Translated from Croatian by Andy Jelčić
Beer bottles on a cramped table were supposed to end in the workers’ hands, but the danger lies in sudden disarray and laughter: they fell on the table, then on the ground and a gush of glass and hop smell hit us.
What are empty glasses doing at that moment? What is happening with you, while you are sitting in a secret (lovers’) place, becoming an accomplice in a conspiracy on an ordinary summer afternoon? You are creeping into a story that does not want to be a love story; you are standing in its centre, thinking that you are pulling its ends, the ones that are pulling it forward. It is nice to say that you are thinking of the places where you were just beautiful in the eye of the summer, before the storm, before the weather became rough.
And what else, what else are you doing?
The end of events is still far away and no one would order again. Let us say it now, then, to make things easier. Let us decide what we are going to do while our hands are still free, our minds and hearts pure and brave! The workers have finished their work, unloaded the cement bags, put their shovels away, and left their blouses on the grass. Now they are sitting at the foot of an imagined mountain. Enveloped in muscles and curses, light-hearted, bearded, strong, exhausted, and different, they belong to that which demands no name, which does not care for the childhood. They are laughing, smoking, drinking. They are poor. They are rich. They are sick. They are healthy. They are happy. They are trying hard. They do not ponder over the question who and what they are? The hardships of the world, wars and political crises end in their curses, low wages, abandoned families, and places that hold no room for them now. They are full of hatred. They are void with loneliness.
But you cannot hide behind them, because you do not belong to the noon in Gračani, while bottles are falling and a gush of glass, spume, and hop smell attracts laughter and voices.
And what now? What now?
The teacher gets into her car and takes the ringing of a school lesson with her. My 45 minutes are over, she says. The boy does not hurry anywhere. This was my day, Tuesday or Wednesday, a happy Friday, he says.
Where is your happy day, your happy hour, you ask.
She is not saying a word. She is just looking at him – thus Gračani will always remain in her eyes. In her silence. In her gaze.