Tag Archives: short story

Saint of the mountains

Carpathian mountains

Primoz had been on the road for days. He went through lifeless mountains and had no way of refilling his vivers. One midday, when the cold had past – it was almost autumn now – he found himself near small brutally destroyed village. He followed the small pathway to it and was appalled by the cruelty used – half of the houses were burned, the rest made inhabitable. Except for few, but it seemed unlikely to hide any survivors.

“What happened?” he asked himself, before hearing clutching sound of an ax hitting wood.

A woman rose from behind the bushes. She was young grown up with charmingly beautiful figure hidden by the dress that now licked her back in the wind. Her bleached hair was entwined into long braid that reached to her middle, why her grey eyes shined in the evening sun.

“What happened happened ten years ago.” She said, eyeing the intruder carelessly. Though he was a huge man, tall and not the best looking, she didn’t seem intimidated by the site at all and he didn’t know what to think of that. In ten years he’d been travelling, it was common to be chaised away as most took him for criminal of some sort.

“Good day, ma’m.” He gave her a little bow, before she motioned him closer. Women had the habit of running when he closed in, but she didn’t seem to know it. In fact, her eyes seemed warm, welcoming as if seeing someone she’d known her whole life.

“Day is late, my friend.” She put the ax down and started collecting lugs where they had landed. For a moment she stopped, thought and turned to gaze his muscled arms he didn’t bother to cover and reached one of the lugs to him, giving a silent request he’d help her.

He was here for good relations he thought and accepted it, allowing the woman place quite a pile of them on his right arm, before gathering some herself. His left arm was holding his gear and sword.

He couldn’t help but observe the burned buildings, wondering if it be polite to ask, what happened.

“War went through here.” She said, collecting her armful before he could ask. “They took our food, burnt our houses and then went, leaving us to die.” She didn’t sound emotional, rather cold even. “What was left of them didn’t last for long and most of the villagers left. My family couldn’t – mom couldn’t keep anything down and grew week. She died. Me and my sister, we buried her in the hole in the ground. People say – I rather die. But then, dying is not that simple, even if you search dead yourself. On her grave I made a promise – I’ll do anything not to end up in there. So far I’ve manage to keep it.”

She rose. “Come – let’s find you something to eat then.” Her voice was calm, half sleepy even.

He froze. Did he just hear her right?

She went, but sensed then he wasn’t following and turned. “That is, why you are here, isn’t it? To stack up? I’m afraid I have nothing to sell, but I can give you some fruits and bread to get to the next village.”

It took him a moment to evaluate her words, before he felt able to move again and followed her to one of the remaining houses. It was small, but cleaned up and it had glass windows.

“I just finished supper, so I don’t have much left, but the breads are coming out soon.”

So that was the smell he sensed in the woods! He knew there had to be a reason he felt sudden urge to come here.

“You can put the logs there.” She nodded towards the small stove as she entered. The wooden floor seemed firm enough for him to walk on it, though it looked old. The room was warm and dark, but he didn’t mind it – he never had problems seeing in the dark, being most of his life in dark. There wasn’t much furniture, but enough for few people.

“Sit, you are probably tired, it seems you’ve walked for long time.” She didn’t put more attention on him, but turned to attend the fire.

He watched her. He didn’t know what to make of her – it was so calm he thought he was dreaming. Not even his own sister welcomed him so willingly in her home after learning who he was – a human with wild soul, yet this young woman called her in without showing any signs of being afraid or intimidated by his looks or by his weapons, which he wore many and most openly. He was used to being attacked and mistrusted for this, but he was never wrong to expect it either. Or wouldn’t she be afraid of him misusing her? Why was she being so nice?

She filled two cup with basswood blossoms and violets, before adding hot water from huge tank above the stove and gave it to him sitting against him on the other side of the table.

He thanked her. “You live here on your own?” he asked, not asking what he really wanted to know – about why she had so much hot water?

“Yes. My sister married five years ago and has six children of her own now. They come to see me once a week, to make sure I’m alright.” Her calm face filled with joy when she said it and to Primoz this had to be the face of an angel. “When you go to the village, ask for Oana – she’ll help you with food. Her husband has a shop there.”

They sat in silence for a while, stearing at each other. The wind outside had risen and it sounded harsh, playing with the roof.

She rose her eyes and listened. “Well, it seems you have to rest here for the night, though.” She sighed and went for the stove.

“It will pass soon.” He marked, but felt little truth in it.

She gave him an amused gaze. “No, not in this part of the mountains – it usually lasts ‘til morning.”

The weather in mountains was capricious and unpredictable. He had seen days when the morning was so cold you nearly survived when the evening brought heat so burning you could drown in your own sweat. Or you started your journey in thick fog and ended with giving praises to wind gods for blowing the insidious fog from your bath seconds before you’d step over the cliff and get yourself killed in fall too deep to remember.

She interrupted his thoughts when removing the slab from the stove’s mouth. A warm aroma of freshly baked bread filled the room and his hungry stomach constinged immediately reminded him why he was here.

She took out four good smelling loafs and covered them with white linen cloth. Then she fixed the fire again and brought one of the loafs to the table. She broke off a slice and gave it to him but took none for herself.

He thanked her and sank his teeth in it while watching her return to the stove and preparing a basin. She first put on an old apron and brought a towel near her. Then she turned her sleeves up and mixed hot and cold water ‘til she was satisfied.

“Bojan will be back soon, he is never late for his meal.” She explained, when noticing his curious look.

“Who is Bojan?”

“My dog.” As for sign, he heard a low bark behind the door and she hurried to open it. “He always gets muddy in days like this – it’s easier to wash him right a way when he arrives or he’ll make a mess all over the house.”

In came a huge sheep-size black wolfhound. He immediately took interest in him –animals often sensed, who he was – and growled, but a sharp order from his mistress and he turned back to her with devious puppy face, tale fiercely wagging behind him. The monster was indeed dirty as he could see from the water turning light milky grey.

He observed her placing the dog inside the basin – suprised by her strength in doing so – and watched how Bojan enjoyed her every steady stroke and hug while she washed the dirt off his fur. The site made him yearn for her touch too, so much even he found himself drawn to her, yearning she washed his fur like that too.

Soon the dog was free and paced off on his little place near the fireplace while she discarded the water outside. He had a bowl with food there waiting.

She then fixed new water in the basin and came to offer him a towel. “Here, you can refresh yourself while I see if I can find you a blanket and pillows.” He simultaneously took the offer and headed for the bowl. “The stove is hot now, you see, but it will cool off soon. Then sleeping on the floor will be hard to bare.”

It was indeed hot here, he admitted, but he doubt the heat was caused by the burning logs. Instead he started to wonder if the reason wasn’t more with human form, like him?

But he had no wish to ruin this perfect time by forcing her into something she might not wish to do. She had welcomed him in her home and shared the little she had with no requests involved. In his eyes, hurting her would be sacrilege, because at the moment, she was near being a saint.

“Athala.” She said suddenly, placing the bedding before her bed, which was on the other side of the stove, where it was warmest in the room to sleep.

He rose his water dripping face to give her a puzzled look.

“My name, “ she explained, “it’s Athala.” She brushed her hand over the soft pillow to clean away some dust. “I thought as we do need to spend the night here together, I might as well know your name.” She shrugged.

He seldom used his real name. His father had said the names bared much power in them and trusting someone with it meant you really trusted someone. Because of that he used many fake ones, giving one after another, never revealing his true identity so no one could use it against him.

“Primoz.” He said quietly, before realizing he had said his own name.

“Primoz.” She repeated it for few times, trying to get the pronation right. Then she gave him a respectful nod and turned back at doing his bed.

Less than an hour later they were in their beds.

“Good night, Athala.” He said yawning, digging in.

“Good night, Primoz.” Her voice disappeared in the dark, but he heard every sound of it and it felt good. The wind outside grew louder, but he felt only warm in his heart.

First time in his life he slept well, waking rested, against the fact it was cold that woke him. She had been right, the stove had cooled off in the night and it chilled the floor so, making it almost impossible to sleep on.

He stretched himself long, before rising from the bed. He tried not to wake her, she didn’t. Her dog was now laying almost in full length next to her, showing him some teeth. Warming her, he thought.

He started a small fire under the stove and watched her arouse from her bed sheets. She smiled at him calmly and put her long grey dress over her just as grey under dress. She sent the dog out and left with him, only to return with apples, some cheese and dried meat.

They ate in silence and she packed him some of it in a scarf. Before he went, she showed him, which turns to take to get to the village and gave her the meal, saying it will be dark before he gets there.

He accepted the food and thanked her. She gave him a lovely smile and kissed him on his cheek for good luck.

As she had promised, her got to the next village just as the sun was settling behind the high mountains he had left behind only few hours before. He asked children about the woman called Oana and they showed him the way to a huge house not far from the town center.

They were closed, but a woman of spitting image opened the door. She was carrying a child and two came right after her. Her belly was bigger too.

“I came here from the mountain village.” He started when realizing he was staring at her. “I was sent here by your sister, Athala.”

She froze and colours left her cheek.”Athala?”

He didn’t understand and repeated what he had just said.

“Yes, I had an older sister, Athala, but she died two years ago in cold.” She watched the man take a step back, before catching his hand and leading him in. “But anyone she sends is welcome.” She gave her a big smile and took him to the kitchen, where young servant girl made fast leaving, recognizing the assassin.

She pore him some ale and took a seat against him on the chair.

“But I spoke to her just now.” He started, in shock. “She gave me shelter for the storm.”

“She still keeps her promise then,” she smiled warmly, “and it was indeed stormy night yesterday.”

He didn’t understand.

“Some children say they’ve seen a young lady up in the mountains near the old village. That she called them in before the storm racked over. I thought they were merely joking. I’ve never seen anyone with full mind say that before.”

His hand moved up where she had kissed him on his cheek. The woman he saw was dead?

“…keep going as far as you can see and you’ll eventually find the one you are seeking. Good luck.” Were her last words to him.

“Come – let’s find you something to eat. With this cold, you aren’t going anywhere. Tomorrow, my husband will help you restock your bags.” Oana’s cheerful voice flew over the kitchen when she disappeared in the conservatory.

He didn’t move. The woman he’d seen was dead! Beautiful saint of the mountains he had promised himself to visit again was but a ghost in the wind.

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Bad guy in the corner

I continued chewing the candy, letting it float from one side of the mouth to another, observing the creature, which stood in front of me, on the table.

“So…” I started, with irony hidden in my voice, “let me get it straight…” I threw away the bitter part of the candy I never liked, “they say you are an archangel?”

He nodded. I agreed. I put next candy in my mouth and started eating it, before popping the main question.

“You don’t look like one.”

He didn’t look surprised, which was fine by me, but it was a bit annoying really as he looked basically terrible. Not even horrifying, but simply terrible. I guess you could consider him a good-looking, but under that junk he wore, it was hard to tell.

“I am not coming with you.” I declared bluntly and turned around to get on with my work, digging deep in the candy box for a new one.

The book I was reading landed a moment later on the floor.

“Hei! I needed that! Get your own from the library if you need one!” I took it up again and cleaned it before puting it back in front of me. “I don’t care, who you are, but as I told to that other guy, I am not coming!”

He seemed puzzled. Do they ever change information with each other up there?

“That guy – in the corner!” I pointed out and fealt the cold breeze his robe created, when he suddenly turned, eyes huge, looking bigger with every moment, like when you upset a pundle of beez. That I did not expect. “Oh my!” I breethed out and backed off on my bed, stearing at the two huge creatures shissing at each other like snakes.

Few minutes after the thing started, it was over, with the second intruder’s obvious win. And by the black fire coming from the corps I kinda knew now, who the good guy was.

I saw the intruder coming for me, but I raised the only thing I knew would help if they were demons – my tiny copper circle with cross carved on it.

“If you do that to me,” I pointed at the body on the floor, “I will come and haunt you!”

He obviously didn’t like that, because he stopped for a second, then grab my arm with no warning and dragged me out of my miserable hideout.

People do stupid things, when they are under pressure – I for example grabbed my little Kinder Surprise’ toy, tiny car, from my night table. Why couldn’t it been scisours or something? Now I was dragged out of my own home with nothing more to protect me than some plastic toy and a coat he through me while heading to the window.

“Oh no you don’t!” I screamed and dug my heels deep in the red carpet that was suitable only to carbage can. “Did God give you only half a brain?!” That helped and I landed back on my ass on the carpet with his very angry eyes burning my blushed skin. Big mouthed girls have very short life expectancy.

He raised his right hand and showed towards the window.

“Stairs! Door!” I showed the blanck wooden piece in the other end of the wall. “I can’t fly and nothing you say or do can change that!”

Wrong answer – the hand tore me up and out of the window faster than the car I was holding hit the floor. Just as my body, that indeed couldn’t fly hit the street from six storeys high.

I stared at the people, who ran towards my ligfeless mashed body, from the roof just opposite to my flat with growing frustration eating me inside. Did I just commit suicide? I was surprised – I didn’t think I could just stand aside of my own body and see nothing wrong with the view. Nor did I expect myself see my own body as nothing more than smashed meat that it now was. The brains not far from the scul were a bit disturbing site, I always thought these were, where my life was canned in.

I raised my eyes towards the so-called angel next to me, who was also blancly staering my remains on the blacktop of the street. I guess he hadn’t expected that, I thought ironically. He was still holding my hand like big brothers keep their tiny sisters under control.

“Umm,” I started, catching his attention, “weren’t you suppose to protect me from getting myself killed?”

Indeed a problem. His deep black eyes turned to me and there were not one hint of everything being ok, instead they were observing me, like asking himself what was he meant to do with me now that I wasn’t useful anymore. For the living that is. I wasn’t useful for the living as they couldn’t contact me anymore and considering he did fight with the other guy, who probably wanted something from me too, so I would… Wait, what DID the other guy want from me and what did this guy want from me?

“Just a little pop up quizz?”  I quicly removed my hand from his and took a step back. He didn’t hurry to catch me again, which probably meant my slaughtered body on the street indeed meant the end of my odyssey. “What was so important that made the two of you came after me? A-and why am I now on the street flat to my face?”

He shrugs his shoulders. The best reason I have ever seen for me to get killed. No point of asking him to repeat his answer.

“What am I suppose to do now?” I continued asking, slightly gettuing agrivated for being killed for no good reason. Asking about my resurection would probably be a bad idea anyway.

He offered me his hand again, obviously suggesting it would be good if I go with him. Using some words might help with communicating?

“I guess I can fly now?”

A slight grin ran over his so far stone carved face and he nodded slowly.

I reached him my hand and a strong grip close on it having no intentions of letting go again and I ran after his heavy steps leading us over the roofs farther away from the busy city.

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Story behind the picture

A guy walks on city streets. He has just finished his job and feels good, heading home, warm home with a fire place – something very missed in grey city rain.

Suddenly he stops in shock as a little sunny pony tale across the street captures his eye. She’s far and doesn’t notice him. She is meeting with a man in dark drench coat. They seem close, chatting lightly, laughing even harden. They are in good mood it seems and all he could do is watch them talk.

All the walls are falling as he stands there, afraid to move as then this could be reality. And if so, the girl there is his girlfriend flirting with some stranger!

At first he wants to walk over there, grab that bastard and tell him to keep the hell away from his girlfriend. But he doesn’t do that. Instead he stands there, staring at them.

They keep laughing. Suddenly a gentle kiss marks their leaving and they back away to empty alley, where they soon disappear in fog rising from pipes.

He tries to persuade himself that this can not be and he hastens home, where she said she’ll be. She promised.

He makes his way up the stairs, through the front door, eyes searching for yellow light, but the lamps are switched off and it’s dark. Too dark even to see, the rain has made the day cold and heavy. He takes a seat in the living room, releases himself from overcoat and tries to think, what should he do next.

He finally decides and calls her, but the red mobile she owns plays its sad tune not few feet from him. She has left it home.

Suspicions find their way into his heart, anger takes over what’s left from sorrow. He measures the floors with his flouncing through the rooms, till he stops at the study, flumping down in a comfortable chair.

He stars at the clock, counting the minutes to her return, rushing through haunting thoughts.

An hour pass, then the second. The rain has stopped and sun is out, floating everything with golden light, finding its way even here, to the cold dusty study.

Suddenly the front door creaks and sound of high heals leads the unsuspecting woman inside. She is humming while she puts away her coat, checking through the mail.

He knuckles to get her attention and stare fiercely to her gentle eyes, which reveal no surprise. They argue, woman oblivious of the reason behind his accusations, man angry of betrayal.

Suddenly he falls silent, loathing of his stupidity. The woman standing before him is dressed in blue, while the girl he saw, was wearing yellow…

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Kalur ja pärlipiiga

Nagu igal teisipäeval, vedas kalamees ka sellel saatuslikul teisel nädalapäeval oma suured kalavõrgud merele ja ootas kolm tundi. Kui esimene tund läbi sai, märkas ta mere poolt tulemas kajakat, kes maandus ta paadininasse ja ootas oma osa saagist. Kaks tundi hiljem tõusis ta taas lendu, hõbedane räim noka vahel helkimas. Nii oli see olnud kogu kaluri elu.

See teisipäev oli aga eriline, sest kui ta pärast pikka pingutust oma paadi lõpuks kaldale suutis vedada, kuulis ta äkki kõrkjatest nuttu. Ta läks uurima, kes seal nii valjusti ulub ja leidis eest väikese tüdruku roheliste juustega.

Kaluril hakkas lapsest kahju – ikkagi külm, hiliskevadine ilm ja tal polnud ka muud seljas kui vanast võrgust kootud särk. Ta võttis ta kaasa ja viis koju.

Koju jõudes näitas ta oma leidu ka naisele, kes kibestunult kohe uurima hakkas, miks ta lapse koju tõi kui neil endilgi pole piisavalt iva hamba alla panna.

„Ta võib tööd teha,“ ütles mees ja näitas lapsele, kuidas põrandat pühkida. Kuid naise süda oli kuri ja talle ei meeldinud, et ta võõra lapse koju tõi ja ta tegi kõik, et laps seda teaks.

Väike tüdruk hakkas nutma ja järsku kuulsid mõlemad krõbinat.

„Pärl!“ hüüdis naine ja korjas lapse jalge eest sinava ümmarguse varanduse. Kohe otsis ta lapse riided läbi, kuid lapsel polnud ühtegi teist pärlit kaasas.

„Pärl!“ kuulis ta järgmist krõpsatust ja korjas roosa mereanni põrandalt. Ja ta vaatas, kuidas lapse põse pealt kukkus järgmine pisar, mis maad puudutades pärliks muutus.

Kaluri naisel läksid silmad põlema ja enne kui kalur vahele jõudis segada, peksis ta last luuaga ja korjas ulguva vääniku kõrvalt üles kõik sinna kukkunud pärlid.

Kalur võttis lapse sõnagi lausumata sülle, viis tagasi mere äärde ja pani ta jalgupidi liivale.

„Mere laps oled,“ ütles ta tõsiselt ja tundis äkki, kuidas väikesed käed ümber tema paelusid, „merre pead sa tagasi minema.“ Lause lõpuga oli ka laps kadunud, jättes endast maha vesised jäljed, mis merre tagasi kõndisid ja suure tumehalli pärli.

Kui ta koju tagasi läks, leidis ta eest vihast karjuva naise, sest kohe kui lapse jalad taas vett puudutasid, olid tema varandus veena ta käte vahel jooksnud.

Mees vaatas teda, vaatas merd, mudis pärlit, mis ta püksitaskust kuhugi ei kadunud, sulges oma hüti ukse ja hakkas merd imetledes kalu puhastama.

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Extraordinary affair

„Are you gonna tell her she isn’t under surveillance anymore?“ his coworker asked, studying the girl working two desks down.

“ She has redeemed her place, but… Why should I?“

“For starters it’s eight in the evening and I know her mother has a birthday.“

He let the papers down. He didn’t know that, she hadn’t asked.

”She hasn’t asked.”

”That’s what I mean – she still thinks she is in black list.”

”Alright, you tell her she can go home.”

”She won’t believe me.”

”Why?”

”She made you a surprise party and everybody went with the idea though they knew how you react, but we still cheered her up. Later we all stood down when she almost lost her job. You think she’d trust us after that trick? Others were responsible for this, too, you do know that?”

”Yes.”

”Then…”

”I’m waiting her to come and tell me it herself. For a woman, who has lost all her trust in her coworkers, she is doughty. I want her to admit she can save herself by giving me your names.”

”You won’t get them – she is sturdy, but no fox among the chicken.” The older man grinned. “Besides, you already know.” He took two steps towards the door. “I’ll tell her to go home. She is too tight up about this.”

”No.” He stopped him. “I’ll tell her. Go home, Jonathan, Jessie is waiting.”

”Don’t stay long either.”

”Hey.” He called quietly, standing near her. “You should be home by now.” That was his understanding of introduction. That ought to be enough he thought.

”I still have few things to finish, I’ll be going soon.” She didn’t sound very eager to go, so he took a seat right next to her table and watched her work for a while.

”I don’t pay extras.” He said bluntly, but even that didn’t seem to move her.

”I know, I just have this to finish up.”

He waited for a while, observing her brown hair shimmer in the lamp light and her hands typing fast.

”Why didn’t you tell me others had put you up to this?”

Her chest rose once to take in extra air she desperately needed and her look in her eyes showing boredom she shrugged.

”I don’t know. It didn’t seem right at the time.”
”Too much loyalty is not a virtue. How’s so?”

She had stopped typing. “How’s what?”

”Why didn’t it seem right?”

”I was out to get a smite, it wouldn’t mattered what I said – you weren’t in the mood to listen.”

He nodded. He remembered well that evening, too well even, but she was right – he wouldn’t have listened her thinking it was all in her mind.

”Then why do you work overtime if you know you’re not guilty?”

”Others think I am – I get half finished reports and messier edits. But don’t tell them I know – it’s not like I have much to do anyway.” She laughed openly.

”No personal life?” he admitted with fast grin. It was too familiar – neither did he, too much work back in the days had taken that joy from him.

She shook her head agreeingly.

He stared at her blue eyes for a second, thinking on sudden revelation he wasn’t gonna let her repeat his mistake and he darted up. “Well, then how about we get ourselves personal life and have a dinner together?”

She hadn’t noticed, but he was already carrying his suitcase and raincoat, which he put down on the seat he had just risen. It was slightly sudden, but he already reached after her light raincoat and held it out to help it on her.

”Seriously, if you refuse, I swear I fire you.”

She burst into laughter and let him help her. The birthday was forgotten – it was late for her to pay a fancy visit anyway he said to himself, turning her around to button her coat up.

”Why not?” she smiled.

It was definitely something to gossip about the next day. Actually, the day after – as hadn’t she brought him a cup of strong coffee to aid his headache and he at the evening asked if she’d like to repeat the evening out half aloud, their co-workers wouldn’t have dreamt of such couple to meet in a million years.

Neither did they, but he bare no regrets calling her out. He had taken her for a light dinner ending with a sideshow of some underground club. That included a remarkable show of some guy nailing himself on the door head down. Not that he was much of an anti-Christ lover, but that was in general rather interesting nor would he have ever dreamt of going to see it. He had feared it was too spooky for Selene, but she had taken it as natural as a shining sun. Later he walked her home and they laughed the whole way over the odd jump in the club – a little step they both hoped not to repeat in short terms as, as it turned out, it had freaked them both.

So, it had turned out far better than he had hoped for, filling his evening with more activity than he had experienced the whole month. Business dinners with his partners didn’t quite follow the word “fun”.

He even feared how she would act on the next day, something he hardly ever did. So far the girl would get fired fast if she thought herself so privileged to see more in the affair than a simple one night stand. But when he rose in the elevator, his heart bumping, he suddenly feared the total opposite. That to her that was indeed nothing more than one night stand. He made his heart strong and just before the door bell rang he knew that however she behaved, he would go both ways and make sure she would see more in this than just a fling. She wasn’t the type to faint and run; more like one who’d stay and see what happened next and he wanted more of her, he wanted that strength to stand with him, not support any other guy. That meant sending flowers was out – women tended to see flowers not so much as a sign of continuing affair, more like an end sign.

To add up his misery his secretary called in sick – something to do with her child- so he was forced to get himself someone else to fetch the files he needed. He called her number without thinking, moment later regretting the act and when she said soft “yes?” in the other end it was too late to pull back. Now that was a torment in full bloom. The nail guy from yesterday’s show was a child’s play compared to that. But instead of easer her load he only added to it, realizing way after lunch that her fingers were moving faster than yesterday and the pile on her desk only grew, losing little in size.

That view was the last straw on the camel’s back and instead of a polite approach, he jumped up behind his desk, marched right over her table, grabbed half of the pile and landed it on the nearest two tables.

“I know you two played an important role in my so-called birthday party! Now work accordingly!”

All eyes turned on him, then on her, then back to him. No diplomacy, they knew, but this was a surprise. Only no one dared to intervene, because as usual, he was right.

“And I do not want to see you working late again.” He declared to her shocked face, earning a cup of hot, dark as night coffee in a dark brown cup she said would cool his edge.

She said softly. “I’ll just finish this off then.” And she took the next papers from the pile.

“Good. And bring me the report from the second floor.” He murmured way softer than suitable, hiding his flushing cheeks and pumping heart behind drinking.

“By the way,” he then asked, still in the middle of the focus, “Jackson said NSSI is back in town, wanna come?”

All the focus shifted on her, making the thick air tremble. “Why not?” she smiled softly, still not looking up from her work.

“Good.” He zipped his coffee. “God, how much sugar do you put in here?”

“None.” She already handed him the sugar cup from the neighbor table.

“That explains it.” He took it without any extra moves and went back to his office, sitting down in a loud pump and concentrating on the recent report, giving little attention to it. All his attention was focused on others and peeping to see how others take that little news of him having a new girlfriend. Publicly. All now left to do was wait till others left and drive off with her to the private summer house where the party was held.

But nothing usually goes by the plan and neither did this event. It seemed others had all decided to work late that day and a simple wait-and-go tactics was out of the question. An hour after the clock hit five he ran out of patience, hiding no dark looks on her behalf. At first he had tried to look busy, but his mind kept going back on her pretty features and smart attitude, making him feel like a bear waiting for a treat.

She knew he was waiting, but she was in no mood to make it easier for him. She had no mood of what so ever really – she wasn’t feeling anything different at all, no excitement, no panic. She was typing the last page and sighed gladly, finally rising behind the table. She didn’t deny she was glad he had asked her out again, wondering if it was really a half-hearted prank to show others they could have fun too or was it slightly more. But it was too early to tell if it was either as yesterday had indeed been nothing more than a good evening between two friends. If he’d kiss her – now then she could say something about what they were.

She took her coat and pulled it on, saving the last draft once more to be sure and felt him handing over her purse. She gave her a cute smile, leaving in front of him. That’s when the gossiping started. He hadn’t even closed the door yet, when bees started buzzing. They were so stunned they stopped for a moment, eyes huge in surprise and stared at each other for a good minute, corners of their lips rolling upwards. They had a persona life, they realized right there and as insane as it seemed, under everybody’s noses and it felt good. They weren’t social outcasts as they had thought they were, they were different – they had something now and to him, this something was way more precious than his reputation. She was humored too and though it was a kiss to represent his intentions towards her, the smile he gave was assurance enough to make her realize she liked it too.

They burst laughing and went, leaving the buzzing swamp behind.

The party was not as amusing as their co-workers they knew, but they didn’t switch another word on their behalf, concentrating totally on each others company on one truly boring event. The concert itself was wonderful, but the party after, which the invited few got few glimpses, was a tread and sad sight of many drunken rich people, which made those two leave in haste only to stop not more than fifteen miles in South near the border of the town in some small cafeteria to have a cup of coffee. He let her choose their next meeting place, which she willingly called out to be a car wrecking event.

“Why a place like that?” he inquired, but she had no idea.

“Less drunker people,” she murmured over the foam of her latte. They burst laughing.

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Võtame

Võtame!

Muidugi on lihtne öelda, et võtame lemmiku ja elame õnnelikult elu lõpuni, kass või koer pehmelt üle põlvede lösutamas.

„Tädi, tädi! Võtame hiire!“

„Ei,ei, hamstri!“

Ma lubasin vennale, et ei luba neil võtta midagi suurt ja mul oli plaanis sellest lubadusest kinni pidada. Enda puhul ma seda aga lubada ei saanud, silmad andunult silitamas seda väikest karvast pundart kolm akvaariumit edasi väikese sõnajala varjus. Oo armastus, et sul nii lühike teekond on! Meeter korda meeter klaasi ja liiva. Mis ajast need kullakesed liiva armastavad?

„Tädi, ma tahan konna!“

Mh? Pööran tähelepanu tagasi vennatütrele. Poisi suust oleksin seda veel oodanud, aga mitte oma kalli viieaastase preili huultelt. Muigasin, kujutledes oma venna nägu kui ma ta konnaga koju tagasi viiksin. „Sa pead kõigepealt harjutama, kohe ei saa konna võtta.“ Lohutasin Eppu ja soovitasin tal alustada kuivamaa elukatest.

Ta pööraski oma mustad lokid tagasi puuride suunas, jättes mulle rõõmu kõrgematelt riiulitelt teisi karvakera sugulasi otsida. Tegelikult tahtsin ma neile kassi kinkida, sellist süsimusta nöbinina nagu Merillel kodus peesitasid, aga nende kinkimistega on juba nii, et enne ei tohi nagu mainida või kingisaaja võib su veel õigel hetkel ümber veenda. Ehk kunagi hiljem siis. Kutsika või mõne bolonka pähe müüdud karupoja näiteks…

„Tädi Riina, ma tahan sinsillat!“

Kuulasin kuidas müüja me selja taga naerma puhkes, ent ei teinud tast väljagi ja kummardusin, et Martinile ta müts pähe tagasi susata.

„Me võtame ainult loomi, kelle nime sa välja suudad hääldada.“ Teatasin resoluutselt ning pöörasin ta rõõsad põsed tagasi puure uudistama. Ta vanem õde näitas innukalt eeskuju, lugedes soravalt ette ühe sildi teise järel.

„Epp! Loe ette!“ nõudis Martin agaralt teda jopest sikutades, kuid ka selle lootuse pidin ma kustutama, et ainult neid, kelle silte ta ISE välja loeb, kui ta äkki silmad särades näpuga kõrge terraariumi sildi suunas näitas sealt silphaaval ette luges: „Ta-ra-kan!“

„Kakskümmend viis krooni!“ sosistas müüja selja tagant tunnustavalt kui ka Epp rõõmust kiljuma lõi ja me kordamööda neid vaiksemaks pidime susistama, sest lembelindude koor lõi klaasuste tagant kaasa.

„Ja see karvik?“ küsisin sosinal ninaga kaunitari poole nõksates, kes ennast parasjagu lärmist hoolimata ringi keeras, uhkelt oma ilusat suurt musta tagapoolt näidates, mis vastu päikest õilsalt kohevile oli aetud.

„Sada korda rohkem.“

Kas pole tore kui poemüüjad mõistatusi annavad? Ei või siis otse öelda, et kakstuhat viissada. Aga ma ei lasknud ennast sellest häirida. Miks ma peakski? See kullake tuli koos minuga täna koju ja mu kallis vennaraas sai satikaid pidada kui see väike entomoloogikari oma tahtmise sai. Kui mind pärast seda ka külla veel kutsutakse on isegi hästi.

„Kas me oleme otsusele jõudnud?“ uurisin Epu ja Martini käest.

„Jaa! Me tahame tarakani!“

Kui armas neist, mõtlesin, suu kõrvuni peas. Hea oli, et vennal tudengiaegadest veel terraarium katuse all peidus oli.

„Ja ma võtaksin ühe terraariumi ka!“ otsisin rahakoti välja. „Te toote kohale ka, on nii?“ naine leti taga noogutas. „Ma tuleks karvikule järele kohe kui terraarium paigas on.“ Teatasin sama elevil olles kui mu väikesed vennalapsed. Kui põnev, tarakanid ja Mehhiko punapõlv, uhke oranži-musta kirju kaunitar, kelle tarantlielu läks just palju avaramaks.

Ojaa, huvitavaks läheb kindlasti, aga kõigepealt tuleb vennanaisele ta tundegiaegsest rohutirtsukasvandusest rääkida…

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Kodukäija ehk Viis ronka

Algab see lugu pisikeses katusekambris, mille seintel on vana kulunud tapeet ja rõske kopituse hais. On kaks poolt- üks, kus asume meie, kaks noort praktikandivanust noort neidu, kaks noormeest ja üks veidi vanem härra, kes paistavad seal viibivat selleks, et mingeid dokumente arhiivi koguda või midagi sellist. Tunnen, et olen koos mingisuguse rühmaga, kes uurivad selles paigas aset leidnud sündmusi ja mina olen seal sellepärast, et olen seal kunagi elanud. Nagu hiljem selgub, on kogu küla muutunud paari päeva jooksul kummituskülaks. Sündmused toimusid siis kui mina olin alles väike.

Teises toa osas asub lihtsalt sein, mille äärde on kuhjatud kõdunenud pabereid ja pappkarpe. Seinal ripuvad kaks kulunud ilmega kuldsetes raamides pilti- need on tõmmanud süsimustaks. Ilmselt hallituse tulemusena, mis tekkis läbilaskva katuse ja igast praost sisse tungiva tuule tõttu. Mõlemal pool seda seina puutuvates seintes on uksed, mille ees olnud uksed on ammu hingedelt kadunud.

Väljas on külm, tuul on lõikav. Ilmselt on hiline sügisene õhtupoolne aeg. Toas ei ole rohkem valgust kui projektorilt tulev valgus ja meie taskulambid, mida me aeg-ajalt põlema paneme.

Me vaatame parasjagu mingit vana lindilt jooksvat filmi. See on katkendlik ja esialgu tundub, et tegemist on must-valge määrdunud lindiga. Meieni jõuavad pildid kergelt külmetanud põllust, mille keskel on kivikuhja otsa kasvanud väike pajutukk. Filmitud on puude tagant, nagu varjudes ja kohati varjavad vaate oksad, mis üks või teine hetk kaamerale ette vajuvad. Maad katab kerge härmatis. Põld on täis inimesi, kes näevad välja nagu põgenikud- nad on paksult riides, hallides toonides, ei kusagil värvilaiku. Nad lihtsalt seisavad seal, keset põldu, malakad käes ja ootavad, pilk taevasse pööratud.

„Ma tean seda kohta…“ pomisen endamisi ja pööran pilgu neiule, kes minu kõrval pehkinud pappkastist järgmist metallnõusse peidetud filmi välja tõmbab. Ta ei pane mu märkust tähelegi ja ma pööran pilgu tagasi filmilinale.

Inimesed vaatavad ikka veel taevasse ja ootavad. Kõik on seal, alates lastest ja lõpetades raukadega.

Mul hakkab kõhe, kuid ma vaatan seda edasi.

Filmi ülemine serv tõmbub punaseks, nagu oleks see kastetud vere sisse ja vaatevälja ilmuvad leevikeste suurused tulipunased linnud, kes maanduvad inimeste peale ja jalgade juurde. Inimeste nägusid katab õud, nagu oleksid nad just äsja kohtunud oma suurimat vaenlast. Näen, kuidas nad karjuvad- tapke nad! Aga ei kuule. See on tummfilm.

Järsku ilmuvad filmi ülevalt paremast nurgast välja rongad- oma kakskümmend viis süsimusta ronka. Sama äkki on nad inimeste keskel ja hakkavad neid oma küüniste ja nokkadega tirima ja sakutama. Inimesed röögivad, kuid ei saa nende eest põgeneda, sest on jalgupidi maa küljes kinni. Langeb esimene inimene ja muutub justkui kuhjaks mulla keskel. See kuhi kattub kiirelt värskelt lumega, mida on hakanud vahepeal sadama. Teised jätkavad ka ronkade peksmist, kuid nad ei saa neile pihtagi, vaid löövad kui pimedad mööda.

Märkan, et keskseks grupiks saavad filmil viis suurt ronka, kes nokivad ühte noort inimest kuni viimane langeb. Ma näen verd, kuid see ei ole filmil punane. Ainult punased linnud , kes rahulikult paigal istuvad ja justkui rahuloluga ringi vaatavad, mida rongad korda saadavad, on punased. Need viis ronka jäävad mu hinge.

Tunnen ootamatut tuuletõmmet ja vaatan selja taha- mõlemast uksest voolab sisse hallikaid ja lillakaid poolkujusid, mis paistavad läbi ja meenutavad rohkem uduseid marmelaadivorme. Mõned neist on nii suured, et peavad uksel sügavalt kummardama, et sisse mahtuda. Nad halavad endamisi ja anuvad aina valjeneva häälega, et me ära läheks, et me põgeneks.

Algul usun, et olen ainuke, kes neid näeb ja avan suu, et hulluksminemise karje välja lasta, kuid korraga hakkab piiga minust vasemal neile taskulambiga valgust silma välgutama, ise pomisedes millestki, et kummitused ei pidavad armastama valgust. Kuid need kujud ei kao, vaid muutuvad oma häälelt ainult haledamaks.

„Ära mine sinna…“ anub üks tugevamaid hääli. „Palun…“

„Kuhu?“ küsib üks mu kolleegidest selja tagant.

„Põllule…“ vastab kummitus.

Olen samal ajal juba uuesti filmilinti süvenenud ja märkan äkki tuttavaid puid ja nende otsas hiiglaslikku rongapesa. „Aa! Ma tean, kus see on!“ hüüatan äkki kaaslastele ja mu silmad löövad aitamisrõõmust särama. Hakkan vastust ootamata oma asju kokku panema ja me juht soovitab mul ees minna. Ma tean seda kohta, sest olen seal varem olnud.

Järgmisel hetkel seisame kõrgel kuristikuna näiva nõlva kohal kitsal teel ja ma ootan seal oma kaaslasi järgi. On hiline pärastlõuna ja me oleme kõndinud juba tüki maad. Ma näen eemal kummituslikku vanadest mahajäetud majadest koosnevat küla. Majad on vanad, nii 1930ndatest ja ehitatud eranditult puidust, paigutudes orus lahjalt kõrgematele ja madalamatele kohtadele. Aknad on kõik sisse löödud ja haigutavad mustalt. Majade ümber on kasvanud noor mets.

Taban ennast mõttelt, et olen jõudnud koju ja tunnen sellest üürikest rõõmu, mis asendub hetk hiljem täieliku õudusega, sest paik on tume ja päike sinna ei paista, jättes sellest veel jubedama mulje kui varem, filmi vaadates ja erineval kohast, kus me hetkel seisime. Me seisime kui vana karjääri küljel, sest kohati oli pinnas nii järsult ülejäänust välja kistud, et see pidi olema vägivald, mis seda tegi.

„Seal,“ osutan kõrgemal seisvale tumepruunile kahekordsele majale,“ asus minu kodu. Seal,“ näitan allpool seisvaid kuure ja teisi maju, „elasid meie naabrid. Ja seal,“ osutan majadest eemale, täiesti oru põhja, „oli põld. Pesa asub seal, põllu teises servas.“ Hetkel oli ka see juba puudega kaetud.

„Lähme!“ teatab noormees mu selja taga ja tormab minust mööda, kannatamatult toikaga kive eest rapsides.

„Siin valitsevad rongad…“ taipan äkki ja mu süda tardub, kuuldes selja tagant toksimist. „Nii algas see ka siis…“ Pööran ennast hirmunult ümber ja näen oma õuduseks, kuidas üks ronk minust vaid paar meetrit eemal seisva pooliku kase otsas seisab ja vastu tüve prõmmid, nagu andes teistele märku millestki. Minu tähelepanu peale pöörab ta end nii, et ta mind paremini näeks, kuid trummeldamist ta ei jäta.

„Kõss!“ hirmutan linnu käeliigutusega minema ja vaatan, kuidas ta minema liugleb, pesa suunas.

Tean nüüd, et neid on viis ronka. Nad elavad – elasid juba siis- ühes suures ühiselt tehtud pesas teiselpool küla. Nad maksid külale kätte, et nende pesa lõhuti. Küla langes needuse alla ja inimesed kadusid vähem kui nädalaga kogu külast. Viimane teade sellest külast pärinebki nüüd ainult neilt lintidelt, mida hoiti kõrvalkülas, ilma, et neid kordagi vaadatud oleks. Küla aga kadus unustusse, sest sinna ei juletud minna. Meie olime esimesed, kes sinna läksid.

„Midagi on valesti,“ kordan endale mõttes kui temperatuur järsult langeb ja järsult pimedamaks läheb. Nagu kallaks keegi kõrgelt musta tinti ülevalt alla. Käsin rühmal koonduda ja võtan nad enda järel vööga sleppi.

Hakkab sadama lund, see on paks ja moodustab kiirelt pea nabani ulatuva lumevaiba.

Meil on veel pikk tee minna kui avastan, et mu viiest kaaslasest on järgi kolm. On pilkane pimedus ja oleme sattunud keset metsa. Vähemalt nii tundub, sest teed ümbritsevad kõrged põlenud ilmelised puud, kusagilt immitseb kopitusehaisu. Tuult on ainult vajaduse järgi ja lumi tuleb hiilivalt.

Minu arvutuste kohaselt oleksime pidanud juba ammu olema tagasi külas ja vaimusilmas kerkib mulle silme ette suure saeveskiga kogukond, mis on ainult poole kilomeetri kaugusel. Nii vähemalt tundub, sest hetk hiljem oleme tagasi kõledas metsas, kus on niiske, külm ja kuum üheaegselt.

Ootamatult näen meist vaevu saja meetri kaugusel valgust. Nende aknad on klaasitud, kuid tuled ei põle. Veidi eemal on teine maja ja siis kolmas- mitte kusagil ei põle tulesid. Ometi näen kardinate taga liikumas kujusid, kuid see ainult tundub nii.

Surun viimast jõudu kokku võttes ja teistele kohalejõudmist kinnitades läbi paksu lumekorba ja ühtäkki on lumi kadunud- seisan asfalteeritud külateel, kus majad on üksteisest vaid kolme meetri kaugusel ning mu väsinud ja paksult telgiriidest jopes keha valgustab ülevalt tänavavalgustus, kollane valgustus.

Tõmban teised samuti lumest välja ja seisame seal hetke, hirmul ja rabatud, sest siin lund enam ei saja, kõik kohad küll sätendavad jäiselt, aga lund ei saja. Selle asemel on meie selja taga kõrge müüd, millest me just ennast läbi surusime.

Pööran teistest eemale, et kõrvaltänavasse vaadata, kuid ei saa sellega kaua tegeleda, sest nii, kui ma neid enam ei näe, kuulen sammude padinat- nii vaikset, et isegi hiired ei oska sedasi teha. Keeran end järsult ümber ja näen veel vaid, kuidas varjud pagevad, hirmutatuna millestki, mida ma ei suuda defineerida.

Jooksen tänavanurgale, kuid seal pole enam kedagi. Tuli kustub ja soe valgus kaob, jättes mu nuttatihkuvalt keset tänavat. Kuid pisarad ei voola.

„Miks te minuga nii tegite?“ küsin haledalt, „Aste kõrge, aste kõrge.“

On kevad ja ma seisan ikka sellel tänavanurgal ja soiun ikka veel seda viimast kuuldud lauset.

On liiga vara, et rohi tärkaks, kuid on valgem. Ma näen nüüd selgelt puid ja maju, kuid need on ikka veel hüljatud. Puud ongi põlenud, meenutades pigem hambatikke, mis on püsti löödud.

Mu riided on räbaldunud, mu käed on mustad ja juuksed sorakil. Linnud on kadunud ja mu kõrvus kohab, nagu oleksin vee all.

Hakkan sammhaaval liikuma, tehes endale läbi kuivanud võsa teed oru põhja, kus ma teadsin oma sünnikodu asuvat. Ma liigun kärarikkalt ja kindlalt, lõhkudes kõik, mis mulle ette jääb.

Jõuan lahtise sarani, mille alla sai kunagi metallikolu lükatud, see on nüüd roostes ja punetab vastu tõusvat päikest. Ronin neist üle, ise endale lauset lauldes. Seda on nii raske meeles hoida, kuid ma püüan kõigest väest, et see ära ei kaoks, sest see on viimane, mida ma mäletan- seda ja valu, mis rinnakorvist ära ei lähe.

Mu pettumusest on saanud viha ja ma tunnen, et mul on jõudu, et viha toidab mind. Ma tean, et pean jõudma koduni- selle majani, mis asub künka otsas, selle sama tumepruuni majani, mida ma esimest korda nägin, kui siia sattusin.

Ronin kolist üle ja komberdan läbi ülekasvanud ohakatest täidetud muru maja poole kuni jõuan redelini, mis on üleni hallitusest valge ja rohekaspruun, pea kokkukukkumise äärel.

Kõrvus kohiseb ja ma hakkan seda laulu aina valjemalt laulma, et ma seda kuuleksin. Viis on muutunud, kuid halav toon ei ole kadunud kuhugi.

Iga tõustud astmega suureneb mu tung jõuda aknani, kuhu redel viib. Tunnen, kuidas silmad põlema lähevad, nii ärevil olen teadmisest, et kohe jõuan koju.

„Miks te minuga nii tegite- aste kõrge, aste kõrge! Miks te minuga nii tegite? Aste kõrge, aste kõrge!“

Asetan oma käe purunenud aknalauale ja vaatan pimedusse. Seal liigub keegi ja ma näen taustal tuhmunud või kinnikaetud peeglist oma kujutist, eriti selgelt oma lõõmavaid silmi.

See ei ole enam mina! See kuju on peeglis ühtlane ja oksadega kaetud, olemuselt ähmane ja suurte küüntega.

Kuid see ei aita enam midagi. Mu meeltesse jõuab kopituse hõng ja teadmine, et ma olen tulnud kätte maksma, kätte maksma neile, kes mu teeristile maha jätsid. Neile, kes mu ronkadele jätsid.

Toas liigutab keegi. Ta väriseb.

Ma ei näe teda selgelt, ainult musta sumisevat kuju. Kuulen plahvatust ja haavlid, mis must läbi tuhisevad, löövad mind hetkeks aknalauast eemale, kuid saan kohe uuesti puidust kinni ja klaas tungib mu käest läbi. See ei ole valus. Isegi ebameeldiv mitte. Hiivan ennast uuesti aknalauale ja surun ennast tema pingutustest hoolimata aknast sisse.

Mu häälekõla, millega ma laulan, läheb rõõmsamaks.

Olen surnud. Olen neetud. Olen kodukäija.

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