By Farhod Eshanov
Farhod Eshanov was born in 1994 in Margilan, Fergana region of Uzbekistan. He is participant of the prose direction of the 2019-Zaamin seminar. His stories have been published in national newspapers and Russia.
Brunette and Blonde
Every time before her, the aroma of hot cappuccino filled the room.
Because she had a great interest in the piles of crumpled papers that were scattered everywhere in my room, the antediluvian typewriter on my desk, and the garish writing on the edge of the machine, she never forgot to bring a fortified drink in the morning. Her daily habits managed to become an integral part of my life. The round trace of a plastic cup here on the table, though I tried all night to make my manuscripts a mess, was put down by her in an hour and sitting on a chair by the window, with a quiet voice she read what I wrote during the night… All this repeats in a trace. And I wake up, not refraining from the smell of the invigorating drink. Without lifting my head from the table, with the outside of my palm I touch the cup and wait for it to cool. When did that smell become native to me?
I wonder if I’ll ever get tired of that smell, that story, starting from my doorstep to the table, her tickling my nasopharynx!
Then her tinkling laughter reached me bookended my thoughts, which had no time to leave the outside universe, flying away like smoke, occupying my being.
– Tell me the reason you laughed, Aurora?
To avoid seeing her mocking gaze, without opening my eyes from the glass I held in my hand.
– Ah, Osvaldo, Osvaldo! – She went on in an interesting and pleasant voice. – It turns out you have a great sense of humor!
I didn’t know that… because until now I’ve known you as a writer who describes negative feelings, emotions, mental anguish. Apparently, today I reinvented you for myself.
The amazement in her eyes didn’t try to stop for one minute. I was already beginning to worry, not from the fact that she was laughing, not understanding the meaning of my lines, but from her incessant laughter.
In spite of my rage, I did not jump to conclusions. On the contrary, I preferred to observe Aurora’s pure laughter. As if I understood that even brunette bodies can tweak the sun’s rays, I took my gaze away from her beautiful swarthy neck.
Fortunately, she didn’t have time to notice as the phone rang.
– Yes, madam. Here I am, reading your son’s new story. You won’t believe it, but the subject of his next story… Mmm… Yes, yes, I’ve already done everything… Yes, like you said… Okay, I’ll tell him…
She hung up.
– Your mother called. She absolutely resisted your writing. And also… she told you not to bother.
Aurora wanted to reflect her shock at her and got agitated. It seemed to me as if she was mumbling. Soon she began to prepare the medicine I was to take. The mere thought of having to swallow the hateful pills made me cringe all over. I crumpled my cup in anger and tossed it into the basket in the corner of the room, where the crumpled container sat next to yesterday’s cups. It seemed to me that this routine would last forever.
– It amazes me that you couldn’t take even one step out of the house and how you write about the beauty of sea breezes, azure shores? You portray as if you had been and lived there all your life. I’m very curious to know who the beautiful Margo? – Suddenly she asked the question, forwarding the medicine with water.
And I continued to retell what I had put into lines yesterday.
– There was no prettier girl on the coast than she was. People streaming in from the surrounding area were struck by her beauty, sometimes at a loss for words. Her snow-white smile and graceful sophistication drove many men mad. However, her soul was pure and clear as the night moon, which illuminated the dark surface of the sea.
As the night moon rises in the sky, you can watch her move smoothly across the sea to the shore. The sparkling sparks on the moon’s surface give joy to the eyes and peace to the soul. And I sat on the coastal sands, surrendering to sad thoughts. How could I not react to the whistling, the excessive attention to her person when she was followed by glances and compliments.
And then I began to wonder: since when did I become interested in the antics of these people? I remembered those days with regret. It was only Margo’s beautiful voice that brought me to my senses, relieving me of all sorts of thoughts.
“Excuse me, sir…”
At first her slender legs appeared before my eyes, which delighted the eye and excited the blood…
Out of surprise I was speechless. And she went on, as if to say she was here.
– Sir, my name is Margherita Berardi. If you don’t mind, I’ll keep you company and we’ll talk,” she chirped, bringing me to my senses.
– Of course, please… – I said kindly, which was very uncharacteristic of me…
A smile appeared on Aurora’s frozen face again. And with even more enthusiasm she began to ask questions.
-Ah, my dear Osvaldo, could you… could you do such… It’s hard to believe…
Aurora’s interest in this story was growing by the minute. I realized that I would only be free of her inquiries if I told her the whole story.
– Aurora, I wasn’t always in this position…
Her eyes opened wide, as if she did not recognize me. Apparently, my companion thought that I had been so helpless and pathetic all my life…
– Those legs weren’t always as paralyzed as they are now… I’ll tell you… This weak body became so not so long ago… I’m not congenitally disabled…
Today, my maid turned into a listening ear: she listened to every word I said with great interest. Because, she was thrilled to hear from the author himself, who had been a burden to his mother all his life, being bedridden inside four walls, had always been in no such position had seen the days in his youth.
– That day we sat next to Margo on the beach. Our heartfelt, sincere conversation seemed to last an eternity. Those were the most beautiful moments. And then…
– And then… then you liked each other… – Aurora finished for me, as if she was previously aware of the meaning of my story.
– Yes, we liked each other… – I confirmed her assumption.
I did not dare to tell Aurora about unforgettable impressions of that one night spent with Margo, so I was not ashamed. No wonder she’d had enough of the way I reflected on the past, staring at the ceiling. She realized long ago that I should be left alone with these memories. Aurora is the maid my mother hired to serve me, for six years she has managed to occupy a place in my soul. And she is a very perceptive woman. It’s not for nothing that I consider her an integral part of my life. However, she seemed noble and charming at that moment my thoughts were occupied only with Margo. Her beautiful voice rang in my ears…
“My dear Osvaldo, those beautiful moments spent with you I will remember all my life. You opened your soul to me. Your generosity will seal itself in my heart. I will never regret handing over my soul. I will look forward to the day when fate will bring us together again. Farewell, Osvaldo, farewell!”
– That day, as she uttered these parting words, she thought I was not yet awake. As she tried to leave the hut, she looked in my direction one last time. And we never saw each other again, our paths parted…
At one point I was crippled: what was so funny about the story Aurora found in my story that I had been writing all night. Why was she laughing? No matter how hard I tried to find an answer to that question, I couldn’t. Certainly she is a good reader. I thought she was laughing at the inaccuracy of the writing.
– Mr. Osvaldo, -Aurora turned to me, having finished her work and going home.
I looked back in her direction. It turned out that up to now I had never had to walk my maid to the door. I remembered this as she put on her slippers.
Aurora looked in my direction. When she saw that I was looking at her, she froze in an instant. Thus we gazed at each other for a long time, while discomfort appeared between us. And to get rid of the discomfort, I said:
– All right, go…
– Goodbye, sir…
– See you…
All night I tried to remember the moments in my life that were worth remembering. To be precise, my memory flashed back to that one night with Margo and the six-year experience of living with Aurora. It’s hard to make a final decision between erratic thoughts.
However, I was clearly aware that I needed to confess my feelings to Aurora. Although I noticed sincerely that she loved me too, I was afraid of her reaction-she might leave me forever if I told her of my love. If there was such a possibility, she would have left long ago. She hadn’t missed a day of work in those six years. Surely Aurora is worthy of my love. Tomorrow, yes, yes, tomorrow I’ll tell you that…
Favorite smell of cappuccino- Without opening my eyes, I touched the glass with one hand. The temperature is just right. No familiar silhouette near the window, however. Strangely, the papers scattered around the room were not put away. In the kitchen, an unfamiliar girl. I turned the stroller in her direction.
– Are you awake?
This girl, who looked like Aurora, was about sixteen years old. But why isn’t she here? Why didn’t she come? These questions were keeping me awake…
– Yes, Aurora… -Before I could finish my question, she sensitively continued my words.
– Sir, I am Aurora’s daughter. My mother sent you this and told me to tell you that she won’t be able to come here anymore… We warned your mother. From tomorrow you will have a new maid…
Hearing this girl’s words made my insides burn. It seemed that my story flashed before my eyes again, as if they had been healthy for me. And now a letter and a book wrapped in paper lay before me…
“My dear Osvaldo forgive me. I quit my job because I can no longer hide my love. Yesterday before I left, I saw you looking at me intently, and I was aware that you too were beginning to have feelings for me. At first I rejoiced considerably. After all, I had waited six years for this day. But, after reading your last story, I finally realized that it was all wrong. And I, the fool, couldn’t close my eyes, knowing everything. Do you remember that I laughed when I read your story? Then I actually cried inside. When I found out that you still loved Margo, I couldn’t stop myself. And when you were near me I consciously pretended to laugh…
And the reason why we can no longer meet you, you will know when you open the paper. I hope it will be the best birthday present ever. I hope to see you soon. Aurora…”
My eyes filled with tears, I didn’t have the courage to drop them. It was certain that this gift, the book. But, now, what book would soften the present situation? I angrily began to tear off the cover.
On the cover of the book was written – “Oswald”. The author was Marguerite Berardi.