2. An excerpt from novel "The Easiest"

Read first pages of a novel "The easiest"

Rasa Aškinytė. THE EASIEST

Translated by Jura Avizienis


This Story is based on real events.  Any resemblances in this Story to you or your life, dear Reader, are purely intentional.


Part I. The Book of Time

You shall not make for yourself any graven image or drawing, similar to anything in the heavens above, or here, on earth, in the waters, or under the earth.  You shall not bow to them or worship them, because I am the Lord, your God, and I am a jealous God who punishes the children for their fathers’ sins—the third and fourth generation of those who forsake me.

(God’s Second Commandment from the Book of Exodus)


  1. Here We Go Again …, Or, Usually Things Are Simpler Than They Appear

My name is Tom. No, my name is Blanca*. (*The name has been changed.) My name is Blanca.  I’m 35, although I was 30 not too long ago.  Years don’t always follow in chronological order.  Is there anything you can do about it?  Can you make time obey you?  Of course you can’t.  Nobody can.  Nobody even bothers to give it an honest try.  So we travel together: time on its course, and I on mine.

I have a sister.  And that’s a lot.  Not everyone has a sister.  I’d like a brother too, but I don’t have one.  My sister is so much older that I sometimes think of her as my mom.  I once asked her if she was.  My sister didn’t say a word, but my mom said “You’re mad.”  That’s how she answers every other question I ask, and that’s why I try to ask less questions.

Sometimes I talk funny, and even look funny.  My sister says it’s nothing: sooner or later this happens to everyone.  My sister’s right.  But mom never says “you’re mad” to her.  And mom is right.  Everyone‘s always right, except me.  And that’s OK.

I forgot to mention one more thing: I don’t actually exist.

Once in a while I live with a guy.  If you were to ask if he’s my husband, I wouldn’t know what to say.  A guy. It’s as simple as that.  When I don’t live with a guy, I live alone.  I have my own flat—to be more precise, it’s a few rooms on the second floor of an old wooden cottage.  There’s no third floor.  There’s a first floor, and people live there.  Sometimes someone sleeps in the stairwell.  That someone is someone different every night--or maybe they’re just changing their clothes.  But it always reeks the same.  I’ve never understood if that someone is a man or a woman.  Sometimes they wear a skirt, but that doesn’t mean anything.  The someone never sleeps in anyone’s way.  They always make their bed in the corner, but they still manage to annoy everyone.  I don’t know why.  Maybe they’re simply that kind of person.

That someone annoys me too.  Another thing that annoys me is that there are no stairs to

the second floor.  So, you might ask, how do I get to my flat?  Maybe there’s a lift?  Come now!  Where would they put a lift in a house like that?  And what would support it?  Well, it might be very light.  Anyway, nobody lives on the second floor.  Only me.  Have you ever seen a lift made just for one person?  Well, I have.

I use a ladder.  It’s harder when I’m carrying groceries, then I have to make several trips. 

But it’s not a big deal.  The ladder’s lovely.  I painted it myself.  And my flat’s lovely, but if I’m living with someone, it’s usually at his place, because it’s one thing to get someone to live with you, but quite another to get them to climb a ladder.

I’m only describing my better qualities.  But this is no “SWF seeks….” ad.  So there’s no reason to lie.

I don’t have kids.   It’s a pity.

I work at France. That’s the name of the café where I wash dishes. Just don’t think that’s what I do for a living.  No, my job actually is counting money.  And I wash dishes when I want to.  (I like to watch the dirty water pouring from the spout).  This is one of the jobs they don’t pay me for.  All my other jobs--they pay me, and they pay me well.

For example, sometimes I play music for money because I know how to play the French horn.  Not many people do.  I was already working at France when I started playing. I didn’t choose the instrument by chance.  I liked the fact that the sound has to flow through four meters of coiled brass tubing.  And I also liked the French horn teacher.  I lived with him for a few months.  I don’t remember how many.

I saw him for the first time at France.

I think where you see someone for the first time is important.  We make our first impressions quickly, and not only based on clothing, but also on where we meet.  For example, there‘s a huge difference between meeting someone at the airport or the archives, the library or a liquor store, in Nuremburg or a nursery, St. Kit or a kitchen, Dakar or a dog show, Hyde Park or a harem, etc., etc.


  1. Pathological Microorganisms, Or, Usually What Is Harmless on the Outside Leads to Disease When Ingested

Pathological microorganism—a disease-causing microorganism.   A pathological microorganism enters the body, destroys a portion of its cells and tissues, or harms it otherwise, thus causing disease.  The most common pathological microorganisms are viruses, bacteria, and fungi.  Also included among these are protists, for example, malaria-causing protozoa.

So, the first time I saw him was at France.

He was at the bar.  This didn’t seem at all unusual.  All single, lonely guys hang out at the bar.  That’s why I didn’t notice that his legs were too short.  Not bowlegged, just too short.  Both equally.

He immediately asked me to marry him.  I said no because I was a minor, and I didn’t feel like asking my mom’s permission.  He said I didn’t look like a minor.  I told him that things are not always as they appear.

Although the bar was dark, it was plain to see that the guy was attractive.  He had a strange expression on his face, like he was ready for something, but it was hard to tell what.  It looked like he was about to start laughing, or crying.  But he didn’t.  (Not then, not later.)

He was performing that night.  This was odd, because nobody plays the French horn in bars.  Two girls were performing with him, but I’m not sure what their instruments were called.  They played well. Their trio was called “Twilight's Darkness.”  I never heard a more insipid name. People  feel compelled to name everything.  Especially one another.  Have you ever known anyone without a name ?  I’m sure you haven’t.  I’m also sure that few people have actually earned their name, even the shortest.

They were playing well.  But I couldn’t enjoy them because one of the trio’s girls was annoying me.  Just when you find something to enjoy, something starts to annoy you.  These two things are inextricably linked.

The girl played, but the entire time she was facing the guy playing the French horn, not the audience.  This was inconvenient for her because the French horn player was at the back of the stage; that’s why she was turned to face him there.  The girl was ugly--a real twilight. Long arms, long black hair, colorless eyes.  I don’t like people with colorless eyes.

And the guy played facing the girl.  I didn’t like this.  If they wanted to stare at each other, they should have done this at home.  There’s no reason for them to come to my bar.

I’ve always wanted what others have.  There’s nothing I can do about this.  I’m not responsible for the diseases I’m afflicted with.

The guy probably didn’t like the colorless girl’s eyes: he was trying to look down.  He was watching her as if to pierce her skin and enter her.  I wanted to tell him that you can’t look at people like that.  When you try to penetrate someone, you create a desire to resist.

I waited for the concert to end.  I wanted to tell the guy that I know how to play too.  Piano.  I think that playing piano affects you. Doing one thing with one hand, and something else with the other causes your brain to develop differently. You become different from everyone else: you become an artist.  I was an artist, and I wanted everyone to know it.

As it became clear later, the French horn player had one big fault: he couldn’t or perhaps he wouldn’t pronounce my name normally.  He’d say “Blyanca, I love you so much”.  My name is ugly as it is, but when you pronounce it like that it becomes unbearable. This “Blyanca” was the reason why, one morning, I moved back to my place—I even left all my stuff at his place.

Whenever I  moved in with a guy, I would bring as few things as possible.  Because of that ladder.  Or perhaps I chose an apartment like this intentionally, because it’s not things that matter, but the soul.  In effect, I was caring for my soul.


  1. At France, There Are As Many Tables As You Want, Or, Usually People Only Question What’s Obvious


I don’t have a table at my house.  I don’t know who’s fault that is.  The big room is where I could best use a table, but the floor there tilts so much that even if I had one, everything would slide off.  In the other room, the floor is as level as can be, like at the movie.  You can put tables in all four corners if you like, but I won’t do that.  If I can’t put something where I want it, I don’t need it at all.

At France there are as many tables as you can ever want.  That’s why I like it there better than at home.

“Twilight’s Darkness” had stopped playing.  One of the women left right after the show, and the other one, the one with colorless eyes, sat and stared.  But not at the guy now--at the TV.

“Congratulations to the winners. Until tomorrow,” said the pretty woman on the screen.  People like to win.  I wonder if I’ve ever won anything.  Of course, my apartment, my job at

France, and maybe one or two other things.  To this my mother would say “You’re mad.  That’s not winning.”  But if you’re happy about something, then you’ve indeed won.

I didn’t understand why the woman with colorless eyes didn’t go home.  She sat there even though she no longer had anything to wait for.  I’d already won over her French horn player. The guy had been sitting at the bar for more than an hour staring at me.  I can’t remember his name.  I think it was Blanca.  No, that can’t be right. 

I asked him if he wanted to be a star.

“What do you mean?” the French horn player asked.

“If you were famous like Einstein, they’d write you into encyclopedias and sell your action figure at McDonald’s along with wind-up monkeys and transformers,” I explained.

“I see,” said the French horn player.

I didn’t feel like asking a second time, although I still didn’t understand if he wanted to be a star or not.

“I can teach you to play,” the French horn player suggested.

We both understood what that meant. That’s why I didn’t say anything.

“Do you know why there aren’t any elephants in Antarctica?” I asked, wanting to change the subject.

“Of course I do,” said the French horn player.  “Because they’re too heavy; they can’t take a single step without breaking through the ice.  And nobody can survive without taking a single step.”

I liked the fact that he knew everything.  That was my main reason for moving in with him the following week. You find that odd?  What’s so odd about that?  Everyone does it.  How can something that everyone does be odd?

“Do you like colorless eyes? ”  I asked out loud for everyone in the bar to hear.

“No, ” said the French horn player.  I don’t know if he understood why I was yelling, but he yelled back.

“What kind of eyes do you like? ”  I asked him a bit more quietly.

“Closed,” answered the French horn player. Or maybe he said something else.  Maybe I just wanted him to answer this way.


 4. It Was Winter, Or, Usually You Can Only Prove What’s Already Obvious.  It’s Impossible To Prove What’s Not Obvious


It was winter.  Although it was warm and it wasn’t snowing, everyone knew it was winter.  Some things are so obvious, that you don’t need proof.

The French horn player and I were walking down the street.  I was carrying a little bag; he was lugging his French horn.  We walked arm in arm like real lovers.  I had the impression the woman with colorless eyes was tailing us.  I wanted to make a snowball and throw it at her, but there wasn’t any snow.

I understood how skiiers feel, when they drive out to the mountains and there’s no snow.  You might say that snow is too unstable of a substance for there to be enough of it when you need it. But instability is no excuse.  If all stable things could appear and disappear, the world would be too unpredictable.  Nobody could live in a world like that.

I wanted it to snow so that the French horn player would brush the snow from my face.  Or so that I could brush the snow from his face. That would be perfect. After all, you can’t touch someone’s face without a pretext the first time you meet.

But it wasn’t snowing.  It wasn’t even raining.  That’s why we walked and talked.  We walked in the opposite direction of my house.  I told him about my house, but he wouldn’t believe it.   I can’t believe it either that someone can live in such a house.  But sometimes I prove it to myself.  I’m just not sure how to prove it to others.

“Have you wanted to be a French horn player since you were a kid?” I asked.

“No kid wants to be a French horn player, because no kid can imagine that you can be one.”

“Well, I always dreamed of being a window washer. I think that transparency is the most beautiful attribute of all things,” I said.

I couldn’t relax.  I was sure that the woman, without even understanding that she was already his past, was still following us, trying to ruin our present as well as our future.  I kept turning back, and although I couldn’t see her, I didn’t need any evidence to know that she was still following us.

Even when we weren’t walking arm in arm, the French horn player, as if by accident, kept touching my hand. I liked that. It was cold, but I wasn’t wearing gloves.  I think that it’s important to let people touch you.  Especially when nothing is clear yet, when everything is still up in the air.

“Do you believe that music can save the world?” I asked.

“I do,” laughed the French horn player.  “Everyone believes it.  People were playing music before they started started to speak.”

“Really. You can’t solve anything by talking,” I agreed.  People only ruin everything by talking.”

“Usually people think one thing and say something completely different.  But music and dance don’t lie.”

“I never thought about that,” I was surprised.

“That’s good.”

“That’s why people are afraid to sing and dance,” I said after some time. The French horn player was holding me by my arm again. “You ask them to sing, but they say they don’t know how.  Dancing’s the same.”

“I’ve never heard of anyone admitting that they don’t know how to talk or that they have nothing to say.”

“Really.  I usually don’t have anything to say, but I talk endlessly.  I have a talk prepared for every possible situation.  Just ask me something and you won’t be able to shut me up.  You’ll find out everything: where I’ve been, what I want, when I moved here, what hurts, or how I got hurt last year, what I bought, what I read, who I love, what I eat.  I might also throw in a few childhood reminiscences, describe what plans I have. What a bore. Who could possibly care?”

I was smoking my fifteenth cigarette, although every morning I vowed to smoke only three.  Today I came close to my limit.

“When I smoke, I breathe at least a part of what I want to say into my lungs.”

“Is that why smoking is bad for your health?”  The French horn player laughed.

He had a nice laugh.  I like people who have a nice laugh.

“Did you know that cows can climb up stairs as high as they want, but they can’t climb down?”

“How  absurd,” now I was the one laughing.

“That’s the best they can do.”

“That’s what they all say—That’s the best I can do.”

“The cows don’t say that.”

“Did anyone ask them?”

“If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.”

“You know, there’s a certain kind of person,” I said, “who wants to give everything away.”

“What do you mean, everything?”

“Everything they have.”

“Are you that kind of person?” asked the French horn player.


“Then give me your clothes. It would be nice if you undressed right now,” he was laughing again.

That laugh of his was so sincere.  It was the best possible evidence.


  1. Stones Don’t Bleed, Or, Usually, after You’ve Fought and Won Something, You Find That You Never Needed It in the First Place


I don’t know who created the world, but I don’t think it’s well designed.  It would be much better if:

  1. Everyone’s opinion would concur on all questions.
  2. There were less things in the world that one could desire.
  3. People wouldn’t want what others had.

These days people waste most of their time on negotiations and distributions.  If someone has no need for a given thing, then nobody else needs it either.  You don’t believe me?  I can prove it: the landfills are full of stuff.  But if someone were to suddenly need one of those things, then everyone would need it.

For example, I needed the French horn player.  Why did that woman with colorless eyes suddenly need him too?  One would think there were no other men in the world.  Or other couples to tail.

“Doesn’t it seem like someone’s following us?” I asked the French horn player.

He didn’t even look back.

“Yes, our past is gaining on us,” he said almost too happily.

I don’t know what was annoying me more: his unconditionally good humor, his refusal to cater to my whims, or that we had come to the bus stop and had stopped.  I didn’t want everything to end here.

“Where are you headed?”  I asked sadly.  Unfortunately I don’t know how to hide my emotions.

“Let’s sit for a while,” offered the French horn player.  He seemed tired of carrying around that horn of his.

We sat down, I on some kind of tar.  I didn’t know it then, but I would end up throwing those trousers away later.  This convinced me that the real consequences of our actions only become evident much later.  But that night, not suspecting anything, I sat on the bench at the bus stop and was perfectly happy.

“When you’re young, you know how to live well.  Later on, you even learn how to be happy.  You also find out what pleasure is,” said the French horn player.

I didn’t understand what stage he was at.  I don’t like banalities; that’s why I asked him to play something for me.

“I could, but not at the bus stop. I don’t play at bus stops,” he said.

We both knew what that meant; that’s why I didn’t answer him.  We sat quietly for what seemed an eternity.  Dogs were barking.*  I’ve never understood why they bark so much.  There are many things that I don’t understand; that’s why I eventually stop thinking about them.

Although it was night and the buses had stopped running two hours ago, more people had gathered at the bus stop.  They probably wanted to sit for a while too.  Nobody did or said anything, but it was clear that it was time for us to  go.  You can tell when you’re being kicked out.

I had barely stood up when I stumbled on something, probably a rock.  Nothing terrible happened, because after all rocks don’t bleed.  At least nobody has ever proven the contrary.  I have blood, but I didn’t bleed, because I didn’t fall. I only twisted my ankle in such a way that I could barely walk.  Please pardon me. I know that this isn’t appropriate behavior for a first date.  I didn’t do it on purpose.  And besides, I’m not to blame for this; the woman with colorless eyes is.  There’s no excuse for following other people around and frightening them.  You have to be able to admit defeat and come to terms with it.  Not get caught up in vicious circles in the present.  You must look forward to the future.

I knew perfectly well how to do that.

I’ve always managed to run away before situations started to deteriorate.  Why wait until someone says “I don’t love you anymore. It’s over.”  It’s better to back out when everything is still wonderful, but the first signs of restlessness are just starting to manifest.  But one must observe carefully.  For example, if someone writes to me every day, and one day he writes in the afternoon, not in the morning, as usual, then I run.  I don’t say anything, I simply disappear.  I never ask to be loved.

If someone can’t meet with me when I want them to, if they don’t arrive when I’m expecting them, then, so long!  I don’t need someone like that.  But I also have no need for someone who caters to my every whim. I  don’t understand why they cling to me, why they don’t leave me alone. I run from them too.

Just don’t say that I don’t know what I want, because I don’t.  I always want to control the situation myself.  And that usually goes well for me.


*There isn‘t a single novel that does not contain the sentence “Dogs were barking.”  Even in the Bible dogs are mentioned 14 times.


  1. Times Like These, Or, Usually is a Pity To Lose Something


In times like these, it’s hard to know if you should grieve or celebrate.  Then don’t do either.

The French horn player was a good man.  He drove me home.  He stopped the cab and helped me out.  He made it clear that he had no intention of kissing me.  He said goodbye politely and they drove off.  He didn’t even ask how I was going to hobble up to my apartment.  If he had asked, I would have said it was none of his business.

During all the excitement, I lost my bag.  It’s a pity, but now I don’t even remember what I had in it.

I didn’t notice when the woman with colorless eyes disappeared.  Maybe she ran away when I hurt my ankle.  Her type always runs away, as soon as problems arise.  Or maybe she couldn’t keep up with us after we got into the cab.  She was fit, but I doubt she could run that fast.  Or maybe she managed to get into the cab.  After all, I didn’t check the front seat.  That means she drove off with the French horn player.

Too bad I didn’t have his phone number.  I could have called and asked.  But I wonder if he would have told the truth.  People usually lie in such cases.

I lie too.  For example, I lie about not having any money.  Then people take me for a fool, who can’t make a living.  I want people to think I’m a fool.   Then, at least for a while, they think about it, because they’re trying to decide if I’ve never had any intelligence, or if I lost it due to extenuating circumstances.  I’m not sure what conclusions they come to, because they always say the same words: what a pity.  It’s a pity for me too.  They feel sorry for me and I for them.  That pity doesn’t bring us together; in fact, on the contrary, it alienates us for eternity.  No matter how sorry I am, I’m not sorry at all to lose them. I have no idea if they’re sorry.


 7. 2084, Or, Usually What Begins Well Ends Badly, and Vice Versa


380 BC was a leap year, beginning on a Wednesday according to the Gregorian calendar.

2084 will be leap year, beginning on a Saturday according to the Gregorian calendar.


I don’t like people who think they know what will happen in the future. I don’t even know what happened in the past.

My mother always knows when nothing good will come of things.  I don’t know how she knows this.  She’s never seen any of my boyfriends, but as soon as she catches a whiff that I have a new one, she tries to convince me that, as usual, I shouldn’t bother tormenting myself.

She never asks if the guy’s blond, or dark haired, attractive or not.  But to me this seems  vital.  After all, you can tell someone’s future based on their appearance.

Their future is harder to tell if the guy doesn’t ask for your phone number when he’s saying goodnight.  In these cases, even my mother suggests that I wait and see how things turn out.  I don’t really understand what “wait and see” means.  I can’t wait because I have to go to work almost every day.

The following day, my ankle didn’t hurt in the least.  When you have to go to work, everything stops hurting.

The day was typical in other ways as well.  People came and went; they ate.

The French horn player didn’t show up that day or the next.  When he finally did show up, he gave me a glass bead necklace as a gift.  How unbearable.  Just tell them what you like and they give it to you.  They have no imagination.  To make matters worse, not only were they transparent, they were uneven.  The French horn player bragged that he’d made them himself.  I have no idea how and where one makes a glass bead necklace. And besides, I absolutely cannot tolerate crafts.  I  think everything should be even and symmetrical.

I can’t even stand handwriting.  The letters are so uneven, so crooked, that it’s disgusting to read, even if the words are pleasant.  I agree completely with the popes who ordered  heretical books burned, or Emperors Ceasar, Aurelius, Theodosius I or the Arab king Amr Ibn al’Aas, who stubbornly burned down the library of Alexandria.  It makes no difference that the books were masterpieces.  The fact that they were written by hand ruined everything.  They should have been burned, because they were ugly.  I type everything, even love letters.  That way what you want to say is much clearer.

I looked around the bar, but the woman with colorless eyes was nowhere to be seen.  A good sign. After all, one can tell the future based on signs as well.  For example, if someone says, “I can’t live without you,” that’s a bad sign.

Just don’t think that’s what the French horn player said.  He didn’t. Instead he asked why we hadn’t seen each other for so long.  That was a good question, but I didn’t know how to answer it.  That’s why I suggested that we stop dwelling on the past.

The French horn player was almost always silent.  I think silence is a good sign.  If you want to predict the future, you can make inferences based on silence.  Too bad I don’t know how to be quiet.  Noise gives me a sense of security.

The French horn player liked to do nothing.  When I didn’t have to go to work, we would lie around in bed for hours without moving or saying anything.  I liked lying around like that.  Now I think that those hours were some of the best of my life.  But I can’t lie around like that for too long.  I think it’s important to move.  But if anyone were to ask why, what’s so great about constant movement and change, I wouldn’t know how to answer them.


  1. It’s Best To Go to the Movies, Or, Usually People Want You To Get To Know Them, or at Least To Pretend That You Do


When you don’t know what to do, go to the movies. Choose a film that both of you will hate.  Because when you leave the theater, you feel a bond like never before.

“I think films should be simple, clear, and beautiful just like life,” I said to the French horn player.

He didn’t respond.

“I hate films that aren’t realistic.  Take for example, the middle of a film when statues turn their heads and face the audience.  All we need is for that to actually happen in real life.”

The French horn player ate, saying nothing.  But I’m sure he was listening.

I can never talk long because France is always crowded.  A beautiful black girl comes in every evening.  Her name is Polina. I rarely remember people’s names, but hers I remember.  I doubt that this means anything.

Polina’s blue hair* (*I think it’s  dyed.) complements her black eyes beautifully. Her beautiful shoulders, always bare; her graceful walk.  Only black women can be this beautiful.  I could never take my eyes off her. 

I was apologizing to her the first night, telling her that I wouldn’t be able to not look at her.  If she didn’t like this, she would have to stop coming to France, because I couldn’t stop coming there, nor could I stop looking at her.  It’s not my fault she’s so beautiful.

“Look all you want,” said Polina.

That was a lovely thing to say, wasn’t it?  Because she wasn’t pretentious in the least, we became best friends.

Polina was Polish.  I never asked if she was.  I gathered that from her name.  After all, a name tells a lot about a person.

I gave Polina the glass bead necklace.  The beads looked beautiful around her neck, because they were not entirely colorless.  It was beautiful to see the right thing at the right place and time.  The French horn player grimaced at the sight and didn’t show up at France for two days.  But time passes quickly and those days passed quickly too.  Polina came every night; we talked and laughed a lot.

We decided to pretend not to know each other every second day. On those evenings, we would do as we pleased.  Talk to other people, eat. Polina would dance, and I would work as needed--with whomever and however much we wanted.  But we would never get too close because strangers don’t approach one other like that.  We wouldn’t talk or even look at each other (I looked at her anyway).  Those evenings when we were strangers were my favorites.

I like to pretend that I don’t know the person I’m with.  For some reason they usually don’t like this game  When I was little, I would pretend not to know my mum.  In the middle of the strore, I would  blurt out:

“Madam, who are you?”

People would start looking at us with suspicion.  My mother would flush with anger.  This would make her look very beautiful.  She would grab me by the arm and try to drag me somewhere off to the side so she could give me a thrashing.  I wouldn’t give up.  I’d kick and scream:

“What do you want from me, M‘am?”

 Then someone would ask.

“Little girl, do you know this lady?”

“No... I’ve never seen her in my life,” I’d stammer through my tears.

“Let go of the girl, M’am.” The passersby’s voices would grow angrier, and my mother’s face, redder.

“Let’s go, Blanca. Be a good girl,” My mother would plead.

“My name is not Blanca! ” I would scream.  At this point I would even pretend not to know myself.

Sometimes we would tussle for a bit longer, sometimes less so, but in the end, someone would call the police and take us to the police department.  Then I’d rush into my mother’s arms yelling:

“Mummy, mummy, where were you?”

Confused, the police would discharge us and send us home.


My mom would never  get angry and leave me.  Mothers like mine never abandon their kids.  It was different with my sister.  One time I pretended not to know her as well.  My sister said “Thank God,” turned and left.  I sat at the store manager’s office for half a day until my mum came to get me.

At one point my mother couldn’t take me anywhere, until one day someone suggested she carry IDs for both of us.

I later tried this game with men, but they were never as yielding as my mother.  One time I was in a restaurant with one of my first boyfriends.  After we’d eaten half of our dessert, I looked him in the eyes and said,

“Who are you?”

He thought I was joking. He tried to say something, but I wouldn’t budge.

“I’ve never met you before. What do you want from me?  Why are you sitting at my table?”  I asked.

Without paying any attention to his answers, I asked the same questions again and again.  After five minutes, he was annoyed.  He paid the bill and tried to take me by the arm to escort me out.

“Don’t touch me. I don’t know you,” I yelled across the restaurant.  “I haven’t finished my torte. What do you want from me?  I don’t even know you.”

Finally the man left me there (I calmly finished eating and even ordered another drink).  I never saw him again.  Later I heard he was telling the story to everyone declaring that he had no intention of ever seeing that crazy woman again.

Why does everyone mistake games for madness?  To this day I don’t understand why this game is bad.  But it’s not a game in the end.  We can never know each other, so why pretend?


  1. Not Everyone Is Attractive, Or, Usually It’s Hard to Find a Place Where Nobody Has Ever Eaten


Polina and I usually met at France.  But sometimes she’d invite me to her place.  Polina’s flat was also on the second floor, but in a new building.  All her furniture  was pink.  I don’t know whose idea that was, but it looked lovely.  Imagine a pink sofa, pink toilet, pink telephone, and pink door handles.

Just don’t ask if the spoons and forks were pink.  I don’t know.  I never saw any forks or spoons at Polina’s house.  She and I never ate at there.

I don’t know why Polina chose such a color.  Probably because she wanted to fool everyone.  Her soul and mind really weren’t pink; more likely they were bitterly purple.  I saw that clearly; you can’t fool me that easily.

Polina looked like a stain in her flat.  One stain was more than enough for one flat; that’s why I felt I needed to dress in pink whenever I went to Polina’s house.  I have never had anything pink in my life; that’s why in Polina’s flat I always felt like another stain, just not one that was so bright and beautiful.

That evening the French horn player decided to go to Polina’s as well.  He didn’t like Polina—he used to say that she was too beautiful.  I agree.  She really was too beautiful.  But this was not something you could change.  You simply had to live with it.

The French horn player was not  in the least surprised when he entered Polina’s flat; either he was color blind or this wasn’t his first time there. Later it it turned out I was right.  He even knew where the cards were. We needed cards bcause Polina knew how to tell fortunes.  I know a little bit myself, but she knew how to do it better.  First she told my fortune.

“Soon you will meet the man of your life,” Polina said, barely looking at the cards.

“That’s nothing.  I meet them every other month,”  I wasn’t surprised.

“But this one will be the one,”  Polina said.

“All of them are the one.” I didn’t back down.  Polina stopped arguing.

“This one will be brunette.”  Polina continued.

“Yes, hair color is important,” I agreed.

“One evening, you’ll say a fateful phrase.  It will be a metaphor, but he won’t understand it.”  Polina continued.  “Is it important to understand metaphors?”

“Yes, it is,” I said.

“And you can leave a man just because he doesn’t understand a metaphor?”  Polina asked.

“Yes, you can--just for that.”  I said.

Polina was silent.

“So I’ll leave him, right?”  I didn’t like such ambiguous prognostications.

“Unfortunately the cards show only questions, not answers,” said Polina.

The French horn player didn’t want his fortune told.  And I wouldn’t have wanted mine either had I known how it would all end up.

Afterwards we played hide and seek.  One of us would hide a pink glass ball.  Everyone else had three minutes to find it.  To find a pink ball in a pink trash heap is not so easy.  We were allowed to ask for hints, but we could only ask yes or no questions.  We didn’t ask too many.  Questions only confused things.  It’s better to simply look.  If we found the ball, the hider would lose.  As a penalty he would have to kiss the other two players.  If the ball was not found, the two seekers would lose and they would have to kiss the hider.  And so we played all night, and everyone was happy, because nobody felt like they had lost.


  1. The Easiest Way To Predict the Future 1, Or, Usually The News Doesn’t Tell Us Anything New


Months that begin on a Sunday always have a Friday the 13th.

It’s not hard to tell the future.  You simply have to accept that there won’t be anything new in the future--nothing that we haven’t already seen.