Translation to English: Milan Damjanoski
He laid his hand on the earth-stained surface of the stone, softly as if cupping a little chick that has fallen out of its nest. Gently. He had just recently ripped that stone out of the ground with that very hand and laid it on top of a pile, on top of a barrow. Perhaps he’s hoping that one day he wll be able to identify the grave with the help of that pile of stones. Perhaps, at least for a moment, he’s hoping that that day will trully happen one day.
– They’re cannibals. The ones that are coming. You know that?? – he asks. As if the stones could ever answer him back. As if the person lying beneath the pile of stones could still answer back. – I could never really understand painting. I guess, it’s because I would always try too hard to understand it and never allowed myself to just feel it. Yet, the painting of the Raft of the Medusa has always been completely terrifying to me. Whenever I’d see that painting, always, even if I saw it now, a certain sense of horror would creep down to the depths of my bone marrow. The more I would understand that painting, the more I would be frightened of it. A wave is coming from the side, towering over the raft ready to submerge it, while hundred and forty-nine people are crammed on it. Some are standing upright, waving with rags to the sky. All in vain. As if they could be saved. The bodies of the dead are lying in the embrace of the living. The living who themselves can’t be sure that they are not dead already. The wide-open sea is all around the raft. Yet, the edges of the planks set a boundary. Out of the hundred and forty-nine who tried to save their lives jumping onto the raft, only fifteen survived. Just imagine that. Imagine the horror of trying to survive floating in the open sea for thirteen days on the raft of the frigate Medusa.
On a raft full of cannibals, only the cannibals can survive.
They’re cannibals. You know that? The ones that are coming, the ones we fled to the woods from. The ones we hid from. These are your woods. Your father fled to these woods, too.
The young man grasps the stone as if it is the shoulder of a boy, not some dead piece of nature. He stays silent and listens to the sounds coming from his surroundings. It’s as if he is expecting a guest to come knocking on his door at any moment. The woods are silent, though. Full of life, but they can be quiet. It’s also autumn. So, you can hear the rustling of every little leaf, every billow of the wind. He just sits and listens. Judging every sound. Waiting to hear the one that he is expecting.
– They’ll come, I know. And I know, there’s no point in running anymore. Let them find me here, by your side. There’s no point in leaving these woods. There’s no escaping. They are everywhere. The world is gone. At least, the world as we know it. We’ve had it with running. Coming back to this woods can be considered a success. Thank you for that. Thank you for bringing me back here, just like your father brought you here once. Only, I would rather not talk to myself. Not talk to this pile of stones with which I marked your grave, as if there shall be someone left to come and visit it in the future.
They say that home is where your graves are, where the bones of your ancestors are resting. That’s what they used to say. I never thought about it before. Now, I remember it. And I wondered where that home is. I remember, when I was young I thought that your home can be wherever you shed your blood, tears and sperm. As if we use these bodily fluids to mark the location of our home. I’m not saying that I was dumb back then. Nor am I saying that there is not some truth in what I was thinking. There is. Yet later in life, I thought that my home will be where my child shall live. There is some truth in that, also. Even more truth, I would say. Now, while I sit by your grave which I have dug and buried with my own two hands, while I sit next to your grave, the grave of my father, now I remember that people used to say that your home is where your graves are. Somehow, now, I feel as if I should come to terms with that and accept it. That I should at least die at home. When I didn’t know how to live at home.
I will not run anymore. Enough is enough. I hear sounds in the distance. They are coming. But, we still have some time left.