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Talk to Me

October 29, 2010 by · No comments

Kristin Dimitrova

Снимка: binaryape

The small park was huddled behind an administrative building with forbidding windows and several blocks of flats built in different times. Squeezed among them, a yellow house still defended its privacy behind a high brick wall. It looked like an aged David puzzled which Goliath to strike first. Unremoved Christmas decorations, flowerpots and empty bottles stuffed the balconies. A frozen line of wash swung with every wind gust. Is this the place, Danail wondered. Is this the place?

He sat on one of the two benches, feeling its thin frost sink into his trousers. He placed his sack by his side. It was an army sack, of the type you could pack with things for two or three days if you weren’t afraid they might get crumpled. Danail had no things like that. His beard had been under way for a couple of days giving his high-cheekboned face a bluish tint. His jacket was also an army one, camouflaged with an unspecified autumn of protective colors, but as if from a different army. A few meters away from his crossed feet a tiny ornamental pond with a turned-off fountain stared at the sky with an empty eye. Its bottom was glazed with ice covering mummified brown leaves. It wasn’t a place one would come upon by chance.

The sea could not be seen from here although its presence was felt. A somewhat noisier silence, a somewhat saltier air. A fog which dared not show its true presence but blurred the distance grey. It was not yet half past three. The bare branches of the nearby bushes clattered in the stronger blasts. Danail pulled his hat down over his forehead. The magazine a woman had left behind on her bus seat was still in his sack, but he wouldn’t distract himself with pictures now. He had come that far.

Half past three and no one turned up. Danail strained his ears and could almost hear the surf in the distance. At twenty-eight to four a balcony door opened and somebody threw a cigarette end out. The flame died out in a graceful arc.

At twenty-five to four a girl with a pink bicycle came and began to circle around the pond. Her boots and mittens were pink too. Irregular curly hair of a still unsettled shape and color waved out from under her hat. At first she kept to the alley, then she started pedaling up and down the pond curb. She did it with dexterous, determined movements. The bicycle would soon be too small for her.

“You’ll fall down.”
“You don’t fall if you keep moving. Haven’t you ever ridden a bicycle?”
She had an admonishing, crossed-eyebrows way of speaking.
“Why don’t you go ride your bicycle somewhere else?”
She stopped and put her feet on the ground.
“Who are you waiting for?”
Danail didn’t answer.
“Are you waiting for your girlfriend?”
“It’s none of your business.”
She giggled and resumed her circles around the pond, pedaling along the very edge.
“So you don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Anyone told you, that you can fall from anywhere, anyhow?”
“Sure, but when you keep moving, you don’t feel pain.”
Danail sighed. The park, which had not long ago been deserted, now looked crowded. There was no use waiting any more. He reached towards his sack.
She was coming towards him, pushing herself with her feet on the frozen slabs.
“Show me what you have in your pockets.”
“No candy.”
She tossed her hair back with vain confidence.
“I’m not interested in candy. Candy is for little children.”

Danail smiled, pulling his hands out of his pockets. In one hand he was holding a small piece of paper with 3.30 written on it, and in the other hand a page from an old telephone directory. One of the addresses on it was circled. The paper with the number was luridly orange, probably a price tag. The girl threw down her bicycle and stepped close to see what Danail had produced.

“What rubbish. You are a bit loony, aren’t you?”
“Not at all. Look, this is the yellow house address. And I am right in front of it.”
“Ha-ha, so you really are loony. No one lives in the yellow house now.”
“It doesn’t matter. This is my New Year’s fortune.” He paused, thought for a while and decided to continue. “Every New Year I look around for a number and an address. Any number and any address, whatever I see first. These are the time and place of the meeting. Then I go there. And wait.”
“Wait for what?”
They both went silent. “A sad loony” she added to herself. She stood in front of him, drawing semi-circles with her pink boot in the snow. Danail swallowed.
“You won’t get it.”
“I will!”
“For God, to talk to me.”
“I didn’t get it a little bit.”
“I told you so.”

She sat on the bench next to him and said: “Here’s a present.” She shoved some trinket into his pocket, exactly where his hands had just come out, and laughed. The fog was thickening. A few windows were lighted up in the flats above but no silhouettes of anxious mothers stared out from behind their panes. Did no one worry about that child?

“Why do you want him to talk to you? Have you got anything to tell him?”
“What is it?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“All right, I’ll close my ears and won’t listen. You can talk.”
“Did you really close them?”
She nodded in answer.
“You didn’t close them. Buzz off.”
She took off her mittens and stuck her tiny fingers into her ears.
“Now I closed them for real.”
Danail bent forward and looked her into the eyes.
“I am a murderer” he whispered.
She didn’t flinch. She just kept looking at him with her wide open eyes.
“Nobody knows that.”

Her gaze was hazily fixed on his pale face, half-hidden under the hat.
“Sixteen years ago I killed my sister. She was eight and I was six. She loved to tease me. She’d push my hand while I was eating soup and mom would shout at me that I’d stained the tablecloth. She’d fill my pockets with sand. Things like that. Children shit. Then one day mom and dad left us to play in the shallow water. They sat under an umbrella nearby. The beach was crowded, lots of people were around. I pulled out the plug from her swimming ring. At first nothing happened, then she sunk and disappeared under the waves. Foamy, low waves, the kind they all get close to the shore. She sank with her back to me, never knew what happened. At the last moment she waved her hands. I laughed at first because she was very funny. Then, after she didn’t show up again, I started shouting. Even then my mother didn’t hear me. She was looking at me, but they were arguing with dad. People around were yelling, laughing. I raked the water, but couldn’t find my sister. I expected her any moment to grab my leg, or to show up on the beach, or to get hold of my swimming ring. Nothing like that happened. The next day they pulled her out. Once I tried to tell mom what I’d done but she interrupted me saying I had no idea what I was talking about, and that I couldn’t possibly remember what happened such a long time ago when I was so little. But I was six and she was… your age. And I remember everything. More and more clearly so. I don’t know how to go on living.”

She removed her hands from her ears.

“I am not eight!”

She stuck out her tongue at him and got back on her bicycle. Then she made a few circles around his bench and rode away in the direction of the flats.

“Be careful!” Danail shouted behind her.
“You don’t fall if you keep moving” her voice reached him from the fog.

Perhaps she said that to everyone who tried to warn her she might get hurt. The silence after she left seemed much denser than the silence before she had come. Several street lamps went on, forming opaque halos around their globes. Danail shook the frost off his sack and stood up to go. He plunged his hands into his pockets and touched something small and odd-shaped.

A swimming ring plug.

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