. The girls pushed all tree beds together to accommodate the four of them.
Nobody was in, and Gia was happy for that, she wasn´t in the mood to talk to anybody, not even Sylvia. She laid in darkness, and she felt a familiar dull pain in her chest, an invisible hand squeezing her throat. She didn´t even try to stop the flood of tears that followed. She was not sure exactly, why she was so sad. It was a mixture of everything, her parents, Lokie, and probably the drinks she had that evening. Then there was also this time of the year, Autumn had always had a strange effect on Gia. Autumn was beautiful with all its glorious colour, but also incredibly sad and melancholic.
All of a sudden the door opened, all the girls barged in, and put the light on. Gia felt disturbed, she desperately needed to be alone. She hid under the covers, hoping in vain they wouldn´t notice her and leave her alone.
“Hey Gia, there you are!” Sylvia sat on the edge of the bed, and put her hand on Gia´s back.
“You won´t belive what we took from the boys!” squealed over excited Leni.
“I don´t care, leave me alone!” screamed Gia inside her head.
“Are you OK?” asked Sylvia.
Gia shook her head, and when she thought the situation couldn´t get any worse, the door opened and in walked Peter and Lokie. For the first time on that entire trip, they chose that moment to walk in, just like that. Gia couldn´t believe it, all the time she wanted to hang out with Lokie in the evenings, and he didn´t and now at the worst possible moment, he turns up?! He would see her all broken and crying and weird. She squeezed her eyes shut and just willed herself to teleport somewhere far, far away, but of course it didn´t happen.
“What do you two want?” asked Leni.
“We just came to get our stuff, you girls stole from our cottage!” replied Peter.
Suddenly, it got all too much for Gia, the tiny cottage was full of people, intrusive sounds and light. Her mind screaming go, run, escape! She jumped up and picked up a first thing she saw, that looked like a boy´s shoe. She threw it in the direction of the boys, and shouted, “Here, here is your stuff, and now get out of here!”
Silence. Everyone stared at her in disbelief, Gia felt like a trapped animal. She turned around, and jumped out of the only clear escape route, the window by the bed. A voice echoing in her head “Just get away, get away, get away…” The wet grass was soaking her feet, but she didn´t care. She run past the cottages, then stopped by the last one. Her back pressing against the damp wood, she slowly slid down, breathing heavily, feeling momentarily relieved. She pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them. Tears running down her face. “What the hell happened there?” she was so confused, but she didn´t have much time to think about it, because she heard footsteps coming closer.
What the heck? She stilled, held her breath. “Oh, shit it´s Lokie!”
He just stood there looking at Gia for a while, and then he asked quietly, “What´s going on?”
Gia didn´t answer, she just kept staring into the darkness, still hugging her knees.
“What´s wrong, Gia?” he asked again.
And before she could think about it, she heard her voice, as if it didn´t even belong to her, it was strangely coarse. “F*** off, Lokie!”
Lokie looked utterly shocked, as if he got hit by something. She could see the hurt in his eyes. She could literally see his eyes breaking, even through the veil of the darkness, she could see it clearly, she hurt him. He took a step back.
“Why are you so pissed off, it should be me, not you! I didn´t do anything to you!” and he started to walk away. “I want all my stuff back tonight!”
“No! What have I done!” Gia finally came to her senses. “Why did I say that to him? I love you, Lokie, I love you, I love you!” her mind was screaming inside, but her mouth was mute, and she saw his back disappearing in the distance. “That´s it, he must think I am a complete lunatic, he hates me now, I ruined it! I f****** ruined it! The worst thing is, that there was a perfect opportunity to talk to him, really talk to him. He cares, he followed me….Well he doesn´t care anymore! He hates me, he hates me, I ruined it….”
Photo by Gia