Change of Seasons
Явор Емилов Тодоров (явор64)Раздел: Проза на чужд език Цикъл:
On the table in the guard room there were always books and magazines. The boy loved to read. There was nothing better than that in the long two hours of loneliness and graduually occurring drowsiness. When the two hours was run out the officer on duty was making the shift, and in the night dryly cracked first the safety-bolt and then the block-bolt of the mashine-gun. Then the boy was throwing the greatcoat on his shoulder and was going to the rest room trying to sleep a little. And after another two hours they was awaking him, he was throwing the greatcoat on his shoulders again and went up to hill, swinging. The boy was circling around the post and stareing in the darkness around and was enjoyed when in the cold and dark sky with still stars he perceived the blinking signal of a plane. It was a great pleasure to him to think that only he and the pilot was under this sky and loaded with such an important task. And to walk around the post was also a pleasure, though it was exhausting, but so he could be alone with himself and his dreams. Sometimes he imagined how enemies attack the post, how they shoot at him or he shoot at them, how they kill him or he kills them. These fantasies were funny, he had already given hundreds of combat duty and not nothing had happened and would hardly have happened. But they helped him to keep awake. Combatting sleep was difficult and the best way to do it were the thougths and the dreams. Actually there was not another thing to do. But thinking about what? It was possible to think about the girls in their class and especially of one of them that wrote him several letters but they were at a long distance now and it was not relevant. It was possible also to dream about the day of the dissmissal. He had already experienced it once, they were noisy crowd to escort the old soldiers, they fling water at the portal. The ritual was very good one, they had to kick the old soldiers behind and they fled out, trying to escape this. He felt tears in his eyes. He could also think about the life after that day, but it was so far.
He could also dream about liberty on Sunday. Usually they went to the beach, they was laying for on the sand, he could swim well but soon was bored with it, when they returned to shore, they went to drink beer or starting cigarettes. Girls was passing, it was wonderful to watch how the waves break in their well-built ankles, but they never tried to make acquaintance with them because the afternoon was already to expire, as sand between the fingers and the evening was remindering for itself with a sudden shadow and they had to get back.
But it was good in the frosty winter nights to think of the summer and the beach. As in the insufferably summer heat - for the autumn. In the autumn was the most clear days, the look was covering the whole horizon, down the bay ships was slowly sliding and, in the distance - more dark blue than the blue of the sea and in the midst of a thin white stripe, clouds, or fog, the Cape Kaliakra was veiling. As a rule the seasons was changing before one realizes it. The boy remembered a grim day when wings was slashing the dyke, the horizon was shrinked, gray and blue was mixed in the sky, it was autumn, and in the morning, in the whitening of the darkness one could see the first snow, which had been sneakered here with quiet steps as the spy of the new season. When the morning came, smoke was seen over the villas, owners was moving around in the courts and the boy was looking at the empty and lifted high sky and was enjoyed, the winter has come again. The winter was beautiful, the snow was over everything and it wasn't melting and getting in mud and slush as in the town. He was a city boy and he was never skied so that this snow was so beautiful to him. However cold was cold, especially the first of the two winters was immemorial, the boy remembered how he was watching the smoke over the room of the post, the warm light window. In such moments nothing could be more important than to warm your hands on the roaring stove, to dry up your shoes. Once heated, he could sit down to the little table where for weeks they are rolling the same books, take the one that was chosen and continue. They were all books about adventures and by them the boy for the second time experienced his early boyhood. The boy believed that one could write a wonderful story about how the soldier circle around the post, how he thinks about differents things, about the girl, the letters from her, which come less and less, and about everything else. But this story might not have intrigue, event, and therefore he thought it would not be very interesting to the reader.
Once he, together with another boy, Mladen, were chosen to give detail in the city as a pair of patrol and there chief would have been the youngest lieutenant. They got up very early in the morning, they awoke the officer on duty and received from him a military knife which they belted on. They could take the bus but he passed everytime and for not to be late they rushed through the villa area in the direct path. In the command they belted on the red ribbons with the word "patrol", they heard the briefing and made the streets with the lieutenant. He was young, almost of their age and there, on the top of the hill, in the free minutes, he was joking, he was telling them the movies he had seen so that to know which of them to go to see when they were on liberty. Furthermore, he was sporstmen and he remained in duty, he loved to play football with them, to compete who can do more pulls and abdominals to the horizontal bar.
They passed through the white marble square which in this early hour was deserted. In close proximity to the fountains the air was damp, the face was reached by invisible water sprays. Up, on the hill, there were many boys who were from the city and in Saturdays and Sundays they did everything to go on liberty. Therefore, he hasn't seen the town for a long time and so now all enjoyed him. But he could not be angry at them for he was understanding that it was certainly not easy to them to see their native town every day, beautiful as postcard made by bird look. It was nice to walk in the streets full of noise, with tourists with their baggage - mattresses, folding umbrellas, inflatable balls, they all was in a hurry to the beach. He imagined how, as a very little boy, maybe he had crossed the same street, held firmly by the hand of his mother or his father and in the other hand he pull a boat on wheels, making an impossible noise. At that time everything was fine. Right at the entrance of the Sea Garden there was a confectionary in which he had tasted the best ice-cream in his life - three multicolored balls with syrup and lady fingers, planted in the middle. But when they passed by there the boy thought with sadness that now this ice-cream would seem to him quite simple. They surrounded the sea casino and looked the sea. Then they turned back and noticed that the open movie-screen gathering people in the evenings was still standing there. Here he has watched the most merry and funny painted films in his life.
They was walking around the town in this way and from time to time they stopped a private or a sailor for the lieutenant to ask his booklet, which they handed to him discomposingly and the lieutenant looked long and strictly in it, then handed it back, saying a joke and let go. So they came to the marine station but first they passed by huge metal profiles and then - along with skeletons of future ships, over which taps was slowly moving, ringing their warnings. The waves quietly lapped at the foot of the breakwater, the ships were decorated with colourful flags and the boy saw with astonishment that close to them their hulls are not so clean but was variegated with large rusty spots. The evenings in the town were even more noisy and the main street was as full as all people in the world were here. Dressed in their most beautiful clothes people was strolling without haste before to decide how to continue to enjoy themselves. One had the impression that it was the city with the most beautiful girls.
The boys, accompinied be the lieutenant was going where they had to sleep - a strange little hall for rehearsals, which was shown to them this morning. There is a piano there and its sound, disrupted and deaf, was reverberating in the empty space with several beds. It was situated in a remote district with old and tired houses, bend down with age under the dark sky. The lieutenant was sending them because he feared that they could not find the little hall in the unknown quarter, then he would be back.
Then they heard a cry. They directed their steps towards the spot uncertainly. The cry was repeated, higher and scared: "Let me! Help!" They was already running. A girl was pulling back from a man trying to drive her in an entrance. They saw his white shirt to show up in the dusk between the trees and disappear behind the packing cases around the corner. They rushed after him, entered in the crossing, then to the left, but everywhere was dark, there was no street lighting, they stopped in bewilderment and behind them some people cried: "To the right, boys, to the right!" But there was nobody and nothing was heard, no steps in the darness, they stopped and listened for a sound. They returned slowly back and they saw the lieutenant and the girl talking.
- But I don't know him! - the girl was explaining, confused. Her equally bobbed hair was covering almost her entire face and this, toghether with the little snub nose was giving to her an innocent children's appearance.
- Guys, you go to sleep! - said the lieutenant to them and they went silently to the winking light of the traffic-lights from where they had to go to the left. When they turned at the crossing they saw that the lieutenant and the girl was going together down in the street. The lieutenant was speaking something, waving his hands.
They was going without talking and the boy thought that the whole two-years long life in the army was actually like one day armed fatigue. Twenty-four months as twenty-four hours. He remembered how once, when he stand up on the post, it was still winter, the snow was melted, only here and there in the grooves on the ground had appeared tiny, small snow-drifts. The ground was black and hard, without grass. In the morning, in the diluted darkness, he saw that the green wheat's stalk in the large field beyond the wire fence of the division has pierced for one night this this cold and dark earth. Then exactly he had realized with happy-ecstatic acuity that whatever happens, the service remains less and less.
As well as life, however.