The Playground

The Playground

“Two men came round this morning and fixed the playground and now we can go on the swing!” I grinned and spilled it out in one breath.
“Iva,” Moni looked at me with tight lips, “it is unpolite to interrupt when someone else is speaking.”
“Yes,” Bistra confirmed.
“Yes!” screamed the fat little sister.
“But I didn’t interrupt you, I only…” I tried to explain.
“You interrupted me!” Moni shouted.
I became silent. Bistra was also silent, as if I never told her anything about the playground. Moni continued speaking.
“Today some people came and fixed the playground. They also painted the bridge.”
“Great!” Bistra’s expression changed suddenly. She opened up her mouth wide to smile and exposed her yellow tongue.
“Great!” the little sister repeated after her, “I want to go, too!”
“No way,” said Bistra.
“Yeah, right,” the little sister said like an adult, “there is no one to look after me. Both mom and dad aren’t at home. Ha ha ha!”
Bistra cuffed her sister’s head, but the little girl continued laughing.
“Hold on, let me finish up eating,” said Bistra and moved towards the kitchen. We all followed her.
In the kitchen, she gave a spoon to Moni, but didn’t give me one. I watched them eat the powdered juice, and I wanted some too, but I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give me a spoon. They chomped in silence.
“Is that powdered juice?” I gathered up the strength to ask. I shoved my hands under my thighs because they were shaking a bit.
“No,” said Bistra, “we’d give you some, but it is medicine that they give to us at school. You’ll see when you catch up, they’ll give you this kind of medicine too. This is why we are not giving you any.”
I noticed Bistra’s sister eating from the jar, although she was a year younger than me and did not even go to nursery school, but I said nothing. I knew the smell of powdered juice well.
My stomach started growling again. I remembered the bread and my mother and my face went pale.
“Oh my God! I should’ve bought bread! Will you wait for me here? I’ll only be a minute, I just need to buy it and give it to my mom,” I pleaded with them.
Moni, Bistra and her sister did not say anything. They just continued chomping. Bistra waited for Moni to say something. She finally opened her month and with her yellow tongue said “alright”.
I ran down the stairs as fast as I could, so fast that I was no longer afraid of jumping two stairs at once, like my brother did. I said to myself, what if I fall, what will they say at home, what will I say, will I lie? But I didn’t trip at all, and I continued running to the store. I went in, where I found the evil saleswoman in the blue uniform.
“What do you want, little girl?”
“Good morning,” I said, as they taught us at nursery school, “is there any bread?”
“Do you have money?” the saleswoman asked.

This was not the first time she had asked me this. Once I really wanted to have some chips, so I went into the store just to see if they had any, and how much it cost. I found the same saleswoman there, in the blue uniform, the white slippers and the messy hair. She had asked about money, and I’d said I didn’t have any. “Go home and get some, then ask for chips,” she said, and I left. I never went to the shop without money from then on.

“I do,” I said this time, and I proudly held out the money from my pocket.
The lady disappeared behind the bare shelves. After a while she came out and gave me a loaf of bread, but not fresh, white and tasty like the piece Moni had eaten, but a wrinkled, old loaf. I was too embarrassed to ask if they had another one. She shoved it into my hands and took my money.
“That’s it, we’re out, “she said as if she read my mind, “next time come earlier,” and she turned her back.
I went pale again. I thought of how my father would come home from work in the evening and would have to eat dry and hard bread. And it was my fault, since because of the playground and all, I forgot to buy bread sooner. I knew my mother would scold me, but I headed home to tell her about the playground – hurrying so that Moni and Bistra don’t wait for too long.
On the way to my block, I saw them walking with Bistra’s sister. They were surely headed for the playground, and their tongues were even more yellow than before. They were laughing.
“Where are you going?” I panted. As I approached them they stopped laughing and looked at me sternly.
“To the playground,” Moni said.
“Will you wait for me? All I have to do is take this up to my mother.”
“Sorry Iva, but we can’t wait for you anymore,” Moni said proudly and calmly. Her nose was really up in the air.
“But I had to get the bread for my mother,” I whined.
“You should have done that earlier,” Moni replied with the same tone, as if she were a judge.
“Shame on you, to leave your mother waiting for so long,” said Bistra and looked at Moni, who nodded approvingly.
“Ha ha ha!” Bistra’s fat little sister stuck out her yellow tongue.
And they left.
Something chilly started moving around my stomach. Little by little it started going further down, and then I felt an urge to pee. What did I do? I said to myself. They must be angry with me because of my mother. I really should have brought her the bread. But Moni told me not to worry, I wondered to myself.

It wasn’t the first time Moni had done this. She’s a bad person, this is what my mom and dad say. Once we were at her place, and she said something strange about Bistra’s sister. She said it as if she was telling me a secret, and she put a worried expression on her face, as if she were an adult.
“You know, something must be wrong with Bistra’s sister. She’s already three but she still doesn’t talk like she should.”
“Yes,” I nodded.
Then one day we were sitting on the grass in front of our blocks and playing with Jasmina. Bistra’s sister passed by and started blabbering. After she left, I said that there really must be something wrong with Bistra’s sister. That she was old enough, but didn’t speak as she should. Moni turned around to look at me.
“Come on Iva, how can you talk like this. The poor child, shame on you.”
Jasmina agreed and I just sat there, embarrassed.

It was like that this time, too. I was already standing in front of my door. It was locked, so I rang the doorbell. The chilly feeling in my stomach had not passed.
“Where have you been! Are you crazy? Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for you?” my mother yelled when she saw me.
“I’m sorry mom, but there are new swings, and then I went to Moni’s and Bistra’s to tell them that there are new swings and not to climb on the bridge because it’s painted and that’s what the men in blue told me this morning when I saw them fixing the swings and…” my mother interrupted me at this point.
“I don’t care about any Bistra or Moni! When I tell you to get something you do it straight away! You haven’t even eaten, shame on you!”
“I ate some bread and chocolate cream at Moni’s,” I lied.
Then I handed my mother the bread, and she got even angrier.
“What’s your father going to eat tonight? This disgusting bread? Who gave you this?”
“This is all they had, this is all the saleswoman gave me,” I struggled to explain.
“Yes, because you went too late, and not when I told you!” my mother yelled, “This is it. You are grounded. No going out today.”
“But I want to go to the playground! I have to tell the other kids!” my eyes started filling up with tears.
“The playground? You’re not allowed to go to the playground at all, you want to fall down and break something? No playground and no going out today. You’re grounded,” my mother said and went back to the kitchen.
I cried all day.

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