Featured

ЗАВЕСАТА

Къщата-опера бе сгушена под снега, продължаващ да вали силно над Алтайската планина.

Флора седеше на първия ред в Царската опера, когато червената плюшена завеса се отвори. Нежен сняг се сипеше пред очите на момичето, а музиката ускоряваше пулса на малката чаровница. Сърцето ѝ подскачаше, дъхът – на пресекулки, а очите ѝ – тъмносиви въглени, топяха снежинките на сцената.

Феерична балерина затанцува пред огромна елха и шейна, водена от малко пони. Балерината прегърна любимата си кукла подарена ѝ за Коледа, настани се до елхата и заспа. Така започна приказката за Лешникотрошачката, това бе съня на малката балерина.

Флора следеше танца на царството на мишките, на куклите, а музиката сменяше усмивката на лицето ѝ ту с тъга, ту с радост, докато червената завеса отново се появи. Тя се сепна от бурните аплодисменти и радостните изблици на публиката.

Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

После грабна кожухчето си и се запъти към дома. Газеше в дълбокия сняг, в планините на Алтай, а в ушите ѝ звучеше музиката на любимия балет.

Мина седмица от вълнението ѝ в операта, сърцето ѝ все още туптеше припряно, а нежното ѝ гласче тананикаше мелодията на танца на куклите.

Така Флора веднъж стигна до къщата на приятелите си. Почука силно на вратата с премръзнала ръчичка, с побелели от снега мигли, когато слабичката Розмари ѝ отвори зарадвана:

– Влизай, влизай да се стоплиш.

Чуваше се пращенето на дръвцата в камината и чайникът засвири.

– А, ето и чаят е вече готов, алтайски чай… И ще ти дам от сладкия мед на баба.

Детето отпи от чая и заприказва бързо и развълнувано за красивия балет, за Лешникотрошачката. Розмари я гледаше, следеше внимателно разказа ѝ и дори започна да се върти в кръг, повдигната на палци. Точно тогава в стаята се втурна като мълния палавият Филип. Момчето погледна сестра си, хвана я за раменете и я завъртя. Стана шумно, а Розмари се обърка в движенията си и седна на земята. Флора се заливаше от смях, загледана в мургавото личице на приятелката си, на което пламъкът от камината придаваше топлота и свежест.

– Момичета, вчера открих навътре в планината странна къща. Елате да я разгледаме – подкани ги Филип.

– Каква къща? Кажи, де? – стана веднага Розмари и застана пред братчето си.

– Да не би да говориш за дървената планинска къщичка с накацалите по нея фенери, край която обикалят животни – обади се Флора.

– Чакайте, не ме разпитвайте, по-добре да отидем и да видите сами. Вземете си раничките с термос с чай, кибрит, кифлички с мармалад, малките прожекторчета…

***

Хванати за ръка Флора и Розмари газеха в снега и следваха водача, когато пред тях се откриха водопади. Водопадите се спускаха по склона на планина от ледници, които висяха на върха на планинския хребет.

Беше студено, но децата гледаха изтичащата вода, отпиваха топъл чай, а гласовете им се носеха като ехо.

– Филип, как се нарича това място? Прилича на водна пързалка… С каква сила водата се стича надолу?…

– „Вълшебните снежни склонове на Алтай” – радостно отбеляза Филип.

Розмари хвана приятелката си за ръка:

– Да вървим, ще измръзнем, трябва да се движим.

Филип разчистваше пътя, започна да се задъхва и лицето му гореше, потънало в руменина. Стъклено-зелените му очи светеха като кристалчета. Така стигнаха до една гора от брезови дръвчета и сибирски кедрови борчета.

– Изгубихме се – каза Филип разтревожен.

Розмари и Флора се огледаха, но гората беше безкрайна, а дръвчетата все повече и повече се сгъстяваха. Сълзи потекоха по измръзналото личице на Розмари, но Флора бързо се ориентира:

– Да запалим огън, да се стоплим и да хапнем.

Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

На едно място изровиха под снега съчки, запалиха огън и започнаха да пият чай и да похапват от вкусните кифлички. В далечината се чу плач на животно. Децата се изплашиха, приближиха се близо едно до друго около огъня. Между кедровите борчета един след друг се появиха марали – грациозни, алтайски елени. Доближиха огъня усещайки топлината му. Малките приятелчета ги гледаха уплашени, но маралите бяха кротки. Започна отново да вали сняг и огънят угасна. Маралите заобиколиха децата и взеха да стесняват кръга, докато напълно ги притиснаха едно към друго.

– Те ни пазят, топлят ни… Колко са мъдри – досети се Флора – Козината им е мека и топла.

– Да, да, Марал е етичният образ на красотата в персийската митология – се чу тънкото гласче на Розмари.

– Мъдри и красиви – каза вече успокоен Филип, гледайки към небето.

Златни соколи кръжаха горе в небето, соколите на Алтай.

– Това са властелините на небето тук със своята сила, скоростта и елегантността на полета си… – кънтеше в хрупкавия въздух тънкият глас на Розмари, сочеща соколите.

Една от птиците се снижи и започна да обикаля около трите приятелчета. Децата гледаха с недоумение, особео когато соколът приближи Филип, носейки в големия си розов клюн навита на фуния хартия. Отначало Филип наблюдаваше безучастно странното движение на сокола, летящ край него.

– Филип – досети се Флора – вземи тази фунийка от клюна му, това е може би писмо за теб.

Филип се протегна и когато Соколът се доближи съвсем, дръпна хартиената фунийка, отвори я и зачете:

– Приятели, следвайте Сокола, той ще ви доведе до моята къщичка.

Маралите полека лека започнаха да се отдалечават.

***

Соколът летеше ту високо, ту ниско, обръщаше се като че ли изчакваше малката детска група. Децата гледаха нагоре и следваха своя въздушен водач. Изведнъж пред тях изникна огромно кълбо – сферична къща цялата от дърво и бляскав метал в ръждиво злато, на места покрита със сняг.

– Ето, това е къщата, за която ви разказвах – се носеше гласа на Филип в хрупкавия въздух.

Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

Тримата приятели се приближиха до кълбото-къща и заудряха по прозорчето, което беше във формата на люк на кораб. Внезапно Соколът се приближи и също почука с клюна си.

Чу се странен звук. Част от „обвивката” на къщата във форма на полукръг широк около метър започна да се издига отдолу нагоре – като че ли някой белеше кората на портокал. Това беше вратата на сферата-дом на някого, която се надигаше бавно във формата на резен.

Трите чифта очи се вторачиха изплашени, когато пред тях се показа стройната фигура на мъж с очила, а в краката му гордо изправен стоеше снежен рис. Филип се обърна към момичетата.

– Да се махаме, вижте този рис, очите му са жадни за плячка – хлъцна Филип.

– Не се плашете деца, стигнахте до тук, моят Алтийски Сокол ви намери и ви доведе при мен. А това е наистина Алтийски рис, но той е опитомен и е мой верен другар и помощник.

Хванати за ръце, трите приятелчета приближиха стопанина на странната къща. Очите на Филип срещнаха погледа на красивия рис. Розмари протегна ръка и я прокара през бежово-бялата златиста козина на животното и то щастливо завъртя късата си опашка.

– Алтай се казва моят приятел… – рече стопанинът – Елате деца да се стоплите и да разгледате моето кръгло царство – усмихна се после стройният мъж.

Флора и Розмари свалиха палтенцата, шапките и ръкавиците си, а Филип гледаше предпазливо. Погледът му шареше и запаметяваше всичко видяно.

Приближиха маса, на която имаше кана с топло мляко, банички, конфитюр и сок от портокали. Малките гладници насядаха на меки и удобни столчета и протегнаха ръце при поканата:

– Хапвайте, стоплете се и после ще ми разкажете за себе си.

Децата ядяха сладко, отпиваха от топлия чай от малини и боровинки, бъбреха, а стопанинът ги наблюдаваше и когато чу за Лешникотрошачката ги подкани:

– Елате с мен, деца – и им показа стълбата към втория етаж.

Изкачиха се по дървената стълба. Стопанинът ги настани в малки въртящи се столчета пред вдлъбнат голям, голям екран. После им подаде по чифт очила с огромни рамки.

– Сега ще ви пусна зимна приказка. Не сваляйте очилата, защото магията ще се развали.

Децата наместваха очилата върху малките си носленца, когато изведнъж се появи Алтай и приклекна до Розмари. Момичето почувства меката му козина до крачетата си и помоли:

– Може ли да дадете чифт очила и на Алтай?

– Колко остроумно, да, да, ето и очила за Алтай – зарадва се стопанинът и внимателно ги закрепи върху муцуната на домашния си любимец.

Алтай повдигна голямата си мека лапа, огледа децата и се кротна, приклекна и зачака.

Нежна музика се разнесе в кръглата стая.

– Та това е Чайковски, Лешникотрошачката – прошепна Флора.

На екрана се появи балерина, държаща в ръцете си кукла, заобиколена от много други кукли. Чуха се тимпаните, последвани от флейта, английски рог и цигулка. Куклите се оживиха и започнаха да танцуват.

Малките зрители протягаха ръце и се докосваха до куклите, а Алтай се въртеше и скимтеше, като че ли ще запее.

Флора се опитваше да лови снежинките. Розмари гледаше Принца и следваше движенията му, а Филип подскачаше около елхата под музиката на валса на снежинките.

Завесата се спусна и последните звуци на арфа бавно затихнаха.

Децата седяха като вцепенени, протегнаха ръце, за да докоснат плюшената завеса. Свалиха очилата…

– Кажете, кажете ни, как е възможно, ние бяхме в приказката? – разпалено размахваше ръце Флора към стопанина на къщата- кълбо.

– Деца, такава е магията на очилата, с които гледахте и специалната прожекция на моето кино – радостен за преживяването им отвърна домакинът. – А сега е време да тръгнете обратно, но този път ще ви дам шейната си и ще я тегли Алтай, а над него ще лети моя приятел – Златният сокол, за да не се изгубите.

Шейната се плъзна по снега, когато малкият Филип измъкна от джоба си вълшебните очила.

– Какво си направил, ти си отмъкнал очилата… Не може така… –

силно викна сестричката му.

– Исках още веднъж да погледам през тях и да вляза в приказката през завесата под снега – хленчеше Филип.

Стигнаха дома на Розмари и Филип, и тримата скочиха от шейната, потупаха Алтай и Розмари грабна очилата от ръцете на брат си, сложи ги на муцуната на Алтай. Той вдигна пухкавата си лапа, излая веднъж и побягна обратно с празната шейна. Златният сокол се завъртя още два пъти, изписка и се отдалечи.

Бабата на Филип и на Розмари в този момент отвори вратата и ги прикани разтревожена:

– Къде бяхте досега в този студ и в този сняг? И ти Флора с тях, твоите родители ще те чакат, ще се тревожат. Хайде влизайте всички, елате първо да се стоплите, да хапнете и да ми разкажете къде сте скитали?

Розмари изтича до стаята си и се върна с малка тетрадка, в която написа: „Завесата” – зимна приказка.

Всички се надвесиха над тетрадката и започнаха да разказват, а Розмари пишеше… Бабата се унесе в дълга и дълбока дрямка и засънува тяхната приказка – „Завесата”.

Featured

ПРИКАЗКА ЗА ПОТЪНAЛИЯ ГРАД

Едни любопитни очила се бяха долепили до прозореца и през тях гледаха очи с лешников цвят, шареха по стъклените сгради, по външния стъклен асансьор и почти стъкленото небе.
На очите им се искаше да преминат през прозореца, да протегнат ръце, да докоснат небето.
Оглушителен звук като от тромпет и приличен на песен на африкански слон още повече възбуди въображението на Аврора. На стъкленото небе с неонови букви се изписа:
„Ще разчиташ древни знаци, клинописи…”
Аврора намести пластмасовите рамки на очилата си върху малкото си носле, грабна тетрадката си и с палто в ръка се затича към моста.
Лусия тупаше с крака в снега и при появата на приятелката си й махна с ръка:
-Аврора, побързай и си облечи палтото. Този ужасен звук ме изнерви, откъде ли идва?…
-Скърцащият звук пътува до тук от онази стъклена сграда, която има формата на пъпеш – посочи Аврора – Стъклен асансьор е закачен върху метален меридиан, който се отмества вертикално по сградата (пъпеш) и това издава този дразнещ звук в горните регистри.
Лусия следеше с интерес описанието, когато Аврора ѝ поднесе още един много интересен факт:
-Знаеш ли, докато съзерцавах стъкления свят около нас, погледът ми докосна небето, което има поведение на стъкло. Облаците, като че ли преминават от газово аморфно в твърдо аморфно състояние, каквото е стъклото. Моето най-голямо желание се изписа върху стъклото с неонови букви: „Ще разчиташ древни знаци, клинописи…”
Лусия се спря, погледна приятелката си, чиито очила бяха почти покрити със сняг, почисти ги с кърпичката си и усети като че ли стрела драсна с острия си връх замръзналите ѝ пръсти, клепачите на очите ѝ и се заби в горната ѝ устна. Така ѝ действаше зимата с минусовите температури.
Приятелките продължиха по моста, пресякоха огромно платно и се шмугнаха по малки улички, водещи до Галерията. Отвориха тежката врата на модерна изложба и се озоваха в празна стая с легло в средата и разхвърляни върху него нощница, книга, а юрганът висеше до пода.
Лусия гледаше с учудване и то не беше свързано с усета ѝ за изкуство и това, което очакваше да изпита от така прехвалената модерна изложба. Обърна се и след като не видя Аврора до себе си се запъти по коридор с бледолилава светлина с ухание на теменужки.

Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

-Лусия, побързай, ела да видиш нещо, което изразява моето разбиране за мода на въображението – я извика Аврора, която беше вече в края на коридора.
Странна фигура с огромни размери запълваше почти цялото пространство на стая с висок Викториански таван.
-Това е тесеракт – прошепна Аврора – четириизмерният аналог на куба.
Малки часовникови механизми се намираха на всеки връх на фигурата и цъкаха като стенен часовник.
-Тесерактът има хиперповърхност с осем кубични клетки – добави Лусия.
Цък, цък, цък – цъкането беше равномерно и клетките започнаха да се движат. Появиха се букви между различните клетки, които изписаха: „Приказка за Потъналия Град”.
Заглавието приближи малките гостенки на Галерията, докосна нежно челата им като лек полъх, мина покрай лицата им и отмина.

Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

Чу се шум, клокочене на вода. Тесерактът наподобяваше тюркоазено-синьо езеро, в което Аврора се гмурна последвана от приятелката си, с чувство на олекотеност и възможност да се диша без кислородни маски.
Разглеждаха подводния свят със завещания му кислород от преди милиони години. Подминаха сладководни риби, медузи, растителност, камъчета, докато пред тях се откри църковна старинна камбана. Камбаната беше от тежка сплав и по заоблената ѝ повърхност бяха изписани йероглифи и византийски номера. Беше захлюпена като капак на тенджера върху розов скалист материал.
Аврора се опитваше да разчете, но безуспешно, а Лусия подминаваше останки от сгради, дънери на дървета със стотици слоеве …
Разходката в потъналия град продължаваше. Отминаха находки от мед, странна сплав в синьо-сребристо, нещо като панти за колан, шлемове на войни, скулптури и остатъци от паметници отново с тези странни надписи и знаци.
Лусия докосваше всичко, до което се доближи и реши, че ще си присвои малко съкровище. Инстинктивно стисна ръката си, когато до нея достигна онзи странен звук на тромпет.
Лусия беше извън тесеракта и гледаше объркана как Аврора си търси очилата, опипвайки пода и стените.
На излизане от Галерията, Аврора бръкна в джобчето си и измъкна пластмасовите си рамки.
Студът се усилваше, когато двете приятелки вече бяха изминали половината мост и отново ги застигна звука на тромпета.
Аврора почисти стъкълцата на очилата си и погледна към небето:
– УТРАРУ – засрича Аврора.
– УТРАРУ – повтори Лусия с тракащи зъби. Та това е огледалния образ на УРАРТУ – погледни надолу към замръзналата река.
Аврора запрегръща приятелката си:
-Царството на Урарту, потъналия град е в Царството на Урарту – и погледът ѝ спря върху малкото юмруче на приятелката ѝ.
-Защо не си отвориш ръката, какво криеш, ще замръзнеш, дори нямаш ръкавици?…
Лусия бавно отвори ръката си, но в нея нямаше нищо.

Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

-Аврора, през цялото време мислех, че съм взела от езерото малко кръстче, като че ли беше от метални жички, като дантела – хленчеше Лусия.
-Ти го носиш в сърцето си, то принадлежи на нашите предшественици – успокои я малката философка.
Лусия усещаше отпечатъка на кръстчето върху крехката си длан. Сърчицето ѝ биеше с такт на стенен часовник.

Featured

A Tale of the Sunken City

A pair of spectacles was seemingly glued to the window, and through them curious, hazel-coloured eyes observed the glass buildings, an outer glass elevator, and glass-like sky.

Through her eyes, she was fantasizing that she could penetrate through the window and could reach out to the sky.
A deafening sound like an African elephant’s trumpet provoked Aurora’s imagination. A message in neon letters appeared on the sky:
“You will see an ancient sign, cuneiform writing.”

Aurora adjusted the plastic-rimmed spectacles on her pointed nose, grabbed her notebook and coat, and ran out toward the bridge.
Glittering snowflakes fell soundlessly, taking their time before they reached their destined places of rest. The snow was damp; every step felt like walking in mud.
Lusiya was marching in place to stay warm when she saw her friend approaching and waved at her eagerly.
“Aurora, hurry up,” Lusiya said. “This terrible sound makes me panicky. Where does it come from?”
“The creaking sound travels here from that glass building that’s shaped like a melon,” Aurora explained. “A glass elevator is docked on a metallic meridian that moves vertically along the melon building and causes this irritating sound in the upper registers.”

Lusiya was following the sketchy description when Aurora amused her even more.
“Whilst I was contemplating the glass world around us, my gaze touched the sky that resembles glass. The clouds seem to pass from amorphous gas to a solid, amorphous state like glass. My greatest focus was on the glassy sky in neon letters: “You will see on ancient signs, cuneiform writing…”

Lusiya looked at her girlfriend as snow sat heavy on Aurora’s glasses and she wiped them with her handkerchief. The snow was now harsh and biting. Lusiya felt as though arrows struck her fingers, her eyelids, and slammed into her upper lip.

The friends continued to the other side of the bridge to the main road. They crossed the road and went down the small streets leading to the gallery.

They opened the heavy door of a modern exhibition and found themselves in an empty room with a bed in the middle and scattered on it a nightgown, a book, and the quilt hanging off the bed to the floor.

Lusiya stared with astonishment. She wasn’t expecting such a praised modern exhibition. She turned around, but Aurora was not there. She continued along a corridor in a pale-white light and scent of violets.
“Hurry up, come and see something that describes my understanding of ‘fashion in the imagination,’” announced Aurora, waiting for her friend at the end of the corridor.

A strange figure of huge size filled almost the entire space of a room with a high Victorian ceiling.
“This is a tesseract,” whispered Aurora, “the four-dimensional analogue of the cube.”

Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

Small clockwork mechanisms were found on the top of each angle of the figure, and they were ticking like a wall clock.

“The tesseract has a hypersurface with eight cubic cells,” whispered Lusiya.

Ticktock, ticktock… The ticking was even, and the cells began to move.

Letters emerged between the various cells that assembled a title: “A Tale of the Sunken Town.”

The title approached the young guests of the gallery, tinged their foreheads gently as a light breeze, moved past their faces, and disappeared.

There was a noise, a screech. The tesseract resembled a turquoise-blue lake. Aurora dived, followed by her friend, with a sense of lightness and no need for oxygen masks.
They explored the underwater world with its legacy oxygen of millions of years ago. They passed by freshwater fish, jellyfish, vegetation, and pebbles before they came to a church bell. The bell was made of a heavy alloy, and its rounded surface had hieroglyphs and Byzantine numbers engraved. It was positioned like a pot lid on a pink, rocky material.

Aurora was trying to read, but unsuccessfully, and Lusiya passed the remains of buildings, tree trunks with hundreds of layers…
Their mysterious swim in the sunken city continued. They were passing floating copper finds; a strange alloy in blue and silver, like belt hinges; helmets; sculptures; and remnants of monuments; again with these strange inscriptions and signs.

Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

Lusiya touched everything she came close to and decided she would take a little treasure. She instinctively squeezed her hand as the trumpet sound came back to her.
Lusiya was out of the tesseract and stared at Aurora, who was looking for her glasses, fumbling for them as touched the floor and the walls.

On leaving the gallery, Aurora reached into her pocket and pulled her plastic specs out.

The cold grew when the two friends had already crossed the half of the bridge and the trumpet sound emerged again.

Aurora wiped her glasses and looked up at the sky:

“UTRARU.”

“UTRARU,” repeated Lusiya with chattering teeth. “That’s the mirror image of URARTU—look down on the frozen river.”

Aurora hugged her friend.

“The sunken city is in the kingdom of Urartu,” she said, and her gaze stopped on her girlfriend’s little fist. “Why don’t you open your hand? Your ungloved fingers will freeze. What do you hide?”

Lusiya slowly opened her hand, but there was nothing in it.

Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

“Aurora, all the time I thought I had taken a little cross from the lake. It was made of metal wires, like lace,” Lusiya whimpered.

“You carry it in your heart. It belongs to our predecessors,” answered the little philosopher friend.

Lusiya still felt the impression of the cross on her fragile palm. Her heart beat with the rhythm of a wall clock.

 

Story also available on:

https://fairytalez.com/user-tales/a-tale-of-the-sunken-city/

 

 

 

Featured

30А

A30-1 plane
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

Еърбъс 320 летеше високо над облаците, които бяха оцветени в нежно синьо като спокойно море. Наслаждавайки се на красивата гледка под лявото крило на самолета, Маня забеляза нещо като скутер, чертаещ път в далечината. Сребрист на цвят самолет, пореше небесния океан. Набирайки скорост странният самолет настигна Еърбъс 320 и продължи напред точно под крилото му.

Небето продължаваше да е синьо и без звезди, без Слънце, без Луна.

Двата самолета се движеха успоредно един под друг като птици без грижи – волно и красиво.

Много лек шум на двигател се носеше в салона на самолета –

равноделен, приспивен.

Небето заговори – свят на облаци, които започнаха да се обагрят от синьо в бяло, от бяло във въгленово сиво, докато напълно покриха сребристия самолет.

Маня беше настанена на последната крайна седалка – 30А и усилено търсеше с поглед другия самолет, но той сякаш потъна в някой от облаците. Погледът ѝ прескачаше от облак на облак, но нямаше и следа от металната, сребриста птица. Момичето не посмя да попита никой от пътниците за летящата наблизо сребриста птица. То притежаваше фотографска памет и беше запечатала всеки детайл на другата машина – от острия нос на самолета и тънките му издължени криле, до подобната му на извивка на риба гърбина. Стискаше здраво в ръцете си телефона, с който успя да го снима през малкия люк на самолета от своето място – 30А.

Кацането беше меко, като кацане на перо на земята в ранното мартенско утро.

Прохладен морски бриз погали матовата кожа и разпиля тъмните кестеняви кичури на тинейджърката, пристигнала в родния си град.

A-30 house.jpg
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

Таксито спря пред метална порта с нарисувани по нея шахматни квадрати. Задоволство се изписа по лицето на Маня и една малка тръпчинка усилваше почти детското ѝ усещане.

Миризма на зюмбюли, както и пъстрите цветове на цъфнали вече теменужки изпълниха сърцето ѝ с радост и любов към всичко в този двор, в тази къща.

Новините по телевизията в 10 сутринта бяха наситени с обичайните репортажи за политици, измами, болници, войни, когато с червен цвят на екрана се изписа надписът ИЗВЪНРЕДНИ НОВИНИ и Маня прочете следното съобщение: „Тази сутрин към 2:30 часа  неидентифициран самолет е бил забелязан успоредно до Еърбъс 320. Когато земният контрол се опитал да се свърже с екипажа му, самолетът изчезнал без никаква диря.”

Девойката изтръпна, погледът ѝ замръзна върху екрана на телевизора. Отпи от топлото мляко с какао, грабна мобилния си телефон и с бързи крачки се отправи към обсерваторията.

Топлите очи на Професора я гледаха с любопитство.

-Знам, защо така си подранила. Чух новините, но чакам ти да ми разкажеш.

Маня прегърна стареца, подаде му кутия шоколадови бонбони, от любимите му пияни вишни. Малките ѝ пръсти тупаха по екрана на телефона–андроид нетърпеливо, търсейки снимката на сребристия самолет. Прехапа устни, когато на снимката под крилото на Еърбъс 320 вместо сребрист самолет имаше сив облак.

-Но, аз видях този странен самолет – объркана заобяснява Маня и продължи – метална машина с остра муцуна, тънки разперени криле и с тяло като извит гръб на риба.

Професорът следеше разказа на своята ученичка, приближи бюро, на което беше неговият саморъчно сглобен лаптоп. Написа паролата си, която всички негови ученици знаеха „Еврика 007”. Очите му гледаха с безпокойство и той като Маня тупаше нервно по клавиатурата. Отваряше файлове, докато накрая стигна до файл с името „Феникс”. На екрана се появи снимката, която Маня беше заснела със своя телефон–андроид от прозорчето (люка) на самолета от място 30А. Красивият сребрист самолет изпълни целия екран.

A-30 observatory Prof
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

Професорът включи прожекторите, така че на тавана на планетариума се изписаха звезди, съзвездия. Маня погледна към светещите очертания, звездни обекти, които вече познаваше и разучаваше с интерес.

– Сигурно се питаш как снимката от телефона ти е попаднала в моя лаптоп – вече спокоен пръв проговори професора.

Маня доближи телескопа, погледна нахвърлени листчета с бележки около него – с отбелязани дати, часове…

– Да, така е, следях с телескопа през последния месец странни движения на обект и то винаги в 2:30 сутринта и записвах всичко, както и внезапното изчезване на сребристия обект. Досетих се, че летиш с късния полет в същия час, когато се появява този странен обект. Използвах сигнал от спътника „Феникс”, който бяхме изпратили с група учени преди четвърт век. Манипулирах сигнала така, че да записва всичко от твоя телефон–андроид в моя лаптоп. Точно в 2:30 сутринта видях снимката, която ти беше направила от самолета. Твоето предимство е, че си видяла този самолет с очите си, а аз чрез снимката.

Професорът  включи огромния телевизор, висящ на стената като в портретна галерия.

Маня погледна към екрана под „звездното небе”, когато любимият ѝ говорител за прогнозата на времето се появи:

– И така „ИЗВЪНРЕДНИ НОВИНИ” и в прогнозата за времето – ще превалява нещо между дъжд и сняг, ще сребри в синьото небе и нашите служби не ще могат да го засекат…

A-30 laptop (1).jpg
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

Тогава на картата за времето се появи детска рисунка: сребърен самолет с остра муцуна, с тънки крила и с извит като на риба гръб.

– Това е рисунка на пътничка от самолет Еърбъс 320, която е успяла да нарисува неидентифицирания самолет, за който чухте в нашите „ИЗВЪНРЕДНИ НОВИНИ”. И така, очаквайте сребърен ветрец и мартенска прохлада – завърши с обичайното си чувство за хумор синоптикът.

Маня погледна Професора.

– Имате нова ученичка, Професоре, художничката от самолета.

Лаптопът издаде сигнал – на екрана му се появи рисунката на малката художничка.

30A Fiction

Featured

A30-1 planeThe Airbus 320 (320) V1 was flying high above the soft blue sky that resembled a calm sea. Enjoying the beautiful view, Manya noticed something like a scooter under the left wing of the plane, drawing a path in the distance. A silver-coloured plane, ripping the heavenly ocean. Gathering speed, the strange jet caught up with the Airbus 320 and continued forward, just below its wing.

The sky was still blue and without stars, without sun, without a moon.

The two planes moved parallel to each other, without worries, like birds flying freely and beautifully.

A slight engine noise was drifting in the aeroplane cabin, flat, lulled. The sky “spoke”—a world of clouds began to change from blue to white, from white to charcoal grey, until they completely covered the silver plane. Manya was seated at the very back seat, 30A, and she was looking for the silver plane, but it seemed to sink into one of the clouds. Her gaze jumped from cloud to cloud, but there was no sign of the metallic silver bird. The girl did not dare to ask any of the passengers about the silvery bird flying nearby. She had a photographic memory, and she had sealed every detail of the plane—from the sharp nose of the plane and its thin elongated wings, up to the similar of a curved back of a fish. She kept her mobile phone firmly in her hands after she managed to take a photo through the small window of the plane from her seat 30A.

The landing was soft, like a feather touching the ground early in the morning. A cool sea breeze stroked the matte skin and scattered the dark-brown hair of the teenage girl who had arrived in her hometown. The taxi stopped in front of a metal gate with chess squares drawn on it. Satisfaction was written on Manya’s face, and a tiny thrill grew, almost like a childish sensation.

A-30 houseThe smell of hyacinths, as well as the colourful blooming violets, filled her heart with joy and love for everything in this yard, in this house.

The news on the television at ten a.m. was full of the usual reports of politicians, frauds, hospitals, and wars. “BREAKING NEWS” appeared as red-coloured subtitles on the TV screen. Then a message followed: “An unidentified plane was spotted at two thirty this morning parallel to an Airbus 320. When Earth Control tried to contact their crew, the plane vanished without any trace.”

The girl shuddered; her gaze froze on the TV screen. She had her favourite drink of hot milk with cocoa, grabbed her cell phone, and rushed out toward the observatory. There, the professor’s warm eyes looked at her curiously.

“I know why you are here so early,” the professor said. “I heard the news, but I’m waiting for you to tell me what happened.”

Manya embraced the old man, handed him a box of chocolates—his favourite, cherries with liquor. Her little fingers tapped the screen of the Android phone impatiently, searching for the picture of the silver plane. She bit her lip when she saw that the picture she took didn’t show the strange silver plane but a big, grey cloud.

“But I saw this strange aeroplane,” Manya said, confused. “A metal machine with a sharp muzzle, thin wide wings, and a body with a curved back like of a fish.”

The professor followed the story of his student, approached his desk, and switched on his own hand-assembled laptop. All his students knew the password, “Eureka 007.” His eyes stared with anxiety, and he tapped nervously on the keyboard. He opened files until he eventually came to a file called “Phoenix.” A picture appeared—it was the one that Manya had taken with her Android phone from her seat 30A while watching through the aeroplane window. The beautiful silver aircraft filled the screen.

A-30 observatory ProfThe professor turned on the projector-lights so stars and constellations were on the ceiling of the planetarium. Manya glanced at the gleaming outlines, stars she already knew and studied with interest.

“You must be wondering how the picture from your phone has appeared on my laptop,” the professor said quietly.

Manya approached the telescope, glanced at scrawled sheets of notes around it with handwritten dates and times.

“Yes, that’s right,” the professor said. “I followed an object with strange movements in the last month with the telescope. It was always at two thirty in the morning. I recorded everything and the sudden disappearance of the silvery object. I figured you were flying on the late flight at the same hour this strange object appeared every morning. I used a signal from the satellite Phoenix. Phoenix was sent into the universe by a group of scientists a quarter of a century ago. I manipulated its signal to record everything from your Android phone to my laptop. It was at two thirty in the morning that I saw the photo you had taken from the plane. Your advantage is that you saw this plane with your eyes, and I saw it through the photo.”

The professor turned on the huge television on the wall as if in a portrait gallery.

Manya glanced at the screen below the starry “sky,” when her favourite spokesperson for the weather forecast appeared. “So breaking news in the weather forecast, there will be something between rain and snow, silver lights in the blue sky, and our ‘Earth Control’ services will not be able to detect it…”

A-30 laptop (1)It was followed then by a child’s drawing on the weather forecast screen: a silver plane with a sharp muzzle, thin wings, and a fish-like back. “This is a passenger’s drawing from the Airbus 320 aeroplane. The passenger drew the unidentified aeroplane you heard about in our breaking news. So, expect a silver breeze and a fresh march.” The synoptic ended with his usual sense of humour.

Manya looked at the professor. “You have a new student, Professor—the young artist from the plane Airbus 320.”

The laptop signalled, and the drawing of the young artist appeared on the screen.

 

 

 

Featured

The Shuttle “Terra”

The Shuttle “Terra”

IMG-20191208-WA0001
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

Fiction, “Strictly Prohibited”

The lights through the hatch of the ship’s window was soft blue but deep. It was almost like they were travelling over thick walls coated in blue.
It was an extraordinary ship with sophisticated apparatus. Little Slaven was in it, examining the peculiar objects, devices, and books inside.
‘Come along, and take a walk, lean on the neighbouring objects to maintain your balance’, the snub-nosed boy timidly said to his little sister.
The children walked, staggering, and sticking to one another. Their eyes couldn’t miss the rare glass boxes, bright buttons, and the fairy curtains that fell from the ceiling, alike silvery-white transparent barriers. The curtain-barriers were at the end of each chamber.
Slaven and Mira were the only youngsters on-board the “Terra” Shuttle, and they couldn’t recall how they both got on it. A tall man in elegant blue attire approached them, nodded at them, and then invited them to sit on a glass bench. He smiled at them and asked, ‘Do you know where you are?’

IMG-20191208-WA0005
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

His voice didn’t sound like that of an ordinary earthman; it sounded like it had travelled through a pipe, vibrating with an echo…
Slaven, who had been afraid, got over his fear and said, ‘I do not remember how we got here. But I know we’re on a flying ship. Who are you? You sound strange’.
‘I am Ven, and you’re our visitor at the “Terra” Shuttle. We are from the planet Terra, and you are Earthians. We speak almost all the 6,500 languages you Earthians speak, and we keep archiving your race’s history’.
‘How do you manage to speak that many languages? Where are our parents? Are there any other Earthians on the “Terra” Shuttle?’ asked Mira, her blue eyes fixated on the tall Planetian.
Slaven gripped his little sister’s hand.
‘You are here so we can show you our planet and teach you to remember. You children are pure, genuine, and everything you see and memorise will be genuine. Do not worry – your parents are here, and with their consent, we will show you secrets that no Earthian knows so far’.
‘Ah…. even in my dream, I never imagined that Mira and I would see another planet!’ Slaven exclaimed.
‘Follow me’, the tall Terra resident said.
They climbed up a staircase, and before them, a huge hall with glass walls appeared. Mirrored squares were nicely laid over the glass wall as if someone had drawn them with granite pebbles.
‘You can move closer to the glass-mirror wall’, Ven said, smiling at them.
Mira looked at herself in the small squared-mirrors and saw that the colour of her eyes was darker than usual. This mirror gave them a deep blue colour, and her gaze became astute. Her thoughts jumped as if they were opening the squares.
Mira approached and gently touched one of the square mirrors. She jumped back instinctively as the square slid out of the glass wall to reveal a locker, which opened on her touch. Slaven approached his sister, and they both peeked curiously into the open box.
‘This is our mobile library’, Ven said.
‘Can we get this leather book out of the box to look at it?’ Mira asked.
‘Yes—open it’, Ven encouraged his little guests.

IMG-20191208-WA0002.jpg
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

Slaven pulled out the heavy book and unfolded it. On the first leather page, an animal, stars, and planets were carved above it.
‘But what is this—what kind of animal is this?’ Slaven asked Ven, curiously.
Ven took the book in his hands, bent down and pointed, ‘This animal existed thousands of years ago and inhabited the Planet Yuris. Many other planets and stars surrounded the old Yuris. This Planet died, paving the way for a new planet to be born’.
‘Do you know what the new planet was?’ Mira asked.
‘The new planet is yours, the planet Earth with its new inhabitants—you Earthians’.
‘But that’s amazing. How do you know? How old is your planet Terra?’ Slaven asked.
‘We’ve been in the Galaxies for billions of years. We do not wage wars. We keep what we inherit, and we keep what remains of those who perish. You Earthians are one-sided and very aggressive. You are looking for more space, you are provoking wars and those who survive to continue the same process. You need a change’.
Slaven stared at the book, and then his eyes moved to the mirror drawer in the glass library. He saw his reflection. ‘It can’t be’, he thought. ‘It is impossible. It is a dream’. And then it all disappeared.
Slaven woke up, jumped from bed, and looked around. He saw that he was in his room. He ran barefoot into the kitchen. Then he pushed the door to Mira’s room open and saw how sweetly his little sister slept.
‘What’s happening?’ said his mother. ‘Who runs around the house this early in the morning barefoot?’
‘I am, Mom. I am, Slaven’. The boy saw his mother approaching.
‘Let’s go to the kitchen, I’ll prepare breakfast. Come, tell me why you woke up so early on a Saturday. Did we miss a sporting event, a movie or a fair?’ asked Joanna, Slaven and Mira’s mother.
‘Mom, I’m going to tell you my dream, but I need you not to interrupt me. When I am done, I need to know if there are other planets with other human beings’, Slaven said to his mom with a trembling voice.
Joanna put toasted bread, slices of cheese, a jug of fresh milk, and a jar of jam on the table, and listened to her son’s incredible story.
Slaven’s voice awakened Mira, then their father. They all sat around the round table, having breakfast and listening attentively to Slaven narrating his dream as if someone was painting. Paintings were changing, facts were convincing while the little narrator stopped.
‘The “Terra” Planet’, Slaven’s father repeated. ‘Terra means Earth and judging by your dream there is a planet Terra—another Earth more developed than ours’.
Mira jumped from her chair and approached her brother. ‘Tell me what they said while you were on the Terra Shuttle. Is there a secret we can learn from them?’
‘Mira, that’s all I remember from my dream. Do you want us to go to the old library and look for books, old books, the oldest book?’ They both started heading out.
‘Children do not be late’, the parents called.
Mira and Slaven headed for the tram stop.
Mira wore a small rucksack over her back. She’d carefully put a small torch, a notebook, and a pen inside. While Slaven added a box of his favourite waffles with peanut cream. They got into the tram and talked about the Terra Shuttle. The people in the tram listened with interest.
The tram stopped. The last stop was near the old town library. Mira and Slaven reached the building and were happy to see that the library was open.
Mira and Slaven hurried around huge sculptures, glass windows with old books, gramophone records, manuscripts, book covers made of silver. They stopped at a window displaying a book made of leather.
‘Slaven, look at this leather book’, Mira said, pointing at the window case. Her blue eyes glowed as if it penetrates the window.
The children had their eyes fixed on the book behind the glass window when the librarian—a middle-aged man—approached them.
‘Children, no matter how much you stare, you cannot unfold the leather pages of this ancient book. Stay away from the glass. But you can come with me if you want to learn more about the book’.
Startled, Slaven and Mira were stood quiet and listened to the librarian with keen interest. They followed him to a small monitor where the book could be viewed electronically. The pages of the book had been scanned and with a gentle touch, the screen could all be viewed at once. There was a sign: This is one of the oldest books in the world with cuneiform inscriptions. Early Cognitive Logography System. Slaven absorbed the information, but this was not the book he saw in his dream.
‘Let’s go’, Slaven said to his sister and turned around, but Mira was no longer behind him. She was gone. Alarmed, Slaven started walking from room to room, running through the corridors. A map of Planets caught his attention. And one of them was Yuris. He stopped in front of the map, touched the planet Yuris, and sadness ran all over his face. He felt someone pull on his sleeve. And when he saw the little, blue-eyed Mira, he was ecstatic.
‘Come on quickly. You’ll be amazed by what I found, follow me’, Mira said.
They run hand-in-hand and with quick steps. Soon, they reached the hall with all the walls covered with glass. They had square-shaped mirrors on them, painted with gems of garnets.
‘But this is unbelievable. It’s as if we were in the Terra Shuttle’, Slaven said.
‘Do you remember the mirror drawer I touched in your dream?’ Mira asked.
Slaven looked around and pointed at it when he found it. They reached out and read the words printed on it: Do not touch. These lockers are locked and encoded. Mira cleared her throat and tapped on it, surprising her brother. The drawer opened.
Their curious eyes peeked quickly, but there was no leather book inside as in Slaven’s dream.
Mira produced her little flashlight and shined it inside the drawer, but it was empty.
‘It was just a dream’, Slaven said, ‘but I saw this room. Perhaps, there is no such planet as Terra, and this leather book does not exist’.
A strong ray illuminated the room through the round glass ceiling. There was noise, commotion, and people were running down the corridors and rushing outside.
‘Look, see, what a great Shuttle’, a man’s voice said.
Mira and Slaven, both of whom were panting from running, stood at the exit of the library and stared into the sky. They saw an unusual metal shuttle move away.
‘Mira, do you think maybe, while we think we dreamt it, we’ve truly been to the shuttle? And how is it possible to have the same glass-mirrored room in the library with drawers?’ Slaven said excitedly.
Mira jumped happily, pulled out her projector, lit it, and waved the departing ship goodbye.
Slaven ate his waffles:
‘One day, we will know who we are, of what kind our planet is, and whether we can communicate with other planets’.

IMG-20191208-WA0003
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

‘Are we going to keep the Earth’s 6,500 languages’, said the little wise red-head Mira, the freckles on her face grew brighter.

**
T
he morning was cool. High in the mountain, the air was crystalline. There was a signal, sounded like a noise coming from the equipment in the station hidden in the huge mountain peak. The young scientist watched the changes in the chart and recorded every encoded signal. The signals came from a spacecraft, from another galaxy. Suddenly the signals stopped. The sky blackened.
Slaven was alone waiting for his colleagues to arrive from their day’s lap. He checked the recorders of the little measuring gadgets they had mounted around. He tried to contact the team, but there was no connection.
He had been wading through the snow with mini devices adjusted on his helmet—one to capture signals from other planets, the other was a video camera and the third, a radio transmitter.
He did not receive any signals, and no one responded to his contact attempts. He walked for a long time and saw no trace of his colleagues. It would soon be impossible to continue. The temperature was around minus 40 degrees Celsius. The air was a bizarre blue, then it became bright blue and dense. He passed through the blue air and could see nothing. It looked almost as though he was surrounded by blue walls. He remembered his dream from his childhood, looking through the Terra Shuttle hutch. The view was the same! Blue, light, light blue! Dense! His experience and knowledge as a scientist—a physicist—could not explain this.
He suddenly remembered Ven’s words: ‘You children are pure, genuine, and everything you see and memorise will be genuine. Do not worry; your parents are here, and with their consent, we will show you secrets that no Earthian knows so far’.
‘I have to use my memory’, thought the young scientist. He recalled climbing a ladder and getting into the mirror library on the Terra Shuttle from his childhood dream. He began to raise and lower his legs as if he was climbing a ladder. It was difficult, the cold had stiffened his arms and legs muscles. In the vast, white, snow-covered area in front of him, he did not see a ladder and desperately struck his legs, to trample in one place.
Strong light blinded his eyes, he heard a signal, his radio screamed alarmingly, ‘Slaven, I hear you, I hear your breathing. Where are you?’, called Mira. Strangely, her voice sounded exactly like Ven’s—like it was coming from a trumpet, like an echo.
‘Mira, Mira, I’ve been walking for a long time to find you. I’m cold, but I see a huge luminous body coming up—’
‘Slaven, Slaven— talk, say something…’
**
M
ira stroked her brother’s cold face. The burning logs in the fireplace kept the room warm and cosy. Slaven opened his eyes and saw Mira smiling down at him, his colleagues around him.
‘Slaven, we’re all fine, and your recording is great. But never, ever leave alone in these conditions.
‘Mira, go on, play the recording’, Slaven said, hurrying from his bed.
Sitting around the fireplace, amid the crackling logs, the young physicists watched the record Slaven had managed to capture when he saw the huge glowing object and then remembered nothing.
The light came from a shuttle moving close to Slaven. Everyone stared in amazement as the shuttle moved close to Slaven, so close they could see Planetians getting on-board. They could also see two children walking hand-in-hand following a tall Planetian. The children were led to a mirrored glass room.
‘Slaven, it’s amazing, inexplicable…’-whispered Mira.
Suddenly the light diminished, and the Shuttle flew away.
Everyone still stared at the black screen on the monitor in utter disbelief.

Story also available on:

https://fairytalez.com/user-tales/the-shuttle-terra/

 

Featured

СОВАЛКАТА „ТЕРА”

Фантастика “Строго секретно”

IMG-20191208-WA0001
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

Светлината през кръглия прозорец – люка на кораба, бе нежносиня, но плътна, като че ли летяха край плътни стени и всички те бяха боядисани в синьо.

Необикновен кораб със сложно оборудване, в който малкият Славен разглеждаше заобикалящите го странни предмети, устройства и книги.

– Ела Мира, ела да се поразходим, опирай се на всичко, което е около нас – плахо покани своята сестричка малкият чипоноско.

Децата вървяха, залитайки, придържайки се едно друго, а очите им не изпускаха странните стъклени кутии, цветни копчета, фееричните като завеси спуснати от тавана сребърно-бели прозрачни прегради. Тези завеси- прегради бяха в края на всяко отделение.

Славен и Мира бяхa единствените деца, пътници в Совалката „Тера” и не помнеха как са попаднали в нея. До тях се доближи висок мъж в елегантно синьо облекло, кимна им с глава и ги покани да седнат на стъклена пейка. След това им се усмихна и запита:

IMG-20191208-WA0005
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

– Знаете ли къде се намирате? – гласът му звучеше не като на обикновените земляни, а като че ли през някаква тръба и кънтеше като ехо.

Славен се престраши:

– Не помня защо и как се озовахме тук, но ние сме на летателен кораб. А вие кой сте – колко странно говорите?!

– Аз съм Вен, а вие сте наши гости на Совалката „Тера”. И сме от планетата „Тера”, а вие сте Земляни. Говорим почти всички 6500 езика на земляните и пазим цялата им история.

– Как така, как умеете да говорите толкова много езици? Къде са нашите родители? Има ли и други земляни на Совалката „Тера”? – попита Мира и сините ѝ очи се взряха във високия планетянин, а Славен стисна здраво ръката на малката си сестричка.

– Вие сте тук, за да ви покажем нашата планета, да ви научим да помните. Вие деца, сте чисти, неподправени и всичко, което видите и запомните ще бъде достоверно. Не се тревожете, вашите родители са тук и с тяхно съгласие ще ви покажем тайни, които никой землянин досега не знае.

– Ах – възкликна Славен – и на сън не съм си представял, че ние с Мира ще видим друга Планета.

– Следвайте ме – подкани ги високият жител на „Тера”.

Изкачиха някакви стълби и пред тях се откри огромна зала със стъклени стени и множество огледални квадрати, като че ли някой ги е рисувал с гранитни камъчета.

– Може да се доближите до стъклено-огледалната стена – предупреди ги Вен.

Мира се огледа в малките огледалца-квадрати  и видя, че цветът на очите ѝ е по-тъмен от обикновено. Това огледалце им придаваше дълбоко син цвят, а погледът ѝ стана проницателен. Мислите ѝ скачаха, прескачаха, като че ли отваряха квадрати.

Малката красавица се доближи и нежно се докосна до квадратно огледалце. Подскочи инстинктивно назад, тъй като квадрата се плъзна навън от стъклената стена. Това беше кутия-шкафче, което се отваряше при докосване. Славен доближи сестра си и двамата надникнаха любопитно в отворената кутия.

– Това е нашата подвижна библиотека – насочи ги Вен.

– Можем ли да извадим кожената книжка отвътре, да я разгледаме? – попита Мира.

– Да, отворете я … – отвърна Вен.

IMG-20191208-WA0002
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

Славен измъкна книжка, която тежеше доста и започна да я разгръща. На първата кожена страница бе изобразено животно, а над него звезди и други планети.

– Но какво е това Вен, как да разгадаем тази рисунка? – заинтересува се Славен.

Вен взе книгата в ръце, наведе се и посочи:

– Това е животно от преди хиляди години и е обитавало Планетата Юрис. Планета е загинала и по-късно се е родила Нова Планета. Била е заобиколена от много други планети и звезди.

– А знаете ли коя е Новата Планета, появила се при загиването на Юрис? – попита Мира.

Новата Планета е вашата – планетата Земя с нови обитатели, вие – земляните.

– Но това е невероятно… Откъде знаете това? Колко стара е вашата планета Тера? – попита Славен.

– Ние сме в Галактиките от милиарди години. Ние не водим войни, а пазим това, което ни е завещано, пазим и това, което остава от тези, които загиват. Вие земляните сте едностранчиви и много агресивни. Вие търсите пространства, водите войни и тези, които оцелеят продължават същия процес. Трябва ви промяна.

Славен съзерцаваше книгата, огледалното чекмедже – шкафче от стъклената библиотека и виждаше своя образ. Не може да бъде, мислеше той, това е невъзможно, това е сън и точно тогава всичко изчезна. Тъмнина. Славен се разбуди, подскочи, огледа се и видя, че е в стаята си. Изтича бос в кухнята. После бутна вратата на стаята на Мира и видя как сладко спи малката му сестричка.

– Какво става? – каза майката на Славен и на Мира. – Кой тича сутрин рано, рано бос?

– Аз съм мамо, аз съм – Славен – и момчето видя как майка му се доближава.

– Да отидем в кухнята, ела, ще направя закуска. Хайде, разказвай какво е толкова важно сутрин рано в събота. Да не би да пропуснем някое спортно мероприятие или филм, или панаир? – игриво го разпитваше майка му Йоанна.

– Мамо ще ти разкажа съня си, но те моля да не ме прекъсваш и после да ми кажеш има ли истина и възможно ли е да съществуват други планети с други човекоподобни? – трепетно нареждаше Славен. Йоанна сложи печени филийки със сирене, каничка прясно мляко, мармалад на масата и се заслуша в невероятния разказ на сина си.

Гласът на Славен събуди Мира, а след нея и баща им. Седяха около кръглата маса, закусваха и продължаваха да слушат разказа на Славен. Никой не проговори. Като че ли някой рисуваше. Картини се сменяха, факти се поднасяха убедително, докато малкия разказвач спря.

– Планетата „Тера” – повтори бащата – „Тера” означава Земя и съдейки по твоя сън съществува планета Тера, т.е. Земя в по-развит вид на нашата Планета Земя.

Мира скочи от столчето си и се доближи до Славен.

– Разкажи ми, какво ни казаха от Совалката „Тера”, има ли тайна, която можем да научим от тях?

– Мира, това е всичко, което помня от съня си. Искаш ли да отидем в старата библиотека и да потърсим книги, стари книги, най-старата книга…

– Деца, не се бавете – им извикаха родителите.

Мира и Славен излязоха и се запътиха към трамвайната спирка.

Мира носеше на гърба си малка раничка, в която грижливо и предвидливо бе прибрала малък прожектор, тетрадка и химикал, а Славен разкопча раничката ѝ и добави от любимите си вафли с фъстъчен крем. Качиха се в трамвая и разговаряха разпалено за Совалката „Тера”. Хората около тях им кимаха и слушаха с интерес.

Трамваят спря, последната спирка беше недалеч от старата градска библиотека. Мира и Славен стигнаха до сградата и с радост видяха, че могат да влязат, библиотеката беше отворена.

Мира се забърза между огромни скулптури, стъклени витрини, в които имаше стари издания на книги, на грамофонни плочи, на ръкописи, на корици – облицовки на книги изработени от сребро. Спряха се на витрина, където се съхраняваше книга, изработена от кожа.

– Славен, погледни, виж тази книга от кожа – провикна се Мира и сините ѝ очи засвяткаха, като че ли искаха да проникнат през витрината.

Децата бяха залепили лицата си на витрината, когато до тях се доближи пазачът, човек на средна възраст.

– Деца, колкото и да се взирате няма да можете да разгърнете кожените страници на тази древна книга. Стойте по-далеч от стъклото и ако искате да научите повече за книгата, елате с мен.

Славен и Мира се стреснаха, застанаха мирно и заслушаха с интерес служителя на библиотеката. Последваха го до един малък монитор, на който можеше да се разглежда книгата страница по страница. Само с леко докосване се прелистваха страниците от книгата. Имаше и табелка: „Това е една от най-старите книги в света, с надписи на клинопис. Ранна логографическа система на клинопис”. Славен попиваше информацията, но това не беше книгата от неговия сън.

– Да тръгваме – каза Славен на сестричката си и се обърна, но видя, че Мира я нямаше. Разтревожен да не я изгуби, Славен тръгна да обикаля от зала в зала, тичайки по коридорите и се заоглежда, докато погледът му бе привлечен от карта с множество Планети. Една от тях носеше името Юрис. Момчето се спря пред картата, докосна планетата Юрис и тъга се изписа по лицето му. Почувства как някой го дърпа за ръкава и подскочи от радост като видя малката, синеока Мира.

– Бързо идвай, ще се учудиш какво намерих, следвай ме – оживено го задърпа Мира.

Хванаха се за ръце и с бързи крачки стигнаха зала цялата в стъкло, огледала и различни фигури по тях, нарисувани с камъчета от гранати.

– Но това е невероятно… Като че ли сме в Совалката „Тера” – разпали се Славен.

– Помниш ли от съня си, кой квадрат докоснах – попита Мира – Насочи ме.

Славен се огледа и подкани Мира точно към този, който с нежно докосване Мира бе отворила в съня си. Доближиха се и прочетоха надпис: „Не пипайте. Тези шкафчета са заключени и кодирани.” Но Мира се престраши и за учудване на брат й докосна квадратното огледалце. Шкафчето се отвори.

Любопитните им очи надникнаха бързо, но вътре я нямаше кожената книга от съня на Славен.

Мира извади малкото си фенерче, освети всички ъгли на шкафчето, но то беше празно.

– Разбира се, това беше само сън – каза момчето – но в него аз видях тази стая. Навярно няма такава планета „Тера” и тази кожена книжка не съществува.

Силен лъч освети стаята през кръглия стъклен таван. Чу се шум, суматоха, хората тичаха по коридорите и бързаха да излязат навън.

– Вижте, вижте, каква невероятна Совалка – се чу мъжки глас.

Мира и Славен, задъхани на изхода на библиотеката отправиха поглед към небето и видяха необикновена метална совалка да се отдалечава.

– Мира, дали наистина сме били на Совалката, докато си мислим, че спим и сънуваме? И как е възможно да има тук в библиотеката същата стъклено-огледална стая с шкафчета? – развълнувано говореше Славен.

Малката Мира заподскача от радост, извади прожекторчето си, светна го и замаха за сбогом към отлитащия кораб.

Славен ядеше от любимите си вафли и говореше:

– Нали ще узнаем един ден кои сме, коя е нашата планета и дали ще можем да общуваме с други планетяни.

– Ще запазим ли земните 6500 езика – каза малката мъдра червенокоска, а луничките на лицето ѝ станаха още по-ярки.

——-

Утрото беше прохладно, високо в планината въздухът беше кристален. Чуваше се бибиткането на апаратура в станцията, скрита в огромния планински връх. Младият учен наблюдаваше измененията в графиката и записваше всеки кодиран сигнал. А сигналите идваха от космически кораб, от друга Галактика. Изведнъж сигналите спряха. Небето почерня. Славен беше сам и чакаше колегите си от поредната обиколка, която правеха всеки ден и проверяваха записващите устройства, които бяха монтирали наоколо. Опита се да се свърже с тях, но нямаше връзка.

Газеше в снега със скафандър, на който имаше три мини устройства: едно за улавяне на сигнали от други планети, второ, което беше видеокамера, а третото радио-предавател.

Не улавяше сигнали и никой не отговаряше на опитите му за връзка. Вървеше и не виждаше следи, много скоро щеше да е невъзможно да продължи. Беше -400С, въздухът добиваше странен син цвят, докато напълно стана светлосин и плътен. Преминаваше през синия въздух и не виждаше нищо, като че ли около него бяха издигнати сини стени. Досети се за съня си от детските години, как гледа през люка на Совалката „Тера” – гледката беше същата! Синя, светло, светлосиня! Плътна! Опитът и знанията му на учен, физик не подсказваше връзка и логика в това преживяване.

Думите на Вен: „Деца вие сте тук, за да ви покажем нашата планета, да ви научим и да помните, вие сте чисти и неподправени и всичко, което видите и запомните ще бъде достоверно.” – изведнъж изплуваха от малкото шкафче на паметта.

„Трябва да използвам паметта си.” – помисли си младият учен. Спомни си как изкачиха някаква стълба и попаднаха с Мира в голямата стъклено-огледална библиотека, в Совалката „Тера” от детския им сън. Започна машинално да вдига и сваля краката си, като че ли се изкачва по стълба. Вървеше трудно, студът сковаваше ръцете, мускулите на краката ставаха все по-неподвижни. В огромната, бяла, заснежена площ пред себе си не виждаше стълба и отчаяно започна да си удря краката, да тъпче на едно място. Силна светлина заслепи очите му, чу сигнал, радиостанцията му крещеше тревожно:

– Славен, Славен, чувам те, чувам дишането ти, къде си – викаше Мира, а гласът ѝ звучеше точно като на Вен, като че ли идва от тръба, като ехо.

– Мира, Мира, вървях дълго, за да ви открия, премръзнал съм, но виждам как огромно светещо тяло се доближава…

IMG-20191208-WA0003
ХУДОЖНИК-Джулиана Вълчева

– Славен, Славен, говори …

—-

Мира погали премръзналото лице на брат си. Дръвцата горяха в камината. Славен отвори очи и съзря засмяното лице на Мира, видя и колегите си.

– Славен, всички ние сме добре, а ти си направил страхотен запис. Но никога, никога не тръгвай сам в тези условия…

– Давай, пускай филма – оживен скочи от леглото Славен.

Насядали около камината младите физици гледаха филмчето, което Славен бе заснел когато видя огромния светещ обект и не помнеше повече нищо, премръзнал от студ.

Светлината идваше от Совалка, която се снижаваше близо до Славен. Всички впериха поглед в момента, когато Совалката се доближи и се виждаше как някакви хора се движеха в нея. Различни съоръжения и две малки деца хванати за ръце следваха висок планетянин. Децата бяха отведени в огледално-стъклена стая.

– Славен, това е невероятно, необяснимо…

Изведнъж светлината започна да намалява и Совалката отлетя.

Всички гледаха като онемели черния екран на монитора.

 

 

 

 

 

Маленький шахматист

  ( Перевод с болгарского Лариса Литвинова)

В память моего отца Левон Ованезов

https://proza.ru/avtor/chayka19mail

  • Рождество, Рождество, Рождество, – обрадовался маленький Гарри, украдкой поглядывая на красиво завернутые подарки под елкой.
    Эдмонд вертел хвостом и кружился, и лаял, увидев Гарри.
  • Айда, дружок, прогуляемся по снегу!
    Эдмон приподнялся и потянулся к нему, с теплом посмотрев своими искристыми карими глазами и, в знак согласия, залаял.
  • Мама, я выхожу на прогулку с Эдмоном, – сказал Гарри.
  • Не опаздывайте, я готовлю рождественский ужин, и ты знаешь, что сегодня вечером будут подарки, – ответила она Гарри…
    Улыбаясь, Гари окликнул своего верного друга, и они выбежали за дверь. Эдмон прокладывал дорогу в снегу, а Гарри послушно следовал за ним. Лес, укутанные снегами холмы, были изумительно красивы, везде слышался треск ракет, озарявших округу.
    Гарри окинул быстрым взглядом Эдмонда и увидел, что его маленький приятель остановился недалеко от ракеты. Гарри догнал его, удивляясь, почему Эдмон оцепенел, ощетинился и резко залаял, отрывисто и громко. Тут же Гарри заметил небольшой мостик, на нём виднелось много следов, но ему было трудно понять, какое животное их оставило.
    Любопытство победило, и Гарри медленно пошел к мосту, разглядывая снег, а Эдмон следовал за ним. Очутившись на мосту, Гарри с небольшой тревогой посмотрел вниз и увидел, что в бурном потоке реки несутся деревья и другие предметы. Вздыхая, она уверенно продолжала свой разбег среди снегов.
  • Эдмон, почему ты лаешь, чем ты недоволен? Чувствуешь беду, приятель? – крикнул ему Гарри.
    Но Эдмон, продолжая лаять, не отставал от Гарри. Через какое-то время они совершенно продрогли, очутившись на противоположной стороне реки. За мостом Эдмон рванул с такой скоростью, как будто преследовал добычу. Гарри едва догнал его и увидел, что Эдмон, озираясь по сторонам, остановился, как вкопанный, не издавая ни звука. Гарри подошел, чувствуя, как его сковала тишина, страх усилился и он обнял Эдмона.
  • Эдмон, где мы теперь? – прошептал он ему на ухо.
    Вдруг нечто молниеносное пролетело перед ними и исчезло.
    К Эдмону подступил удушающий запах, который привёл его к высокому деревянному забору. Гарри последовал за Эдмондом, и когда подошёл к ограде, то его внимание привлек яркий свет. За сосновым забором виднелся домик из каменных глыб. Эдмон лаял, обливался слезами, яростно пытаясь пробраться сквозь частокол сосновой изгороди и, наконец, проделал в ней лаз. Ловко прошмыгнул туда, а за ним и Гарри заполз на четвереньках, и они оба оказались перед домиком, выглядя испуганными. Гарри встал и подошел к двери, но она была тяжелой. Гарри налегал на неё всем своим телом, а Эдмонд разбегался и кидался на дверь, до тех пор, пока они не открыли ее. Свет и тепло манили незваных гостей. Гарри приблизился к камину, и его маленькое лицо озарилось.
  • Мы друзья, кто-нибудь здесь есть? – спросил Гарри со страхом.
    Ответ не заставил себя ждать:
  • Да, я хозяин, добро пожаловать, проходите согреться, –
    Откуда не возьмись, появился маленький старичок с очень живым выражением лица, он улыбнулся при виде Гарри и сопровождавшей его мокрой собачки.
  • А кто ты, мальчик, как ты прошел через мой сосновый забор? – продолжил старец.
  • Меня зовут Гарри, а этот хаски мой лучший друг – Эдмон, благодаря ему мы преодолели ограду.
  • Хорошо, хорошо, сядь здесь, у камина, Гарри, и согрейся, я сделаю чай, – беспокоясь, пригласил старец.
    Внезапно Эдмон с лаем бросился преследовать кого-то. Сверху непонятно что свалилось на голову Гарри, который панически закричал, а Эдмон посмотрел еще пристальнее. Старик появился с чайником в руке и, засмеявшись, сказал:
  • Габи, Габи, иди сюда, веди себя прилично, это наши гости.
    Затем Гарри увидел то, что было у него на голове, оказалось это
    маленькая обезьянка, которая грациозно перепрыгнула на плечо старика. Они сели за маленький деревянный столик с нарисованными квадратами, выкрашенными в золотой и черный цвет. Чай благоухал ароматом, Эдмон успокоился и огляделся, ластясь в ногах Гарри.
  • Гарри, я тоже покормлю твоего друга Эдмона, и я надеюсь, что он будет вести себя прилично и не облает нежную Габи. Я очень, очень старый, меня зовут Лео, и я живу здесь со своей единственной подружкой Габи, которая всегда меня слушается, – спокойно поведал старик.
  • Ха-ха, Габи не может говорить, поэтому она никогда не перечит, – сказал Гарри, улыбаясь, и продолжил:
  • Сколько тебе лет, дядя Лео?
  • Мне 120, а моей маленькой подружке 100, – ответил Лео.
  • О, – воскликнул Гарри, – в чем секрет долгожительства, дядя Лео? Расскажи мне – Гарри взмахнул восторженно руками.
  • Много-много лет назад, – начал старик, – когда я был таким маленьким мальчиком, как ты, к нам вторглись всадники из соседнего королевства и захватили наш город. Тогда я убежал в горы и излазил все высоты, холмы, и подружился с животными, обитавшими там, ведь я подкармливал их, когда мог. Когда я искал место, чтобы укрыться от холода, то неожиданно нашёл обитаемый шалаш. Там жил старик, который, прежде чем закрыть глаза, перед смертью, научил меня играть в самую древнюю игру.
  • Какая это самая древняя игра? – заинтересовался Гарри.
  • Как же так, почему никто не сказал тебе? Это игра в шахматы! – ответил дядя Лео и продолжил:
  • Я играл со стариком каждую ночь и все больше и больше учился и продвигался вперёд. Перед тем, как он умер, старик дал мне свою шахматную коробку с фигурами и единственную книгу, которую он смог спрятать от захватчиков. Книга называлась «Персидские сказки». Читая и перечитывая их, я, наконец, понял скрытую в них мудрость. Однажды я решил возвратиться в свой город. Я бродил несколько дней, прячась от голодных медведей, плача от страха и молясь о том, чтобы найти отца и родительский дом, – старик умолк, а глаза его заметно увлажнились.
  • Давай, давай, – нетерпеливо упрашивал его Гарри, и Эдмон заскулил вслед за ним.
  • Я добрался до города, – продолжал дрожащим голосом дедушка Лео, – и, как будто снова всё утихло, опустошительная буря улеглась. Жизнь продолжалась, везде сновали люди, а на базаре кипела торговля. Вглядываясь в продавца дынь, я закричал от радости:
  • Папа, папа!..
    Мы обнялись, вытирая мои слёзы, он расспрашивал, где я скрывался и что это за коробка в моих руках. Добравшись до дома, я увидел, что все было, как прежде, а мама с радостью осыпала меня своей любовью. Я рассказал родителям о старце, персидских сказках, которые я уже знал наизусть, и показал им шахматную коробку с фигурами.
    Дядя Лео потягивал чай и продолжал.
  • Тогда мама, заключив меня в объятия, взволнованно воскликнула: «Завтра вечером новый Король откроет двери замка для того, кто сможет сыграть в его древнюю игру. Победитель получит приз». На следующий день я пошел в замок, а охранники насмехались надо мной: «Ну, маленький человек, что это за коробка в твоей руке, что ты в ней держишь?» « Пожалуйста, скажите Королю, что я Лео – маленький шахматист ». Стражи засмеялись. Услышав о маленьком шахматисте, Король немедленно позвал меня. Он с любопытством рассматривал меня и деревянный ящик, который был в моих руках. «Мальчик, откуда ты взял эти шахматы?» «Я получил их в наследство от старца, который научил меня в них играть», – ответил я Королю. «Тогда давай померяемся нашими силами», – предложил король с улыбкой на лице. Мы сели играть в шахматы на моей шахматной доске. Король играл очень вдумчиво и скоро перешёл в нападение. Мне не всегда удавалось разгадать его ходы, и постепенно я начал проигрывать. «Мальчик, – сказал Король, – ты умеешь ходить фигурами, ты знаешь правила, но ты не сможешь победить меня». «Король, – ответил я, – если ты дашь шанс продвинуть мои фигуры и победить тебя, не обидев, то я сделаю это немедленно». Тогда Царь внимательно посмотрел на меня и произнёс: «В тебе живёт мудрость. Как ты научился ей, мальчик?» – «Из старых персидских сказок», – ответил я ему. «И почему ты попросил разрешения победить меня?» – продолжил король. «Если я скажу тебе ШАХМАТ – это значит обидеть тебя – ведь оно означает «Смерть Королю», «О-о…», – воскликнул король,- выбери одно желание для себя, и я исполню его ». Подумав, я попросил Короля дать мне долголетие. И он щедро ответил мне: «Ты будешь жить долго, и у тебя будет приятельница-долгожительница, обезьянка Габи, королевский подарок тебе».
    Гарри слушал, и в его глазах заискрилось желание – умолить старика научить его играть в шахматы. Дядя Лео показал ему фигуры, и то, как они называются, и то, что они означают, и как они двигаются.
    Гарри любил разглядывать шахматные фигуры и расставлять их на шахматной доске. Вечерело, и дедушка Лео предложил Гарри возвратиться домой, чтобы успеть к сочельнику.
  • Дедушка Лео, я обещаю снова прийти с Эдмондом, чтобы играть в шахматы, – сказал мальчуган.
    Старец обнял его, потрепал Эдмона по голове, и попрощался с ними. На улице бушевала метель, которая заметала снегом все следы. Эдмон повел, и они снова пересекли мост, идя по глубокому снегу, проваливаясь в него и отворачиваясь от сильного ветра. Они возвратились домой, и мама Гарри встречала их, вопрошая:
  • Где ты, Гарри, ходишь, что, при таком ветре и снегопаде хочешь потеряться?
  • Мама, мама, у нас была самая волшебная прогулка с Эдмондом, но я расскажу тебе о ней после ужина.
    Рождественская елка сияла, и наконец, настало время дарить подарки. Гарри улыбнулся, когда отец пригласил его.
  • Да, вон та коробка, завернутая в золотую бумагу и голубую ленту, твой подарок.
    Гарри начал развязывать ленту медленно и постепенно, потом быстрее и неловко открывая, нечаянно порвал обёртку, и перед его глазами мелькнул деревянный ящик с золотыми и черными квадратами.
  • Шах! Шах! – победоносно закричал Гарри. – Это игра мудреца, игра великолепного ума.
    Родители Гарри с радостью смотрели на него, удивляясь, что их сын знал о такой игре.
    Глядя на них, Гарри поблагодарил их задумчиво:
  • И знаете ли, я никогда не захочу стать королем, чтобы я смог играть в эту мудрую игру, и спокойно говорить, когда выигрываю: ШАХМАТ. СЧАСТЛИВЫЙ КОНЕЦ!
Валентина 10 летная из Варне

International festival of poetry “Spirituality without boundaries”

translated from Bulgarian into English By Stefan Nikolov

THE POET FROM VARNA STANISLAV PENEV received the Big price of the International festival of poetry ‘Spirituality without boundaries’ Plovdiv 2020 — 29, 30, 31 May, this year is conducted online.

The prize is for ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE SPIRITUALITY AND IN POETRY. The prize is the statuette ‘INSPIRATION’ by the famous sculptor Rangel Stoilov-Bacho (one splendid work of art). There is also an Almanac — ‘Key to the light’, where printed are poems from the participants — 81 on number from 12 countries in 2020.

statuette ‘INSPIRATION’ by the famous sculptor Rangel Stoilov-Bacho
Stanislav Penev

Международен фестивал на поезията “Духовност без граници”

статуетката “ВДЪХНОВЕНИЕ” на известния скулптор Рангел Стоилов-Бачо

ПОЕТЪТ МАРИНИСТ ОТ ВАРНА СТАНИСЛАВ ПЕНЕВ получи Голямата награда на Международен фестивал на поезията “Духовност без граници” Пловдив 2020 – 29, 30, 31 май, тази година се провежда онлайн (включително и днес от 15.50 ч.).Наградата е за ПОСТИЖЕНИЯ В ДУХОВНОСТТА И В ПОЕЗИЯТА. Наградата е статуетката “ВДЪХНОВЕНИЕ” на известния скулптор Рангел Стоилов-Бачо (една прекрасна творба).  Има и Алманах – “Ключ към светлината”, където са отпечатани цикли стихотворения от участниците – 81 на брой от 12 държави през 2020 г..  

ПОЕТЪТ МАРИНИСТ ОТ ВАРНА СТАНИСЛАВ ПЕНЕВ
ПОЕТЪТ МАРИНИСТ ОТ ВАРНА СТАНИСЛАВ ПЕНЕВ

ИТАЛИАНСКИ ЕСКИЗ    

                       В памет

                       на Пенчо Славейков

                 

Поезията ни и в Комо има връх –

над езерото на духа изправен.

Издига се над нас. За Алпите е пръв.

И не остава никога забравен.

В Ломбардия поетите и днес тъжат,

щом стигнат до Брунате късно нощем

и ги посрещнe паметник, последен кът

на техен брат – сред дъжд, сред порив мощен… 

Звездите много близо са в това небе

и ярки – в тъмното са, не изчезват…

Сиянието звездно е като сърце:

пулсира и годините проглеждат.

И всеки взема лъч, с любов пропит,

и с чувството за вечност, за надежда…

Животът утвърждава тук божествен мит,

а с болката и радостта зарежда.

24.10. 2013 г., гр. Комо, Италия,

четено същия ден в Grotto del Murnee, Albavilla

      

ВАРНЕНСКИЯТ ИЗГРЕВ

И с откровение – и в спор –

водата с блясък е покрита.

Изплувал сякаш метеор

е слънцето – топи вълните.

Достигат те до брегове,

родени ден след ден в стихии.

Човекът има къс небе

в очите синева щом скрие.

КРАЙНОСТ

Душата ми ли плаче за прибоя,

аз виждам бряг и шепна на листата.

Земя пред себе си превръщам в своя –

докосвам времето, дори мечтата.

В живота близкото е тъй далечно:

непознаваемо – земя и суша.

И в плаването си напред – към вечност,

от слънцето единствено се уча.

                        На Веска

На палубата на живота сам

насочвам своя поглед към звездите –

топи се времето с житейски плам

и зреят чувствата ни под липите.

Аз само в теб откривам топлина –

разбирам, че надеждата е вечна:

щом свърши дневната ми светлина,

на лунната пътека ще те срещна.

Fairytales from yesterday for Tomorrow

New book released in 2020

Takouhi Minassian is a brilliant and insightful published author. A gifted creative writer, Takouhi is known to tell compelling stories through visual imagery. Through her remarkable fairytales, she is giving readers a more artistic perspective of life, while taking them on a journey of a lifetime.

Takouhi is a passionate writer with a strong background in physics. In her career years, she has worked in multiple industries. However, as a hobbyist writer, she finds it rewarding to share her rich imaginative prowess through highly engaging stories. For her works, she has earned an award in literature by Europress, “Parekordzagan” in 2015, and also an Italian award, “Firenze per la Pace,” which was dedicated to Dalai Lama in 2017.

Takouhi uses writing as a tool to inspire people to become avid learners, become more drawn to the universe, and also embrace their inner uniqueness. In her books, she aims to captivate people in the lessons of life, educating them through fairytales. Takouhi finds her strength and delight in writing compelling fairytales, leaving her readers to ponder upon their perception of the subject. Her readers find her books to be inspiring, engaging, informative, and relatable to the real world.

https://fairytalez.com/user/titi03/

Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

THE LAST AUTHENTIC NARRATIVE — MEMORIES AND OPINIONS WITH HISTORICAL CHARACTER OF MY FATHER LEVON OVANEZOV MINASSIAN

Levon Ovanezov – 95 years,at Tower 42,London

Levon Ovanezov Minassian – 96 yrs old

Translated from Bulgarian into English by Stefan Nikolov

In the madness of everyday life, in the immeasurable unawareness, in the cradle of life with the wisdom of the wise man, the truth is like a shadow in a mirror. You see it, and when you try to touch it, you follow the image of your hand. You decide: Is it there or would you just stroke the mirror and overlook another shadow? There is no retreat, no fear! Rationale and combativeness, spirit and faith, love and light. This is deep inside me, in my nature. And even if I run barefoot through the dusty streets, wading in puddles, I recognise the price of diligence, hard work and discipline.

I raise my head high and I see my father’s huge and sturdy figure, who can throw packs of 500 kg. Which is more powerful, his mind or his physique, or might it be both? When will I reach him, I want to grow up — thought the little curly-haired boy, with brown-green eyes, thirsty for knowledge!

The streets around the port were muddy, the crowd was dispersing slowly, until the whistle of the policemen startled them. The newly arrived refugees were looking for those awaiting their arrival, and those who did not have any were worried and followed their intuition. The stress and the experience made them vulnerable and somehow childishly trusting. Ten years have passed since the arrival of my parents, but they seemed to be merging with the new crowd of refugees. They wore the same clothes, spoke the same language, had the same pain… (and as if their eyes …)

I sold chocolates with lucky tickets, newspapers, read the news, went to school. The days were long, the nights, short. On the table in the evening, while listening to my mother’s prayers, I barely restrained my hands and reached for the bread. Boredom was rare, as my sisters, one by one, recounted what happened at school, recited, sung… When I heard,Armenians, wretched exiles, tiny splinter …” my eldest sister was reading it with such excitement — I grabbed the small book from her hands and I did spell! — Ya-vo-rov… I remembered that name and the powerful words of his ‘Armenians’… I remembered them all my life. We studied in Armenian school in the centre of town. Once in a history lesson, I was not paying attention and felt the long stick on my arm and the firm eyes of Baron Shamalian. My heart was beating fast, I stood up and I did not know what to answer, but I recited ‘Armenians’ by Yavorov and like that I saved myself from detention. The eyes of Baron Shamalian were looking at me with lots of love and even a slight smile crept across the teacher’s face.

— Levon, I congratulate you for that you have learned the whole poem by heart. This time you outwit me, but you had to pay attention in my lessons and learn history…

I helped my parents and I left some time for my homework. What I learned in lessons was my whole preparation. My father sent me to learn craft.

I started as a junior welder, I learned from the best one in the city. Intertwining were hard work and ideas, friends and family, reality and dreams. I was sixteen now and I welded on a big German ship, where I intentionally caused a fire…

The gun was next to my chest and the cold blue eyes of the German were looking fiercely and threatening:

—Can you not read, what are you doing here? Who set it on fire?

I answered him with “Heil Hitler” and looked at him cold-blooded, and trembling next to him for both of us was the Bulgarian chief of ship repairs:

-He does not know how to read German, he is not guilty! He is a welder…

This is how I got rid of him, saved my skin. But of course I was not innocent, I was a member of the Scouts group and this fire on the ship was our goal …

img-20200507-wa0007~27176750908737248639..jpg
Levon Ovanezov Minassian – 96 yrs old

I entered the barracks. I served in the “Eighth Primorsky” Regiment. The cruel laws, the fascist presence even more clearly defined my worldview and my hatred of the supporters of fascist Germany. Our country quickly changed the direction of its policy and I joined the ranks of volunteer soldiers, marching with them to the Front. I heard my father’s stern voice and his heavy hand grabbed me:

— You should have told us, that you are departing for the Front. Remember — in battle, do not run backwards, never run backwards, my boy…

The words of my father saved me from the tracer cartridges (red bullets), when I was left alone in front of the German bunker in the town of Niš. I felt my friends moving away, but I was too close to the Germans, I could even hear them. I dug myself in and awaited, until I threw the smoke bomb, so I could move away. A piece of the grenade caught me, which I will carry until my last day — it got stuck in my face. On my way I dragged a wounded soldier and that is how both of us reached the hospital in the town of Pirot.

We won! I returned in our beautiful town of Varna and I watched the sea, which also took away the victims of the cruel authority. And now on my dignified — over ninety years of age I have paid homage to these heroes(three of them Armenians and my friends), to whom I dedicated my book ‘Nine sad waves reach the shore’…

But let me be a youth again, a youngster in my stories…

I liked sport, I liked to swim, I trained to box and the boyish antics did not pass me by. I wanted to be strong like my father, proud and strong-willed like him. I knew he was a FEDAIN and had twenty-five horsemen under his command. He often told me:

Sit down, write! I have a lot to tell…

But I kept procrastinating in that and the next hectic daily life — not to miss a meeting, not to miss a match… I got excited to study… I managed to learn Bulgarian perfectly, to improve my German. I also learned Russian, not from anyone, but from the great Moshnikov, but it was not enough for me.

I continued with my education and in addition to mathematics and economics, I got intrigued by philosophy, logic, politics. The loss of the person dearest to my heart — my beautiful mother, put enormous weight and responsibility on my shoulders as the eldest son, the brother in the family. I grew up! I started competing with my father. Like him, I saw the horror of war, the cruelty of extreme thinking, the hard-hearted ‘justice.’ His practise and experience was about to be erased, about to be covered up, to be replaced by the horror of the Second World War, by my memory.

But they cannot be replaced, they should not be repeated… And now I need the stick of Baron Shamalian — the genius historian — to hit us on our arms, to teach us the truth, to scare us, to remember!

The years passed by… And the wars changed — they became more modern, some even with a global character, but their ferocity remained unchanged. The people also changed, countries were falling apart, governments were becoming corrupt.

But we, the people of the Immortal Regiment yet still carry the scar of the war!

The suffering of millions, in memory of the perished…

ПОСЛЕДНИЯТ АВТЕНТИЧЕН РАЗКАЗ – СПОМЕНИ И МНЕНИЯ С ИСТОРИЧЕСКИ ХАРАКТЕР НА БАЩА МИ ЛЕВОН ОВАНЕЗОВ МИНАСЯН

В лудостта на ежедневието, в безмерното незнание, в люлката на живота с мъдростта на мъдреца, истината е като сянка в огледало. Виждаш я и когато се опиташ да я докоснеш, виждаш образа на своята ръка. Ти решаваш, дали да я има или просто погалваш огледалото и отминаваш поредната сянка. Няма отстъпление, няма страх! Разум и борбеност, дух и вяра, любов и светлина. Това е дълбоко в мен, в моята природа. И дори да тичам бос по прашните улици, да газя в локви, познавам цената на усърдното, труда и дисциплината.
Вдигам високо глава и виждам огромната здрава фигура на баща ми, който премята бали по 500 кг. Кое е по-силно, неговият ум или неговата физика, а може би и двете. Кога ще го стигна, искам да порасна – мислеше малкото къдрокосо момче, с кафяво-зелени очи, жадни за знания!
Улиците около пристанището бяха прашни, тълпата се разпръскваше бавно, докато свирката на полицая не ги стресне. Новодошлите бежанци търсеха своите посрещачи, а тези които нямаха такива гледаха с тревога и следваха интуицията си. Стресът и преживяното ги правеха уязвими и някак си детински доверчиви. Бяха изминали десет години от пристигането на родителите ми, но като че ли се сливаха с новата тълпа бежанци. Носеха същите дрехи, говореха същия език, имаха същата болка … (и като че ли очите им…)

Левон Ованезов в Лондон

Продавах шоколади с късмети, вестници, четях новините, ходех на училище. Дните бяха дълги, нощите кратки. На масата вечер слушах молитвата на майка ми, а ръцете ми едва се сдържаха и посягаха към хляба. Нямаше скука, сестрите ми една през друга разказваха случилото се в училище, рецитираха, пееха… Когато чух ,,Изгнанници клети, отломка нищожна…” най-голямата ми сестра с такова вълнение го четеше – грабнах книжката от ръцете й и засричах! – Я-во-ров…
Запомних това име и силните думи на неговите ,,Арменци”… Запомних ги за цял живот. Учехме в арменското училище в центъра на града. Веднъж в часа по история не внимавах и усетих дългата сопа по рамото си и строгите очи на Барон Шамалян. Сърцето ми биеше силно, станах и не знаех какво да отговоря, но реших да издекламирам ,,Арменци” на Яворов и така се спасих от наказание. А очите на Барон Шамалян ме гледаха с много любов и дори лека усмивка се прокрадна по лицето на учителя.
-Левон, поздравявам те за това, че си научил цялото стихотворение наизуст. Този път ме надхитри, но трябва да внимаваш в часовете ми и да учиш история…

Помагах на родителите си и малко време отделях за уроците. Каквото научех в часовете, това беше цялата ми подготовка. Баща ми ме изпрати да се уча на занаят. Започнах като чирак електроженист, учих се от най-добрия в града. Преплитаха се труд и идеи, приятели и семейство, реалност и мечти. Бях вече на 16 години и заварявах на голям немски кораб, където умишлено предизвиках пожар…
Пистолетът беше опрян до гърдите ми и студените сини очи на германеца ме гледаха свирепо и заплашваха:
-Ти не можеш ли да четеш, какво правиш тук? Кой запали ?
Отвърнах му с ,,Хайл Хитлер” и хладнокръвно го погледнах, а до него трепереше и за двама ни българският началник по ремонта на кораба:
-Той не знае да чете на немски, не е виновен! Той е заварчик…
Така се отървах, спасих си кожата. Но разбира се не бях невинен, бях член на Ремсова група и този пожар на кораба беше наша цел…
Постъпих в казармата. Служих в 8-ми приморски полк. Жестоките закони, фашисткото присъствие още по-ясно определиха мирогледа ми и ненавистта ми към привържениците на фашистка Германия. Страната ни бързо промени посоката на своята политика и аз се наредих в редиците на войниците-доброволци, марширувайки с тях към фронта. Чух строгия глас на баща ми и тежката му ръка ме грабна:
-Трябваше да ни кажеш, че си тръгнал за фронта. Запомни – в битка не бягай назад, никога не бягай назад, момчето ми…
Тези думи на баща ми ме спасиха от трасиращите куршуми (червени куршуми), когато пред бункера на германците в гр. Ниш бях останал сам. Усетих как моите приятели се отдалечават, но аз бях твърде близо до германците, дори ги чувах. Окопах се и изчаквах, докато не хвърлих нападателна димна бомба, за да се отдалеча. Застигна ме парче граната , което до последния си ден ще нося със себе си – заби се в лицето ми. По пътя си влачих и ранен войник и така двамата стигнахме до болницата в град Пирот.

Победихме! Върнах се в красивия ни град Варна и гледах морето, което също прибра жертвите на жестоката власт. И сега на моите достолепни – над 90 години отдадох своята почит към тези герои, между които и мои другари арменци и им посветих книгата си ,,Девет тъжни вълни стигат брега”…
Но нека бъда отново юноша, младеж в своите разкази…
Обичах спорта, обичах да плувам, тренирах бокс и момчешките лудории не ме подминаваха. Исках да бъда силен като баща си, горд и волеви като него. Знаех, че е бил ФЕДАИН и е имал 25 души конници на свое подчинение. Често ми казваше:Седни, пиши! Имам много да разказвам…
Но аз все отлагах в онова и в следващото забързано ежедневие – да не пропусна среща, да не пропусна мач… Запалих се да уча… Успях да усвоя перфектно български, да подобря немския си език. Научих и руски език не от кого да е, а от големия Мощников, но не ми беше достатъчно.
Продължих с образованието си като освен от математика и икономика се интересувах много и от философия, логика, политика. Загубата на най-скъпият на сърцето ми човек – моята красива майка стовари на плещите ми огромната тежест и отговорността на големия син, на баткото в семейството. Пораснах! Започнах да меря сили с баща си. И аз като него видях ужаса на войната, жестокостта на екстремното мислене, коравосърдечното ,,правосъдие”. Неговият опит и преживяното беше на път да се изтрие, на път да се потули, за да бъде заместено от ужаса на Втората световна война, от моя спомен.
Но те не може да се заместват, не бива да се повтарят… И сега ми трябва сопата на Барон Шамалян – гениалният историк – да ни удря по рамото, да ни учи на истина, да ни стряска, да помним!
Годините препускаха… И войните се промениха – станаха по модерни, някои и с глобален характер, но си останаха все така жестоки. Хората също се променяха, държави се разпадаха, правителства се корумпираха.

А ние,хората от безсмъртния полк все още носим белега на войната!

Страданието на милионите,паметта на загиналите…

“Литература и Общество”

ALONG THE SAND TRAILS

From the series “Dream” – In commemoration of my predecessors who walked through the horror of a cruel Empire.

Trails of tiny feet on the shoreline and the waves run to erase them.


Marie walked along the beach avoiding the hot sand. Her eyes followed her footprints, which disappeared with every impacting wave. The sea refused to calm.


She was in a foreign town, but as if her heart and her intuition were struggling with the thought of her own I of a young girl. ‘I’ve never been to this coast before, but it looks kind of familiar,’ Marie thought. ‘Perhaps I’m mistaking it for my hometown’s shoreline. Every summer, I’d run on the beach so the waves could wash against my feet, and with every touch, the memories of the vast sea; the memories of the numerous refugees, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents (if there were any), ancient people, all of whom were always met by the waves of tribulations (human survival test)’.


‘It is not difficult to know the truth, it is hard to remember it’, Marie recalled her mother say.


Now that her parents—her witnesses—were no longer among the living, her questions about this city hung in the air. Thoughts raced through her head, bringing back memories of her beloved parents. Her eyes sparkled.
It was as if sadness was confronted with joy when she took a whiff of the sea breeze, the same breeze her ancestors had breathed and on this very same shore.


She was excited and full of expectations for the upcoming event. Soon, Marie would meet a relative of her parents at ‘Çırağan Saray ’. She shook some sand off her feet, put her sandals on, and walked down the narrow streets towards the Palace ‘Çırağan Saray’. She had nearly crossed the road when the horn of a car startled her. Marie jumped on the pavement.
A tram was slowly crawling in front of her.
The face of a passenger behind the tram window caught her gaze. And when their eyes met, it felt as if an electric pulse coursed through her spine. The girl in the tram looked just like her—her double—and wore a headscarf. Marie waved at the girl, and she saw her lips move.


Marie followed the tram, running along the sidewalk and bumping into people as she went on. She hoped the girl who looked just like her would get off at the next stop.
Exhausted and out of breath, Marie stopped running. She hoped to see the mysterious girl at the stop, but she couldn’t find her. Tears rolled down her pale skin face. She felt like she’d just lost a loved one. The tram accelerated. Marie walked slowly and just when she reached the traffic lights, her image stood before her—the girl with the headscarf, her double.


The two stared at each other. Moments later, Marie stretched out her hand and introduced herself. ‘Marie Nalbantian’.
The double replied, ‘Sevda Selioglu’.
Marie didn’t speak the local language. Then she thought gesticulations could help, pointing the way to ‘Çırağan Saray’. The two girls entered the foyer. Sevda waited while Marie talked to the receptionist in English. ‘I have a meeting with Mrs Anna, can you tell me if she has arrived?’


The concierge asked Marie to come with him. They followed him into a smaller lobby. The golden inlays on the walls, the huge crystal chandelier lighting hanging from the ceiling, and the beautifully-woven carpets made Marie blush captivated by them, and her lookalike companion nodded in approval. They reached a wide elliptical, dark wood table whose legs were carved to look like elephants.
‘What an exquisite interior…’, Marie thought
A woman dressed in a gentle purple dress turned towards them. A disobedient dark colour strand (curly hair) poked out under the woman’s headscarf. ‘Good morning. I expected one Marie, not two’, she said in a West Armenian dialect and then modestly, but with a hint of humour, the middle-aged woman stretched her hand.

‘I’m Marie, and this is Sevda Selioglu—destiny brought us together 15 minutes ago.’- smiled Marie at her relative.
Sevda could gather Marie was telling the woman how they met, but in Armenian. Soon, it was Sevda’s turn to talk. She blushed. ‘Can I ask questions in Turkish and could you please translate for Marie? I’m shocked, and I have no idea what I’m doing here. But I couldn’t help but follow my lookalike. Who is she, where’s she from? I suppose you talk to her in Armenian? I do not want to be involved in something to be accountable for’, added Sevda, with a sensitive tone.


Marie looked in anticipation for the translation. Her aunt, Anna offered them seats around the table and then she started talking. ‘You know, according to the customs of this country, it’s forbidden for three females to be in a room without a male presence. So, I invited my husband. Here he is,’ she said in Armenian. Then she repeated this in Turkish for Sevda.
An elegant man approached the three women.

Baron Nalbantian stared in amazement at the two girls. Their resemblance was uncanny. The first had wavy hair and the other had a carefully tied scarf covering her head subordinate to local laws.


Mrs Anna started, ‘Marie, I am your mother’s niece, but the war and other the circumstances have not allowed us to meet until now. In all these years, you are the first of our family to cross the sea. Here, we’re not allowed to bear our Armenian names. And we have jobs we wouldn’t have had if it came out that we are Nalbantian’.


Baron Nalbantian turned to Sevda Selioglu and translated all Anna had said into Turkish. Once he finished, Sevda sprang to her feet.
‘I can’t be at the same table as you people. It is humiliating for me to listen to Armenians talk; it goes against my culture and upbringing’, she bellowed.


Marie jumped and took her lookalike’s hand. ‘Don’t go. Meeting you was not a coincidence, and neither was us looking alike. The waves of the Black Sea brought me here to look for my lost relatives, and probably for new friends too. Please, stay’, Marie said in English.


‘All right, I’ll stay, but only because of you’, she said, in fluent English. ‘How could I look so much like an Armenian?’. She immediately realized she had made a mistake and felt embarrassed, so she apologised.


Inadvertently, due to the tense atmosphere, Sevda took off her headscarf. Her beautiful, shiny, curly dark brown hair complemented her little face. Now, the two girls looked even more alike. Both stared silently at each other.
‘Let’s continue our conversation in English’, Mrs Anna said.
They all smiled.
Marie talked about her life in Bulgaria. Being a fair-minded and judicious narrator, Marie knew life was meaningful, but she wasn’t oblivious to the enormous odds and struggle. She also praised the beautiful seaside town of Varna. Sevda listened quietly. Anna wept several times, and her husband comforted her by rubbing her shoulder.


‘I just wanted to meet the people who loved my parents, and the relatives who stayed here, so I could accolade to my happiness’, Marie said, concluding her narration.
Sevda turned towards Marie, her eyes full of anger. ‘It seems like your life rests on the past. History isn’t fair to every nation; it is subjective. I am a student at Istanbul University, Faculty of History and Journalism. My head is filled with questions I have no answers to. But both my parents are honourable and respected citizens of Istanbul. I’m leaving now, but I’ll give you my address. I can’t keep on listening to a conversation of this nature’.
Mr Baron approached the young girl. ‘Miss Selioglu, if you leave now, you will have one more unanswered question to bother you. And perhaps, you’d never could learn why you and Marie look so much alike. It’s probably not an accident that you two met’.
Miss Selioglu looked Mr Baron straight in the eyes, nodded and sat down again. She sipped from the cup of aromatic tea that had been offered her while Marie watched. The possibility of her having been born here upset Marrie, and even more so because she could have had the same upbringing and thinking as her lookalike.


Marie pulled out a little black leather notepad that belonged to her late mother from her bag. She handed it to her aunt. There were notes in there written in Turkish. Anna opened the notepad to a page where a drawing of a dove ‘waiting impatiently to fly’ next to a handwritten text:
‘My dear Harika, I want to be a dove and be able to fly to the beautiful Bosporus , where we played as children, ran on the sand, made figurines– I, a castle, and you built a tower with bridges. Where is our bridge?’ Anna read.


Sevda’s eyes opened wide, her tender arm stretched across the table. ‘Please, Mrs Anna, can I see the handwriting?’ Anna handed it to her.
She glanced at the notes and swallowed saliva in strange frequencies. She turned to Marie and spoke slowly in English. ‘Your mother was friends with my mother, Harika. We had this letter at home. Mother had hidden it for years when one day I heard her and Dad arguing. He was angry, and he tore the letter in front of my mum’s tearful eyes’, Sevda paused, drank her tea, and asked the waiter for water and white sweet.


Listening to Sevda, Marie felt like she was reliving her mother’s life. And could she really be close to meeting her mother’s girlfriend here on the Bosporus?


The two girls looked at each other with reserve for a long time before Anna broke the silence. ‘We can walk along the coast. Did you know that this beautiful Saray was built by the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire, who…?’
‘Mr. Balyan ’, Sevda quickly said. ‘I know that the entire Balyan family have Armenian origins and are architects of sarays, hospitals, pavilions.’


Sevda got up and asked to be excused and quickly started for the reception.
‘Can I call my parents from here?’ she asked the receptionist.
‘Yes’, replied a young man. He moved the heavy black phone towards her.
‘Mum, Mum,’ she began when the phone was answered, ‘just listen to me, and don’t ask questions or repeat the names I am about to say. I don’t want Dad to be angry. Please, come to Çırağan Saray in the small lobby, Sultan Mehmet. I have an amazing surprise for you’.
‘Yes’, answered a gentle voice. ‘I will be with you very soon’.


Sevda returned to the lobby to re-join the Nalbantian’s. They were talking in Armenian, so she waited.
‘My mum is coming’, she said when they turned to her. ‘I called her, but I couldn’t tell her what it was about’, she said, with a hint of worry in her tone and quickly retied her headscarf.


‘I’m very happy and thank you for this opportunity’, Marie said, with trembling hands as she tried to retrieve something from her purse. She pulled out a small golden spoon with two initials engraved at the back. ‘I know these are the letters M for Metanet and V for Varta’. Marie’s voice was wobbly.


A woman entered the lobby. She wore a headscarf, her skin was pale, and her eyes were grey-blue—as if the waves of the sea had tinted them. The woman looked at the two girls, her daughter in a white headscarf, and the unknown girl, who looked a lot like Sevda.
‘What are you doing here, Sevda, and who are these people?’
‘Mum, please sit down and meet Marie, who as you can see is a true image of me, and Mr and Mrs Nalbantian’.
Harika, Sevda’s mum, looked at the family, then at Marie and her questions rained like a downpour, but she spoke in a Western Armenian dialect, not Turkish. ‘Where’s Aghavni ? Where is…? If you’re Nalbantian, you’re her family. I have waited my whole life for this moment, to meet her again and to hug her’, Harika said, shedding tears.


Sevda hugged her mother.
Marie answered in Armenian, ‘I’m Aghavni’s daughter, and I knew that my mother’s closest childhood friend lived here… and that she loved you very much. The huge loss of loved ones, the difficulties, and the exodus from Besiktas , the pearl of Istanbul had left on her a painful trace. What she often repeated was, “Just if you could see the Bosporus, feel the warmth of the waves and play on the sands with a girlfriend like mine who saved our lives…”’


Sevda was surprised that her mother spoke Armenian. She asked her to continue in English. Harika was an English literature teacher at Istanbul University.
Harika looked Marie in the eyes and grabbed her arms and spoke quietly. ‘I understand that Aghavni is not alive, you’re like my girl. Everything—I will tell you everything’, she started in English. ‘Aghavni and I were neighbours. She was attending the Armenian school two blocks from here, and I went to the Turkish school just around the corner. Every day we prepared our lessons together, hers in Armenian and mine in Turkish. She was one step ahead because she could write in Turkish too. One day we decided that I could learn at least to speak Armenian because their alphabet was complicated for me. And then the days and seasons changed, summer and winter, autumn, spring. We grew up as sisters. We both knew that the difficult days of the war were approaching. Our fathers were officers in the Turkish Empire Army. One morning, Aghavni’s mother, Varta, came banging on our door: “Hanim Metanet, open, hurry!” she cried. When my mum answered the door, Aghavni’s mum closed the door behind her immediately, entered the inner room, looked around as if she was looking for a thief. Then she said “all the Armenian soldiers have been forced out of the army by the Pasha. Some are imprisoned, others killed, tortured”. My mother hugged her, led her to the couch gently, grabbed her hands and said to her:
“We are like sisters, I will send a note to Shefked immediately to get some news about your husband Vahram and help him hide! Take your daughter and all that is precious to you and come here to our home.” My mum helped aunt Varta to calm down.
‘The next day, the four of us were sitting around the table dressed in Turkish costumes when somebody knocked on the door, followed by a rough male voice: “Open, open the door”.
‘Two zaptié came in. They looked at us and asked where the men of the house were.
“Where?”, replied my mother. “The men have gone to war!”
“Give us your documents”, said one of them. My mum showed them mine and hers, but poor aunt Varta pulled her daughter to herself and said, “I have no papers here. We are Metanet’s guests; we are cousins”. The men looked at us and left.
‘Aunt Varta was upset, paced around the table until midnight. She asked my mum to take care of Aghavni and then left. We never saw her again. We later received a letter from my dad that Uncle Vahram had been captured, and he didn’t know where he was being held. He was afraid of asking because he feared it could arouse suspicions. Every day, whenever there was noise from behind the front door, Aghavni would wait behind it and open it, hoping it was her mum. She couldn’t sleep for days.
‘The Armenian population of the area was displaced. We heard about the torture, the massacres, and we were afraid. My mother looked after Aghavni as if she was her daughter. Aghavni and I continued to go to the Turkish school. Aghavni prayed in Turkish, spoke Turkish, wrote in Turkish. She became silent and reserved. When my father returned from the war, he called my mother aside. They decided to give Aghavni a Turkish name because she went to a Turkish school—that way, people would think she was our relative. It was the only way they could protect her. It was a disturbing time for Armenians. One morning we woke up to find Aghavni’s bed empty, the door open, and the gold coins in the little pouch gone. My mother cried, and I cried too. My dad smoked raw tobacco, which irritated my eyes. We waited every day for news, secretly asked around, but for ten years, we found nothing. Then I received a letter written in Turkish and immediately recognized the handwriting as Aghavni’s. I ran to my mother, who tore the envelope open with trembling hands and read:
“My dears, it was impossible to write to you until now. After that morning, when I saw the Zaptiés circling the neighbouring house, I grabbed my mum’s pouch with the gold coins and ran straight for the harbour. While hiding, I came across a terrible spectacle: a market where half-naked women were being sold as slaves. Among them was my mother. I saw a Turk in formal salvars and fez passing by. Shuddering with fear, I approached him and offered him gold coins to free my mum. The Turk took the coins and went to the sellers and they started haggling. Eventually, the stranger managed to buy himself a slave—my mum. When mum saw me, we hugged, and I gave her my headscarf to cover her nakedness. The stranger took us to his home. He turned out to be an American born in Istanbul. We stayed at his house while he got us on a ship. We now live in Varna. Here, the people are wonderful, and we have a shelter. We know my dad’s alive. We learned this from some other settlers, and we’re looking for him. We love you very much. Mum will write to you, too, Hanim Metanet, but she’s a little weak now. The night she left your house, she was captured by the slave traders. She managed to hide the little golden spoon your grandfather made for you in her clothes, with the beautifully inscribed initials M for Metanet and V for Varta. One day, she will personally return it to you”.


Harika paused, wiped her tears and continued, ‘Not long after, I received a letter addressed to me, and there was a beautiful drawing of a dove, and next to it a note: My dear Harika, I wish I was a dove and flew to you…’


Harika stopped when Aunt Anna handed her Aghavni’s notebook with the drawing and the message.
Harika’s fingers caressed the page, and her blue-grey eyes turned into charcoal grey. Her lips twitched, her hands trembled over the page and when she managed to regain her composure, she continued, ‘Marie, you now know the whole story of my childhood friendship with your mother, Aghavni, with my Aghavni’.
Marie saw a flicker of sadness in Sevda’s gaze.
Holding the little golden spoon, Marie said, ‘My mother told me that if I ever found a real friend, I should give this to her. Marie stretched out the golden spoon and handed it to Sevda.
Sevda’s heart throbbed. She bent her head as if she was drifting away from the gift being very shy but managed to say ‘thank you’ in Armenian. Everyone smiled, and Marie answered by placing a hand over her heart, an Armenian gesture.


‘Mum, now I understand why you cried the night Dad tore the letter. I will try to tell him about your friendship and my new friend, Marie. I will try to make him hear what I heard today’, said Sevda, with glowing eyes.
Mr and Mrs Nalbantian and Marie left saying their goodbyes to the Selioglus.

Sevda and her mum, Harika, walked to the tram station. Harika embraced her daughter.
‘Today was one of the happiest days of my life since your birth. But you need to know a little more about your father’s family before you tell him about today’s meeting. Come and let’s sit on this bench’.
Sevda’s eyes froze at one point—impersonal, without thought, as if they had sunk into the abyss.
Harika touched her daughter’s shoulder. ‘Your father is of a famous Turkish family whose ancestors lived in the times the Turkish empire lost its power, territories, and its strongest military commanders. His grandfather was an officer commanded to punish Armenians and deal with women and children. He was to either get them to become Turks or aid in their expulsion. He was young and keen on the idea of a new Turkey—a Turkey without Armenians. He happily accepted the task and served the Sultan without hesitation. He tortured and committed atrocities. In his nightmares, he shouted, called aloud, but he did not give up his work to serve his motherland, to serve what he believed in. One day while in his convoy, he saw a young readhead Armenian woman with green eyes. She had a bright look, and no matter how much sorrow was in her eyes, it did not betray her spirit. Your great-grandfather fell in love with this young woman, and against all laws, hid her and saved her life. In the house where he hid her, no one suspected she was Armenian. She was forced to pretend she was Turkish. She had lost all her relatives. Then your great-grandfather began to gradually retreat from his responsibilities in the army until one of his friends betrayed him and reported him to the Sultan. The wrath of the Sultan was enormous, but your great-grandfather managed to convince him that his beloved Armenian wife had already been Islamised, and she’d renounced her Armenian heritage and philosophy. The Sultan wished to see her. But your great-grandfather wasn’t going to let him. He returned home, cut her hair, and smeared her head with paint, but he didn’t dare mark her face. The Armenian woman knew what awaited her and committed suicide. Your great-grandfather became a renegade and was then arrested. He received the death penalty. Therefore, the son of this love was orphaned, became a real fighter, fought with young Turks and did not suspect he had Armenian blood. When he married, he had a son with curly red-maroon hair. Your grandfather was torn apart because, like him, his wife was dark-haired. After years, he learned the truth of his origins and the history of his parents. On his deathbed, he said to his young son and his wife, ‘So many evils I have done that neither tears nor forgiveness nor my pleas can help lessen my remorse and pain. Do not go against human kindness, disobey inhumane laws. And do not share my origins with anyone. I repent, and I want forgiveness. He left this world begging for forgiveness.
‘So, your father does not allow even the mention of the word Armenia in the house. Regardless, I fell in love with his naughty reddish curls (red like his Armenian grand-mother’s)’, Harika told her daughter, amid laughter and tears.


The phone rang, and Anna looked at the swinging and beating wall clock’s pendulum. It was eight o’clock in the morning.
‘Hello’, she answered the phone in Turkish.
The conversation was short. Uncle Baron was holding his pipe and listened attentively, and Marie was trying to figure out what was being said on phone, especially when she heard Sevda’s name.
‘We will be having guests’, Anna announced. ‘The Selioglu family proposed we meet, and I invited them for dinner. Mr Selioglu called himself, and he insisted that we meet all three of them’.
Time went by slowly. Marie went shopping with her aunt and discussed what dishes to prepare for the guests and what Sevda’s favourite dish could be.
The table was laid out. It was a reception typical of a palace with beautiful porcelain plates and silver cutlery nicely arranged. Marie admired the elegance, the mastery of her aunt Anna. Her uncle, Baron polished the pendulum of the wall clock while humming an old Armenian folk song.
The guests arrived. They greeted each other in Turkish. Sevda’s father was broadly built, with preserved youth features. He had curly hair and sad eyes.
Marie reached out her hand and introduced herself to him. ‘Marie Nalbantian’.
The man stared and could not move his gaze from Marie, then he turned to his daughter Sevda and a light smile escaped from his lips.
Dinner was in a friendly atmosphere. Baron made a short speech in the name of friendship.
Then Sevda’s father stood up. ‘Let me thank you for your frankness and for this invitation. I am startled by how much Marie looked like my daughter, Sevda. It’s as if fate is trying to tell us we are all the same. We are people with hearts and memories. And when we walk on the sand, our footprints are the same, and the waves always wash them away’.
Marie smiled, thinking about the morning the waves erased her trails along the beach.
Sevda’s father continued, ‘Though our footprints on the sand are wiped away, our memories remain. As much as I resisted and listened to our rulers on the Armenian subject, it is impossible to deny that the truth should be remembered. And I, like my father, beg for forgiveness from my contemporaries for the tragedies and the destruction, the massacre of an old nation that we are supposed to be friends with today. Yes, we know that our children are alike, some even visibly so’, he said, looking at Sevda and then he smiled at Marie. ‘Yes, we know that for each of us there is a dove—the dove of friendship’.

Harika’s eyes were full of tears. They all applauded, and just as Baron raised his glass for a toast, the ajar window noisily opened further, and a bird flew in and clapped over the table with her wings.
There was a dove in the room (Aghavni!)

ПЕЧКА С ДРЪВЦА

ПРИКАЗКИ ПРЕЗ ВЕКОВЕТЕ

Виелица, снегът се въртеше и изпълваше въздуха с бели завеси. Непрогледност, бeлота и студ.

Малката Мая гледаше през прозореца, когато чукането по вратата я стресна. Момичето скочи, доближи се до вратата и попита:

pechka s dravza 2
Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

  • Кой е?
  • Аз съм, майка ти Леонора, отвори ми.
  • Не мога – отвърна малката Мая – баба ми заръча да не отварям на никого.
  • Да, точно така, правилно ти е заръчала баба ти, но аз съм майка ти – продължи Леонора като ту се смееше, ту се тревожеше, че не може да види и прегърне дъщеря си.

Леонора остана още малко пред вратата, долепи ухо и чу леките стъпки на Мая да се отдалечават.

Мая се доближи до печката, отвори малката вратичка, видя как тлееше огънят и бързо хвърли дървено трупче. После взе металната пръчка и разбърка, както баба ѝ я беше учила.

Залепи се отново на прозореца и видя женска фигура, загърната с огромен шал и дебело палто, бореща се със снежния вятър, опитвайки се да се придвижи. Това не беше баба ѝ. Жената беше висока, стройна, навярно беше тази, която преди малко чукаше на вратата и ѝ каза, че е нейна майка.

Мая се приближи отново до печката, сложи чайника и зачака водата да се затопли. После пусна в него липовите листа и както баба ѝ я беше научила, изчака няколко минути.

Отиде отново до прозореца и видя стройната жена почти до прозореца, закрила почти цялото си лице – само огромните ѝ черни очи се виждаха.

pechka s dravza 4
Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

Жената отново почука на вратата. Мая се доближи и запита:

  • Как се казвате? Откъде идвате?
  • Аз съм майка ти, Леонора, идвам от далече, моля те, отвори ми. Кога ще се прибере баба ти?
  • Баба отиде до фермата да изроди малко козленце и да донесе прясно мляко. Тя отиде със Сивчо, който тегли каручката.
  • Отвори ми, моля те Мая, ще чакаме заедно баба ти.

Детето отиде до вратата, дръпна резето и видя  пред себе си замръзналото лице на жена с поразителна красота. Изтича обратно до печката и изчака жената да влезе.

Стройната жена свали дебелия шал от главата си. Грижливо прибрана кестенява коса с шнола от старо злато, с обеци като капки, а кожата ѝ като че ли беше загоряла от слънцето.

Сърцето на Мая биеше силно, изчакваше своята събеседничка първа да заговори.

Леонора се доближи до Мая и я погали по главата. После седна на столчето до печката и започна да си топли ръцете. Извади от чантата си  кутия захаросани плодове.

pechka sa dravza 3
Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

  • Искате ли липов чай? – попита Мая.
  • Да, много обичам липов чай. Твоята баба, която ми е майка, ме научи да го попарвам, тук, върху тази печка – и подаде кутията със захаросани плодове на Мая.

Мая поднесе чая в любимата си чаша и погледна жената в очите. Тя беше виждала тези очи, помнеше ги, това са очите от нейните сънища. Тогава като че ли чу и позната песничка, за миг се разсея, но погледна отново Леонора. В малката главица хаотично се въртяха мисли каква ли е връзката между нея, песничката и тези очи.

Вратата се отвори. Цялата покрита в сняг баба Калина се разтропа на прага…

  • Хайде Мая, вземи бидончето с мляко, ето тук, до вратата – и топло погледна към Мая, когато видя Леонора.

Баба Калина се засили със ситни стъпки и прегърна силно дъщеря си. Сълзите се стичаха по лицето на старицата, а Леонора я целуваше и хълцаше.

  • Мамо, мамичко, колко много те обичам…

Мая следеше тази трогателна сцена с бидончето в ръце и не знаеше какво да каже.

Баба Калина се отдръпна от дъщеря си, доближи се до Мая и ѝ каза:

  • Това е твоята прекрасна майка, запазила е красота си, от която ти си наследила много, внучето ми.

Леонора се доближи до Мая, клекна на нивото на очите ѝ и я прегърна:

  • Колко пъти съм сънувала и съм мечтала за този момент –

да се завърна и да прегърна моето скъпо момиче.

Мая не помръдваше, инстинктивно усети нещо познато, нещо, което винаги е чувствала подсъзнателно, но все още не се досещаше какво точно.

Отдръпна се с плаха усмивка и отново хвърли дръвце в печката. Там беше нейното убежище. Старата жена следеше движенията на внучката си и усети тягостно напрежение в поведението на момичето. Отиде до нея и каза:

  • Сeга е време да ти разкажем истината за твоите родители, тук, в присъствието на майка ти. Сега съм най-щастливата майка и баба – моите любими момичета са до мен и никога няма да ви изгубя!
  • Разкажи ми бабо, разказвай – Мая седна на малкото диванче до баба си.
  • Живеехме хубав живот, изпълнен с радост, със смях, здраве и с хората, които обичаме. Работихме от сутрин до вечер на нивата, хранехме животните, но умеехме и да се веселим, да пеем, да се събираме с приятели. В селото се появи млад и много красив мъж. Той си купи най-хубавата къща в края на селото, ремонтира я, направи я като замък. Често организираше събирания с танци и много храна. За него работеха най-работливите момци на селото. Земите му бяха плодородни, богатството му се увеличаваше, а добрината му беше пословична – баба Калина спря и погледна тъжното лице на дъщеря си. Хвана ѝ ръката и продължи –

На една от забавите за първи път взех и моята красива дъщеря Леонора. Цяла нощ стопанинът на замъка танцува само с нея, погледът му не се отместваше. Накрая ни изпрати с подаръци. Прибрахме се у дома, а съпругът ми рече: „Калино, ще омъжим нашето момиче за този прекрасен момък, не видя ли как танцува с нея цяла вечер и ни изпрати с подаръци.”

pechka s dravza 1
Художник – Джулиана Вълчева

  • Нашата дъщеря ни слушаше, а очите ѝ блестяха, тя се беше влюбила в красивия младеж.

Вдигнахме сватба.  Цялото село се весели, а дъщеря ни се превърна в истинска принцеса. След година се сдобиха с чедо – момиченце с ненадмината красота и точно когато щастието беше пълно се случи най-голямата беда. Разбойници нападнаха къщата, не само я ограбиха, но убиха и красивия стопанин, и отвлякоха дъщеря ми. Единственото, което моята Леонора успяла да направи, е да скрие бебето, увито в  одеалце в печката за дърва, която от години не се ползвала и имало дупки. Така се прокрадвал въздух в печката…

Когато чухме за нещастието, хукнахме с дядо ти, търсихме във всички стаи, викахме, плачехме, докато накрая чухме детски плач да идва от запустялата печка. Дядо ти отвори капака и твоето малко личице Мая се успокои. Прибрахме се в нашата стара къща. Започнахме да се грижим за теб, търсихме вести за майка ти, но нямаше и следа.

Мая гледаше баба си и силно се притисна до рамото ѝ. Очите на Леонора изглеждаха още по-големи, като огледала, в които Мая се оглеждаше с онова особено подсъзнателно чувство, че това са очите, които сънува много често.

Тогава Леонора помоли:

  • Мамо, нека да продължа сега аз, какво се случи, когато се опитаха да ме отвлекат. Но преди това – обърна се към Мая – всяка вечер те вдигах на ръце и се вглеждах в очите ти, които са същите като на баща ти и ти пеех детска песничка, а ти се усмихваше, като че ли разбираше всичко.
  • Вечерта, когато нахлуха разбойниците и убиха баща ти, аз се скрих в една от стаите, пових те и те скрих в печката. Точно когато се измъквах от прозореца към градината, където имахме скрита пушка, ме достигна един от тези разбойници. Хвана ме за косата и когато ме дръпна към себе си, успях да го ударя по главата и да избягам. Бягах дълго, през две гори и стигнах един кладенец. Скрих се в него и ги чух да подминават кладенеца. Когато излязох не знаех коя съм и не помнех нищо. Скитах се из гората, катерих се по дърветата. Изглеждах дива, дрипава и бях много гладна. Така достигнах до прага на изоставена къща, останала без сили заспах пред портата.

Баба Калина следеше разказа, научавайки за първи път патилата на дъщеря си, а Мая още по-силно стискаше ръката на баба си.

Леонора се спря, отпи от липовия чай и продължи:

  • На сутринта се събудих в меко, удобно легло. Опитах се да стана, но нямах сили. Тогава към мен се доближи стара жена и ми подаде чаша с отвара от билки:
  • Пий момиче, много си изтощена. Сега ще ти донеса да хапнеш и малко месце и картофи.

В началото не говорех, гледах тази добра жена, но не знаех коя съм, какво да кажа и какво да правя. Превърнах се в дете, което на вид е голямо. Всеки ден по малко започнах да се възстановявам, а старата жена ми четеше приказки, готвеше и беше чисто, топло и уютно.

Жената ми разказа, че от години живее сама и че има всичко, от което се нуждае и че била монахиня. Нарушила една от клетвите и я принудили да напусне монашеския дом. Така се изолирала далече от всички и от всичко. Грижите ѝ към мен не ѝ тежяха, напротив, всяка вечер се молеше да се подобря и дори започна да си тананика. Пееше прекрасно. Една вечер жената запя детска песен, която ми се стори позната. Помолих я отново да я изпее. Запяхме двете и като порой се изсипаха сълзи от очите ми, почувствах странна болка в гръдта, но пак не осъзнавах защо. Монахинята ме прегърна и каза, че постепенно ще се възстановя и ще се сетя коя съм и къде са близките ми. Не знаех, че съм живяла така цели 5 години. Постепенно си възстановявах паметта, а в главата ми кънтеше плач на дете. В началото не знаех защо. Една сутрин чух някой да удря на вратата и се стреснах. Такова чукане, такъв шум се вдигна в нощта, когато ни нападнаха. Скочих и се скрих зад вратата, изтръпнала от ужас. Баба Траяна отвори, а пред нея стоеше човек на средна възраст. Баба Траяна подскочи от радост и го запрегръща. Това беше брат ѝ, когото не беше виждала от години. Седнахме на масата. Той ме гледаше, разпитваше, но аз все още не знаех коя съм. Тогава той извади на масата кутийка със скъпоценности и каза:

  • Бях в големия град, оттатък тази планина и търговията е оживена. Успях да закупя тези бижута, мила сестро.

Баба Траяна ги погледна:

  • Да, колко са изящни и майсторски изработени.

Старата жена ми подаде шнола за коса и чифт обеци и рече:

  • Ето, те са за тебе, ти си млада, красива.

Когато ги взех в ръцете си потреперах, това бяха моите бижута.

Обърнах се към брата на бабата и му казах:

  • Това са мои бижута – замислих се и се опитвах да си спомня как знам това.
  • Купих ги от търговец на пазара – оправда се човекът. Не подозирах, че могат да са откраднати.

Настъпи вечерта и аз си легнах, а очите ми шареха по тавана, не можех да заспя.

На другата сутрин скочих, вдигнах си косата, сложих шнолата и обеците и се погледнах в огледалото. Тогава дочух гласа на мъжа ми: „Колко си красива, ти си цялата красота на света…” и постепенно гласът затихна. Аз знаех вече коя съм. Прегърнах баба Траяна и започнах да ѝ разказвам. Брат ѝ слушаше, а баба – изтриваше сълзите от очите си. Тогава той обеща да ме върне в моето село, но му отне време да намери каручка. И ето ме тук с вас.

Малката Мая оглеждаше лицето на майка си, красивата шнола, вплетена в лъскавата ѝ коса и обеците, които приличаха на капки.

  • Аз също знам коя съм – каза Мая и погледна майка си, погали баба си.

Виелица, снегът се въртеше и изпълваше въздуха с бели завеси. Непрогледност, бeлота и студ.

Малката Мая гледаше през прозореца, когато чукането по вратата я стресна. Момичето скочи, доближи се до вратата и попита:

  • Кой е?
  • Аз съм, майка ти Леонора, отвори ми.
  • Не мога – отвърна малката Мая – баба ми заръча да не отварям на никого.
  • Да, точно така, правилно ти е заръчала баба ти, но аз съм майка ти – продължи Леонора като ту се смееше, ту се тревожеше, че не може да види и прегърне дъщеря си.

Леонора остана още малко пред вратата, долепи ухо и чу леките стъпки на Мая да се отдалечават.

Мая се доближи до печката, отвори малката вратичка, видя как тлееше огънят и бързо хвърли дървено трупче. После взе металната пръчка и разбърка, както баба ѝ я беше учила.

Залепи се отново на прозореца и видя женска фигура, загърната с огромен шал и дебело палто, бореща се със снежния вятър, опитвайки се да се придвижи. Това не беше баба ѝ. Жената беше висока, стройна, навярно беше тази, която преди малко чукаше на вратата и ѝ каза, че е нейна майка.

Мая се приближи отново до печката, сложи чайника и зачака водата да се затопли. После пусна в него липовите листа и както баба ѝ я беше научила, изчака няколко минути.

Отиде отново до прозореца и видя стройната жена почти до прозореца, закрила почти цялото си лице – само огромните ѝ черни очи се виждаха.

Жената отново почука на вратата. Мая се доближи и запита:

  • Как се казвате? Откъде идвате?
  • Аз съм майка ти, Леонора, идвам от далече, моля те, отвори ми. Кога ще се прибере баба ти?
  • Баба отиде до фермата да изроди малко козленце и да донесе прясно мляко. Тя отиде със Сивчо, който тегли каручката.
  • Отвори ми, моля те Мая, ще чакаме заедно баба ти.

Детето отиде до вратата, дръпна резето и видя  пред себе си замръзналото лице на жена с поразителна красота. Изтича обратно до печката и изчака жената да влезе.

Стройната жена свали дебелия шал от главата си. Грижливо прибрана кестенява коса с шнола от старо злато, с обеци като капки, а кожата ѝ като че ли беше загоряла от слънцето.

Сърцето на Мая биеше силно, изчакваше своята събеседничка първа да заговори.

Леонора се доближи до Мая и я погали по главата. После седна на столчето до печката и започна да си топли ръцете. Извади от чантата си  кутия захаросани плодове.

  • Искате ли липов чай? – попита Мая.
  • Да, много обичам липов чай. Твоята баба, която ми е майка, ме научи да го попарвам, тук, върху тази печка – и подаде кутията със захаросани плодове на Мая.

Мая поднесе чая в любимата си чаша и погледна жената в очите. Тя беше виждала тези очи, помнеше ги, това са очите от нейните сънища. Тогава като че ли чу и позната песничка, за миг се разсея, но погледна отново Леонора. В малката главица хаотично се въртяха мисли каква ли е връзката между нея, песничката и тези очи.

Вратата се отвори. Цялата покрита в сняг баба Калина се разтропа на прага…

  • Хайде Мая, вземи бидончето с мляко, ето тук, до вратата – и топло погледна към Мая, когато видя Леонора.

Баба Калина се засили със ситни стъпки и прегърна силно дъщеря си. Сълзите се стичаха по лицето на старицата, а Леонора я целуваше и хълцаше.

  • Мамо, мамичко, колко много те обичам…

Мая следеше тази трогателна сцена с бидончето в ръце и не знаеше какво да каже.

Баба Калина се отдръпна от дъщеря си, доближи се до Мая и ѝ каза:

  • Това е твоята прекрасна майка, запазила е красота си, от която ти си наследила много, внучето ми.

Леонора се доближи до Мая, клекна на нивото на очите ѝ и я прегърна:

  • Колко пъти съм сънувала и съм мечтала за този момент –

да се завърна и да прегърна моето скъпо момиче.

Мая не помръдваше, инстинктивно усети нещо познато, нещо, което винаги е чувствала подсъзнателно, но все още не се досещаше какво точно.

Отдръпна се с плаха усмивка и отново хвърли дръвце в печката. Там беше нейното убежище. Старата жена следеше движенията на внучката си и усети тягостно напрежение в поведението на момичето. Отиде до нея и каза:

  • Сeга е време да ти разкажем истината за твоите родители, тук, в присъствието на майка ти. Сега съм най-щастливата майка и баба – моите любими момичета са до мен и никога няма да ви изгубя!
  • Разкажи ми бабо, разказвай – Мая седна на малкото диванче до баба си.
  • Живеехме хубав живот, изпълнен с радост, със смях, здраве и с хората, които обичаме. Работихме от сутрин до вечер на нивата, хранехме животните, но умеехме и да се веселим, да пеем, да се събираме с приятели. В селото се появи млад и много красив мъж. Той си купи най-хубавата къща в края на селото, ремонтира я, направи я като замък. Често организираше събирания с танци и много храна. За него работеха най-работливите момци на селото. Земите му бяха плодородни, богатството му се увеличаваше, а добрината му беше пословична – баба Калина спря и погледна тъжното лице на дъщеря си. Хвана ѝ ръката и продължи –

На една от забавите за първи път взех и моята красива дъщеря Леонора. Цяла нощ стопанинът на замъка танцува само с нея, погледът му не се отместваше. Накрая ни изпрати с подаръци. Прибрахме се у дома, а съпругът ми рече: „Калино, ще омъжим нашето момиче за този прекрасен момък, не видя ли как танцува с нея цяла вечер и ни изпрати с подаръци.”

  • Нашата дъщеря ни слушаше, а очите ѝ блестяха, тя се беше влюбила в красивия младеж.

Вдигнахме сватба.  Цялото село се весели, а дъщеря ни се превърна в истинска принцеса. След година се сдобиха с чедо – момиченце с ненадмината красота и точно когато щастието беше пълно се случи най-голямата беда. Разбойници нападнаха къщата, не само я ограбиха, но убиха и красивия стопанин, и отвлякоха дъщеря ми. Единственото, което моята Леонора успяла да направи, е да скрие бебето, увито в  одеалце в печката за дърва, която от години не се ползвала и имало дупки. Така се прокрадвал въздух в печката…

Когато чухме за нещастието, хукнахме с дядо ти, търсихме във всички стаи, викахме, плачехме, докато накрая чухме детски плач да идва от запустялата печка. Дядо ти отвори капака и твоето малко личице Мая се успокои. Прибрахме се в нашата стара къща. Започнахме да се грижим за теб, търсихме вести за майка ти, но нямаше и следа.

Мая гледаше баба си и силно се притисна до рамото ѝ. Очите на Леонора изглеждаха още по-големи, като огледала, в които Мая се оглеждаше с онова особено подсъзнателно чувство, че това са очите, които сънува много често.

Тогава Леонора помоли:

  • Мамо, нека да продължа сега аз, какво се случи, когато се опитаха да ме отвлекат. Но преди това – обърна се към Мая – всяка вечер те вдигах на ръце и се вглеждах в очите ти, които са същите като на баща ти и ти пеех детска песничка, а ти се усмихваше, като че ли разбираше всичко.
  • Вечерта, когато нахлуха разбойниците и убиха баща ти, аз се скрих в една от стаите, пових те и те скрих в печката. Точно когато се измъквах от прозореца към градината, където имахме скрита пушка, ме достигна един от тези разбойници. Хвана ме за косата и когато ме дръпна към себе си, успях да го ударя по главата и да избягам. Бягах дълго, през две гори и стигнах един кладенец. Скрих се в него и ги чух да подминават кладенеца. Когато излязох не знаех коя съм и не помнех нищо. Скитах се из гората, катерих се по дърветата. Изглеждах дива, дрипава и бях много гладна. Така достигнах до прага на изоставена къща, останала без сили заспах пред портата.

Баба Калина следеше разказа, научавайки за първи път патилата на дъщеря си, а Мая още по-силно стискаше ръката на баба си.

Леонора се спря, отпи от липовия чай и продължи:

  • На сутринта се събудих в меко, удобно легло. Опитах се да стана, но нямах сили. Тогава към мен се доближи стара жена и ми подаде чаша с отвара от билки:
  • Пий момиче, много си изтощена. Сега ще ти донеса да хапнеш и малко месце и картофи.

В началото не говорех, гледах тази добра жена, но не знаех коя съм, какво да кажа и какво да правя. Превърнах се в дете, което на вид е голямо. Всеки ден по малко започнах да се възстановявам, а старата жена ми четеше приказки, готвеше и беше чисто, топло и уютно.

Жената ми разказа, че от години живее сама и че има всичко, от което се нуждае и че била монахиня. Нарушила една от клетвите и я принудили да напусне монашеския дом. Така се изолирала далече от всички и от всичко. Грижите ѝ към мен не ѝ тежяха, напротив, всяка вечер се молеше да се подобря и дори започна да си тананика. Пееше прекрасно. Една вечер жената запя детска песен, която ми се стори позната. Помолих я отново да я изпее. Запяхме двете и като порой се изсипаха сълзи от очите ми, почувствах странна болка в гръдта, но пак не осъзнавах защо. Монахинята ме прегърна и каза, че постепенно ще се възстановя и ще се сетя коя съм и къде са близките ми. Не знаех, че съм живяла така цели 5 години. Постепенно си възстановявах паметта, а в главата ми кънтеше плач на дете. В началото не знаех защо. Една сутрин чух някой да удря на вратата и се стреснах. Такова чукане, такъв шум се вдигна в нощта, когато ни нападнаха. Скочих и се скрих зад вратата, изтръпнала от ужас. Баба Траяна отвори, а пред нея стоеше човек на средна възраст. Баба Траяна подскочи от радост и го запрегръща. Това беше брат ѝ, когото не беше виждала от години. Седнахме на масата. Той ме гледаше, разпитваше, но аз все още не знаех коя съм. Тогава той извади на масата кутийка със скъпоценности и каза:

  • Бях в големия град, оттатък тази планина и търговията е оживена. Успях да закупя тези бижута, мила сестро.

Баба Траяна ги погледна:

  • Да, колко са изящни и майсторски изработени.

Старата жена ми подаде шнола за коса и чифт обеци и рече:

  • Ето, те са за тебе, ти си млада, красива.

Когато ги взех в ръцете си потреперах, това бяха моите бижута.

Обърнах се към брата на бабата и му казах:

  • Това са мои бижута – замислих се и се опитвах да си спомня как знам това.
  • Купих ги от търговец на пазара – оправда се човекът. Не подозирах, че могат да са откраднати.

Настъпи вечерта и аз си легнах, а очите ми шареха по тавана, не можех да заспя.

На другата сутрин скочих, вдигнах си косата, сложих шнолата и обеците и се погледнах в огледалото. Тогава дочух гласа на мъжа ми: „Колко си красива, ти си цялата красота на света…” и постепенно гласът затихна. Аз знаех вече коя съм. Прегърнах баба Траяна и започнах да ѝ разказвам. Брат ѝ слушаше, а баба – изтриваше сълзите от очите си. Тогава той обеща да ме върне в моето село, но му отне време да намери каручка. И ето ме тук с вас.

Малката Мая оглеждаше лицето на майка си, красивата шнола, вплетена в лъскавата ѝ коса и обеците, които приличаха на капки.

  • Аз също знам коя съм – каза Мая и погледна майка си, погали баба си.

Виелица, снегът се въртеше и изпълваше въздуха с бели завеси. Непрогледност, бeлота и студ.

Малката Мая гледаше през прозореца, когато чукането по вратата я стресна. Момичето скочи, доближи се до вратата и попита:

  • Кой е?
  • Аз съм, майка ти Леонора, отвори ми.
  • Не мога – отвърна малката Мая – баба ми заръча да не отварям на никого.
  • Да, точно така, правилно ти е заръчала баба ти, но аз съм майка ти – продължи Леонора като ту се смееше, ту се тревожеше, че не може да види и прегърне дъщеря си.

Леонора остана още малко пред вратата, долепи ухо и чу леките стъпки на Мая да се отдалечават.

Мая се доближи до печката, отвори малката вратичка, видя как тлееше огънят и бързо хвърли дървено трупче. После взе металната пръчка и разбърка, както баба ѝ я беше учила.

Залепи се отново на прозореца и видя женска фигура, загърната с огромен шал и дебело палто, бореща се със снежния вятър, опитвайки се да се придвижи. Това не беше баба ѝ. Жената беше висока, стройна, навярно беше тази, която преди малко чукаше на вратата и ѝ каза, че е нейна майка.

Мая се приближи отново до печката, сложи чайника и зачака водата да се затопли. После пусна в него липовите листа и както баба ѝ я беше научила, изчака няколко минути.

Отиде отново до прозореца и видя стройната жена почти до прозореца, закрила почти цялото си лице – само огромните ѝ черни очи се виждаха.

Жената отново почука на вратата. Мая се доближи и запита:

  • Как се казвате? Откъде идвате?
  • Аз съм майка ти, Леонора, идвам от далече, моля те, отвори ми. Кога ще се прибере баба ти?
  • Баба отиде до фермата да изроди малко козленце и да донесе прясно мляко. Тя отиде със Сивчо, който тегли каручката.
  • Отвори ми, моля те Мая, ще чакаме заедно баба ти.

Детето отиде до вратата, дръпна резето и видя  пред себе си замръзналото лице на жена с поразителна красота. Изтича обратно до печката и изчака жената да влезе.

Стройната жена свали дебелия шал от главата си. Грижливо прибрана кестенява коса с шнола от старо злато, с обеци като капки, а кожата ѝ като че ли беше загоряла от слънцето.

Сърцето на Мая биеше силно, изчакваше своята събеседничка първа да заговори.

Леонора се доближи до Мая и я погали по главата. После седна на столчето до печката и започна да си топли ръцете. Извади от чантата си  кутия захаросани плодове.

  • Искате ли липов чай? – попита Мая.
  • Да, много обичам липов чай. Твоята баба, която ми е майка, ме научи да го попарвам, тук, върху тази печка – и подаде кутията със захаросани плодове на Мая.

Мая поднесе чая в любимата си чаша и погледна жената в очите. Тя беше виждала тези очи, помнеше ги, това са очите от нейните сънища. Тогава като че ли чу и позната песничка, за миг се разсея, но погледна отново Леонора. В малката главица хаотично се въртяха мисли каква ли е връзката между нея, песничката и тези очи.

Вратата се отвори. Цялата покрита в сняг баба Калина се разтропа на прага…

  • Хайде Мая, вземи бидончето с мляко, ето тук, до вратата – и топло погледна към Мая, когато видя Леонора.

Баба Калина се засили със ситни стъпки и прегърна силно дъщеря си. Сълзите се стичаха по лицето на старицата, а Леонора я целуваше и хълцаше.

  • Мамо, мамичко, колко много те обичам…

Мая следеше тази трогателна сцена с бидончето в ръце и не знаеше какво да каже.

Баба Калина се отдръпна от дъщеря си, доближи се до Мая и ѝ каза:

  • Това е твоята прекрасна майка, запазила е красота си, от която ти си наследила много, внучето ми.

Леонора се доближи до Мая, клекна на нивото на очите ѝ и я прегърна:

  • Колко пъти съм сънувала и съм мечтала за този момент –

да се завърна и да прегърна моето скъпо момиче.

Мая не помръдваше, инстинктивно усети нещо познато, нещо, което винаги е чувствала подсъзнателно, но все още не се досещаше какво точно.

Отдръпна се с плаха усмивка и отново хвърли дръвце в печката. Там беше нейното убежище. Старата жена следеше движенията на внучката си и усети тягостно напрежение в поведението на момичето. Отиде до нея и каза:

  • Сeга е време да ти разкажем истината за твоите родители, тук, в присъствието на майка ти. Сега съм най-щастливата майка и баба – моите любими момичета са до мен и никога няма да ви изгубя!
  • Разкажи ми бабо, разказвай – Мая седна на малкото диванче до баба си.
  • Живеехме хубав живот, изпълнен с радост, със смях, здраве и с хората, които обичаме. Работихме от сутрин до вечер на нивата, хранехме животните, но умеехме и да се веселим, да пеем, да се събираме с приятели. В селото се появи млад и много красив мъж. Той си купи най-хубавата къща в края на селото, ремонтира я, направи я като замък. Често организираше събирания с танци и много храна. За него работеха най-работливите момци на селото. Земите му бяха плодородни, богатството му се увеличаваше, а добрината му беше пословична – баба Калина спря и погледна тъжното лице на дъщеря си. Хвана ѝ ръката и продължи –

На една от забавите за първи път взех и моята красива дъщеря Леонора. Цяла нощ стопанинът на замъка танцува само с нея, погледът му не се отместваше. Накрая ни изпрати с подаръци. Прибрахме се у дома, а съпругът ми рече: „Калино, ще омъжим нашето момиче за този прекрасен момък, не видя ли как танцува с нея цяла вечер и ни изпрати с подаръци.”

  • Нашата дъщеря ни слушаше, а очите ѝ блестяха, тя се беше влюбила в красивия младеж.

Вдигнахме сватба.  Цялото село се весели, а дъщеря ни се превърна в истинска принцеса. След година се сдобиха с чедо – момиченце с ненадмината красота и точно когато щастието беше пълно се случи най-голямата беда. Разбойници нападнаха къщата, не само я ограбиха, но убиха и красивия стопанин, и отвлякоха дъщеря ми. Единственото, което моята Леонора успяла да направи, е да скрие бебето, увито в  одеалце в печката за дърва, която от години не се ползвала и имало дупки. Така се прокрадвал въздух в печката…

Когато чухме за нещастието, хукнахме с дядо ти, търсихме във всички стаи, викахме, плачехме, докато накрая чухме детски плач да идва от запустялата печка. Дядо ти отвори капака и твоето малко личице Мая се успокои. Прибрахме се в нашата стара къща. Започнахме да се грижим за теб, търсихме вести за майка ти, но нямаше и следа.

Мая гледаше баба си и силно се притисна до рамото ѝ. Очите на Леонора изглеждаха още по-големи, като огледала, в които Мая се оглеждаше с онова особено подсъзнателно чувство, че това са очите, които сънува много често.

Тогава Леонора помоли:

  • Мамо, нека да продължа сега аз, какво се случи, когато се опитаха да ме отвлекат. Но преди това – обърна се към Мая – всяка вечер те вдигах на ръце и се вглеждах в очите ти, които са същите като на баща ти и ти пеех детска песничка, а ти се усмихваше, като че ли разбираше всичко.
  • Вечерта, когато нахлуха разбойниците и убиха баща ти, аз се скрих в една от стаите, пових те и те скрих в печката. Точно когато се измъквах от прозореца към градината, където имахме скрита пушка, ме достигна един от тези разбойници. Хвана ме за косата и когато ме дръпна към себе си, успях да го ударя по главата и да избягам. Бягах дълго, през две гори и стигнах един кладенец. Скрих се в него и ги чух да подминават кладенеца. Когато излязох не знаех коя съм и не помнех нищо. Скитах се из гората, катерих се по дърветата. Изглеждах дива, дрипава и бях много гладна. Така достигнах до прага на изоставена къща, останала без сили заспах пред портата.

Баба Калина следеше разказа, научавайки за първи път патилата на дъщеря си, а Мая още по-силно стискаше ръката на баба си.

Леонора се спря, отпи от липовия чай и продължи:

  • На сутринта се събудих в меко, удобно легло. Опитах се да стана, но нямах сили. Тогава към мен се доближи стара жена и ми подаде чаша с отвара от билки:
  • Пий момиче, много си изтощена. Сега ще ти донеса да хапнеш и малко месце и картофи.

В началото не говорех, гледах тази добра жена, но не знаех коя съм, какво да кажа и какво да правя. Превърнах се в дете, което на вид е голямо. Всеки ден по малко започнах да се възстановявам, а старата жена ми четеше приказки, готвеше и беше чисто, топло и уютно.

Жената ми разказа, че от години живее сама и че има всичко, от което се нуждае и че била монахиня. Нарушила една от клетвите и я принудили да напусне монашеския дом. Така се изолирала далече от всички и от всичко. Грижите ѝ към мен не ѝ тежяха, напротив, всяка вечер се молеше да се подобря и дори започна да си тананика. Пееше прекрасно. Една вечер жената запя детска песен, която ми се стори позната. Помолих я отново да я изпее. Запяхме двете и като порой се изсипаха сълзи от очите ми, почувствах странна болка в гръдта, но пак не осъзнавах защо. Монахинята ме прегърна и каза, че постепенно ще се възстановя и ще се сетя коя съм и къде са близките ми. Не знаех, че съм живяла така цели 5 години. Постепенно си възстановявах паметта, а в главата ми кънтеше плач на дете. В началото не знаех защо. Една сутрин чух някой да удря на вратата и се стреснах. Такова чукане, такъв шум се вдигна в нощта, когато ни нападнаха. Скочих и се скрих зад вратата, изтръпнала от ужас. Баба Траяна отвори, а пред нея стоеше човек на средна възраст. Баба Траяна подскочи от радост и го запрегръща. Това беше брат ѝ, когото не беше виждала от години. Седнахме на масата. Той ме гледаше, разпитваше, но аз все още не знаех коя съм. Тогава той извади на масата кутийка със скъпоценности и каза:

  • Бях в големия град, оттатък тази планина и търговията е оживена. Успях да закупя тези бижута, мила сестро.

Баба Траяна ги погледна:

  • Да, колко са изящни и майсторски изработени.

Старата жена ми подаде шнола за коса и чифт обеци и рече:

  • Ето, те са за тебе, ти си млада, красива.

Когато ги взех в ръцете си потреперах, това бяха моите бижута.

Обърнах се към брата на бабата и му казах:

  • Това са мои бижута – замислих се и се опитвах да си спомня как знам това.
  • Купих ги от търговец на пазара – оправда се човекът. Не подозирах, че могат да са откраднати.

Настъпи вечерта и аз си легнах, а очите ми шареха по тавана, не можех да заспя.

На другата сутрин скочих, вдигнах си косата, сложих шнолата и обеците и се погледнах в огледалото. Тогава дочух гласа на мъжа ми: „Колко си красива, ти си цялата красота на света…” и постепенно гласът затихна. Аз знаех вече коя съм. Прегърнах баба Траяна и започнах да ѝ разказвам. Брат ѝ слушаше, а баба – изтриваше сълзите от очите си. Тогава той обеща да ме върне в моето село, но му отне време да намери каручка. И ето ме тук с вас.

Малката Мая оглеждаше лицето на майка си, красивата шнола, вплетена в лъскавата ѝ коса и обеците, които приличаха на капки.

  • Аз също знам коя съм – каза Мая и погледна майка си, погали баба си.

v

Woodburning stove

Blizzard. The snow spun and filled the air with white curtains, opaque, white, and cold.

Little Maya looked out the window, when a knock on the door startled her. The girl ran quickly to the door.

pechka s dravza 2
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, your mother, Leonora. Open the door, please.”

“I can’t,” said little Maya. “My grandmother told me not to open the door to anyone.”

“Yes, that’s right, what your grandmother ordered you, but I’m your mother,” Leonora continued, worried that she couldn’t see and hug her daughter.

Leonora stayed little longer, with her ear close to the door and heard Maya’s light footsteps drift away.

Maya went to the stove, opened its lid, looked at the smoldering fire, and quickly tossed in a log. Then she took the metal rod and stirred as her grandmother had taught her.

She was back to the window and saw a female figure wrapped in a huge scarf and a thick coat, struggling with the snow and wind, trying to move and stay warm. It wasn’t her grandmother. The woman was tall, slender, probably the one who had knocked on the door a while ago and told her that she was her mother.

Maya ran to the stove again, put the tea kettle on, and waited for the water to boil. Then she dropped in the linden leaves, and, as her grandmother had taught her, she waited a few minutes for the tea to brew.

She went back to the window and saw the slender woman closer to the window, shielding her face, and only her huge, black eyes were visible.

The woman knocked on the door again. Maya asked: “What is your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m your mother, Leonora. I came from far away. Please open the door. When do you expect your grandmother to be back?”

pechka s dravza 4
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

“Grandma went to the farm to help for the delivery of a baby goat and to bring some fresh milk. She went with Sivcho, who pulled the cart.”

“Please, Maya, don’t keep me outside on the cold. We’ll wait for your grandmother together.”

The child walked to the door, pulled the latch, and saw the frozen face of a woman of striking beauty in front of her. She ran back to the stove and waited for the woman to come in.

The slender woman removed the thick scarf from her head. Her brown hair was carefully tucked away with a clip of rusty-gold color, and she wore beautiful earrings. Her skin seemed to be tanned by the sun.

Maya’s heart was pounding, waiting for her guest to speak first.

Leonora approached Maya and stroked her head. Then she sat on the stool by the stove and began to warm her hands. She took out a box of sugar-coated fruits from her bag.

“Do you want linden tea?” Maya offered.

pechka sa dravza 3
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

“Yes, I love linden tea very much. Your grandmother, who is my mother, taught me to brew it here on this stove,” she said and handed the box of candied fruits to Maya.

Maya served tea in her favorite cup and looked at the woman in the eyes. She had seen those eyes, remembered them. These were the eyes from her dreams. Then, as if she heard a familiar song, she was distracted for a moment, but she looked back at Leonora. Chaotic thoughts swirled in her little head, about the connection between this woman, the song, and those eyes.

The door opened. Grandma Kalina, all covered in snow, stood in the threshold…

“Maya, please get the milk can, right here by the door.” She looked warmly at Maya when she saw Leonora. Grandmother Kalina ran with tiny steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Tears streamed down the old woman’s face, and Leonora kissed her mother and started to cry.

“Mom, Mom, how much I love you…”

Maya followed this moving scene, with the can in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

Grandma Kalina moved away from her daughter, approached Maya, and said to her, “This is your beautiful mother. She has preserved her beauty of which you have inherited a great deal, my grandchild.”

Leonora got closer to Maya, knelt at the level of her eyes, and hugged her.

“How many times I have dreamed and dreamed of this moment—to come back and hug my dear girl.”

Maya did not move, instinctively feeling something familiar, something she had always felt subconsciously, but still had no idea what exactly.

She ran away with a timid smile and threw a log into the stove again. The log-burning stove was her refuge. The old woman watched her granddaughter’s movements and felt a heavy strain by the girl’s behavior. She went to her and said, “Now it is the time to tell you the truth about your parents, here, in the presence of your mother. Now I am the happiest mother and grandmother. My favorite girls are next to me, and I will never lose you!”

“Tell me, Grandma, tell me.” Maya sat on the small sofa next to her loving granny.

“We lived a good life filled with joy, laughter, health, and with the people we love,” started the old woman. “We worked from morning till evening on the fields, feeding the animals, but we were also able to have joy, to sing, to meet friends. A young and very handsome man appeared in the village. He bought the best house at the end of the village, renovated it, turned it into a castle. He often organized gatherings with dances and lots of food. The hardest working guys of the village worked for him. His lands were fertile, his wealth increased, and his kindness was legendary.” Grandma Kalina stopped and looked at her daughter’s sad face. She grabbed her arm and continued. “At one of the parties, for the first time we also took my beautiful daughter, Leonora. Throughout the night, the master of the castle danced only with her. His gaze did not shift from our Leonora’s beautiful face. At the end of the evening, he saw us at the door with presents.

pechka s dravza 1
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

“We got home and my husband said, ‘Kalina, we’re going to marry our girl to this lovely boy. Did you see him dancing with her all night and sent us home with presents?’

“Our daughter listened to us, and her eyes sparkled. She had fallen in love with the handsome, young man. We organized a wedding. The whole village was invited, and our daughter became a real princess. A year later, they got a baby, a girl of unsurpassed beauty. And just when happiness was full, the biggest misfortune happened. Robbers attacked the house, not only robbing it, but also killing the handsome landlord and abducting my daughter. The only thing my Leonora was able to do was to hide the baby, wrapped in a blanket in a wood stove that had not been used for years and had holes. This is how some air could pass through in the stove… When we heard about the misfortune, your grandfather and I ran into their castle, searched all the rooms, shouted, and wept, until we finally heard a baby cry coming from the empty stove. Your grandfather opened the lid, and your little face, Maya, calmed down. We went back to our old house with you. We looked after you, looked for news about your mother, but there was no sign.”

Maya looked at her grandmother and pressed hard against her shoulder. Leonora’s eyes were even bigger, like dark mirrors in which Maya gazed with that peculiar, subconscious feeling that these were the eyes she dreamed of very often.

Then Leonora said: “Mom, let me tell you what happened when they tried to kidnap me.”

She turned to Maya. “Every night I raised you up with my hands and looked into your eyes, which are the same as your father’s, and I sang to you a baby song, and you smiled as if you understood everything.

“In the evening, when the robbers attacked and killed your father, I hid in one of the rooms, wrapped you in a blanket and hid you in the stove. Just as I was escaping out the window to the garden where we had a concealed rifle, one of these robbers reached me. He grabbed my hair, and when he pulled me toward himself, I was able to hit him on the head and escape. I ran a long way through the woods and reached a well. I hid in it and heard them pass the well. When I came out, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t remember anything. I wandered through the woods, climbed trees. I looked wild, rugged, and was very hungry. I reached the doorstep of a house and left without strength. I fell asleep at the gate.”

Grandmother Kalina listened to the story, learning for the first time of her daughter’s torments, and Maya squeezed her grandmother’s hand even harder.

Leonora stopped, sipped her linden tea, and continued. “I woke up in the morning in a soft, comfortable bed. I tried to get up but had no strength. Then an old woman approached me and handed me a glass of an infusion of herbs. She said, ‘Drink, girl, you seem exhausted. Now, I’ll get you a snack.’

“At first, I didn’t talk. I looked at this good woman’s face, but I didn’t know who I was, what to say, and what to do. I had become a kid. Every day I began to recover, and my old woman friend read stories and she cooked. It was clean, warm, and cozy.

“My new friend told me that she had lived alone for years and that she had everything she needed and that she used to be a nun. Her name was Trayana. She violated one of the oaths and was forced to leave the monastic home. Thus, she isolated herself from everyone and everything. She cared for me and didn’t feel it as a burden. On the contrary, she prayed every night to help me improve, and even began to hum. She sang beautifully. One evening she sang a song I thought was familiar. I asked her to sing it again. We both sang, and tears rolled down my face. I felt a strange pain in my chest, but I still didn’t understand why. The nun hugged me and said that I would gradually recover and remember who I was and where my loved ones were. I didn’t know I lived that way for five years. Gradually, I regained my memory, and a cry of a child erupted in my head. At first, I didn’t know why.

“One morning I heard someone bang on the door, and I was scared. Such noise was made the night we were attacked with my husband. I jumped and hid behind the door, terrified. Granny Trayana, the nun, opened the door, and a middle-aged man appeared in front of her. Granny Trayana jumped for joy and hugged him. It was her brother she hadn’t seen for years. We sat at the table. The man looked at me, asked me who I was, but I still didn’t know. Then he placed a jewelry box on the table and said: ‘I was in the big city, beyond this mountain, and the trade is lively. I managed to buy this jewelry, my dear sister.’

“Grandma Trayana looked at the jewelry and said, ‘Yes, how exquisite and masterfully crafted.’ The old woman handed me a hair clip and a pair of earrings and said: ‘Here. They are for you. You are young and beautiful.’

“When I took them in my hands, I shook. This was my jewelry. I turned to Granny Trayana’s brother. ‘These are my jewels,’ I said, trying to remember how I knew that.

“‘I bought them from a market trader,’ the man said. ‘I didn’t suspect they could have been stolen.’

“It was evening, and I went to bed. My eyes stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I jumped up, picked up my hair clip, put it in my hair, put on the beautiful earrings, and looked myself in the mirror. Then I heard my husband’s voice: ‘How beautiful you are. You are all the beauty in the world…’ Gradually the voice stopped. I then knew who I was. I hugged Trayana and told her my story. Her brother listened, while she wiped her tears. Then he promised to bring me back to my village, but it took him time to find a carriage. And here I am with you.”

Little Maya looked at her mother’s face, the beautiful hair clip woven into her shiny hair, and the earrings that looked like drops.

“I also know who I am,” Maya said, looking at her mother, hugging her grandmother.

Blizzard. The snow spun and filled the air with white curtains, opaque, white, and cold.

Little Maya looked out the window, when a knock on the door startled her. The girl ran quickly to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, your mother, Leonora. Open the door, please.”

“I can’t,” said little Maya. “My grandmother told me not to open the door to anyone.”

“Yes, that’s right, what your grandmother ordered you, but I’m your mother,” Leonora continued, worried that she couldn’t see and hug her daughter.

Leonora stayed little longer, with her ear close to the door and heard Maya’s light footsteps drift away.

Maya went to the stove, opened its lid, looked at the smoldering fire, and quickly tossed in a log. Then she took the metal rod and stirred as her grandmother had taught her.

She was back to the window and saw a female figure wrapped in a huge scarf and a thick coat, struggling with the snow and wind, trying to move and stay warm. It wasn’t her grandmother. The woman was tall, slender, probably the one who had knocked on the door a while ago and told her that she was her mother.

Maya ran to the stove again, put the tea kettle on, and waited for the water to boil. Then she dropped in the linden leaves, and, as her grandmother had taught her, she waited a few minutes for the tea to brew.

She went back to the window and saw the slender woman closer to the window, shielding her face, and only her huge, black eyes were visible.

The woman knocked on the door again. Maya asked: “What is your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m your mother, Leonora. I came from far away. Please open the door. When do you expect your grandmother to be back?”

“Grandma went to the farm to help for the delivery of a baby goat and to bring some fresh milk. She went with Sivcho, who pulled the cart.”

“Please, Maya, don’t keep me outside on the cold. We’ll wait for your grandmother together.”

The child walked to the door, pulled the latch, and saw the frozen face of a woman of striking beauty in front of her. She ran back to the stove and waited for the woman to come in.

The slender woman removed the thick scarf from her head. Her brown hair was carefully tucked away with a clip of rusty-gold color, and she wore beautiful earrings. Her skin seemed to be tanned by the sun.

Maya’s heart was pounding, waiting for her guest to speak first.

Leonora approached Maya and stroked her head. Then she sat on the stool by the stove and began to warm her hands. She took out a box of sugar-coated fruits from her bag.

“Do you want linden tea?” Maya offered.

“Yes, I love linden tea very much. Your grandmother, who is my mother, taught me to brew it here on this stove,” she said and handed the box of candied fruits to Maya.

Maya served tea in her favorite cup and looked at the woman in the eyes. She had seen those eyes, remembered them. These were the eyes from her dreams. Then, as if she heard a familiar song, she was distracted for a moment, but she looked back at Leonora. Chaotic thoughts swirled in her little head, about the connection between this woman, the song, and those eyes.

The door opened. Grandma Kalina, all covered in snow, stood in the threshold…

“Maya, please get the milk can, right here by the door.” She looked warmly at Maya when she saw Leonora. Grandmother Kalina ran with tiny steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Tears streamed down the old woman’s face, and Leonora kissed her mother and started to cry.

“Mom, Mom, how much I love you…”

Maya followed this moving scene, with the can in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

Grandma Kalina moved away from her daughter, approached Maya, and said to her, “This is your beautiful mother. She has preserved her beauty of which you have inherited a great deal, my grandchild.”

Leonora got closer to Maya, knelt at the level of her eyes, and hugged her.

“How many times I have dreamed and dreamed of this moment—to come back and hug my dear girl.”

Maya did not move, instinctively feeling something familiar, something she had always felt subconsciously, but still had no idea what exactly.

She ran away with a timid smile and threw a log into the stove again. The log-burning stove was her refuge. The old woman watched her granddaughter’s movements and felt a heavy strain by the girl’s behavior. She went to her and said, “Now it is the time to tell you the truth about your parents, here, in the presence of your mother. Now I am the happiest mother and grandmother. My favorite girls are next to me, and I will never lose you!”

“Tell me, Grandma, tell me.” Maya sat on the small sofa next to her loving granny.

“We lived a good life filled with joy, laughter, health, and with the people we love,” started the old woman. “We worked from morning till evening on the fields, feeding the animals, but we were also able to have joy, to sing, to meet friends. A young and very handsome man appeared in the village. He bought the best house at the end of the village, renovated it, turned it into a castle. He often organized gatherings with dances and lots of food. The hardest working guys of the village worked for him. His lands were fertile, his wealth increased, and his kindness was legendary.” Grandma Kalina stopped and looked at her daughter’s sad face. She grabbed her arm and continued. “At one of the parties, for the first time we also took my beautiful daughter, Leonora. Throughout the night, the master of the castle danced only with her. His gaze did not shift from our Leonora’s beautiful face. At the end of the evening, he saw us at the door with presents.

“We got home and my husband said, ‘Kalina, we’re going to marry our girl to this lovely boy. Did you see him dancing with her all night and sent us home with presents?’

“Our daughter listened to us, and her eyes sparkled. She had fallen in love with the handsome, young man. We organized a wedding. The whole village was invited, and our daughter became a real princess. A year later, they got a baby, a girl of unsurpassed beauty. And just when happiness was full, the biggest misfortune happened. Robbers attacked the house, not only robbing it, but also killing the handsome landlord and abducting my daughter. The only thing my Leonora was able to do was to hide the baby, wrapped in a blanket in a wood stove that had not been used for years and had holes. This is how some air could pass through in the stove… When we heard about the misfortune, your grandfather and I ran into their castle, searched all the rooms, shouted, and wept, until we finally heard a baby cry coming from the empty stove. Your grandfather opened the lid, and your little face, Maya, calmed down. We went back to our old house with you. We looked after you, looked for news about your mother, but there was no sign.”

Maya looked at her grandmother and pressed hard against her shoulder. Leonora’s eyes were even bigger, like dark mirrors in which Maya gazed with that peculiar, subconscious feeling that these were the eyes she dreamed of very often.

Then Leonora said: “Mom, let me tell you what happened when they tried to kidnap me.”

She turned to Maya. “Every night I raised you up with my hands and looked into your eyes, which are the same as your father’s, and I sang to you a baby song, and you smiled as if you understood everything.

“In the evening, when the robbers attacked and killed your father, I hid in one of the rooms, wrapped you in a blanket and hid you in the stove. Just as I was escaping out the window to the garden where we had a concealed rifle, one of these robbers reached me. He grabbed my hair, and when he pulled me toward himself, I was able to hit him on the head and escape. I ran a long way through the woods and reached a well. I hid in it and heard them pass the well. When I came out, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t remember anything. I wandered through the woods, climbed trees. I looked wild, rugged, and was very hungry. I reached the doorstep of a house and left without strength. I fell asleep at the gate.”

Grandmother Kalina listened to the story, learning for the first time of her daughter’s torments, and Maya squeezed her grandmother’s hand even harder.

Leonora stopped, sipped her linden tea, and continued. “I woke up in the morning in a soft, comfortable bed. I tried to get up but had no strength. Then an old woman approached me and handed me a glass of an infusion of herbs. She said, ‘Drink, girl, you seem exhausted. Now, I’ll get you a snack.’

“At first, I didn’t talk. I looked at this good woman’s face, but I didn’t know who I was, what to say, and what to do. I had become a kid. Every day I began to recover, and my old woman friend read stories and she cooked. It was clean, warm, and cozy.

“My new friend told me that she had lived alone for years and that she had everything she needed and that she used to be a nun. Her name was Trayana. She violated one of the oaths and was forced to leave the monastic home. Thus, she isolated herself from everyone and everything. She cared for me and didn’t feel it as a burden. On the contrary, she prayed every night to help me improve, and even began to hum. She sang beautifully. One evening she sang a song I thought was familiar. I asked her to sing it again. We both sang, and tears rolled down my face. I felt a strange pain in my chest, but I still didn’t understand why. The nun hugged me and said that I would gradually recover and remember who I was and where my loved ones were. I didn’t know I lived that way for five years. Gradually, I regained my memory, and a cry of a child erupted in my head. At first, I didn’t know why.

“One morning I heard someone bang on the door, and I was scared. Such noise was made the night we were attacked with my husband. I jumped and hid behind the door, terrified. Granny Trayana, the nun, opened the door, and a middle-aged man appeared in front of her. Granny Trayana jumped for joy and hugged him. It was her brother she hadn’t seen for years. We sat at the table. The man looked at me, asked me who I was, but I still didn’t know. Then he placed a jewelry box on the table and said: ‘I was in the big city, beyond this mountain, and the trade is lively. I managed to buy this jewelry, my dear sister.’

“Grandma Trayana looked at the jewelry and said, ‘Yes, how exquisite and masterfully crafted.’ The old woman handed me a hair clip and a pair of earrings and said: ‘Here. They are for you. You are young and beautiful.’

“When I took them in my hands, I shook. This was my jewelry. I turned to Granny Trayana’s brother. ‘These are my jewels,’ I said, trying to remember how I knew that.

“‘I bought them from a market trader,’ the man said. ‘I didn’t suspect they could have been stolen.’

“It was evening, and I went to bed. My eyes stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I jumped up, picked up my hair clip, put it in my hair, put on the beautiful earrings, and looked myself in the mirror. Then I heard my husband’s voice: ‘How beautiful you are. You are all the beauty in the world…’ Gradually the voice stopped. I then knew who I was. I hugged Trayana and told her my story. Her brother listened, while she wiped her tears. Then he promised to bring me back to my village, but it took him time to find a carriage. And here I am with you.”

Little Maya looked at her mother’s face, the beautiful hair clip woven into her shiny hair, and the earrings that looked like drops.

“I also know who I am,” Maya said, looking at her mother, hugging her grandmother.

Blizzard. The snow spun and filled the air with white curtains, opaque, white, and cold.

Little Maya looked out the window, when a knock on the door startled her. The girl ran quickly to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, your mother, Leonora. Open the door, please.”

“I can’t,” said little Maya. “My grandmother told me not to open the door to anyone.”

“Yes, that’s right, what your grandmother ordered you, but I’m your mother,” Leonora continued, worried that she couldn’t see and hug her daughter.

Leonora stayed little longer, with her ear close to the door and heard Maya’s light footsteps drift away.

Maya went to the stove, opened its lid, looked at the smoldering fire, and quickly tossed in a log. Then she took the metal rod and stirred as her grandmother had taught her.

She was back to the window and saw a female figure wrapped in a huge scarf and a thick coat, struggling with the snow and wind, trying to move and stay warm. It wasn’t her grandmother. The woman was tall, slender, probably the one who had knocked on the door a while ago and told her that she was her mother.

Maya ran to the stove again, put the tea kettle on, and waited for the water to boil. Then she dropped in the linden leaves, and, as her grandmother had taught her, she waited a few minutes for the tea to brew.

She went back to the window and saw the slender woman closer to the window, shielding her face, and only her huge, black eyes were visible.

The woman knocked on the door again. Maya asked: “What is your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m your mother, Leonora. I came from far away. Please open the door. When do you expect your grandmother to be back?”

“Grandma went to the farm to help for the delivery of a baby goat and to bring some fresh milk. She went with Sivcho, who pulled the cart.”

“Please, Maya, don’t keep me outside on the cold. We’ll wait for your grandmother together.”

The child walked to the door, pulled the latch, and saw the frozen face of a woman of striking beauty in front of her. She ran back to the stove and waited for the woman to come in.

The slender woman removed the thick scarf from her head. Her brown hair was carefully tucked away with a clip of rusty-gold color, and she wore beautiful earrings. Her skin seemed to be tanned by the sun.

Maya’s heart was pounding, waiting for her guest to speak first.

Leonora approached Maya and stroked her head. Then she sat on the stool by the stove and began to warm her hands. She took out a box of sugar-coated fruits from her bag.

“Do you want linden tea?” Maya offered.

“Yes, I love linden tea very much. Your grandmother, who is my mother, taught me to brew it here on this stove,” she said and handed the box of candied fruits to Maya.

Maya served tea in her favorite cup and looked at the woman in the eyes. She had seen those eyes, remembered them. These were the eyes from her dreams. Then, as if she heard a familiar song, she was distracted for a moment, but she looked back at Leonora. Chaotic thoughts swirled in her little head, about the connection between this woman, the song, and those eyes.

The door opened. Grandma Kalina, all covered in snow, stood in the threshold…

“Maya, please get the milk can, right here by the door.” She looked warmly at Maya when she saw Leonora. Grandmother Kalina ran with tiny steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Tears streamed down the old woman’s face, and Leonora kissed her mother and started to cry.

“Mom, Mom, how much I love you…”

Maya followed this moving scene, with the can in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

Grandma Kalina moved away from her daughter, approached Maya, and said to her, “This is your beautiful mother. She has preserved her beauty of which you have inherited a great deal, my grandchild.”

Leonora got closer to Maya, knelt at the level of her eyes, and hugged her.

“How many times I have dreamed and dreamed of this moment—to come back and hug my dear girl.”

Maya did not move, instinctively feeling something familiar, something she had always felt subconsciously, but still had no idea what exactly.

She ran away with a timid smile and threw a log into the stove again. The log-burning stove was her refuge. The old woman watched her granddaughter’s movements and felt a heavy strain by the girl’s behavior. She went to her and said, “Now it is the time to tell you the truth about your parents, here, in the presence of your mother. Now I am the happiest mother and grandmother. My favorite girls are next to me, and I will never lose you!”

“Tell me, Grandma, tell me.” Maya sat on the small sofa next to her loving granny.

“We lived a good life filled with joy, laughter, health, and with the people we love,” started the old woman. “We worked from morning till evening on the fields, feeding the animals, but we were also able to have joy, to sing, to meet friends. A young and very handsome man appeared in the village. He bought the best house at the end of the village, renovated it, turned it into a castle. He often organized gatherings with dances and lots of food. The hardest working guys of the village worked for him. His lands were fertile, his wealth increased, and his kindness was legendary.” Grandma Kalina stopped and looked at her daughter’s sad face. She grabbed her arm and continued. “At one of the parties, for the first time we also took my beautiful daughter, Leonora. Throughout the night, the master of the castle danced only with her. His gaze did not shift from our Leonora’s beautiful face. At the end of the evening, he saw us at the door with presents.

“We got home and my husband said, ‘Kalina, we’re going to marry our girl to this lovely boy. Did you see him dancing with her all night and sent us home with presents?’

“Our daughter listened to us, and her eyes sparkled. She had fallen in love with the handsome, young man. We organized a wedding. The whole village was invited, and our daughter became a real princess. A year later, they got a baby, a girl of unsurpassed beauty. And just when happiness was full, the biggest misfortune happened. Robbers attacked the house, not only robbing it, but also killing the handsome landlord and abducting my daughter. The only thing my Leonora was able to do was to hide the baby, wrapped in a blanket in a wood stove that had not been used for years and had holes. This is how some air could pass through in the stove… When we heard about the misfortune, your grandfather and I ran into their castle, searched all the rooms, shouted, and wept, until we finally heard a baby cry coming from the empty stove. Your grandfather opened the lid, and your little face, Maya, calmed down. We went back to our old house with you. We looked after you, looked for news about your mother, but there was no sign.”

Maya looked at her grandmother and pressed hard against her shoulder. Leonora’s eyes were even bigger, like dark mirrors in which Maya gazed with that peculiar, subconscious feeling that these were the eyes she dreamed of very often.

Then Leonora said: “Mom, let me tell you what happened when they tried to kidnap me.”

She turned to Maya. “Every night I raised you up with my hands and looked into your eyes, which are the same as your father’s, and I sang to you a baby song, and you smiled as if you understood everything.

“In the evening, when the robbers attacked and killed your father, I hid in one of the rooms, wrapped you in a blanket and hid you in the stove. Just as I was escaping out the window to the garden where we had a concealed rifle, one of these robbers reached me. He grabbed my hair, and when he pulled me toward himself, I was able to hit him on the head and escape. I ran a long way through the woods and reached a well. I hid in it and heard them pass the well. When I came out, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t remember anything. I wandered through the woods, climbed trees. I looked wild, rugged, and was very hungry. I reached the doorstep of a house and left without strength. I fell asleep at the gate.”

Grandmother Kalina listened to the story, learning for the first time of her daughter’s torments, and Maya squeezed her grandmother’s hand even harder.

Leonora stopped, sipped her linden tea, and continued. “I woke up in the morning in a soft, comfortable bed. I tried to get up but had no strength. Then an old woman approached me and handed me a glass of an infusion of herbs. She said, ‘Drink, girl, you seem exhausted. Now, I’ll get you a snack.’

“At first, I didn’t talk. I looked at this good woman’s face, but I didn’t know who I was, what to say, and what to do. I had become a kid. Every day I began to recover, and my old woman friend read stories and she cooked. It was clean, warm, and cozy.

“My new friend told me that she had lived alone for years and that she had everything she needed and that she used to be a nun. Her name was Trayana. She violated one of the oaths and was forced to leave the monastic home. Thus, she isolated herself from everyone and everything. She cared for me and didn’t feel it as a burden. On the contrary, she prayed every night to help me improve, and even began to hum. She sang beautifully. One evening she sang a song I thought was familiar. I asked her to sing it again. We both sang, and tears rolled down my face. I felt a strange pain in my chest, but I still didn’t understand why. The nun hugged me and said that I would gradually recover and remember who I was and where my loved ones were. I didn’t know I lived that way for five years. Gradually, I regained my memory, and a cry of a child erupted in my head. At first, I didn’t know why.

“One morning I heard someone bang on the door, and I was scared. Such noise was made the night we were attacked with my husband. I jumped and hid behind the door, terrified. Granny Trayana, the nun, opened the door, and a middle-aged man appeared in front of her. Granny Trayana jumped for joy and hugged him. It was her brother she hadn’t seen for years. We sat at the table. The man looked at me, asked me who I was, but I still didn’t know. Then he placed a jewelry box on the table and said: ‘I was in the big city, beyond this mountain, and the trade is lively. I managed to buy this jewelry, my dear sister.’

“Grandma Trayana looked at the jewelry and said, ‘Yes, how exquisite and masterfully crafted.’ The old woman handed me a hair clip and a pair of earrings and said: ‘Here. They are for you. You are young and beautiful.’

“When I took them in my hands, I shook. This was my jewelry. I turned to Granny Trayana’s brother. ‘These are my jewels,’ I said, trying to remember how I knew that.

“‘I bought them from a market trader,’ the man said. ‘I didn’t suspect they could have been stolen.’

“It was evening, and I went to bed. My eyes stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I jumped up, picked up my hair clip, put it in my hair, put on the beautiful earrings, and looked myself in the mirror. Then I heard my husband’s voice: ‘How beautiful you are. You are all the beauty in the world…’ Gradually the voice stopped. I then knew who I was. I hugged Trayana and told her my story. Her brother listened, while she wiped her tears. Then he promised to bring me back to my village, but it took him time to find a carriage. And here I am with you.”

Little Maya looked at her mother’s face, the beautiful hair clip woven into her shiny hair, and the earrings that looked like drops.

“I also know who I am,” Maya said, looking at her mother, hugging her grandmother.

Blizzard. The snow spun and filled the air with white curtains, opaque, white, and cold.

Little Maya looked out the window, when a knock on the door startled her. The girl ran quickly to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, your mother, Leonora. Open the door, please.”

“I can’t,” said little Maya. “My grandmother told me not to open the door to anyone.”

“Yes, that’s right, what your grandmother ordered you, but I’m your mother,” Leonora continued, worried that she couldn’t see and hug her daughter.

Leonora stayed little longer, with her ear close to the door and heard Maya’s light footsteps drift away.

Maya went to the stove, opened its lid, looked at the smoldering fire, and quickly tossed in a log. Then she took the metal rod and stirred as her grandmother had taught her.

She was back to the window and saw a female figure wrapped in a huge scarf and a thick coat, struggling with the snow and wind, trying to move and stay warm. It wasn’t her grandmother. The woman was tall, slender, probably the one who had knocked on the door a while ago and told her that she was her mother.

Maya ran to the stove again, put the tea kettle on, and waited for the water to boil. Then she dropped in the linden leaves, and, as her grandmother had taught her, she waited a few minutes for the tea to brew.

She went back to the window and saw the slender woman closer to the window, shielding her face, and only her huge, black eyes were visible.

The woman knocked on the door again. Maya asked: “What is your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m your mother, Leonora. I came from far away. Please open the door. When do you expect your grandmother to be back?”

“Grandma went to the farm to help for the delivery of a baby goat and to bring some fresh milk. She went with Sivcho, who pulled the cart.”

“Please, Maya, don’t keep me outside on the cold. We’ll wait for your grandmother together.”

The child walked to the door, pulled the latch, and saw the frozen face of a woman of striking beauty in front of her. She ran back to the stove and waited for the woman to come in.

The slender woman removed the thick scarf from her head. Her brown hair was carefully tucked away with a clip of rusty-gold color, and she wore beautiful earrings. Her skin seemed to be tanned by the sun.

Maya’s heart was pounding, waiting for her guest to speak first.

Leonora approached Maya and stroked her head. Then she sat on the stool by the stove and began to warm her hands. She took out a box of sugar-coated fruits from her bag.

“Do you want linden tea?” Maya offered.

“Yes, I love linden tea very much. Your grandmother, who is my mother, taught me to brew it here on this stove,” she said and handed the box of candied fruits to Maya.

Maya served tea in her favorite cup and looked at the woman in the eyes. She had seen those eyes, remembered them. These were the eyes from her dreams. Then, as if she heard a familiar song, she was distracted for a moment, but she looked back at Leonora. Chaotic thoughts swirled in her little head, about the connection between this woman, the song, and those eyes.

The door opened. Grandma Kalina, all covered in snow, stood in the threshold…

“Maya, please get the milk can, right here by the door.” She looked warmly at Maya when she saw Leonora. Grandmother Kalina ran with tiny steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Tears streamed down the old woman’s face, and Leonora kissed her mother and started to cry.

“Mom, Mom, how much I love you…”

Maya followed this moving scene, with the can in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

Grandma Kalina moved away from her daughter, approached Maya, and said to her, “This is your beautiful mother. She has preserved her beauty of which you have inherited a great deal, my grandchild.”

Leonora got closer to Maya, knelt at the level of her eyes, and hugged her.

“How many times I have dreamed and dreamed of this moment—to come back and hug my dear girl.”

Maya did not move, instinctively feeling something familiar, something she had always felt subconsciously, but still had no idea what exactly.

She ran away with a timid smile and threw a log into the stove again. The log-burning stove was her refuge. The old woman watched her granddaughter’s movements and felt a heavy strain by the girl’s behavior. She went to her and said, “Now it is the time to tell you the truth about your parents, here, in the presence of your mother. Now I am the happiest mother and grandmother. My favorite girls are next to me, and I will never lose you!”

“Tell me, Grandma, tell me.” Maya sat on the small sofa next to her loving granny.

“We lived a good life filled with joy, laughter, health, and with the people we love,” started the old woman. “We worked from morning till evening on the fields, feeding the animals, but we were also able to have joy, to sing, to meet friends. A young and very handsome man appeared in the village. He bought the best house at the end of the village, renovated it, turned it into a castle. He often organized gatherings with dances and lots of food. The hardest working guys of the village worked for him. His lands were fertile, his wealth increased, and his kindness was legendary.” Grandma Kalina stopped and looked at her daughter’s sad face. She grabbed her arm and continued. “At one of the parties, for the first time we also took my beautiful daughter, Leonora. Throughout the night, the master of the castle danced only with her. His gaze did not shift from our Leonora’s beautiful face. At the end of the evening, he saw us at the door with presents.

“We got home and my husband said, ‘Kalina, we’re going to marry our girl to this lovely boy. Did you see him dancing with her all night and sent us home with presents?’

“Our daughter listened to us, and her eyes sparkled. She had fallen in love with the handsome, young man. We organized a wedding. The whole village was invited, and our daughter became a real princess. A year later, they got a baby, a girl of unsurpassed beauty. And just when happiness was full, the biggest misfortune happened. Robbers attacked the house, not only robbing it, but also killing the handsome landlord and abducting my daughter. The only thing my Leonora was able to do was to hide the baby, wrapped in a blanket in a wood stove that had not been used for years and had holes. This is how some air could pass through in the stove… When we heard about the misfortune, your grandfather and I ran into their castle, searched all the rooms, shouted, and wept, until we finally heard a baby cry coming from the empty stove. Your grandfather opened the lid, and your little face, Maya, calmed down. We went back to our old house with you. We looked after you, looked for news about your mother, but there was no sign.”

Maya looked at her grandmother and pressed hard against her shoulder. Leonora’s eyes were even bigger, like dark mirrors in which Maya gazed with that peculiar, subconscious feeling that these were the eyes she dreamed of very often.

Then Leonora said: “Mom, let me tell you what happened when they tried to kidnap me.”

She turned to Maya. “Every night I raised you up with my hands and looked into your eyes, which are the same as your father’s, and I sang to you a baby song, and you smiled as if you understood everything.

“In the evening, when the robbers attacked and killed your father, I hid in one of the rooms, wrapped you in a blanket and hid you in the stove. Just as I was escaping out the window to the garden where we had a concealed rifle, one of these robbers reached me. He grabbed my hair, and when he pulled me toward himself, I was able to hit him on the head and escape. I ran a long way through the woods and reached a well. I hid in it and heard them pass the well. When I came out, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t remember anything. I wandered through the woods, climbed trees. I looked wild, rugged, and was very hungry. I reached the doorstep of a house and left without strength. I fell asleep at the gate.”

Grandmother Kalina listened to the story, learning for the first time of her daughter’s torments, and Maya squeezed her grandmother’s hand even harder.

Leonora stopped, sipped her linden tea, and continued. “I woke up in the morning in a soft, comfortable bed. I tried to get up but had no strength. Then an old woman approached me and handed me a glass of an infusion of herbs. She said, ‘Drink, girl, you seem exhausted. Now, I’ll get you a snack.’

“At first, I didn’t talk. I looked at this good woman’s face, but I didn’t know who I was, what to say, and what to do. I had become a kid. Every day I began to recover, and my old woman friend read stories and she cooked. It was clean, warm, and cozy.

“My new friend told me that she had lived alone for years and that she had everything she needed and that she used to be a nun. Her name was Trayana. She violated one of the oaths and was forced to leave the monastic home. Thus, she isolated herself from everyone and everything. She cared for me and didn’t feel it as a burden. On the contrary, she prayed every night to help me improve, and even began to hum. She sang beautifully. One evening she sang a song I thought was familiar. I asked her to sing it again. We both sang, and tears rolled down my face. I felt a strange pain in my chest, but I still didn’t understand why. The nun hugged me and said that I would gradually recover and remember who I was and where my loved ones were. I didn’t know I lived that way for five years. Gradually, I regained my memory, and a cry of a child erupted in my head. At first, I didn’t know why.

“One morning I heard someone bang on the door, and I was scared. Such noise was made the night we were attacked with my husband. I jumped and hid behind the door, terrified. Granny Trayana, the nun, opened the door, and a middle-aged man appeared in front of her. Granny Trayana jumped for joy and hugged him. It was her brother she hadn’t seen for years. We sat at the table. The man looked at me, asked me who I was, but I still didn’t know. Then he placed a jewelry box on the table and said: ‘I was in the big city, beyond this mountain, and the trade is lively. I managed to buy this jewelry, my dear sister.’

“Grandma Trayana looked at the jewelry and said, ‘Yes, how exquisite and masterfully crafted.’ The old woman handed me a hair clip and a pair of earrings and said: ‘Here. They are for you. You are young and beautiful.’

“When I took them in my hands, I shook. This was my jewelry. I turned to Granny Trayana’s brother. ‘These are my jewels,’ I said, trying to remember how I knew that.

“‘I bought them from a market trader,’ the man said. ‘I didn’t suspect they could have been stolen.’

“It was evening, and I went to bed. My eyes stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I jumped up, picked up my hair clip, put it in my hair, put on the beautiful earrings, and looked myself in the mirror. Then I heard my husband’s voice: ‘How beautiful you are. You are all the beauty in the world…’ Gradually the voice stopped. I then knew who I was. I hugged Trayana and told her my story. Her brother listened, while she wiped her tears. Then he promised to bring me back to my village, but it took him time to find a carriage. And here I am with you.”

Little Maya looked at her mother’s face, the beautiful hair clip woven into her shiny hair, and the earrings that looked like drops.

“I also know who I am,” Maya said, looking at her mother, hugging her grandmother.

Blizzard. The snow spun and filled the air with white curtains, opaque, white, and cold.

Little Maya looked out the window, when a knock on the door startled her. The girl ran quickly to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, your mother, Leonora. Open the door, please.”

“I can’t,” said little Maya. “My grandmother told me not to open the door to anyone.”

“Yes, that’s right, what your grandmother ordered you, but I’m your mother,” Leonora continued, worried that she couldn’t see and hug her daughter.

Leonora stayed little longer, with her ear close to the door and heard Maya’s light footsteps drift away.

Maya went to the stove, opened its lid, looked at the smoldering fire, and quickly tossed in a log. Then she took the metal rod and stirred as her grandmother had taught her.

She was back to the window and saw a female figure wrapped in a huge scarf and a thick coat, struggling with the snow and wind, trying to move and stay warm. It wasn’t her grandmother. The woman was tall, slender, probably the one who had knocked on the door a while ago and told her that she was her mother.

Maya ran to the stove again, put the tea kettle on, and waited for the water to boil. Then she dropped in the linden leaves, and, as her grandmother had taught her, she waited a few minutes for the tea to brew.

She went back to the window and saw the slender woman closer to the window, shielding her face, and only her huge, black eyes were visible.

The woman knocked on the door again. Maya asked: “What is your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m your mother, Leonora. I came from far away. Please open the door. When do you expect your grandmother to be back?”

“Grandma went to the farm to help for the delivery of a baby goat and to bring some fresh milk. She went with Sivcho, who pulled the cart.”

“Please, Maya, don’t keep me outside on the cold. We’ll wait for your grandmother together.”

The child walked to the door, pulled the latch, and saw the frozen face of a woman of striking beauty in front of her. She ran back to the stove and waited for the woman to come in.

The slender woman removed the thick scarf from her head. Her brown hair was carefully tucked away with a clip of rusty-gold color, and she wore beautiful earrings. Her skin seemed to be tanned by the sun.

Maya’s heart was pounding, waiting for her guest to speak first.

Leonora approached Maya and stroked her head. Then she sat on the stool by the stove and began to warm her hands. She took out a box of sugar-coated fruits from her bag.

“Do you want linden tea?” Maya offered.

“Yes, I love linden tea very much. Your grandmother, who is my mother, taught me to brew it here on this stove,” she said and handed the box of candied fruits to Maya.

Maya served tea in her favorite cup and looked at the woman in the eyes. She had seen those eyes, remembered them. These were the eyes from her dreams. Then, as if she heard a familiar song, she was distracted for a moment, but she looked back at Leonora. Chaotic thoughts swirled in her little head, about the connection between this woman, the song, and those eyes.

The door opened. Grandma Kalina, all covered in snow, stood in the threshold…

“Maya, please get the milk can, right here by the door.” She looked warmly at Maya when she saw Leonora. Grandmother Kalina ran with tiny steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Tears streamed down the old woman’s face, and Leonora kissed her mother and started to cry.

“Mom, Mom, how much I love you…”

Maya followed this moving scene, with the can in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

Grandma Kalina moved away from her daughter, approached Maya, and said to her, “This is your beautiful mother. She has preserved her beauty of which you have inherited a great deal, my grandchild.”

Leonora got closer to Maya, knelt at the level of her eyes, and hugged her.

“How many times I have dreamed and dreamed of this moment—to come back and hug my dear girl.”

Maya did not move, instinctively feeling something familiar, something she had always felt subconsciously, but still had no idea what exactly.

She ran away with a timid smile and threw a log into the stove again. The log-burning stove was her refuge. The old woman watched her granddaughter’s movements and felt a heavy strain by the girl’s behavior. She went to her and said, “Now it is the time to tell you the truth about your parents, here, in the presence of your mother. Now I am the happiest mother and grandmother. My favorite girls are next to me, and I will never lose you!”

“Tell me, Grandma, tell me.” Maya sat on the small sofa next to her loving granny.

“We lived a good life filled with joy, laughter, health, and with the people we love,” started the old woman. “We worked from morning till evening on the fields, feeding the animals, but we were also able to have joy, to sing, to meet friends. A young and very handsome man appeared in the village. He bought the best house at the end of the village, renovated it, turned it into a castle. He often organized gatherings with dances and lots of food. The hardest working guys of the village worked for him. His lands were fertile, his wealth increased, and his kindness was legendary.” Grandma Kalina stopped and looked at her daughter’s sad face. She grabbed her arm and continued. “At one of the parties, for the first time we also took my beautiful daughter, Leonora. Throughout the night, the master of the castle danced only with her. His gaze did not shift from our Leonora’s beautiful face. At the end of the evening, he saw us at the door with presents.

“We got home and my husband said, ‘Kalina, we’re going to marry our girl to this lovely boy. Did you see him dancing with her all night and sent us home with presents?’

“Our daughter listened to us, and her eyes sparkled. She had fallen in love with the handsome, young man. We organized a wedding. The whole village was invited, and our daughter became a real princess. A year later, they got a baby, a girl of unsurpassed beauty. And just when happiness was full, the biggest misfortune happened. Robbers attacked the house, not only robbing it, but also killing the handsome landlord and abducting my daughter. The only thing my Leonora was able to do was to hide the baby, wrapped in a blanket in a wood stove that had not been used for years and had holes. This is how some air could pass through in the stove… When we heard about the misfortune, your grandfather and I ran into their castle, searched all the rooms, shouted, and wept, until we finally heard a baby cry coming from the empty stove. Your grandfather opened the lid, and your little face, Maya, calmed down. We went back to our old house with you. We looked after you, looked for news about your mother, but there was no sign.”

Maya looked at her grandmother and pressed hard against her shoulder. Leonora’s eyes were even bigger, like dark mirrors in which Maya gazed with that peculiar, subconscious feeling that these were the eyes she dreamed of very often.

Then Leonora said: “Mom, let me tell you what happened when they tried to kidnap me.”

She turned to Maya. “Every night I raised you up with my hands and looked into your eyes, which are the same as your father’s, and I sang to you a baby song, and you smiled as if you understood everything.

“In the evening, when the robbers attacked and killed your father, I hid in one of the rooms, wrapped you in a blanket and hid you in the stove. Just as I was escaping out the window to the garden where we had a concealed rifle, one of these robbers reached me. He grabbed my hair, and when he pulled me toward himself, I was able to hit him on the head and escape. I ran a long way through the woods and reached a well. I hid in it and heard them pass the well. When I came out, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t remember anything. I wandered through the woods, climbed trees. I looked wild, rugged, and was very hungry. I reached the doorstep of a house and left without strength. I fell asleep at the gate.”

Grandmother Kalina listened to the story, learning for the first time of her daughter’s torments, and Maya squeezed her grandmother’s hand even harder.

Leonora stopped, sipped her linden tea, and continued. “I woke up in the morning in a soft, comfortable bed. I tried to get up but had no strength. Then an old woman approached me and handed me a glass of an infusion of herbs. She said, ‘Drink, girl, you seem exhausted. Now, I’ll get you a snack.’

“At first, I didn’t talk. I looked at this good woman’s face, but I didn’t know who I was, what to say, and what to do. I had become a kid. Every day I began to recover, and my old woman friend read stories and she cooked. It was clean, warm, and cozy.

“My new friend told me that she had lived alone for years and that she had everything she needed and that she used to be a nun. Her name was Trayana. She violated one of the oaths and was forced to leave the monastic home. Thus, she isolated herself from everyone and everything. She cared for me and didn’t feel it as a burden. On the contrary, she prayed every night to help me improve, and even began to hum. She sang beautifully. One evening she sang a song I thought was familiar. I asked her to sing it again. We both sang, and tears rolled down my face. I felt a strange pain in my chest, but I still didn’t understand why. The nun hugged me and said that I would gradually recover and remember who I was and where my loved ones were. I didn’t know I lived that way for five years. Gradually, I regained my memory, and a cry of a child erupted in my head. At first, I didn’t know why.

“One morning I heard someone bang on the door, and I was scared. Such noise was made the night we were attacked with my husband. I jumped and hid behind the door, terrified. Granny Trayana, the nun, opened the door, and a middle-aged man appeared in front of her. Granny Trayana jumped for joy and hugged him. It was her brother she hadn’t seen for years. We sat at the table. The man looked at me, asked me who I was, but I still didn’t know. Then he placed a jewelry box on the table and said: ‘I was in the big city, beyond this mountain, and the trade is lively. I managed to buy this jewelry, my dear sister.’

“Grandma Trayana looked at the jewelry and said, ‘Yes, how exquisite and masterfully crafted.’ The old woman handed me a hair clip and a pair of earrings and said: ‘Here. They are for you. You are young and beautiful.’

“When I took them in my hands, I shook. This was my jewelry. I turned to Granny Trayana’s brother. ‘These are my jewels,’ I said, trying to remember how I knew that.

“‘I bought them from a market trader,’ the man said. ‘I didn’t suspect they could have been stolen.’

“It was evening, and I went to bed. My eyes stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I jumped up, picked up my hair clip, put it in my hair, put on the beautiful earrings, and looked myself in the mirror. Then I heard my husband’s voice: ‘How beautiful you are. You are all the beauty in the world…’ Gradually the voice stopped. I then knew who I was. I hugged Trayana and told her my story. Her brother listened, while she wiped her tears. Then he promised to bring me back to my village, but it took him time to find a carriage. And here I am with you.”

Little Maya looked at her mother’s face, the beautiful hair clip woven into her shiny hair, and the earrings that looked like drops.

“I also know who I am,” Maya said, looking at her mother, hugging her grandmother.

Blizzard. The snow spun and filled the air with white curtains, opaque, white, and cold.

Little Maya looked out the window, when a knock on the door startled her. The girl ran quickly to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, your mother, Leonora. Open the door, please.”

“I can’t,” said little Maya. “My grandmother told me not to open the door to anyone.”

“Yes, that’s right, what your grandmother ordered you, but I’m your mother,” Leonora continued, worried that she couldn’t see and hug her daughter.

Leonora stayed little longer, with her ear close to the door and heard Maya’s light footsteps drift away.

Maya went to the stove, opened its lid, looked at the smoldering fire, and quickly tossed in a log. Then she took the metal rod and stirred as her grandmother had taught her.

She was back to the window and saw a female figure wrapped in a huge scarf and a thick coat, struggling with the snow and wind, trying to move and stay warm. It wasn’t her grandmother. The woman was tall, slender, probably the one who had knocked on the door a while ago and told her that she was her mother.

Maya ran to the stove again, put the tea kettle on, and waited for the water to boil. Then she dropped in the linden leaves, and, as her grandmother had taught her, she waited a few minutes for the tea to brew.

She went back to the window and saw the slender woman closer to the window, shielding her face, and only her huge, black eyes were visible.

The woman knocked on the door again. Maya asked: “What is your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m your mother, Leonora. I came from far away. Please open the door. When do you expect your grandmother to be back?”

“Grandma went to the farm to help for the delivery of a baby goat and to bring some fresh milk. She went with Sivcho, who pulled the cart.”

“Please, Maya, don’t keep me outside on the cold. We’ll wait for your grandmother together.”

The child walked to the door, pulled the latch, and saw the frozen face of a woman of striking beauty in front of her. She ran back to the stove and waited for the woman to come in.

The slender woman removed the thick scarf from her head. Her brown hair was carefully tucked away with a clip of rusty-gold color, and she wore beautiful earrings. Her skin seemed to be tanned by the sun.

Maya’s heart was pounding, waiting for her guest to speak first.

Leonora approached Maya and stroked her head. Then she sat on the stool by the stove and began to warm her hands. She took out a box of sugar-coated fruits from her bag.

“Do you want linden tea?” Maya offered.

“Yes, I love linden tea very much. Your grandmother, who is my mother, taught me to brew it here on this stove,” she said and handed the box of candied fruits to Maya.

Maya served tea in her favorite cup and looked at the woman in the eyes. She had seen those eyes, remembered them. These were the eyes from her dreams. Then, as if she heard a familiar song, she was distracted for a moment, but she looked back at Leonora. Chaotic thoughts swirled in her little head, about the connection between this woman, the song, and those eyes.

The door opened. Grandma Kalina, all covered in snow, stood in the threshold…

“Maya, please get the milk can, right here by the door.” She looked warmly at Maya when she saw Leonora. Grandmother Kalina ran with tiny steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Tears streamed down the old woman’s face, and Leonora kissed her mother and started to cry.

“Mom, Mom, how much I love you…”

Maya followed this moving scene, with the can in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

Grandma Kalina moved away from her daughter, approached Maya, and said to her, “This is your beautiful mother. She has preserved her beauty of which you have inherited a great deal, my grandchild.”

Leonora got closer to Maya, knelt at the level of her eyes, and hugged her.

“How many times I have dreamed and dreamed of this moment—to come back and hug my dear girl.”

Maya did not move, instinctively feeling something familiar, something she had always felt subconsciously, but still had no idea what exactly.

She ran away with a timid smile and threw a log into the stove again. The log-burning stove was her refuge. The old woman watched her granddaughter’s movements and felt a heavy strain by the girl’s behavior. She went to her and said, “Now it is the time to tell you the truth about your parents, here, in the presence of your mother. Now I am the happiest mother and grandmother. My favorite girls are next to me, and I will never lose you!”

“Tell me, Grandma, tell me.” Maya sat on the small sofa next to her loving granny.

“We lived a good life filled with joy, laughter, health, and with the people we love,” started the old woman. “We worked from morning till evening on the fields, feeding the animals, but we were also able to have joy, to sing, to meet friends. A young and very handsome man appeared in the village. He bought the best house at the end of the village, renovated it, turned it into a castle. He often organized gatherings with dances and lots of food. The hardest working guys of the village worked for him. His lands were fertile, his wealth increased, and his kindness was legendary.” Grandma Kalina stopped and looked at her daughter’s sad face. She grabbed her arm and continued. “At one of the parties, for the first time we also took my beautiful daughter, Leonora. Throughout the night, the master of the castle danced only with her. His gaze did not shift from our Leonora’s beautiful face. At the end of the evening, he saw us at the door with presents.

“We got home and my husband said, ‘Kalina, we’re going to marry our girl to this lovely boy. Did you see him dancing with her all night and sent us home with presents?’

“Our daughter listened to us, and her eyes sparkled. She had fallen in love with the handsome, young man. We organized a wedding. The whole village was invited, and our daughter became a real princess. A year later, they got a baby, a girl of unsurpassed beauty. And just when happiness was full, the biggest misfortune happened. Robbers attacked the house, not only robbing it, but also killing the handsome landlord and abducting my daughter. The only thing my Leonora was able to do was to hide the baby, wrapped in a blanket in a wood stove that had not been used for years and had holes. This is how some air could pass through in the stove… When we heard about the misfortune, your grandfather and I ran into their castle, searched all the rooms, shouted, and wept, until we finally heard a baby cry coming from the empty stove. Your grandfather opened the lid, and your little face, Maya, calmed down. We went back to our old house with you. We looked after you, looked for news about your mother, but there was no sign.”

Maya looked at her grandmother and pressed hard against her shoulder. Leonora’s eyes were even bigger, like dark mirrors in which Maya gazed with that peculiar, subconscious feeling that these were the eyes she dreamed of very often.

Then Leonora said: “Mom, let me tell you what happened when they tried to kidnap me.”

She turned to Maya. “Every night I raised you up with my hands and looked into your eyes, which are the same as your father’s, and I sang to you a baby song, and you smiled as if you understood everything.

“In the evening, when the robbers attacked and killed your father, I hid in one of the rooms, wrapped you in a blanket and hid you in the stove. Just as I was escaping out the window to the garden where we had a concealed rifle, one of these robbers reached me. He grabbed my hair, and when he pulled me toward himself, I was able to hit him on the head and escape. I ran a long way through the woods and reached a well. I hid in it and heard them pass the well. When I came out, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t remember anything. I wandered through the woods, climbed trees. I looked wild, rugged, and was very hungry. I reached the doorstep of a house and left without strength. I fell asleep at the gate.”

Grandmother Kalina listened to the story, learning for the first time of her daughter’s torments, and Maya squeezed her grandmother’s hand even harder.

Leonora stopped, sipped her linden tea, and continued. “I woke up in the morning in a soft, comfortable bed. I tried to get up but had no strength. Then an old woman approached me and handed me a glass of an infusion of herbs. She said, ‘Drink, girl, you seem exhausted. Now, I’ll get you a snack.’

“At first, I didn’t talk. I looked at this good woman’s face, but I didn’t know who I was, what to say, and what to do. I had become a kid. Every day I began to recover, and my old woman friend read stories and she cooked. It was clean, warm, and cozy.

“My new friend told me that she had lived alone for years and that she had everything she needed and that she used to be a nun. Her name was Trayana. She violated one of the oaths and was forced to leave the monastic home. Thus, she isolated herself from everyone and everything. She cared for me and didn’t feel it as a burden. On the contrary, she prayed every night to help me improve, and even began to hum. She sang beautifully. One evening she sang a song I thought was familiar. I asked her to sing it again. We both sang, and tears rolled down my face. I felt a strange pain in my chest, but I still didn’t understand why. The nun hugged me and said that I would gradually recover and remember who I was and where my loved ones were. I didn’t know I lived that way for five years. Gradually, I regained my memory, and a cry of a child erupted in my head. At first, I didn’t know why.

“One morning I heard someone bang on the door, and I was scared. Such noise was made the night we were attacked with my husband. I jumped and hid behind the door, terrified. Granny Trayana, the nun, opened the door, and a middle-aged man appeared in front of her. Granny Trayana jumped for joy and hugged him. It was her brother she hadn’t seen for years. We sat at the table. The man looked at me, asked me who I was, but I still didn’t know. Then he placed a jewelry box on the table and said: ‘I was in the big city, beyond this mountain, and the trade is lively. I managed to buy this jewelry, my dear sister.’

“Grandma Trayana looked at the jewelry and said, ‘Yes, how exquisite and masterfully crafted.’ The old woman handed me a hair clip and a pair of earrings and said: ‘Here. They are for you. You are young and beautiful.’

“When I took them in my hands, I shook. This was my jewelry. I turned to Granny Trayana’s brother. ‘These are my jewels,’ I said, trying to remember how I knew that.

“‘I bought them from a market trader,’ the man said. ‘I didn’t suspect they could have been stolen.’

“It was evening, and I went to bed. My eyes stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I jumped up, picked up my hair clip, put it in my hair, put on the beautiful earrings, and looked myself in the mirror. Then I heard my husband’s voice: ‘How beautiful you are. You are all the beauty in the world…’ Gradually the voice stopped. I then knew who I was. I hugged Trayana and told her my story. Her brother listened, while she wiped her tears. Then he promised to bring me back to my village, but it took him time to find a carriage. And here I am with you.”

Little Maya looked at her mother’s face, the beautiful hair clip woven into her shiny hair, and the earrings that looked like drops.

“I also know who I am,” Maya said, looking at her mother, hugging her grandmother.

In the Earth’s Shadow

The sun is moving between the clouds, so the sky gets illuminated in black and white. The clouds are moving all in grey and white, and the sun absorbs their dark palette. Lena observed.

“Lena, Lena!” called Anna her classmate. “Hurry up; ten minutes remain until the ‘iron dragon’ arrives.”

Lena was day-dreaming, she moved and caught up with her friend. A blonde boy came down from nowhere in front of her.

“How can I get to the train station?” The boy asked

“Come with us.”  Lena blinked surprised but continued following Anna.

The train reduced its speed before it stopped and the blond boy asked again:

“Are you going to Inchiza?”

“Yes yes, we are” – Anna replied, pulling Lena to get into the train.

The three teenagers settled comfortably in the passenger compartment — and there was a brief silence.

The unknown boy initiated a conversation:

“I am Alessio, and I have moved to Inchiza recently. I prefer to walk to school, but I do not know the routes.” The boy smiled.

V siankata na zemiata 2
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

“That’s impossible. The distance is enormous! You’ll have to cross forests and rivers too.” Anna explained.

“I belong to the woods, and I lived there for twelve years without knowing the cities, the villages and even the transport,” Alessio answered.

“Who taught you to read and write?” Lena asked eagerly.

Alessio smiled and promised to explain. He then pulled a wooden piano made of cherry wood out of his bag. The keys of the musical instrument were made of ebony and amber. The two girls leaned over him and noticed some inscriptions over the keys. The amber keys had the names of the days written, and the ebony ones – the names of the months. Lena and Anna looked at the beautiful piano and hastily pressed the keys, but the piano made no sound.

“This piano taught me the days of the week and the names of the months. There, in the mountain forest, every key has its melody” Alessio explained.

Lena’s eyes grew larger, the edge of her eyelashes almost touched her beautifully shaped eyebrows:

“And will we be able to hear the music of the day as well as the music of the month?”   She asked.

“Yes, but only in the mountain forest and during the approach of Wolf Moon.” – the boy said quietly.

****

It was January 21, 2019, the day the astrophysicists had announced about the phenomenal coming-out blood-spattered moon, to full moon. The morning was bright, the sky blue, the air fresh, cold and everywhere – strangely quiet. One could hear from afar the approaching “Iron Dragon”.

Anna and Lena looked conspiratorially and suspiciously to see if anyone followed them and hid in the ‘head’ of the ‘dragon’ with their new friend Alessio.

The train entered the mountain and curved between stone heights, swamps, rivers until it reached its last mountain stop. Lena, Anna, and Alessio jumped off the train and walked towards the woods in the spirit of discoverers. They heard a dog barking. They looked around when in front of them appeared a beautiful Dalmatian joyfully circling Alessio and almost knocked him down.

“Lucky, Lucky, my friend!” Alessio’s blue eyes glowed, trying to cuddle the dalmatian’s muzzle.

Lucky fled, and the friends followed him until they reached a stone house with a mud and straw roof. They entered the house, and Alessio lit a small gas lamp and put a log in the steel stove. The walls were decorated in maps illustrating paths in the wood, peaks, and animals. At the very end of the room were Alessio’s books placed on a centenarian-oak. Lena and Anna couldn’t stop themselves from opening every book, and their eager eyes were following page after page.

 

******

Their fairy tale begins here.

They went out into the woods, and the two girls followed Alessio accompanied by the proud dalmatian until they reached a high tree. These wasn’t the usual tree. Its branches were covered with winter butterflies.  The small beetles spanned their colorful wings, flew up and landed back on the branches.

V siankata na zemiata 3
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

Lena pulled a camera from her bag and watched the flying beauties through the camera lens, shooting endlessly until some gentle music interrupted her. Alessio had pressed a key on the wooden piano. A piece of music was carried on to the tree intact with the movements of the butterflies as if they were little orchestra musicians, where each of their actions changed a note of the melody.

The mountain celebrated, enwrapped in the music of January.  Alessio pulled his finger off the amber key of the piano and the music gradually stopped.

The moon swallowed up a purple-red light and glowed in bloody red.

Lena pressed the camera button again when Lucky fled up to the top of the mountain. When the dog reached the highest point, he stood up on his hind legs and barked under the Wolf Moon. His fur coat absorbed the moon color and turned red with blue-green spots.

“My Lucky talks to the moon!”  Alessio joked.

Anna grabbed the camera from her girlfriend’s hands. Lena was irritated and flapped her hands up in the air.

“Anna! You cannot take my camera like that, get it back to me, get it back.” The little photographer begged.

Anna’s eyes got frozen when she looked at the last picture on the camera screen and shouted:

“Alessio, Lena has taken a magic photo!”

Lena stood beside her friend annoyed but decided not to lament. Three pairs of eyes were on the camera screen looking at the colorful butterfly tree, the red-colored Lucky, the Bloody Moon, and behind all this was a grand round Shadow.

“This is the Shadow of the Earth.” Alessio pointed with excitement. “Let’s hurry! I can show you the magic of the river.”

Lena glared at her friend, taking back her camcorder and said nothing.  Alessio whistled to Lucky and then turned to the girls:

“Look at the pine trees to the south, if we follow them, we’ll reach the river.”

The three teenagers strolled around pines, stumbled over stones, jumped over oaks until deep blue river appeared before them. Next to the river was a vast swarm of birds, as if the forest had “planted” them like trees.  If looked from above the overall picture would look like a white carpet with grey spots and yellow shades (the birds’ beaks) – thought Alessio. The birds strolled, squawked, and Lucky tried to chase them until he heard his master’s voice:

“Lucky! Do not get close to the birds!”

The dalmatian growled with frustration at the presence of the flying aliens.

“The red moon may have misdirected the birds.” Lena, who was silent the whole time irritated by Anna’s earlier behaviour said. She pulled out some jam pastries from her rucksack and fed the birds. In no time, she was surrounded by them, and they roared in gratitude. Lena photographed in different directions and guarded the camera against the rapacious birds.

V siankata na zemiata 1
Bulgarian Artist – Juliana Valcheva

Meanwhile, Alessio and Anna approached a huge bird with long legs, in white and black strips, feather-strands on her head, like a hat with a visor. They held their breath in front of the bird, who spread her wings. Gradually, the wings covered the nearby bank of the river.

“We’re under the wings of the Queen-bird!” Anna named the huge bird Queen.

Anna looked at Lena pleadingly, hoping to get forgiveness. Lena stood beside Alessio, zoomed in on the camera screen and said:

“The next miracle on my camera screen…” She paused and turned the camera towards Anna and Alessio – all of us with the birds under the shadow of the Earth.

Lucky was spinning, wagging his tail and looking at the river’s blue waters. When the birds rose and flew over the river, Lucky run towards the waters and waded in. The birds flew higher over the river and circled near the shore. They were orbiting over something like a ‘hemisphere’ that was flowing down the stream. The children ran towards the waters, and as they approached the river, the light coming from the ‘hemisphere’ grew stronger. Lucky swam towards the light, started snarling, something stopped him from moving, he began to drown. The Queen-bird came to his aid, lifted him with its wings and dropped him into the glowing ‘hemisphere’. The bright body approached the excited young adventurers.

“This is the amber tulip boat!” Alessio shouted.

“Looks like a blooming tulip with open leaves.” Anna said excitedly.

The tulip glowed, and the magnificent bird pushed the boat closer and closer to the children. They stepped into the water, took hold of the boat and began to climb. First, Alessio jumped into the tulip-boat and pulled Anna inside. Lena looked with doubts and did not dare to get closer to the amber tulip.

She looked at Alessio and said:

“I cannot swim; I cannot get on the boat. I’ll wait for you here.”

Saying this, Lenna felt her legs detached from the grass and thought that she was flying. The big bird had lifted the girl on its wings. Lena looked towards the moon, the blue river, and soon she landed inside the boat. Beside her were Lucky, Alessio and Anna. So, they floated along the river. The amber tulip glided until it reached cascades with waterfalls. The boat sloped from the high, and children’s voices echoed, and struck the mountain peaks. Lena grasped one of the tulips’ leaves’, and Lucky was right next to her feet. Anna was sitting in the middle of the beautiful flower-boat, and Alessio held her by one hand, while the other, he was leaning against the tulip wall. They could hear the hum of the water, and they could see the opposite wall of the tulip.

The amber tulip began to change its color. It switched from dark amber to dairy and finally to transparent-gold. The fear of the children intensified when the tulip leaves began to close. The friends were saved. Strange fish, jellyfish, pebbles, algae, crabs, snails, river stars floated around them. Lena switched on the flash and began to shoot through the transparent amber wall.

“We’re like an in a submarine.” – Alessio said.

“Yes, yes!” said Anna and embraced Lena. “I was afraid I would sink, and you would be still angry with me.”

Lena looked at her friend, took a photo of Anna in a sign of reconciliation, and showed her the picture. It was Anna’s warm brown eyes looking from the camcorder’s screen.

Lucky scratched with his paws on the amber boat walls, watching the floating water-habitants and the creatures that passed. The children were staring at the water world around them when they heard a voice from the Underwater Kingdom: “You know the moon, but you do not know the underwater ditches, our lives.” A gentle, odd little pink animal, touched its face on one of the amber leaves. Lucky bounced, Anna, Lena, and Alessio glued their faces in parallel to the transparent amber wall of the boat, staring at the strange creature. Lena’s camera began to snap, and the most unusual thing happened – voices came out of the camera.

“I am from the Underwater Kingdom. In the depths of the underwater world, we are many different species. We breathe with the oxygen that was left to us millions of years ago from your world! Keep the Earth and its Shadow safe …”

Lena held the camera-‘Speakerphone’, and the tulip boat rose steadily to the surface. The boat leaves opened, and the fresh air and breeze freshened the little adventurers. The tulip headed towards the shore. The children jumped out, Lucky barked happily, and when they turned back – the amber tulip already was far and shone in the distance.

Lena looked at her apparatus, and on the screen, she saw the beautiful Earth with its rivers, mountains, forests, and behind her the strange shadow of Our Planet.