The Way To The Wall

excerpt During such hours, hundreds of hours, was the final thought born. Sitting like that, like a murky statue, between the bed panel and the door, so that Florica, when she opened the door, did it carefully, not to hit him. But he didn't move an inch and the chair was placed in such a way, in spite of the narrow space between the bed and the door, that the door could open and close widely, unhampered, in front of him, only a few centimeters from his knees which, usually, he kept tight to each other, under the brown, worn-out old blanket.It was the perfect isolation that gave birth to that thought, the perfect, the "moderate" self-concentration, or it was just a conclusion that was required, a proof that the energy kept streaming down, in small, barely perceived waves, but still… the too strong closeness with his family, the incapacity of the walls to stop that flow of love that streamed from him, piercing the first barrier, of the integuments, and gushing out through I don't know what pores, running then, cheerfully it seemed, through the other "barriers," air, wall, cloths. "As long as I am near them, among them," an obscure but ever more tenacious thought murmured, in the head of the one who lay motionlessly in the dark, on his uncomfortable chair, "as long as I am in this perimeter, theirs, 'ours', as long as our breaths are mingled and we live within the same walls, etc., etc., my economy will not be perfect. However, it is still an egotistic feeling that makes me 'persist' in staying here, near them! Good, but incomplete, timid, cowardly measures! I will be completely sure only when I have indeed taken radical measures. Really radical, manlike!" Thus, or perhaps thus, the decision came to life in the mind, in the body of the one who sat so motionlessly that sometimes it seemed to him that he was swinging "idly" with his entire body. His body required though a minimum movement, although he was so afraid of movement! Although his death meant movement! "One must go!" that feeble thought murmured – by repetition, an almost servile repetition, as with those sly servants who know they will win and choose from the start the weak weapons, or the weapons of the "weak": the shyness, the whisper, the insinuation, the mere repetition, simulating stupidity, simulating idiocy with a smile – and it became an imperative. A command unheard by anybody, a command for himself. Castor couldn't even have uttered this command in a loud voice, as he couldn't utter any other, since he was not cut out for commanding. (As early as high school he tried to order something to somebody, to a colleague who grew fond of him and seemed he would conform, he did some kind of a "commanding exercise," with the amazing result for him then, that the other, a submissive and shy character, simply burst out laughing. That very moment, he interpreted that laughter as a form of meanness of his friend; only later did he realize that his temperament was not cut out for such an undertaking and this fact, this "infirmity" seemed to be recognized by everybody, people who didn't know each other but reacted similarly.) A command only for himself thus, and if nobody would conform to his commands, he would conform to them alone, he had this obligation to himself, his minimum authority rested on this sole pillar. "One must go!" whispered a voice inside himself, the one who stood still in the compact, vast darkness, although he knew he was lying between the low curved double bed panel and the door, at an inch distance, a very well calculated distance… "One must go!" shouted the strangled voice, which didn't seem to be his, meaning: "You must go!" or "Go!" Then however, the "voice," the tyrannical whisper, the order, fixed itself more and more on the impersonal: "One must go!" coming back thus to the first formula, after having hesitated or vagabonded for a while through the other two, more direct, more familiar, more human, and the history of these three imperative formulae was also the history of his own order and intensity. The return to: "One must go!" was like a sentence, the victory of the first formula was sort of a defeat of himself and of an entire period of his existence: the one that started with Florica, with their wedding especially, for, in their very first ceremonial day, while they let themselves be photographed in that small yard full of grass, enclosed by a bent rotten fence made of wood, and by that "cute" black wall, as if they were some couple of cinema heroes, alone, on the green grass, in front of them the photographer with a metallic tripod and behind him and beside, the group of relatives and friends, a few minutes only after they had left the city hall, and the photographer was running "doubles," he bent over her ear and told her, begged her: "I want you to give me little daughters!" and she laughed, half amused, tender, but also posing for the camera, for the procession of relatives and acquaintances, and for the entire autumn day, grey, in which a present-absent sun didn't succeed in breaking through the cloud ceiling and in that spoilt tender laughter, intended also for the picture, one could foresee her balanced nature that could fairly split between him, the environment and the world, giving each their share. The end of that day, of the long and beautiful history of that laugher-smile of hers, a "balance-like" smile as he named it automatically, charmed by this ability to divide herself tactfully, and resourcefully, creating thus a necessary couple with him, who was always running between extremes – but even those were wadded, "mute"; he was always fascinated by her graceful casualness before society, before reality. She didn't sneak, she didn't beg to be accepted, tolerated anywhere, she was always part of it, rightfully so, and she accepted it with grace and certitude. Through her, he could have access to the world, "possessing her" he could somehow possess the world, a part of it. "One must go!" meant canceling, forbidding, barring that picture, a social-intimate laughter of hers that he had provoked, on that lawn at the back of their godparents' house, as one crosses out a cliché by a double X with a violent and thick flow-master, listless in the order that he formulated so many times. In fact, that body that was his had to be removed from those rooms. And he, Castor, who only "accidentally" lived in that undesirable body, but belonged to the honorable family as well as to those who had given the order, he, Castor, had to make sure that "that body" conformed, obeyed, left! Naturally, the task was not too difficult, a body that started to be treated like a piece of furniture, like a sort of voluntary paralytic, like a "nest of hysteria," could quite easily be taken outside, moved from "there," the same way it was moved, pushed, from one room to another. When he thought of the word "there," a throb clogged in his throat, a short, bony claw anchored in the larynx of that chair-body, because for him, the insignificant word there meant the secret, public and sentimental history, fertile and victorious that began with that laughter-smile on the lawn in front of the tripod, all their ten years, in two and then four, which seemed to last infinitely in the round and finite horizon of a human pattern. A right he earned, or at least he was bestowed on; a lovely armistice with the forces almost always frowned in the direction of the teenager Castor Ionescu, so uncertain of his future, although his smile, intended for almost everybody, didn't seem to betray this, or, the other way around, it was his too superficial, (both) insistent and inconsistent, smile that betrayed a sign of fear. The body will be taken out, it had already become a sort of a corpse, a dead man who, curiously enough, fulfilled strictly his external, social, obligations, coming and going, leaving and coming from and to the institution. At the beginning, how curious, it seemed that this mediocre and placid man, Castor Ionescu, was employed and worked at that office, at that institution, in order to earn the necessary means to support his family and himself; now it was the other way around, the family seemed to "support" him with a reason for staying with the institution, for his existence there. Now, he was about to be "taken away from there," "transported" from the midst of the family, to devote himself only to the dry, imperial and abstract institution although he doubted that she, Florica, would agree to this "third" phase, to this last "command," as she had agreed, more or less, to all his "oddities" lately. He envisaged a fierce opposition, her force was redoubtable, especially that until "today," she had helped him and obeyed with an amazing understanding, as an accomplice, full of fantasy. Thinking of the confrontation with her, he was already shivering. Still, that gasping command, that intense whisper seemed to be stronger. He already started to fight, to wrestle with the fearsome woman. A cowardly, second thought tried to help old Castor, the one who idiotically hoped that "there" could still be saved: how about leaving from there, from those walls, but go upstairs, in his little room?! Well?! The scandal would not be so big etc., but the suggestion didn't live longer than two days; it was already "late," if he pursued a certain palpable result he had to sting to the quick, to make a brave decision. Obviously, nothing changed in the main, everything was done for them, and then, probably, it was only a provisional decision, the illness, the exhaustion will give in and he could return "there," which was nothing but the long happy history of that smile on the lawn, in front of that restricted benevolent gathering. He will return and will be received, he was certain, the girls and she will accept him, re-accept him, they loved and tolerated him, so they will realize that everything was done for their restricted collectivity that had the right to be happy. "One must go!" followed by the familiar "You must go!," then by the rough "Go!" (Get out!") and the circle closed again, returning to the same "One must go!," which was another, but after exhausting that circuit, gaining in coldness and inexorability, stopped being a human command, uttered by a mouth which illustrated a consciousness. It was a "One must go!" with a past behind it, with authority, therefore, Castor could not oppose that authority or any other real authority. Florica herself, who was, in her turn, an authority to which he conformed and had conformed, would be able to acknowledge the platinum authority of the "second": "One must go!," the one aged by history and checked, and will have the necessary power to comply with this order, a higher authority than herself. Her instinct will not fail. …And indeed, he left. He took, he transported the "body" that had become so very docile in the last few months, hardly the body of a child. The storm triggered by her, by his wife, was indeed terrible, it lived up to the expectations. But how can you fight with a "weakling," with a "dolt"? The weak have their strength, and Florica, in front of the stupor of having to fight with such a "bloke," had to make real efforts not to despise this man, who was still her husband, whom she loved and who loved her. She shouted, she yelled, she was vulgar, Florica, that calm, strong, often distant woman! "Lord, how she will regret, how both of us will regret!" Castor thought, with the impassiveness of the one who had made an irrevocable decision, of the one to whom such a decision was "commanded," who followed, fascinated, that whispered command: "One must go!" and felt guilty for his wife's "decadence," for her despair, which took grotesque forms. "And he was even behaving well!" he noticed, as if he had been a third person, an unseen witness of the drama that took hold of their home. The girls were stupefied, and, for the first time, they resembled in their reaction: both of them remained dumb, lost their appetite, Tina refused to go to school, wanted to move to Grigore. They looked at their father with some kind of stupid amazement; the reproach from their eyes was addressed, especially, to the mother; they had always known or felt that she was the strongest and made her first responsible for what was happening: Castor's moving away from home.Indeed, after a week, when Florica "calmed down," a "calm" that appeared after a three-day journey she made to her parents, to her mother and her stepfather in the north of Moldavia, Castor moved, taking very few objects and books with him, lodging in a room somewhere. "Everything was temporary" was the slogan firstly presented to the girls, then to some other people, a few, that were close to the Ionescu-Pintea's. Very, very few. And, obviously, to the institution he worked for, but there was no reaction from them; the institution has its own problems, and then, as long as he fulfilled his duties thoroughly, the rest, well… "Everything was temporary," for "certain" reasons, daddy is moving to a room closer to his workplace, where he has more peace for the final exam, he'll be back in a few months, etc., etc. Indeed, Castor moved into a bachelor flat situated two streets away from the institution, it was a concession he had made for Florica, who was very particular about this condition, God knows why. She talked to the main tenant herself, an elder woman who lived with her grandson, a student, she arranged the room herself, brought bed linen, swaddled an old armchair with torn tapestry, installed an old portable bamboo library, which she brought from who knows where, and added to the books Castor had brought with his first load other books which she knew he wanted, she brought a woman who cleaned and washed everything for a whole day and arranged some practical details. Castor had to promise he would come to spend the Sunday afternoon with them, and he dutifully promised. So many details that showed her high qualities, her concern for preserving their home, her wonderful love and tolerance, which abashed once more the "guilty" husband, paralyzed with admiration up to a sort of discontent that we always experience when, faced with our misjudgment, the offended, frustrated person reacts generously, smothering us with their real, solid noblesse. But for that "historic" order: "One must go!," he would have given up a hundred times, or changed his mind a hundred times, or cancelled his decision, obeying the voice of the "common sense" and the others, among which not the least important were the little girls' bewildered looks, Tina's tolerant coldness, the pain in the eyes of Grete-the-little, a suddenly adult pain. He moved on one of the weekdays, on Wednesday, but remained less than a month in that room which still had Florica's imprint. He found another, far away from his, as well as from the institution, and the first reason in his eyes and in the eyes of the unseen faces that questioned him, focused on the rent, which was much lower, the difference in amount being given to the girls. For him, for whoever wanted to listen – although, obviously, nobody asked him anything, the few people he privately came in touch with developed a certain feeling of respectful fear of this new, unpredictable, strange Castor! – he also rationalized his departure from the first room by the argument that "there, he was not alone, those human presences, however formal, exhausted him, the required purpose could not be fully reached, etc., etc." Florica, who visited him in the new room, which was rather a "corner" under a roof, two square meters width and two square meters length, or 1.40 and 1.70, a former closet, didn't react this time in any way in front of these arguments and of some others, of the same type. She sat on the only chair in the room, while he sat on the low bed – a sort of a mattress covered with a weird bedspread and listened to him, looking downwards, at the floor and trying not even to see the floor, as she was trying to ignore everything, since she knew exactly that there was nothing else to do for her there. He spoke with certain warmth, with a certain pathos that had not vibrated in his voice and on his face for many, many months, but nothing reached her any more. She sat with legs close together, with the beautiful red leather shoes close to each other, with the large bag in her lap, head down; her thick brown hair covered almost her entire face, which seemed thoughtful, that in fact did nothing but hide from the husband, in order to hear him better, to understand deeper what was happening, to the extent it could be understood, not letting herself be disturbed in any way by the play of glances and by the charm of so many points and lines and memories imprinted on his face and hands, which might have shaken her good judgment. The man in front of her, who pleaded his cause, suddenly enlivened, and almost proud of the hole he had truly run to this time, although he was her husband, etc., etc., had to be handled with carefulness, caution, suspicion, this way he could probably be helped. In that strange illness, exhaustion, there was probably also a grain of insanity, Florica thought in a shock, listening to him and still not believing, Castor had become a sort of "maniac." But who could tell exactly what he suffered from? She took him to several specialists, not many, because of the embarrassing situation, enough to make a minimum solid impression! But she trusted more her instinct than the clinical specialists, the instinct of her vigorous love and the former was really distressed, but not scared by the man in front of her, the instinct still recognized him as her husband, he did not become distant, was not "insane." Maniac yes, perhaps, but who isn't?! And then, if somebody was to take his side, she was the one, any way, to take his side up to the last minute, as long as he was alive and lucid, it was also an obligation towards their children.She left then, after she had listened to him for an hour, silent, hardly uttering twenty words under the disconcerting, totally hostile to her, sky of the new room. She listened to "his defense, his plea," with no comment, almost all the time looking downwards, with her hair covering three quarters of the face, denying to herself any loud or mental comment. When he was alone again, he had to be "surrounded" by his own sentences, by his motivations and pathos (accomplice, but to whom?!), the sentences and the syllables that had flown with a strident, suspect fluency – framed in the silence and stillness of his last months "there" – had to remain around him, to rattle and tinkle like some unseen domestic animals around their new master, she will leave him with "them" – a quite subtle pedagogy. She knew that when she was gone, once that ridiculous door in the wall has been closed behind her, they, the words, so generously laid at her feet, would turn back and dash at him, like Acteon's hounds, attacking him for lack of the other "game" that had refused to "defend" itself, to attack, that had refused any dialogue, any vocal convention.While she climbed down those dirty, narrow, steep backstairs, she kept him imprinted on her retina for a long time, the way he remained, straight, standing, in front of the door she closed behind her gently but resolutely, with a kind of expression on his suddenly young face, as if he was proud of something, but morose at the same time. "A child," she thought, stepping cautiously and planning for the next time she would visit him, to wear another pair of shoes, low-heeled, "a child, one would say, disappointed by an adult, fascinated with himself, almost euphoric. Exhausted and euphoric at the same time. This is, by all means, his room, the other was mine and his, he probably doesn't even realize its condition… but did he ever think, at least for a moment, that the girls could not visit him here?! Or, who knows, he might have chosen it precisely because of that, in his euphoria there is room for slyness as well…" Florica didn't go straight home that evening. It wasn't evening time yet, it was raining, a gentle, persisting, familiar rain, and she felt the desire to "break out" herself, not so radically and convulsively as him, obviously; she will enter a confectionery, a cinema, she will phone somebody, a friend or even a man, she was free now, wasn't she?!... while she was postponing the decision, experiencing the petty sensuality of delaying a minor and agreeable decision, she passed by the Conservatoire billing on Shtirbei Voda street, where, among others, they announced a piano recital of a pianist she knew in the flesh, a Beethoven sonata recital, for that very evening. She moved on though, passed by the music school building, remembering the relatively distant afternoon when she had made the acquaintance of a Hungarian pianist who lived in Cluj, a not very tall, bony chap, with small ugly hands and a head "from the last century." She was visiting a woman that she had met that afternoon, a lady with a foreign name, Maritza Földes, who was selling a fur coat and advertised it in the newspaper. Florica was not interested in the coat, but she remained for two hours there, in a disagreeable huge lobby, almost with no furniture, as she was interested in the woman who, as she found out, was a professional writer, whose husband had recently died of a very quick disease, and one of the children had emigrated to Israel. She was a woman of almost fifty, corpulent, who had been beautiful, extremely lively, fascinatingly warm, one of those people who offer themselves totally in just one hour. The rigid Florica could not completely resist such rare human beings, and "entered" the other's life as one entered a sumptuous house, with all doors wide open, with the walls painted in vivid colors, with long narrow corridors, where the step somehow became elastic, with spiral stairs, with a frightening rotten terrace, its slabs broken, on which half a dozen wild, scared cats, grinned and ran in different directions, with enormous paintings, experimental oils that had the imprint of the feverish 1930s decade; the heart of this unknown woman was like a hospitable house, rather dominating, so open that it seemed desolate, a house for everybody, an imperial, warm house, in ruin, like the house of Usher, inhabited by human hysteria, extravagant, terrified of silence, a magic house like a mouth that talked perpetually, inventing and nonchalantly enriching the modest surrounding reality. The two "friends" were at the second coffee and the third glass of brandy, when somebody rang the bell, and Maritza Földes, rising and passing the hand through her hair in confusion, sincerely asked the other, as if they were old friends: "Who the hell was supposed to come at this hour?!..." starting for the door indecisively. The weirder was the apparition of this bony gentleman in black, with a head "from the last century," with a box of cakes, which proved undeniably that he was invited in a formal manner, and the newcomer belonged to those kind of people who knew how to highlight ritual and etiquette when they met it, all too rarely, those days, especially when they were dealing with such a disorganized-inspired-bohemian host, an opportunity for practicing the skill of an innate irony, pushed to the silent, solitary pamphlet.Florica was not allowed to leave, the guest was sent after a bottle of wine, Maritza even wanted to heat some food in the oven, but Florica refused categorically. She felt repugnance for the abusively created familiarity, a domain in which the host was apparently excelling. Thus, it was just an afternoon prolonged into a late evening, the piano player, with an unnatural emphasis in his speech – he probably had the vanity of making no mistakes in Romanian, a language one could realize he didn't speak daily – entertained the two women with images from international voyages, "incidents," as he said, "ludicrous incidents from the tour of a punctilious or maniac – Florica didn't remember very well – instrumentalist." To her amazement, the Hungarian's tales, banal at the beginning, imparted cautiously and slowly, like an egg covered in silk layers, succeeded in blocking the colorful and almost sickly verbal debit of the host. Then, the pianist broke through his reserved behavior towards himself, and the people around, and the details, the people, the incidents, even the rare landscapes became captivating. He had the gift of simplifying things, of "emphasizing them childishly," which reduced everything to children's drawings, sarcastic and utopian, of which he was the first amazed. Thus, when he arrived in the most impressive western railway stations, he, the eastern European traveler, was surprised that the trains really worked, and the ticket collector had a peaked cap and a metal punch, sometimes even a grease stain on the lapels; or the comical face of a music agent who was going through a divorce, who was sweating in his efforts to talk to him about music, about Buxtehude and Scarlatti, while his negligent and shaking hands betrayed the fear of living the next day in solitude. Yes, concluded dryly the pianist, the music agents have no talent for loneliness, and… they know it!... and he laughed delicately, the bones of his face laughed delicately, and he indulged the gesture of threatening the air with his forefinger, as if the music agents were in front of him, trying, by their rudimentary slyness, to hide the disaster in which they had sunk. Or an absolutely comic incident from a long, warm and dusty Sunday afternoon, from an obscure sexy-bar, squeezed among tens other such bars, on Kaiserstrasse, around the central railway station in Frankfurt, where, sipping his insignificant glass of Fernet-Branca, he gained the trust of some prostitute, French by origin, to such an extent that she left her Pekinese in his care while she left with a client. "I didn't pay her one single glass," the pianist added, "but I was interested in her family, not in her body. She had two adorable children and a husband, an engineer, who ignored, naturally, what she was doing. He had a weakness for sport cars, a Renault Alpina, I think, which he would never have acquired, and that's why she thought of making this surprise to him, to fulfill his "dream", three months were enough for her, and she had the advantage of having Pick with her, the Pekinese, her only accomplice. For this, she made a trip to Germany, under the pretence of an invented disease and of a non-existent uncle. Her husband though, was afraid from the very beginning that she would leave him, for reasons that he could not explain himself and he was happy now, when she phoned him once a week. This way, there was still a chance that she would come back, and he loved her unwaveringly, although he was convinced that she was totally infected by amorality, he took care of the children with abnegation, and wrote her letters, to which she didn't answer, she didn't have any time. No, of course she didn't love him, she "didn't even think about such a thing," but he was an incurable naïve when he feared she would leave him. The car would naturally be a gift from that non-existent uncle, and her own concern meanwhile was for Pick, with an imaginative nature, not to be contaminated with who knows what disease. She carried it everywhere, the owner of the bar had to accept it too, because she represented a popular item on the program: in the evening she appeared in the ring, in a flash of lights, enclosed in a cage with golden bars, interpreting a feline. She danced then, with the amateurs from the tables, without having to sleep with any of them. She earned an incredible amount of money, she got bored averagely, and in the mornings she red "serious" novels, which she didn't have time for before, such as Moby Dick or Don Quixote, that were much more captivating than the films, based on those novels, she had seen on TV. She laughed when I told her I was a piano player, because I didn't have the "hands of a piano player." Probably, she added politely, I had a remarkable will. Everything was an "average" adventure, the word "average" appeared in her speech very frequently, when she returned she would have her secret, as almost all women have one, plus the voiture, that will make Marc happy. "Men are egotistical, so he will be happy about the bagnole, but their egoism is average, hence their childish, disarming charm, their lack of practicality. They are good at work, and burden animals. An excellent householder, Marc is actually very glad if I leave him finally alone in the kitchen, to make his soufflés pedantically, which he is so proud of, to wash the dishes as if they were museum exhibits, with his favorite detergent. When I return, it will take some time to get used to all that again. I will certainly be an outsider in their provincial atmosphere. I am obviously not cut out for a classic family, but my parents have so much insisted, ils ont tant insisté toujours que je fasse une mère exemplaire, une jolie tête pour le voisinage, que j'arrivai pas à les dégonfler, j'ai eu pas l'insolence de contredir leur cheri cliché. J'entrai donc dans le théâtre de la vie et j'appris à poser, chose vachement educatif, formatif. Jamais je ne rêvais qu'il y a tant de possibilités à fair exercer l'appétit pour un mensonge journalier, un mensonge médiocre, entendu, nécessaire à tout le monde, un théâtre médiocre, réaliste. Parfois, évidemment, j'ai le goût sinistre de dire la vérité, mais ce serait trop maladroit ! Et Marc, à vrai dire, est encore trop enfantin pour ça, il a été toujours brilliant à l'école, on a trop gâté sa fierté. Au fond, je me sens responsable de sa fierté démesurée, je me suis habituée à protéger, donc, son panache masculin, quoi!"She left the Conservatoire far behind, turned back, bought a ticket and entered the hall, at the balcony, on tiptoe – the recital had begun. She listened, her head always down, to Opus 101 which was at the second beat: brisk, a march rhythm. Then, Opus 111 was played and Florica, who didn't know it, was carried to the depths and on heights, her enforced, unwanted "freedom" from that night added – it may even have made it possible, more possible! – to another aesthetic freedom, of the vaguer senses, taking her out of the "provinciality" of her sufferance, freeing her for a while from the carcass of her restrictive destiny. The Hungarian played accurately; like his head polished in yellowish matte ivory, the pathos was toned down, "ossified," hidden under a sort of geometric tinge rendered to the sentiment, which thus emphasized the latter, with a different highlight. A sort of modesty and exactness in front of the huge sonata, a censorship like some form of highest esteem, like some form of severe meekness in front of that text, which one cannot approach but "laterally." But because it was for the first time she heard the famous sonata, Florica forgot the Hungarian pianist and let herself glide, happy to be alone, pushing Castor's shadow at the end of a long, extremely long corridor, grateful to Beethoven for the strength he radiated everywhere, for the imperial unity and monotony of his reflexes, easy, amazingly easy to recognize, and therefore, his entire familiar universe succeeded, in a couple of seconds, to pervade you, to carry you into a world that aimed, in its every element, towards synthesis, towards unity of thought. She was tempted at the end of the recital to go backstage and shake the pianist's hand, but she resisted the thought. Late, she spotted the writer too, in the first rows, in a group, laughing and talking continuously, very expressive, charming, happy to be in society, to hear and feel nice, intelligent people around her, while she, Florica Pintea-Ionescu, an intelligent, beautiful young woman, somehow abandoned by her husband who seemed, how ironical!, to adore her, had the right to loneliness. And she took advantage of this "prerogative" again, refusing the company of strangers that populated any bus, and walked home, although their house was an hour's walk away from Shtirbei Voda. She decided to listen to music more often, she decided to start Tina's musical education, without teachers, without instruments, by simply listening to the sounds of well chosen records. The best would be a single record a day, listened to several times in a row, with no preparatory explanation. Tina will definitely find a rapid path, full of humor, towards some music like the one she had heard that night. She was curious as to how the girl would react. She would write a few lines to the Conservatoire's address, for the pianist, thanking him; and she will send some flowers to Maritza, thanking for both evenings. An evening has its own destiny, for instance that extended afternoon which cropped up in front of her, discreet, in that grey, drizzling evening, the two strangers, like some still alive spirits, who somehow listened to her confession. The confession that she, the proud woman, was not able to make, and, in that moment, she completely felt her pride like an infirmity. Resembling her husband in this, in the inability to confess, although in his case, of the one "cast away at the end of who knows what corridor," the barrier was not the pride, but the sufferance itself, that could not be communicated, not even mentioned. The first word, the first short sentence would have been a sign of ridiculous utopia, of real insanity. Who was lonelier? Well… she was waited for at home, in spite of her loneliness, by the two girls who would certainly hug and spoil her. But who was waiting for him?! And still, thought Florica walking under the eaves, for it was indeed raining, but she wasn't in a hurry, and still, we must not fall in the trap of trusting appearances too much, not even their second level; he was the one who triggered the whole impossible situation, he was the active one, in spite of his "soft," gentle character, and she, with all the precautions and the fight, had to accept, to stomach it. The active ones are always less lonely, who knows, they might not be lonely at all, their loneliness is completely ostensible, deceiving. They mustn't be pitied, despite treble appearances, despite reality itself. The ones who wish, the ones who impose their will – however "dull," absurd – are closer to freedom than to loneliness. Loneliness is waiting for those who accept an externally imposed order, loneliness was waiting for her, and the longer the time of acceptance and of passivity, the greater her loneliness and that of the two girls around her. For this, anyway, he deserved to be hated (if not even despised completely!), for leaving the two little girls "alone," giving them for the first time, he, their father, and so early, the shock of loneliness. Damn him! She thought the last sentence, the imprecation, incongruously, with no hate; almost melancholically, as if, in spite of the fury of the thought, her heart and the "love habit" had attenuated it with a: "What if…" (he would be damned!); this is how it resonated inside her, and immediately she wasn't sure anymore how she had articulated her own fury, as we will never know which is our real voice: the one we hear ourselves, from inside the box of our own body, or the one heard by those who listen to us, which, we are told, is somehow… "different."

by Nicolae Breban (b. 1934)