The Playground

The Playground

That other time I rang the bell, and Moni opened up and peeped under the chain.
“Wait,” she said. It seemed to me she had something in her mouth, that her lips were a bit glossy.
She closed the door and I presumed she would open it. But I stood there and she didn’t. I stood like that a long time, maybe five minutes, feeling very awkward. My mother would surely scold me for being a nuisance. I headed towards the stairs and had just started down when Moni cracked the door again.
“Where are you going?” she said.
“Oh, I thought you wouldn’t open.”
“Come on Iva, look at you, you wait a little and then you get mad.”
“I’m not mad,” I tried to explain, but Moni already turned her back and walked back into the apartment, leaving the door slightly open behind her, probably meaning that I should go in. Before she turned around I saw that the corner of her lip was smeared with chocolate. I wondered if she was mad at me because maybe I didn’t wait for her long enough.

Maybe she is eating chocolate and doesn’t want to give me any, I thought, and moved to leave again, just like that time before, but then Moni finally opened the door against the chain, and I saw her head of tangled hair.
“Oh come on,” said Moni, “look at how early it is. What are you doing?” She still didn’t open the door.
“I just wanted to tell you something.”
Moni closed the door and I wondered again if she’d open. But the chain slid down the metal bed and the doorknob squeaked before moving. She opened the door and I saw she was still in her pajamas.
“There were these men that came around this morning and fixed the playground!” I shouted out the words, grinning.
Moni became interested.
“Really?” she said, “And, what did they do?”
“Nothing, they put on new sitting boards, and the most important thing is that they told me to tell you not to touch the bridge because it is still sticky, they painted it red. You want to go on the swings with me?”
“Ok, ok, big deal,” Moni suddenly changed her mind, “We’ll go later. We have to go get Bistra, too.”
I didn’t really want to ask Bistra to come, but she and Moni were inseparable. Moni was the dominant one, but when someone wanted to fight or argue, Bistra would take on the job. She was large, dark, with small hairs above her lip.
“Alright. Now?”
“Oh come on, now. Can’t you see that I just woke up? I have to wait for my sister to come back from the store. Besides, I haven’t had breakfast yet.”
I remembered I actually went out to get some bread and my mother was waiting for me. I gripped the side of my pocket to check if the money was still there: it was, it jingled when I pressed my hand against it. I went pale when it occurred to me how my mother would scold me.
“Oh my God! I was supposed to buy bread, my mother’s waiting for me!”
“Ok, ok, big deal!” said Moni and calmly sat at the table, “Let me just finish eating and you will go get your bread, and we’ll also get Bistra, and then go to the playground.”
Maybe my mother won’t be so angry, I thought. She’ll probably guess I stayed out with my friends.
We sat at the table. Remembering the bread, my stomach started growling. From the breadbox Moni took out a fleshy, thick piece her mother had left her for breakfast. She unwrapped the plastic coating and put the bread on the plate waiting for her on the table. Then from the shelf next to the fridge she took a jar of chocolate cream. She sat down and started scooping up huge, gooey slabs and spreading thick layers on the bread. Whatever fell on her plate, she would wipe clean with her finger and then lick it. My stomach growled even more loudly now. I was afraid Moni would hear it and realize I wanted to eat. Then I remembered all the times Moni and I would dig through spoonfuls of chocolate cream in a bucket my father bought me, and I told myself that maybe it wasn’t so shameful that I wanted to eat when I watched her. Moni looked at me before jabbing her teeth into the melted chocolate smeared over the bread and as always, asked me:
“You wanna? You don’t,” and started eating calmly.
Every time she bought ice-cream, crisps, or chips, she’d do the same thing: You wanna? You don’t. Once I told my mother this and she advised me to do the same from now on, every time I bought myself something.

“You wanna? You don’t,” I said once when I bought some ice-cream.
“I do!” said Moni and bit off the chocolate-coated top. Every year the amount of chocolate on the ice-cream seemed to diminish. I felt sad, left only with the vanilla.

I thought about this as I watched her smeared all over with the chocolate cream, but I didn’t have the strength to say “I do”.

Finally Moni stuffed the bread into her throat, went up to the fridge and drank milk straight out of the mouth of the box. This time she didn’t even say “You wanna? You don’t”, she simply gulped down the milk, put it back in the fridge and slammed its door shut. The bottles of juice in the shelves of the door rattled and something turned over, but Moni did not even stir. I couldn’t wait to leave: my stomach was growling, my mother was waiting, and I had to warn the other kids about the playground. As I thought of the latter, something ugly passed through my body and I felt like crying out. I uttered only a little “aaaah”.
“Huh?” Moni thought I was saying something.
“Nothing, nothing,” I said. In my head I could not forget the men in blue overalls who scolded me. I was extremely embarrassed that they had, and it gave me an awkward feeling inside. Every time I felt awkward about something I remembered, I felt like letting out a little cry.
Moni’s sister had still not returned from the store, but that didn’t seem to be a problem any longer. Moni left me waiting on the kitchen chair while she went to get dressed. Then she came back, slipped in her sneakers, locked the door, left the key under the doormat, and together we left.

Bistra and I lived in the same block, whereas Moni lived in the one across the road. The store was a little further down the road, near the playground. I asked Moni to keep me company while I went to the store, and then we could go to Bistra’s to ask her to come to the playground with us.

“Oh come on,” Moni complained, “I don’t want to go to the store. Go on your own. I’m going to Bistra’s.”
I wanted to go to Bistra’s with her because I saw the playground first and I wanted to warn the other kids about the bridge. Otherwise, Moni would make herself look important by telling everyone this as if she were the instructed messenger. She lied like that very often – she would make things up, or she would say something someone else said as if it were hers.
“Ok, then I’ll come with you and I’ll go get the bread after that.” I followed Moni to the block where Bistra and I lived.
We rang the doorbell and Bistra opened the door. Behind her stood her fat little sister. Both were eating a powdered juice mix with spoons, and their tongues were yellow.
“You know what?” said Moni, ready to steal my thunder.

AuthorRumena Bužarovska
2018-08-21T17:23:13+00:00 August 6th, 2006|Categories: Prose, Literature, Blesok no. 49|0 Comments