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Twenty seasons by Otilia Tena
SUMMARY: About an uncommon child who stirs up romantic feelings.
Most people say I look after my mother; her face, her appearance had
something of a fairy. I bear these features as well. But loneliness is part of a
fairy's destiny. Men have become a rare species nowadays and they don't
look forward to marriage any longer. Back in my grandmother's days things
were so simple and young people took life more seriously.
I wish I had painted all of it, or put it in a song... But then all that is left to us is words.
My feet started to feel the cold quite a long time before we got off. I clung to my sandals and to my dress even if we headed for the mountains. And then there we were, out in the cold, next to our luggage, waiting to be lodged. Why are trips always related to the need of taking a leak? Mr. S helped me and took my luggage on the stairs. His daughter Ana said she wanted to share the room with me. I replied that I didn't know what they had in mind. All the children were nervous and restless, playing around us on the stairs. Then my eyes fell on him: patient and quiet, making me wonder what kind of look his eyelids covered.
"What's your name?"
"Stefan". And he continued to stare at his shoes.
I shared my room with Ana and Mili. Mili was almost six. Two days went by and after two days we finally noticed each other, me and Stefan. We considered our faces. Then I found out he lived near the sea and his complexion confirmed it. I brought him wild strawberries- I meant them to be a memory token- and he thanked me but still avoided my face. He would look when I wasn't looking, you know.
Little Mili was a family friend to him.
„Mili, your friend Stefan is sweet".
„Our parents are friends, you know".
„How old is he?"
„Oh, he's eleven. He's got a sweetheart there, they're in the same school".
„You mean there, near the sea?"
„Yes, they are very much fond of each other".
„No, he can't have a sweetheart, Mili! I've already fallen for him".
Mili put both her arms round my neck in a big hug.
„Oh, I'm sorry for you, I'm really sorry!"
„Aren't you?" I smiled just to keep it as a joke.
„You are too aged for him, this is all. You must find someone your age".
„Yes, I must".
„But I like you, I like you a lot, Otilia".
„Do you have a boyfriend?" Ana asked.
„Yes, I have".
„And would you marry him?"
„Of course, why not?"
„But would you marry someone else except him?"
I thought she might have meant her father at this point.
„Someone else meaning who, Ana?"
Late that night I was gathering my hair at my back and I looked into my cracked mirror. I might have scared him, who knows? We were twenty years apart, no more, no less. Just to think that Mr. S had given me wild strawberries as a sign of tenderness and I gave them to Stefan... Will I come to his mind much later in his life, out of a turbid fog of sweet and sour?
It was the midsummer night and old people say that we gather in a round dance in the woods, me and the ones like me. I was about to put on my white dress when the door opened and there he was.
„No, go away Stefan! Why didn't you knock first? Oh, she's naked!" Mili rushed on the stairs and dragged him.
I returned at dawn and they were all waiting for me in the dining room.
„I brought you woodruff, see? Like the one in my hair!"
„How can you be so careless? The boys saw you naked last night.