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THE NAIL

Alekdander Hr. Hristov

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The road to Skravena is so muddy that you know right away why the river that creeps alongside is named Kalnitsa. You are riding on a covered truck bed, there are no windows, they pulled down the tarp as soon as they loaded you. The only thoughts in your head are the constant bouncing and how they are going to separate you - women here, men there - when you arrive. And you will not see each other after that. You are squeezing Simo's arm, you don't see him in the dark, you just pray that the mud gets thicker, the truck moves slower, because when you get there they will separate you and there will be no more.

You would arrive eventually and they would separate you, women here, men there. The only thing between here and there would be a tall wooden fence, the rest - barracks. Thirty people inside each one, like cattle. You wouldn't be able to see the men's section but you would hear them through the fence. You would occasionally hear Simo's voice, no way to mistake it. You would call him, but quietly, so they wouldn't hear you. Both of you would walk over to the upper end of the fence, where it's harder to be seen, and where one of the boards has a loose nail. You would whisper for awhile, each of you asking how the other is doing. When it is time to part Simo would push the nail so that it sticks out a little on your side of the fence and would tell you to come here tomorrow, he would come too, but if you couldn't talk, because they are watching you, you would push the nail back to his side so he would know you are all right. He would do the same.

After that the mud would freeze and turn white, but you would still go to the nail. Sometimes the two of you would talk, but more often you would just push it. Later, when the mud turns brown again, you would no longer have anything to say to each other, but just move the nail to let the other know.

When you become tired and too weak to get up, and you no longer remember if there is mud or snow outside, you would find another woman. You would ask her kindly to go and push the nail tomorrow. She would agree and you, tired as you are, would feel some relief. There would be no way for you to know that, already for a month, from the other side the nail has been pushed by another man.

 

 

© Alekdander Hr. Hristov
© Robert Dirlam, Emil Lazarov - translated from bulgarian
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© E-magazine LiterNet, 01.09.2014, № 9 (178)