The scorching summer air is heavy and humid. Large raindrops suddenly start to fall, staining the hot concrete. The summer storm rages and I rush toward the wall of an old building. The roof shelters me from the pouring rain. My glaze slides over the torn posters someone had glued on the wall. I meet a pair of familiar eyes which bring memories to life.
I took the key out of my pocket as soon as I reached my gradma’s door. The green paint was peeling. I started struggling with the rusty lock. It always stuck. I could call the neighbor for help but I was too afraid he’d ask why I came. And I had no idea what to answer.
It was nice to spend the summer in this village. I’d been thinking about that for a while and I just came. I knew it wouldn’t be as good as before because I was no longer a child and my grandmother was no longer alive, but the house was still there and so were the memories. I was hoping to breathe in some dusty happiness.
The lock clicked and the door opened. The yard was filled with grass but I could see some hyacinths and daffodils here and there. I smiled at them as I walked toward the house. Its white door was more enthusiastic to meet me. I entered and took a deep breath. I sneezed. There was dust but happiness was nowhere to be seen...
I was still searching for it in drawers and boxes when the night peeped through the window. Having looked through all the pictures without finding any happiness, I decided to go out and look at the stars for a while. Warm night. Clear sky. Thick darkness. No unpleasant city lights. No noice. The crickets were singing. Hyacinths generously poured their fragrance into the air.
I remembered another starry night. Maybe it was the only one I spent with Henry. I must confess I was secretly hoping to see him today. I was wondering if he’d changed. He certainly had since he left…
It was a summer night. No hyacinths. The earth beneath our feet smelled like sun. The neighbor’s son was about a foot taller than me. He hadn’t told me a word before but he came to play football with me on the empty street. Once we got tired, we sat on the wooden bench in front of his house and talked until midnight. I didn’t remember about what. What did remain in my memory were his dimples and smile.
“Goodnight, beautiful”, he said before he left. I never forgot that.
We didn’t meet again because I was always studying and he never said hello.
The following summer, I looked through the window and saw him playing football with several boys his age. He didn’t look at me. Then I stopped looking at him and I turned my eyes toward the capital. I would move to Sofia after I graduated from high school.
I last saw Henry when I got my high school diploma six years ago. I thought he came to watch the graduation ceremony just to kill time. When he later came to the restaurant I thought he was some girl’s date. When he asked me to dance I no longer knew what to think.
“What now?”, he whispered as we danced.
“I’m going to Sofia.”
“I heard you wanted to study Ecology in Norway.”
“Someone lied to you.”
“Possible. And what are you going to study?”
Irony was written on his face. I wanted to accidentally step on his foot. Maybe that would erase his smile. What was he laughing at?
“Who were you named after? I’ve always wondered.”
“A French king.”
“And what is the king planning to do in the future?”
I was going to ask him about that stupid thing but the song ended and he headed toward the table where his glass of cognac was waiting for him. When he came back I was already dancing with someone else. I kept staring at his dimples. His eyes were following me as the man I was dancing with stepped on my feet. Henry went somewhere by the end of this song. I decided not to look for him.
I learned about his stupid something accidentally when I heard him arguing with his mother in their yard. He wanted to go abroad to study acting and work in some European theater. To play a king. And a jester. And a beggar. But the woman in front of him was unable to see the beauty of his dream. To her, he was her only son who was supposed to help her and not to pretend to be a jester. She couldn’t afford to pay for his dream. He was desperately trying to find the woman who named her son after a king, the dreamer from whom he inherited his desire to do something stupid but apparently this woman died on the day when the stroke chained her husband to his bed.
It seemed like Henry’s dream died that night. His mother angrily slammed the front door but he remained outside for a long time. I thought I heard him cry. I wanted to speak to him. We were just a fence apart but I didn’t go because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know him well enough to comfort him and I couldn’t encourage him because I didn’t have enough courage not to give up on my own dream…
Henry crossed my mind from time to time when I was in Sofia. His ironic face appeared in front of me in the dark.
“What now?”, the face asked.
I chased it away without answering. It had no right to stick its nose into my business because Henry was not better than me. Or was he?
“So, he succeeded”, I say to myself while looking at his eyes on the poster. A moment later I realize it’s no longer raining. It’s time to go home. I have no time for stupid things.