The gloomy day spilled over into the semi-darkness of the room. Tanya was sleeping. I dipped gauze in water and moistened her lips. In the bed made for two, her tortured body looked even smaller. She never talked about the divorce, and I was embarrassed to ask. Only today did her daughter Anica tell me what happened. Tanja and Siniša drank their afternoon coffee and listened to the radio. He suddenly stood up and said: this is not life for me. He packed his suitcase and left. Tanja sat for a long time, the evening news came on the radio, and she finally decided to get up. She smoothed the crease on her skirt with her right palm, took a screwdriver, and removed the plaque with his name from the front door. Three years later, she got cancer.
I arrived today, I came to say goodbye. It was a long and tiring journey. The company that offers door-to-door transportation on the Sarajevo-Belgrade route apparently does not have the necessary documentation. They only let us in at the third border crossing. I was extra nervous because I was carrying cannabis oil in my purse. I knew that Tanja was in terrible pain, and I had half a bottle left after my mother died. Fortunately, in all these vicissitudes with the carrier, no one would have thought that a fifty-year-old woman was smuggling something like that. Anica thanked me so much and hugged me, that I cried because I didn’t come earlier. I barely convinced her to go out with her friends. She only agreed when I promised to call her every hour.
I put my cell phone down on the cabinet, took off my skirt, and lay down on the other side of the bed. Her breathing was shallow and painful. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to death. Panic rose in my throat at the thought that her heart could stop at any moment. After all, we were best friends again. We met at the beginning of secondary school. We were both late for our first class. Until the end of the fourth grade, we were inseparable. And then she did something that we didn’t talk about for four years. She started dating a guy who was my silent crush. True, after he rejected me, I said at the top of my voice that I wouldn’t love him anymore even if he was the last person in the world, but still, she had to be aware of that. At first, it was difficult for me, as with all partings, but then our paths diverged anyway. I enrolled in dentistry, and she, as I heard, in English. In the war, until the winter of ninety-three, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t even have a single thought about her. But then, in that awful and very cold winter, dad got sick. He was vomiting and had diarrhea for days. Not even a drop of water could stay in his body. Mom was convinced that pilaf could save him. She knew how much he loved it, and he would often say: If I can’t eat it, then you must know that I’m dying for sure. We had some flour in the house, but we also needed eggs. We’ve searched everywhere. Mom offered her wedding ring at the market in exchange for two eggs, but no one had them. One evening by the sooty candles, while we were crouching next to Dad’s bed, we heard a knock. I went to open it. Wrapped in a thick woolen scarf, Tanja emerged from the darkness. She was carrying three fresh eggs on a tin plate. Of all the things we had to say to each other, I forgot to ask her how she found out about my father’s illness. Basically, he ate the eggs and she came back into my life.
Listening to her inhales and exhales, I remembered a documentary about the dreams of people who know they are going to die soon. None of them dreamed of death as the end. They would dream of parallel worlds, transforming themselves into fantastic beings or phenomena. Sometimes they would become pure emotions. But Tanja and I; we are not trained for other worlds, we were taught that this world should be made a better place. When I think of the enthusiasm we felt when the war ceased. We were starving for life. We thought that happiness and well-being were waiting for us right around the corner. And what did we get? What did we all get? People continued to leave. As we once counted, fifteen of our twenty friends lived abroad. And then she also met Sinisa at a seminar, fell in love, and moved to Belgrade with him.
Every muscle of mine throbbed with fatigue. I took out my cell phone and typed out a message to Anica. I just closed my eyes a little, when Tanja said:
− I would like to go to Sarajevo.