Where are you going? To the eye of the cyclone.
I spent a strange, thick and tense period with Dora, but let me start from the beginning, from the Friday morning on the 10 May. I could not sleep all night, as I had not the previous nights. I stopped taking sleeping pills because they brought me no ease, but only a bigger blunt fatigue, and it felt more natural not to sleep but to sail through nightmares. On Thursday evening I felt some tremor, a horrible inner cold. I lied in a tub full of hot water and my teeth chattered. On Friday I got up to make some coffee and I saw my father awake too. The map of Europe is spread on the table. And I realize that dad had realized I could not bear it anymore, that I was at the end of my physical power, therefore any other power as well. So, I told him: “Dad, I’m going to get the kid in front of the school, and you find a car”. Then dad got a bit upset, aunt Nola pushed him remining him that our neighbor was a taxi driver and he was awake from dawn anyway. Then I took a bag, packed in it only the documents and some talismans of my own. At that moment I even didn’t know exactly which child went to school in the morning, and which one in the afternoon, so I could never take both of them from school. And when they were not at school, they would not allow us to see each other. All three of us were afraid. For days, weeks, months. No, no, no, I won’t talk about it. If Nina had been in the school in the morning then, I would have taken her. It was an impossible break, to take only one kid and tell yourself just like that, one by one, I’ll return them home. Now, looking back, I’m sorry that Nina was not in the morning shift. He would’ve returned Dora himself in less than two days, she is like that, my brave wild kid. But, it wasn’t the case.
I give my dad the bag with the passports and I tell him to provide transport and wait for me at half past eight in front of the Fountain. And off I go, but I return at the last moment, I open the cupboard where we had kept mother’s stuff for years, those that we had not given away, those that we had kept for whatever reason. There, an old brown bag. An old-fashioned one. I take it as hypnotized. Then I take the key and I open the family safe from which I take my mom’s ring with three red rubies, I put it on my finger and then I leave. Dad and Nola look at me without any words. Nola kisses me at the door and wishes me all the best. And off I go. At the bus station, I realize that I have no money in my wallet, but I decide not to return because I have a ticker for multiple ride. I come to the school an hour earlier. It is quiet in Zemun, a beautiful summer morning, the city slowly awakes. I sit on the bench in front of the restaurant across from the Clinic and I wait. The time passes impossibly slow. Finally, the first students who woke up early come, and then a whole river of children, only my Dora is gone. She will appear last, at one minute to eight. I stand by the tree in the park behind the school. She yells Mama! And she rejoices. I spread my palm where I have that lead seahorse, our secret agreed sign that we leave when I show it her.