At Medeleni

excerpt Danutz dashed from one end of the house to the other. His hands were hungry: they had been waiting for so long to get hold of the kite string! Although ready to run, after he had slammed the entrance door closed, he slowed down and eventually sat on the porch stairs in the sun. The kite was there, Danutz was here… before playing with it, Danutz was happy that he would be playing with it. So, he was waiting in anticipation. For him, every joy had a Saturday and a Sunday, just like the week. When he was at school, Sunday was the summer holiday of the week. And Saturday was its eve. But, while Sunday was darkened by the ugliest day of the week: Monday – black day after the red day, dark after light, Saturday was sheltered by Sunday which made Monday less menacing. He had got to the point of appreciating Saturday more than Sunday. It seemed he was in some way afraid of Sunday. "He knows!" thought Olgutza when she saw Danutz sitting on the stairs. She took a generous mouthful of her buttered toast, asked Monica to hold the rest and, empty handed, ready to fight, she went down the stairs. Monica followed her, pieces of toast in each hand, not daring to eat hers. They went past Danutz, touching him with their shadows. He turned his head and looked elsewhere. "Coward!" Olgutza whispered almost to herself the newly learned word. She had read it in a patriotic poem and had asked her father what it meant."What does 'coward' mean, Father?" "How shall I put it… look, if somebody slaps you and you don't slap them back you are a coward!""Does this mean I was a coward, father?""Why?" "Well, Father, remember when Mother was hitting me with the slipper… you know where?" Olgutza answered, peering from under her eyebrows."Oh, that's different!" laughed Mr. Deleanu."What if I had hit her back?" dared Olgutza without much conviction."You would have been a naughty girl and you would have upset Father.""Sorry, I don't understand. Can you explain it all again?"So she had eventually understood that a child can only be a coward among other children, and that it was better not to be a coward."Let's go, Monica; there is nothing for us to do here." A certain uneasiness got hold of Danutz after the girls had come past him. That's when he realized there was something missing… the noise of the vibrating kite was no longer present. With a pounding heart he went straight towards the oak tree. Under the godless and kiteless sky, Danutz read the note left there, held by the cut string of the kite: "This is for the slaps you gave me at the station, Tubby!" Olgutza Deleanu His soul fled him, just like the kite.He sat on the ground next to the oak, tired with sadness. This time Ivan's knapsack was full of tears."Leave the kite for a minute, Danutz! Come in and have something to eat!" Mrs. Deleanu shouted from upstairs."…""Danutz, can you hear me?""…"Mrs. Deleanu came downstairs."Have you hurt yourself, Danutz? Why are you sitting like this?""…""Oh! These were Olgutza's scissors!" There were kinds of tears that made Mrs. Deleanu deeply sad. The tears she could now see in Danutz's eyes were of that kind. Olgutza's wickedness infuriated her."Come with Mother, Danutz… don't you trust Mother?"Danutz was expecting a miracle. Mrs. Deleanu grasped him gently by the nape of the neck and they made for the house together. The further they walked away from where the kite had been, the more Danutz raised his hands to wipe away his tears. He tripped over the first step, blind with pain and sobbing, as if it were the threshold of a prison. 1925-1927

by Ionel Teodoreanu (1897-1954)