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Lucy Moschen


They were walking in parallel for some time. He was keeping an eye on it, but didn’t dare to look at it directly. He could scarcely move his frozen feet, finding himself sunk in the snow up to his knees. He knew that it was a question of time and that sooner or later the wolf would attack him. He wondered why it was alone and why it was still waiting. His heart was beating wildly; his breath was turning into icy needles in his mouth and was piercing his dried-up throat. As far as his sight could reach, there was only an endless, bare, snow-covered field. The silence caused a throbbing pain in his ears. The whiteness blinded his frosted eyes. He felt tired from the long walk and the intense fear he felt. He knew that he had no chance and yet he kept on advancing carefully, taking step after step. He had the feeling that both of them had been walking for an eternity like that – each stalking the other. Suddenly, the wolf stopped and in a moment was already running toward him with the easiness of a stout young animal. He only had time to bury his face with his hands. With all his being, he felt that this was the end. He felt how he was beginning to fall slowly; he felt the wolf’s breath and its strong paws on his shoulders.

"Richard! Richard!", his wife had been pulling on the lapels of his cotton pyjamas. "Wake up, for God’s sake!".

He was trying hard to focus his eyes. The huge ominous shadow of his wife was silhouetted against the opposite wall.

"What were you dreaming of, dear?", asked she.

"I don’t remember...".

He didn’t feel like explaining in the middle of the night what he had just been dreaming of. He felt unbelievable relief that he had awoken in his bed, that it was Friday, that it was Spring outside, and that all that terror he had experienced just minutes ago was only a part of some ridiculous dream. He stretched, banishing the last remnants of the nightmare.

"Do you want a glass of water?" – She touched his forehead, which was damp with sweat, and was about to stand up.

"No, I don’t. I’ll go and have a cigarette outside on the balcony".

"As you like." His wife turned briskly onto her stomach. "Can you massage my back for a while before you go? I got completely stiff. I had a very hard day..".

He made himself comfortable on the bed and began reluctantly to massage her bony back. She was a well-built woman full of energy; she was kind-hearted, had expressive blue eyes and he was happy with her.

"A little bit to the right... Yes... Right there... What were you dreaming of, dear? Don’t you remember anything? A little bit further up. Yes, that’s good...".

Suddenly he was overwhelmed by the feeling that he wanted to tell her about the white desert, about the fear he had felt, about the young beautiful wolf, about the silence and the cold. He thought that they hadn’t really talked to each other for a very long time.

"Actually, I do remember more or less...", he hesitated, not stopping to move his hands along her responsive back.

"But not now, dear... Tomorrow... At coffee time. Yes, keep doing that... I’m very tired. The afternoon was an ordeal. You remember that Anita is ill... I had to take her clients... A little bit stronger... What do you want for breakfast? Yes, you’ve got it there...".

He didn’t say anything else and she fell asleep with her head buried in the pillow. Before he turned off the light, his eyes had spotted the well-formed tights of his wife under the blue night-gown and he had remembered almost with astonishment how he used to be madly jealous of her years ago because of their family doctor. He went out onto the balcony, lit a cigarette and took in a deep breath of the tobacco smoke. It was cool outside. There was a scent of newly mowed grass. He thought that their son was sleeping in the neighbouring room, that he would like to take him in his arms and set out into the night, not knowing exactly where; to feel his warm breath on his shoulder; to tell him at length about the wolf, about its soft fur, about its lonely dark eyes.

He felt cold. He put out his cigarette in the plastic ashtray and went into the kitchen. Everybody was asleep. He poured himself some tap water, took several sips and poured the rest away. He stretched out his hands onto the cold iron body of the sink and closed his eyes. It was quiet outside, at least as quiet as in his dream. He stood like that for some time, his head huddled between his shoulders, then went back to the bedroom. He groped his way under the blankets and turned towards the wall. The steady breathing of his wife filled the room with a strange, almost unreal sense of quietness. At first he tried to breath in unison with her, but then he gave up. The last thing he thought about before falling asleep again was: "God, shall we ever awaken, dear God...".



© Lucy Moschen
© E-magazine LiterNet, 30.03.2005, № 3 (64)