Chopin. Op 64, no 2.

For Sanzi

Dearest judge/reader, as we all know, a delicious meal often comes with a matching wine. Consider this link the wine to my story:


I shut the door. Outside…classic British weather: grey drizzle. My hair will look like a broom…Again… I sigh.

Nevertheless, I decide to take the long way to school: under the bridge, passing the sport centre, up the hill, down the street, up the hill and finally, behind the patch of trees, my new school. I never consider the school bus as an option. I make my feet move with the promise that in six hours’ time I will allow them to take me back home, as fast as possible.  The carpet of leaves beneath my shoes reminds me of the colours in Adriana’s home. I used to watch the candle-like light flowing out into the dark street before pressing the doorbell. It seemed to me that Adriana’s house belonged to the few houses in Bucharest that I felt safe in. My daily worries and I seemed to have made an agreement that for one night a month, for a couple of blessed hours, they would not touch my mind.

That house kept pieces of my childhood. The cosmetician table in the parlour was the same my mother laid on thirteen years ago when she felt time had come to give birth. Adriana had quickly finished shaving her leg and rushed her to hospital, where I tasted life a couple of hours later. The shiny wooden floor was the same floor on which I used to chase Adriana’s treasured cats, but never harmed them, since I was followed by Adriana’s round spectacles, perched on her short nose. One can easily describe her as an old, spoiled yet wise Persian cat. Her eyes, two chocolate gemstones similar to those of the felines she adored. Her skin was soft and perfumed; spoiled once a day with lavish creams, oils and masks. Her naughty brown curls kept in check with her boyish hairstyles, without even owning a hairbrush. As age started to lay its mark on her silhouette, Adriana decided Indian outfits suited her best. No matter how absurd the designs Adriana had a natural elegance that shined through the patterns of dancing elephants and laughing monkeys.

She understood me when I was a mischievous child (to my dismay); she understands me now (to my gratitude) and will most likely understand me when I’ll be an adult (to my good fortune). When my face started to be affected by a plague called puberty, my mum brought me to Adriana, so that she could use her magical hands to cleanse the spots that had found refuge on my forehead, chin and nose.

My foot hits a rock in the pavement and I topple over. I look at my foot bedazzled, as if I’m not too sure why it’s there. My once immaculate shoes are now covered in a thin layer of dirt and remains of dead leaves. My right foot steps first, then my left, then my right. They follow the rhythm of a ghost melody I’ve been humming without realizing and now that I think about it…the melody has been stuck in my mind ever since I’ve left home this morning… accompanying me, witnessing my memoirs.  Then, I return to my apathy and forget about my feet. I drift back, alongside the ghost melody, back, back, back…

“This happened a few years ago, when my husband was still alive.” Adriana would begin, her confident voice filling the room. “One time my husband brought home a colleague who reacted badly when he saw Adorata, the ugliest cat I’ve ever owned. She was covered in a completely white gown and that itself wouldn’t have been an issue hadn’t she been the owner of a pair of white bat ears, a long snout, a small head with huge eyes, an over-stretched body and four short legs that made her look like a caricature. Nevertheless, she was an educated, smart feline with first class manners: a duchess! She welcomed our guest by gracefully wrapping her bony tail around the guest’s ankle “Get it off! Get it off!! Shoo, shoo! Go away, beast!” the man shrieked.  I froze. I knew then nothing good would come of this. Adorata puffed as if to say “Imbecile”, flicked her tail and disappeared in the hallway. As time passed, the tense atmosphere distilled with the help of a few glasses of red wine. I was in the kitchen, preparing dessert and thought I heard something trickling. I checked the bathroom. They were all right. The trickle persisted. I went in the hallway and in front of me was a sight taken out of Caragiale’s sketches. Adorata was elegantly peeing right inside our guest’s lacquered shoes, satisfaction written across her face.” I had no idea laughing can be painful until I heard that story.

I have fifty more steps to do until my feet reach the school’s entrance. I can see the outlines of the school’s buildings appearing from behind the patch of trees.  A drop hits my muddy shoe.

My chest rises and falls frenetically, my shoulders drop as I let all my emotions escape through my tears. The leaves, the trees and the sky above are the only witnesses. The ghost melody is slowly dying. My mind brings up images of places and people and stories that I hoped I could forget.

After school art classes filled with loud chatter and laughs and the sound of the pencils tracing drawings on plain white paper.

Waiting for that one day in winter when I’d wake up to a tornado of snowflakes covering the entirety of the sky.

Hot, lazy summer days in classroom 24 trying to focus on Romanian grammar, instead watching huge caravans of clouds migrating across a blue sky.

The conversations I had at lunchtime with my best friend; both of us perched on the spacious, cold windowsill, our feet dangling and occasionally bumping against each other.

Laying my sleeping bag outside the tent during hiking camps, watching the August stars for hours on end.

The stories Adriana told me, were once a source of delight, yet now I’ve turned into a source of sorrow.

My sobs seem thunder strikes in the silence that had installed. The storm slowly dies out and a bird begins to sing. I feel my tears crisp around my cheeks the same way the crusts of an orange dry out and curl. I lean against a tree, drained of all energy and I look up.

“How stupid I am” I whisper. “Home was here all along…”

A caravan of clouds is migrating across the blue sky.

“Chopin. Op 64, no 2.” I chuckle, as I remember the name of my ghost melody.

I start humming under my breath, as I move on, towards the school.





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