Blesok no. 100, September, 2015

Swimming in the Dust

Igor Isakovski


    At 22:оо I switched off the mixete, I took my bag and the discotheque tape recorder, Snežana took the bottle and off we went. We said hi to Boža in the lobby and we continued to the pavilion.
    She unlocked the room and we went in. She opened the windows, I switched on the tape recorder and I chose a tape. J.L. Hooker, ‘ Let’s Go Out Tonight. I looked at the sky. There was no moon. I closed the door. She stood in the middle of the room. In the room there were two beds, a table with two chairs and a sink. I kissed her. She kissed me back and she went to the door. I kept quiet. I wondered how I felt. I did not feel anything special. I was calm.
    “I have to go.” she said with her hand on the doorknob.
    “Everybody saw us coming here together.”
    “OK. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
    “Can I wake you up?”
    “Yes, that would be nice.”
    “I’ll come early”
    She returned to me, the kiss lasted long and then she closed the door behind her. I lied on the bed, I reached for the bottle and I dived into the blues. I saw a pack of cigarettes on the table. She’s left them for me, I thought and as I lit one, I opened the door. A guy with yellow hair stood on the other side and he startled. I looked at him, he left down the hallway and entered one of the doors. There were more people in the hallway and everybody looked at me in wonder. Guys and girls. We were peers, about. The hallway looked neglected: the walls were gray and yellow with time and one could not say what their color used to be. The hallway was long and there was a light bulb at every 5-6 meters. The yellow and the gray have found their home. The lights were so weak that I could see the wires inside them. I came back to my room. The door remained open. Some noise came from the outside. Serbo-Croatian with a strange accent. Bosnians, I thought and I put up the music. The yellow-haired guy appeared at the doorframe. He stood and looked at me. He had a smile in his eyes.
    “Come in.” I told him.
    He entered and sat on a chair. I offered him with rakija. He took a sip and he returned me the bottle.
    “What’s your name?”
    “…Vampir.” I said.
    “Vampir, huh-huh-huh!” and he took another sip.
    “And you?”
    “Hi Suad.”
    Several other guys and girls.
    “This is Vampir.” said Suad.
    They laughed.
    “Where do you come from, Vampir?” asked someone.
    “…From the grave.” I said.
    They laughed again. I called them in and I got off the bed.
    “Sit down here. I’ll sleep on the other one.”
    The bottle went around and it came between Suad and myself. Then, he withdraw too. I stayed with the blues. In the meantime, they were telling me their names. They were all from Bihać. I thought of Ðole and our dinner in Bihać. Strange how things coincide, I thought, and I asked them what they do in Belgrade. A work camp, said they. I thought Does this shit still exist, but I said nothing. I drank for a while, somebody asked that the music is changed. I told them I was the DJ in the room. Somebody mentioned the discotheque. They didn’t let them in, and they wanted to dance so much. That is how they said – to dance, plesati. I liked it.
    “Come tomorrow and told them you are my guests.”
    “What do you drink, Vampir?” asked Suad.
    “Vodka, when there is one.”
    “Tomorrow there will be one on us.”
    “Not necessary.” I told them.


I opened my eyes and I saw her, her smile, her bright brown eyes and a cup of coffee in her hand. Good morning, she said and I smiled. I tied my hair, I put my neck under the cold water from the faucet and I stretched.
    “You’ve had a good drink last night.” she said, pointing at the bottle. It was almost empty.
    “I had visitors.”
    “Oh?” she laughed.
    “The work campers.”
    “They whispered something when I entered.”
    “That’s how they are.”
    They interrupted us only once, when they offered me a sports newspaper. Snežana looked tense. We spoke about insignificant things. While she wiped off with a wet handkerchief at the sink, I started to kind of fall asleep. I heard everything, I knew I was quite awake, but the images that I had in my head were quite different than everything that I’d seen, thought or felt before. My head started to write, and most probably there was no way to stop it. The silver foal started thundering in the space around me. This time, its pace was heavy and slow. The foal walks and with every step there is a thunder. Behind my closed eyes I see lightning on my body; from my shoulders down and from my feet up. The lightning meets in the sliding along my body around my loins and there it echoes loudly. There is an eruption in my chest. The foal thunders, its mane wraps around my body. A fiddle plays somewhere far away, along with another string instrument from the ancient times. I feel Snežana’s juices on my dick, mixed with my sperm. Then, her lips, her mouth, her tongue is there. Can you hear it? I ask her. Mhm, she mumbles and continues. Then, she rinses her mouth, she brushes her teeth with my brush and she wipes me off with a wet handkerchief. Are you an eagle or a sparrow or a seagull? She asks. An eagle, I say without thinking. Are you a lion or a horse or a hyena? She asks. I’m a horse, I say, with a mane made of silver lightning. Why are you an eagle? She asks. Because of the heights and the solitude, I answer behind my closed eyelashes. Her lips keep on exploring my body. Why are you a horse? She asks. The horse is a traveler, I tell her and I push my fingers in her hair that caresses my chest. When did you realize that you had to discover yourself? She asks as she pushes her tongue in my belly button. When I lied for three days without food on the floor of my room, I tell her, and I feel the lighting entering her and shivering with my every word. You have an erection again, and it distracts me in deciphering the metaphor about you, she says and she climbs on top of me. I enter immediately, like a piton in a hole. My erection has a mental nature, I tell her and I bite one of her shoulders. You have feelings and power, she says, while her inside is pressuring me mildly. It can scare the people one day, she says. Some will not trust you, she says, and some will want to destroy you or subdue you. For you, she says, submission is more shameful than a defeat. You have both feelings and power, she says again. Yes, but I don’t have an awareness about myself, I tell her, and I get up, I lift her and I put her down in the table next to our bed. This is our bed, I tell myself, and I say in a low voice: I thought that this was our room, when you opened the windows yesterday. Every part of the planet is our room, while we are close in our souls, she says, and I say nothing, because that is what I think. My sperm flows inside her, with a slow pace of a heavy foot, and the eternity ticks in my veins. She shivers under me, several times, I kiss her breasts, her lips, her ears, her forehead and I slow come out of her. I still have a mild erection and it all continues…


The bus stops, the doors open and I step in the hot Belgrade morning. Snežana wears a silk shirt and shorts, she gives me her hand, her squeeze is firm and her palm is soft and pliant and it lifts me up.
    In the tram to New Belgrade we sit opposite to each other and she keeps on chatting happily. She is home alone, we have three days for ourselves only, she says. Then she describes Dubrovnik, Pelegrin, all the places where she’s been that summer. I notice that sometimes we were really close, only hundred or two hundred kilometers away, but it seems as if we had to wait for the end of August to see each other. After all, it seems as if have separated several minutes ago. I like it.
    While I shower, she prepares meat. Quite calm, I feel at home, I choose the music, I go through her books, through the notes on her desk, though her clothes… I walk around her room and I look at all the things around. She is in the kitchen; I hear her singling along with the music. All of a sudden I stop, and I see myself standing in an apartment in Belgrade while some woman cooks for me. How much courage do you need, Isakovski, to stay in this apartment for more than couple of days? And how much patience will she need? To accept you with all of your silly flaws. Sometimes you avoid the questions, but that is not the way in which honestly lives. “What kind of wine do you like?” she shouts from the kitchen, it refers to you, Isakovski, and you yell back “Black.” as if you can not go to the kitchen, but nevertheless you can’t because you are standing and trying to speak to yourself. Don’t blame her for interrupting you in your paranoid analyses, anyhow now she just cooks for you and for herself, and she can’t always be in your head. So, get rid of that mean smile, because you yourself don’t know what you could see with the menace inside you. That’s part of you, yes, but let it stay where it is, because it’s good like this and you were calm just a minute ago. But, now you’re not… “Black.” you whisper as you sit by the window, and you look outside at the windows of the neighboring skyscrapers. The city is wrapped in sun, there are shutters down on each window, and you realize how many people hide in their homes. Now from the sun, another time from their neighbors, the third time from the sky above them. Their heterodoxy is reflected in the barrier that they put between themselves and the sky, and most of them have icons and lamps in their concrete residences, as a justification before themselves and their own religion. I didn’t have that religion. I tried to create my own. It was hard, of course. It felt that nobody believed in it, except myself. Sometimes it felt that even I didn’t believe in it. I easily fell under pressure; it only needed someone to leave me get crazy for love. And I should laugh at at. Fix it. Try to persevere. Memorize the past, and not live in it.


I took her on all places, I took her with all of my body and when we did not eat we made love. I started thinking that we have discovered a way how to skip sleeping. We made love with our eyes closed, slowly as two snakes under the hot sun, we breathed rhythmically, we tossed around in our juices and we spoke with all of our senses. I started sensing her heart pulsating through my body, through my whole body and my mind, and everything that she said was so wonderfully close to truth, it was as we have emerged in water, in a strong big water, and as we dissolved in it to all of our parts, to all of our parts to the smallest in us, and we became a part of the great strong water that reflects the world in its endless movement.
    When I think of it now, I understand how normally I took all things. It is normal as it is normal to breathe to live. It is strange how people easily take all the goods that are being offered to them; as if it is quite usual, as if it is for granted. It seems that nobody thinks of fighting for what they have; we all try to keep what we lose.


Maybe one should remember that life consists of small efforts, of going a step more forward. Of fixing the details. Of accepting the failures, enjoying the achieved. To make life better. To please the close ones and enjoy it. Otherwise, we can easily turn into reptiles, leaving our eggs in other’s delivery, changing our skin without a particular justification, not out of habit, but out of a wish to fit in, to be mimicrical.
    One should not neglect the honesty with himself. Of course the questions peck in us and disrupt our usual everyday order of things. But if we leave them to sink deep enough though us, the pecking will find its pray, it will dig out the deeply buried failures one by one, small and big, and then we are only to face them, chew them with appetite, spit out the stale poison and breathe easier, more cheerfully.


She kissed me as we stood in front of the bus. We smiled. We shall see each other again, our eyes were saying. I ran my fingers down her cheek. She took my forefinger in her mouth and sucked it deeply. I got a hard on. Almost immediately.
    “We’ll see each other again.” I said.
    I sat on the co-driver's seat and all the way to Skopje I looked at the white and yellow lines on the motorway.


They waited for me at the station, Turk and Mars. I had no idea how they knew when I was coming. I didn’t even know if they knew exactly where I had been. Still, it was nice that somebody was waiting for me.
    “Hey.” I said.
    “Hey.” They said.
    “I’m here.”
    “Good.” Said Mars.
    “Cousin, how come you’re here?” said Turk.
    Fuck it, they did not wait for me.
    “I’m coming home. You?”
    “We’re waiting for some records from Belgrade.”
    “Nice. I thought you were waiting for me.”
    “Huh, not really. But tomorrow we’re going to Budapest. Wanna come with us?”
    “What’s in Budapest?”
    “Bowie’s concert. We need one more person to buy a group train ticket.”
    “I don’t really have any money…”
    “We’ll find something.” said Turk. My brother. My cousin. My bro…
    “You didn’t go to the army?” asked Mars.
    “I’m waiting for the invitation these days.”
    “They took your passport?”
    “No, they never asked for it.”
    “We leave tomorrow at ”
    Early as hell.


We entered Budapest two days later, eager and cheerful. At that time, in 1990, for Hungary we were rich men. With little money we spent all day in restaurants and museums. We ate caviar for breakfast at Váci Street. I had never tasted caviar before. It associated of champagne and wealth. Loads of money. And since, as you know, I had no money, caviar was crossed out of menu for all the past twenty years of my life. Now, at Váci, the most famous street in Pest, Turk, Mars, myself and several other people from Macedonia ate caviar and showed off. At least I felt I was showing off. Nicely baked bread, butter and all other paraphernalia. And a bit of vodka, to start the day. Frozen Stolichnaya. A half a liter bottle. It sled down.
    We crossed the Lion bridge early in the afternoon and we walked around Buda. Then we returned to Pest, across another bridge. And back again. As starlings in the spring. I like Pest at first sight. It rarely happens with the cities, but it was really beautiful. The autumn sun was pleasant, the Danube brought fresh wind, a small million of people sat and walked in the small squares. The girls didn’t wear any bras. I saw beautiful girls without bras everywhere, in light shirts and T-shirts, relaxed and damn well aware of their beauty. They had a very cool background for this promenade: old, imperial buildings. Constructions with high pillars, decorated balconies. Framed with concrete filigrees. High windows. And one here and there that was different. Those buildings were also good, the different ones.
    In Buda, we found a small park near the river. In the park, there was a big, perfectly rounded rock. It looked like a giant black-gray ball. I sat on the rock and I looked at the river. I was crossing it all day long, but I saw it now. A beautiful, large river. How does it look when it is not surrounded by quays, I thought. Somewhere far, against the flow, I saw a green island. It seemed that there were some buildings on it. Something white, in any case. In the end, I gazed at the sky. It stunned me. I literally startled. I had seen open skies, but after all kilometers that summer and spending time in the streets and squares of the city that afternoon, the sky seemed open as never before. It was sparkled with remains of feathery clouds, it was blue and I saw its depth. I sat on the rock, smoked and stared upwards. The fingers on my right hand danced. I wrote a poem. Sky. My first sky in Budapest.


We entered the subway and left for the stadium. It was late in the afternoon. Somebody said that we had to go early, to find place in front of the stage itself, and off we went. We were among the first ones at the gate. There were still four more hours to the start of the concert. If they saw when we came, they would let us in not in the first rows, but on the stage itself, I thought. Somebody proposed that we took Stolichnaya for the concert. Nearby there was a self-service supermarket, just like in Skopje. Same shelves, same surly saleswomen, mirrors on the ceiling to see who’s steeling. Somebody said they would not let us in with alcohol. That is why we also took some plastic bottled soda, to hide the vodka in that bottle. For the start we took two bottles, half a litter each. Then we thought that it would be enough for the whole evening, but it turned out that we were just starting. In the three and a half hours until they opened NEP gates, we went to the store several times. We fucked up all of our forints. I went once again and I stole a bottle. There were so many Bowie fans inside that nobody noticed. Mars carried a waist bag and he put all of our documents inside. He seemed the most sober of all. And he was the oldest and therefore the safest. We watched the passports as the apples of our eyes: the red passports with the coat of arms of SFRY, that we used to go wherever we wanted and whenever we wanted. Now some people write essays about those passports. But to pay so much attention to a document is too much for me. A document of a failed, disintegrated and fucked up… state that as if have burned with the fierce fire of the torches of its associated republics & provinces.


We entered as a herd, as a pack, as a stampede. As if we chased the immobile stage. Somebody said it was important to be in the first rows. Even if I had not wanted to go along with it, the crowd was carrying me as a small drop of sweat on a hot body entering the sea.
    We lined up in front of the stage as tame sheep, devoted followers of the sub-culture cult, we – the rockers and new-romantics and the other clans, ready for a show and spectacle. To see a man who made the revolution in the music before most of us could hear that music at all. Because at that time we have listened to kid's lullabies.
    But it's not all that simple: first we had to listen to the opening band. Some idiots from Timişoara suburbs… I have nothing against Timişoara or any other city except by my native one. But the guys sucked.


    I was so drunk at the concert that I don’t really remember everything. I only know that the music seemed quiet, and immediately next to me there was a blonde with a nice fragrance and fat fingers. We spoke about the music in the break, Turk said we only listened to the monitors and the small amplifiers from the stage. And it was the Sound & Vision tour. There was nothing special to see either. I was never a fan of close encounters with the celebrities. I didn’t speak about the blonde with anybody, until several years later, when a girlfriend of mine told me that after Bowie’s concert in Zagreb she returned to Skopje, climbed on a building and wanted to kill herself by jumping from the 15th floor. I had to tell her what a windbag she was, and I told her that while she yearned for Bowie from the distance, I fucked a blonde before his eyes in the first row under the stage at the Budapest concert. She was not sure if I was pulling her leg, but after this our relationship improved: every time she would start to dramatize, I would give her a story to slam her from the ground.
    We handed each other the plastic bottle full with Stolichnaya mixed with the juice taste. We handed it to each other like a joint. Bowie was in white, he smiled with his porcelain teeth and lipstick covered lips. But from that distance I could not see if they were porcelain. I knew the story about his teeth; I had seen photographs where he smiled with some black pieces hanging from his gums, the remains of his neglected teeth. I was really pissed. I travelled a thousand and some kilometers for this concert, and all I could see were flaws. Probably because it didn’t get to me. It didn’t pass through me, it just passed by. Station to station… As a train by a provincial station. The bad thing was that I was the station. By the road, huh. Covered with dust and silence, in the middle of the crowd, sweat and noise.


    We started to exit in the same way we entered. A herd of freaked-out cows. Of course, I lost them all. Mars with the passports, my cousin Vlado the Turk, and the one who might have had the vodka bottle, if there was any vodka in it. I went to the subway station. The lights of Budapest swam around me. I was like a big, round fish. Dizzy. I entered the subway without a ticket, I didn’t have a fucking forint. It would be great if they caught me, I thought, and I have no passport. I lit a cigarette as I waited for the train. That was forbidden, too. It would be great, I thought… but nobody said anything about the cigarette. The subway station was filled with Bowie fans that were drunk and high. I was just one of them. A drop in the sea of sweat crowd and noise.
    I looked at the station clock. Our train was leaving in 25 minutes. I am stuck here, fuck it…


I ran from the subway station to the train station and then to the itinerary board and I ran to the platform where my train was, and through the cars, until I found them all together. The only thing missing was the vodka.
    “Fuck it, I thought you left me with the Hungarians…”
    “Who would take you, look at yourself.” said Turk.
    “Fuck it, I was running, not bathing. I’m never leaving my passport with somebody else, even if I’m dead drunk.” I said between two breaths.
    “Everything is here, all that you need.” said somebody. And he gave me a bottle of water. It was everything that I needed, and he was right. Who was that man? Was it Džirlo? Maybe. The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it was him. This is maybe not important for the story, but it’s important for me: I want to remember everybody that I was with at some moment of my life. Not because I think that my life is very important for anybody else but me, but because all those people and places made me what I am, regardless of how short and superficial those meetings were. The dust falls on quiet, dead places. Never before I’ve allowed myself to see it pile: I always wanted to make that small effort for an extra stroke. To swim through it. To upset it. First inside me. Then it would be easier. My breath will be smoother and I will breathe deeper, I thought.
    But I was already here, inside it. It covered me every day, bit by bit. Unnoticeably. Mimicrically.


Later in the day, in decent hours, around noon, I called Ozana.
    “I’m coming tomorrow morning.” I told her.
    “I’ll wait for you at the station.”
    “I’ll come with short hair.”
    “I’ll recognize you.”
    Around five in the afternoon some people gathered in my house. To see me off to the Yugoslav National Army. We sat and tried to have fun. Tuff luck. Emily, my sister from the class, took care of my hair in the bathroom. First she made a thick braid. Then somebody took my picture. Everybody loved my long hair. It would have been good if they had been my army superiors. But they weren’t. So I said good-bye to the hair as early as the morning. Nobody would butcher me there, I said. Nobody would torment me. Emily took the scissors, several cuts and it was over. Then she fine-tuned, I shaved and I was ready for the army. At least that’s what I thought.
    In the living room, Giš lectured on how the army was unnecessary and how the Yugoslav National Army destroyed the people. As if I entered my own memorial service. My father was getting tipsy, my mother was shaken, my sister handed the drinks all over the room. I felt like going out and leaving them all in this blessed grief. Emily took my hand and took me into the room. The reacted pathetically. They were shaken. As if my hair had been the essence of my whole existence.
    “Kirca, now the neighbors will not look at me crossed.” I told my father and I sat next to him. I poured a drink and we emptied the glasses. His eyes filled with tears. As mine just have now.


Ozana ran to me, the one with the hangover, and she hugged me firmly. She had a scarf on her long blond hair, and a broad tunic and round sun glasses, bell-bottoms and broad shoes. And a bunch of necklaces around her neck. Mostly braided.
    “See that I recognized you?”
    “There’s nothing strange here. You know the story about the windows of the soul, don’t you?”
    “What is my soul like?”
    “Composed. Calm. As… golden dust…”
    Have you found my key, to open me inside, to save me, I thought.
    “What about the dust?”
    “It’s swaying… Like cold white wine on a summer afternoon.”
    “Come on, I’m taking you for a drink. I scant this money for the two of us, so we'll fuck it all today.”
    First we drank red wine. Then cognac. Then we ate some greasy meat. We walked around Zagreb, here and there, but I somehow kept to Ban Jelačić square. The heart of the city was there, I felt at home. I was terrified from the barracks.
    She was hugging me, she was kissing me, she was smiling from inside. My Ozana, how much strength you need to do all of this, I thought and I followed her. She showed me the cheap dumps, the good billiard halls, the plain but good restaurants. If you leave the barracks without me you should know here to go, she said. They will not like you in your uniform as they do now, but you’ll manage.


The train left at 10 PM. Emily and my sister ran after it. My two sisters, that life would later take away. Long story. Another story, that one about my two sisters. I saw their tears, as they ran after the train. I shook. I’ll return, I wanted to tell them. That was all I could think of. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t yell. Of course I would come back. You crybabies, I haven’t been home for years, and now you cry when I’ll be only gone for twelve months. That was what I should have told them. I remembered one hour later, as I tried to calm myself down from their pain. At a quarter to midnight I went to the lunch car and bought a bottle of rum.
    I returned to my compartment and two guys sat there. I introduced myself, and they did the same. Shawn and Samuel. From Ireland, they said.
    “Going to some scary place?” asked Sam.
    “No, nothing scary. I’m going to the army.”
    “We saw how they were seeing you off, with tears.”
    “Where have you gotten on the train?”
    “In Thessalonica.”
    “Sorry, I didn’t notice you.” I said. “In Skopje.”
    “Your eyes were filled with tears.” said Shawn.
    “From drinking. You want some rum?”
    “There is nothing else, huh mate?”
    “No, bros, and I don’t know when there will be some.”
    “Let’s toast!” said Sam.
    “In ten minutes.” I said.
    “Why?” they asked.
    “It’s my birthday then.
    We drank silently for ten minutes and then we started toasting. Bottoms up. Cooking rum. The cheapest bottle in the lunch car.
    I found out everything about them. They went to Greece for women. Not much luck. Barely one per day. Mostly Englishwomen.
    “Bro, fuck the quantity, as long there is a good pair of boobs.” said Sam.
    “The English ones are cute, you know.” said Shawn.
    “I don’t know, I haven’t tried.”
    “The English have been fucking us for a century or two, you know. It’s good to fuck their women, for a bit.” said Sam.
    “It’s more then a century or two…” I said.
    “It’s only an expression, mate, only an expression.” said Shawn.
    We celebrated my birthday until Belgrade. The bottle was empty and we fell asleep as real righteous men. The Irish were good drinkers, they could hold it well. We celebrated my twentieth birthday.


We sat at one of the plain but good restaurants and we ate again. Then I remembered to tell her about Mirta.
    “You want to go to her?” she asked.
    “I don’t know…”
    “Let’s finish this bottle and we go.” She decided.
    “It’s our last anyway. I don’t have a fucking dime.”
    “I was told it’s not good to enter the barracks without money. You might need to buy something there.”
    “I’ll manage.”
    We finished the food, we emptied the bottle and we left for Siget.
    They were fully stunned when we knocked on their door. They didn’t know what to do: hug me, or meet Ozana. All of this was prescribed by their usual behaviour norms. They were out of their shoes because Ozana and I were not usual. No, Mirta was not at home. Tanja neither. We sat with their parents and we spoke about literature. As if they were interested. They could hardly wait for us to leave.


“Two more hours to midnight.” Said Ozana. “How much more do you have?”
    “That more.”
    “What do we do now?”
    “Next pub, if we had money.”
    “We have…”
    “Mirta’s mother still thinks that soldiers should be helped…”
    “You’re bullshitting me…”
    “She gave me three hundred, for you. It was when Mirta’s father poured you the last drink.”
    “Maybe they are not such assholes as I thought.”
    “They are so nice! You come to their home unannounced, with a girl that is not their younger daughter, you tell them that you are going to the army while grabbing me every chance you get, they keep on pouring you drinks, and in the end they even give you money. So, what shall I say… Quite assholes, aren’t they?”
    “OK, they aren’t. I just can’t explain why they love me so much.”
    “Because you are who you are. They know that you don't give a damn about them, but you also know to be decent as much as it’s needed.”
    “Great, now I’ve turned up to be the asshole…”
    “No, my dear, you’ve been an asshole as long as I know you. And that’s how I love you!”
    Two hours before entering the barracks, as it's a lot. A little time, just to exchange several kisses and gentle embraces.


The invitation waited for me by the typewriter. September 19, it said. It was late. Everybody was asleep. I went to the kitchen and I found one of my father’s bottles. I poured a double and I sat in front of the typewriter. The dawn was breaking outside. I looked at the calendar. It was September  I looked at my hair. It was under my chest. All of this will be gone tomorrow, I thought, the hair, her photographs on the wall, my solitary awaiting of the dawn. Tomorrow, at 24:00 I’ll be at “Marshal Tito” barracks in Zagreb, military post ххххх. Bottoms up and I poured another one.


I stood in front of the big metal gate. I knocked. First slowly, then in what I thought was a military way.
    “Yes, young man?” said the soldier from the other side of the gate.
    “I have an invitation.” I said.
    “Let me see it.”
    I gave him the invitation, he smiled.
    “You are coming at five to twelve, huh?”
    “Come on, get in.”
    I turned towards the city. Its lights swam before my eyes, as if the city reflected in a large, dark sea.
    Translated from Macedonian:

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