marți, 13 aprilie 2010

story from the black locust tree

The other girls did not ask Pretty if she will come, they already knew the answer and she didn't even care that much. She had a house to keep and no time for childish games of mama and papa like the other girls her age.
Summer turned the unpaved road in a talcum like powder that stuck to Pretty's impeccably white socks...she will have to wash them again....”Can't go like that to school! Ain't proper!”
Pretty just turned nine and long blonde hair came down her back like a soft cascade over her white blouse, so finely combed that it seemed made up of imaginary threads.
She didn't live too far… gate number two was just around the corner, on the road with no name, at the only house that had stuffed dogs happily barking at the door.
Pretty wasn't an orphan. On the contrary, her mother had left for Italy and was now working there for a woman with a very short memory and a comfortable wheelchair that was sending her gifts every time she sought her picture.
Pretty had a lot of nice clothes, thus being envied by all the other girls in here village; on top of this she did quite well in school also. The little girl could be tops of the class, but it wasn't easy to tend to the poultry and a household when you are only nine. Her mother told her when she left that from now on she was to be the woman of the house and that ”The man of the house is the pillar of the family, but the woman is the foundation and without a solid foundation...”. So Pretty did her best, the few chickens and the odd couple of dogs running around the courtyard were happy, though a bit undernourished.
The little girl was changing her clothes in the mirror. Old, clean working pants and a sailor style t-shirt. “Homework is important, but if papa is comin' home and he ain't gonna find no food, then is gonna be trouble.” She started pealing the potatoes, dicing the onions and chopping some greens. The sun was way up over the black locust tree which shaded the porch; Pretty still had time. She discovered there was no bread in the house, and no corn meal either. She could get some bread from the store just around the corner and pay for it tomorrow. The lady at the store was very fond of her, like almost all the other people in the village were, and let her buy groceries on the tap but no cigarettes or alcohol for “that dammed, no good, lazy father of yours. He never pays on time and always says that poor little Pretty is eatin' him out of house and home. Cursed be his soul!”
Now she had some bread also, she will simply take the money out of her father's wallet when he is asleep and pay tomorrow when she comes home from school.
Homework: she loved it! Adding, subtracting, dividing - they made her feel like a reputable accountant; she even had a special black dress that she wore together with a white silk blouse just for doing her math assignments. The girl was sorry that she wasn't wearing glasses ... they would have matched her attire and would have made her feel more like a banker conducting some important transaction in those banks that crowded the main street of the nearby city. She was also learning French , “a banker must know a foreign language for the important transactions”. You could barely see the short, roughly finished table underneath the large pages of her textbook.
Light was shining through the branches of the black locust tree. How time flies when you are having fun! She had to wash herself. Her socks were dirty, the white blouse had some grey shades and papa needed some clean clothes also if he was to find a decent job. The water well wasn't far away. Pretty should have thought about it sooner, when the sun was still shining enough to heat the bucket of water and she wouldn’t have wasted precious corn cogs. Maybe there were some amber leftover from the stew.
Grasshoppers started singing in the garden, the table was set on the porch but she preferred eating in front of the TV. Some bitch was dripping poison in the ear of a raven hared, South American, Adonis to make him marry her instead of his beloved princess. The bitch never succeeds, she knew that, the Adonis always marries the princess and the pitiful shrews end up alone but still, it is fun to watch.
The sun was resting on the fence, in the shade of the black locus tree. The day's work in the fields should have ended also, maybe papa didn't work far away so he will not pass by the pub and drink the money he made, maybe tomorrow mama will send her the craved ticket and she will go to Italy. Good Lord, she wanted that!
Pretty was washing herself with some leftover water, “papa doesn't like her dirty, especially if he is drunk”. The gate opened, papa worked nearby today so in the morning she will have money to pay for the bread. She served him at the table, cut the loaf; he asked her if there was some home made wine left in the cellar. There was some, but she had hid it so he would have something to drink later on.
The man washed himself, it was late by now and the only lights resting under the black locust tree where the lights of the nearby city and the banking street.
Papa called her to bed, tomorrow she will have to wake up early to feed the dogs, the poultry and have some time to prepare for school. Papa caressed her. That was good, it meant he will fall asleep almost immediately after that and she can take the money for the loaf of bread. A couple of pushes and a warm liquid was dripping between her legs. Didn't bother Pretty that much now, in the beginning she was very upset but she had gotten used to it by now. She went out to wash herself, papa was already snoring. She took the money from his wallet.
“Don't forget tomorrow to pay the store lady for the bread.”

The End

sâmbătă, 27 februarie 2010

Redemption

Rare were those nights when he could feel life draining away in his veins and he had to face it. This was just one of those nights.
Maybe he had just too much coffee and what he felt in the back of the neck was his pulsating heart, drown in the bitter liquid. Yes. He was probably imagining it. Just another trick of his sleep starved mind.
He knew it was late. Could feel it in his wife’s deep sleep and in the heartbeats of their unborn child. They were so pretty sleeping just over there, beside him.
They had a ruff week, he knew that, on Monday they were immigrants , on Tuesday their child was already a passport bearing citizen of that kingdom on the edge of the world and by Friday...well... by Friday they were all back in the comfortable unhappiness of the East End.
So contempt they were, pour little souls, rapt around in there invisible blanket, woven out of fear of change, protecting them from the storm raging inside him.
“Are you dreaming?” he asked himself in the rarefied light.
No he wasn't. His dreams were all in English or in that other language that his mind was speaking some times and he could not understand.
Come to think about it, he didn't dream since he came back to Romania.
Liar! He was dreaming every day, walking down the street, when he was seeing people that couldn't be there, or when he was seeing the main boulevard of the East End turn in a fjord and the municipal police station guarding it transforming in to a castle. Yes. He was dreaming every day but didn't want to admit it.
His bed did not serve his purpose any more so he slowly got up, being careful not to let his wife feel their bed turning into just her bed. He could have had a smoke, cigarettes were still cheap or he could have had another cup of java, coffee was always biter, but he chose instead to get quietly dressed and slowly walk out the door in a way in which not even he could feel his apartment turn into someone else's home.
“There's no need to hurry friend” he told himself. “You can take it easy. The hardest part is already over, is all downhill from now. You’re staying! Aren't you?”
The ex-immigrant turned on his mp3 player; he still had the music downloaded in the days when he could see from his other apartment's window the edge of the world.
Outside it was poring, he shouldn't be sad. The song's lyrics were in English, his steps were still Romanian to the core and the numbness he felt was just fatigue setting in.
“Did you fell asleep?”
No, he wasn't sleeping. If he were, he would have dreamt of being an angel, a cherub to be precise. A cherub dressed in two of his wings like the immigrant dressed in his foreign accent, with four heads that changed among themselves so often that he was always flying disoriented and, of course, with a flaming sword sharpened to perfection by his daily grind in the factory.
If he could, he would have gone to a church, an empty one like a Lutheran cathedral or one of those adorned with a miracle-making icon like the one in the old merchant's church in the center of town.
Somebody should invent Lutheran churches with miracle-making icons! If he is to comeback to the land's end he will personally build a church that is Lutheran outside but has a Christ Pantocrator all-knowingly adorning the ceiling.
The streets of the East End were pretty strange with all that rain pouring down, half riverbed, half tarmac and with a bit of effort, even half fjord. He felt like flying a bit. Not much, like in the old days, when he was imagining himself flying over the mountains and the sees to get in his wife’s bed in the East End. No! Just a bit, to the center of town.
“Cherubs have four wings. Two for flying and the other two for redemption. Don't they?”

What a blast he had thinking abouth the faces that the poor sleepy drivers would make if they only could read his mind.
“ Redemption? What's that about?” Cab drivers are saved in the good old fashion Romanian orthodox faith, not like that in some orthodox-protestant gibberish from some far away heresy!
“I redeem myself, you redeem yourself, they don't redeem themselves.” Was that correct? Was his English still usable?
The merchant's church was locked. The sky is closed at night for redemptions, it seems. Cab drivers don't get salvation ‘till early next morning.
He lit a cigarette watching the evangelist's four beasts adorning the church's old gate. Strange beasts they were. The immigrant could just make them up in the reddish lights of his cigarette. The eagle, the lion, the bull and the fourth one, the... Come on! He must know the fourth head. They were the same heads as on his cherub body. Lion ,bull, eagle and...what was his fourth head?
”Make yourself comfortable friend 'cause you ain't leavin' 'till you find out what you last head is.”
He was so preoccupied that he did not even noticed when he passed through the gate.
Did he fell asleep? He asked again.
The miracle-making icon should have been beautiful, at least out of the honor of being miraculous, but instead she was hidden by the chains and trinkets left behind by the believers that got their wishes granted.
-What do ya' want kid? Asked the Mary in a not very virgin voice.
- I'd like to be happy. Can I?
-Didn't I grant you that wish last time ya' re here?
-Well... I don't know exactly. Did I make the right choice?
-O.K. I can sea how ya' re pined little one...I'll helps you again but...now ya' owe me a Lutheran church with a miracle-making icon. Gets it?!
-Yes ma'am, I got it.
-Good! Now go away cause I has some faithful comin' to get salvation in the morning and I has work to do. They already knows what they want. Serious people with serious wishes, not a slacker like ya' .
Now he knew for certain that he was dreaming. It can't be happening. No way!
-Hey! Hey! Snakker du norsk? The police officer asked him while he was waking up in front of Frogner Kirke, somewhere in the best part of Oslo, numbed like waking up from an extremely long sleep.
-No! Sorry friend, I only speak English. He answered with a big grin on his face
-Are you O.K.? What are you doing here so early in the morning, are you lost?
-Nothing much! Just looking for a bit of redemption.

sâmbătă, 20 februarie 2010

Redemptie

Rare erau serile cand putea sa-si simta viata scurgandui-se prin vene iar asta era una dintre ele.
Poate bause prea multa cafea si ceea ce simtea in tample era doar pulsatia inimii inundate in lichid maron-amarui. Era tarziu, simtea asta din somnul dulce ai nevestei cu ochi larg inchisi si din bataile inaudibile ale inimii copilului sau nenascut. Ce frumos dormeu amundoi!
Au avut o saptamana grea, stia asta, au fost pe rand emigranti, cetateni ai unui regat de la capatul pamantului dar ca apoi sa se intorca la starea calduta de nefericire cotidiana pe care cartierul de est stia cu atat generozitate sa o imprastie.
Ce multumiti erau saracutii. Frica de o schimbare ii acoperea placut ca o patura tesuta atat de fin cat sa nu deranjeze si ii proteja de furtuna aceea dezlantuita in sufletul tanarului imigrant.
“Visezi?” Se intreba in lumina rarefiata.
-Nu! Daca ar fi visat ar fi fost in engleza ori in limba aceea pe care mintea lui o vorbea si pe care nu o putea intelege, limba aceea ce ii ascundea corpul ca doua aripi de heruvin.
Daca se gandea bine, el nu a mai visat de cand s-a intors in tara.
Mincinosul! Visa zilnic, mergand pe strada, atunci cand vedea oameni ce nu aveau cum sa fie acolo, cand vedea bulevardul cel larg al cartierului de est transformandu-se intr-un fiord si vedea sediul politiei municipale devenind un castel. Da el visa zilnic! Doar ca nu vroia sa si-o mai recunoasca.
Patul nu isi mai avea rostul, sa ridicat incet ca nu cumva sotia cu pantec rodit sa simta transformarea patului lor in patul ei. Ar fi putut sa fumeze o tigara, inca erau ieftine, ar mai fi putut sa-si faca o cafea, inca era amara, dar a preferat sa se imbrace incet si sa se strecoare pe usa afara la fel de incet ca nici macar el sa nu observe transformarea casei lui in casa altcuiva.
“Nu are rost sa te pripesti.”si-a zis. “De acum poti sa iei viata la pas. Ce a fost mai greu a trecut. Decizi a fost luata! Ramai.”
Si-a pus castile in urechi, inca mai avea muzica descarcata pe vremea cand mai putea privi capatul lumii.
Mergea incet. Afara ploua. Nu ar fi trebuit sa fie trist. Versurile cantecului erau in engleza iar pasii inca mai tropaiau in romana.
-Ai adormit? s-a intrebat.
-Nu! Daca ar fi dormit s-ar fi visat inger, un heruvin mai exact. Un heruvin acoperit de doua din aripile sale ca de un accent de limba straina, cu patru capete ce se schimbau atat de des incat mereu zbura dezorientat si cu o sabie de foc ascutit pana la perfectiune de catre lupta de zi cu zi. Nu dormea, doar era putin debusolat.
S-ar fi dus la o biserica, una goala de continut ca o catedrala luterana sau la una impodobita cu o singura icoana facatoare de minuni ca cea de la biserica negustorilor din centrul orasului. Ar fi trebuit sa se inventeze bisericile luterane cu icoane facatoare de minuni. Daca s-ar fi intors la capatul lumii el insusi ar fi construit una. Luterana pe afara, cu un Hristos Pantocrator inpodobind atotstiitor tavanul.
Erau ciudate strazile plouate, putin albie, putin asfalt si ,daca se chinuia, putin fiord. Ar fi zburat. Ii era pofta sa zboare peste blocuri asa cum visa mai de mult ca zboara din casa de pe strada Limboului peste munti si tari ca sa-si viziteze sotia inca nerodita in patul din Cartierul de Est.
-Heruvinii au patru aripi. Doua de zbor si doua de redemtie. Ce fata ar fi facut taximmetristi adormiti din statie daca l-ar fi auzit. Oricum nu l-ar fi inteles. Redemtie? Ei se mantuiau sanatos romaneste nu asa... stricat in engelza.
Eu ma redemtuiesc, tu te redemtuiesti, ei nu se redemtuiesc. Biserica negustorilor era incuiata, cerul se inchide noaptea pentru redemtie, taximetristii se mantuie doar de cu dimineata.
Si-a aprins o tigara sprijinindu-se de poarta cu evanghelisti si animalele lor alegorice. Erau ciudate creturile acelea,le privea in jarul rosiatic, leul, taurul vulturul si.....Hai ca stia! Pana la urma capetele celor patru creaturi erau si capetele lui de heruvin.Leul, taurul, vulturul si....Ce cap mai avea el?
Nici nu a a observat cand a trecut prin poarta Biserici negutorilor. Ce frumoasa era icoana facatoare de minuni.
-Ce vrei? l-a intrebat icoana ascunsa sub lanturile lasate de catre piosii cu dorinte implinite.
-As vrea sa fiu fericit. Se poate?
-Si nu ti s-a acordat sansa la fericirea cand ai trecut ultima data pe la mine?
-Pai...nu stiu. Am ales ceea ce trebuie?
-Bine. Am sa te ajut si de data asta dar imi datorezi o biserica luterana dotata cu icoana facatoare de minuni. Ai inteles?
-Da. Doamna am inteles.
-Acuma hai! I-ati zborul de aici si lasa-ma ca de dimineata imi vin credinciosii la mantuire si am treaba.
Nu a stiut niciodata ca aripile de heruvin stiu sa zboare asa de repede. Poate nu a fost heruvin de destul timp incat sa afle asta.
-Hei. Hei! Snake du norsk? L-au trezit politisti din poarta bisricii Frogner. Era dezorientat dar treaz insfasit.
-No! Sorry lads I'm only speaking English.
-Are you O.K? What are you doing here so early in the day?
-Nothing much! Just looking for redemption.