Her mother breastfed her until she was three years old. But it used to be like that in the countryside. People were poor. Today it’s different, thank God. She opened her eyes and first looked at her daughter sleeping peacefully, leaning on the nipple she had released from her mouth, and then again into the wall with the blooming roses. It felt like she was in a rose garden. Something she has never seen in her life. Nowhere except on this wall. She closed her eyes again. Maybe she could take a nap too…
Strong pain in her stomach woke her up from her sleep. She cried out loud.
She didn’t know if she was awakened by Gordana’s crying or Drago’s yelling:
– For fuck’s sake, Ljuba!
She started walking quickly around the room, constantly rocking the child in her arms.
– Shhhhh. Do not cry. Everything will be fine. Shhhhh.
It hurt. So she cried.
Ljuba tried to calm her down. But she couldn’t. She heard Drago swearing from the other room. She tried to offer her the breast again as a consolation, but the child noticed nothing but her own pain.
– Nun-nin, nan-nin, mother has a son – she sang lullabies that she remembered from her childhood, the son farted, the mother started, ojojoj!
– Nun-nin… – she continued repeating – mother has a son… like a mantra – the son farted, the mother started… – until the baby calmed down completely in her arms.
– Nun-nin, nan-nin, mother has a son… – she hummed unconsciously, at the same time looking out of the window at the children’s park, surrounded by willows and covered with snow.
As a child, she loved to swing. In the yard of her cousin Gokje there was a cherrythee on which their grandfather Ivo tied a thick rope on which all the children from the village were swinging. The girls were not allowed to go outside, until they were old enough, because they had to stay home to help their mothers. Cats much longer. How many years ago did she swing last? She remembers that her father duly smacked her with a belt on the bottom because after school, instead of going home, nicely dressed for school and with nicely curled braids, she went straight to Gokje’s yard on the playground. How old was she? Seven? Or eight?
She looked longingly at the swing in the empty children’s park. Gordana was calm for a while, then cried again.
– Shhhhh – she touched the lips to her ear (feeling the smell of coagulated and acidified milk) whispering:
– You’ll wake dad. And he must sleep. Tomorrow morning he goes to a military exercise and will not return for two days. Yes, Yes. He’ll command the troops. And they’ll all listen to him. All of themt! And you have to listen to him, you know? You mustn’t wake him. No, no, not at all. Your dad is a military man and we all must listen to him. He has a uniform. And a hat with a five-pointed star. He also has a belt and a gun to shoot at the enemy. Yes, Yes. Your dad has everything!
She cried again.
– Ljuba!!! – Dragoljub also sounded himself.
She looked at the willow park once more.
– We’re both going to swing a little, huh?
Gordana looked at her for a moment with her big brown eyes and blinked, as if agreeing to the proposal.
– Well, yes – she smiled and hugged her. – We’re going to swing!
Not letting the child out of her arms, she pulled her boots on into the hallway and then with one hand took Drago’s civilian brown coat from the hanger and put it on himself and the baby. Then she unlocked the front door and went out into the hallway. Just don’t cry now – she thought as he passed the other apartments. She went down the stairs that led directly to the yard and stepped into the snow. If she screams now, the neighbors will kill us, she thought worriedly. But she was somehow convinced that the child would not cry while on the swing. He crawled through the willow branches and suddenly felt excitement and fear. It seemed to her that she was doing something forbidden. It was as if her father would appear from the darkness and smack her again.
– We’re going to swing! – she muttered, cheering herself on.
She cleared the swing of snow and sat down, squeezing her daughter tightly. At that moment, all fear disappeared. She pushed hard.
She lowered her head to her mother’s breasts and closed her eyes. And then she opened them allof a sudden, feeling like she was flying. To one side and to the other. Forward. Back. Forward. Back. Forward. Back.
And after more than twenty-five years, the feeling was the same.
Magical! As if flying!
The feeling was new. And enjoyable. She smiled with her little lips.
– Who’s laughing at me? My happiness!
She didn’t know why she was crying, but she was. The child laughed, and she began sobbing. She’s so stupid!
She wiped her wet eyes with the edge of her sleeve, sighed deeply and continued to swing.
Forward. Back. Forward. Back. Forward. Back.
She was flying! And nothing hurt anymore.