9 | Special Feature | A Short Story by Internationally Acclaimed Author Zdravka Evtimova
For Dimitar — A Poet
A man was walking along Road 8. His jacket was heavy, although the day was warm and didn’t feel like November. The man had polished his shoes, a thing people in this part of the town rarely did.
He was a poet, an obscure one. He’d written a thousand poems. Only three of them had been published.
The shabby apartment houses were gone. The man looked at the piles of broken bricks, his heart skipping a beat. Anna’s house was gone, and Road 8 was no more.
“An apartment house used to stand here,” the stranger said to a man who wore clean pants that smelled like a second-hand store. “There was an apartment house here, seven floors,” the stranger added.
“They knocked it down,” the local guy said. “Someone bought the land. They don’t want us here.”
The stranger who obviously hadn’t been around for a long time, muttered, “A woman lived in that house. Anna was that woman’s name.”
“The one who bought the land and knocked our houses down is called Anna,” the man blurted out.
“She was poor. A thin, black-haired woman,” the stranger said.
“She’s filthy rich now. A thin, black-haired bitch,” the local guy said.
“Anna, Anna . . .” breathed the stranger. He must have a screw loose, the guy in the second-hand clothes thought, but he didn’t feel sorry for the newcomer. So many folks in this town had lost their marbles. Pity a madman and you’ll become a nutcase yourself.
* * *
Anna! I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. There is one point in common between the beggar and the millionaire, between the ignorant guy and the genius. It’s the billions of years that have turned bacteria into human beings. The evolution of a hundred billion years is the common ground between the aristocrats who live in palaces and the homeless folks who sleep under bridges. There is an amoeba in each one of us — in the coalminer and in the merchant, in the surgeon and in his patient — but there is also the heart of a human being.
Anna! With the amoeba that’s hiding in me and with everything human in my blood, I am looking for you. Where are you?
Where are you?!
I have been told that if you think of someone, of a woman, you sooner or later find her.
During the billions of years that I have been whatever the wind has wanted me to be, I have looked for you — whatever you have been. We’d flown together in the clouds, we’d swum in the ocean and among the stars — if there were stars — ever since I started looking for you.
“Mom, I already have a girl,” I told my mother. “You may not like her, but she’s my girl.”
Anna. In November, when it’s really autumn, I go to the lake every night.
You used to swim in that lake.
I’m waiting for you on the shore. They say they’re going to pump out the water to clear the way. As long as there is a lake there, I will come. When there is no lake, I will come again. I’ll be coming for you one billion years. Trust me. I’ll be looking for you until I become dust.
I’ll be dust, and I will become a man again, and I will find you.
I love you.