Short Stories

A hard way

Catherine hesitated before crossing the street. The shortest way home to her grandmother passed through the middle of the garden. But surely in the playground were all the Turkish boys in the area. And they always keep looking… They walk around and when someone passes they start to look at people and shout among themselves in Turkish. Surely they are laughing at her, Catherine.

– They don’t even let our kids go to the swings. They think the park is all theirs – complains Dona Maria.

And the D Antonia:

– Oh, what they shouted in my back… I don’t even want to repeat!

And Gabriela said, and Paula said, and Jacob said … No! In the middle of the park is not going!

But on the main street is the shop with the pheasants and rabbits hanging at the door. At once, a drop of blood fell on the sidewalk just as Catherine passed. And the ride there is so narrow…

And on Tree Street is that big dog that barks like a madman. Last time he had leaped back, and it was not long before he passed the fence. It was a German Shepherd. In the grocery store, they had already said that German shepherds are sometimes not quite sure of their minds. And this one had a dangerous glint in his eyes.

Catarina sighed. He counted the buttons on his coat. Turks, pheasants, dog. Turks, pheasants, dog. Turks. Well, I had to go through the park.

He waited for five red cars to pass. There might be someone coming across the park, too, and Catherine would follow.

Of course no one came.

Home, Catherine could not go back either. The mother would say to him: – The Turks are boys like you and your friends; of rabbits and pheasants you need not be afraid, and barking dogs do not bite.

And I would tell the story of the big dog who almost looked like he wanted to eat her again. One day a car had driven down the garden fence and the dog continued to run just as if the crate was still there and did not come to the street. It just jumped into the air.

Catherine already knew all this, which nevertheless helped nothing.

He took a deep breath, crossed the road and through the park gate.

The floor was full of bright brownish-red chestnuts. Catarina took one and closed it tightly in her hand. He put his foot in the crevice between two cement slabs. If he could walk on her, nothing would happen to her.

Suddenly a red ball passed between his feet. Catherine stumbled. Someone laughed, very loudly, and another just after. He started running, stepped on a fallen branch, slipped and fell to the ground.

Just then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

He closed his eyes as hard as he had, but after a while he had to open his eyes.

The girl standing next to her had a baby around her waist. Both had black hair.

– Did you hurt yourself? The girl was helping Catherine to her feet. Only then did Catherine see her swollen knee and blood running down her leg. The knee began to sting and hurt.

“We have to clean that up,” said the girl. – Sit down.

Catherine let herself be led to a bank. He sat obediently and waited.

In the playground there were four little boys watching. The girl came back with a wet cloth. He sat the baby on Catherine’s lap and immediately began to wipe his knee. The baby was kicking, and Catherine had to hold it tight.

The girl brushed the wound. She was very careful, but even so, Catherine cringed and almost screamed. Then the girl took a vial from her skirt pocket.

“It’ll burn a little,” he said as he splashed an orange liquid on his knee. – It is already! Now I just need the dressing.

– Why do you have it all with you? Asked Catarina.

“I have to take care of my brothers, and something is always happening to them,” she said, sitting next to Catherine.

The baby started to complain. The girl lifted him and sniffed at his pants.

– Of course, it’s already dirty again. I have to go home because I don’t have diapers anymore.

He got up, put the baby back to his waist, one leg swinging to the left, one to the right. The baby laughed. Catarina limped beside her. His knee stung every time he tried to bend it.

The boys were leaning over the water tap, putting their fingers in the pipe and squirting around them.

The girl shouted something to them and then muttered under her breath:

– Guys…

Catarina smiled. The girl questioned her with her eyes.

– You said that in the same tone that my aunt usually says: – Men!

The girl said yes with her head.

“The brothers are horrible, don’t you think?”

“I have none,” said Catarina. “But I wish I had one older and one younger.”

The girl shook her head. Exiting the park, he said:

– Look, I’m almost always here in the park. Are you coming here tomorrow again?

– Perhaps.

The girl and the baby went left, Catherine to the right. He suddenly remembered that he had not even thanked him.

– Thanks! He shouted, though he knew he could not be heard because of the noise of the street. – Tomorrow I’ll be back! Renate Welsh Jutta Modler (org.) Brücken Bauen Wien, Herder, 1987

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