What I Did In The Summer Holidays

excerpt  Then on another day I didnt get up to much apart from loafing around the house aimlessly and especially up in the apricot tree where dad didnt know I could climb and get away with it because what does he know? He comes home in the evening and if he plays with me a bit he says h'es a dad. He doesnt make my meals, he doesnt do my homework with me because I can do it by myself and in the holidays we only get compositions and reading to do which is a pain. From up in the tree I watched the workmen who were working up on the roof with cigarettes in their mouths all cancerous like. At one point gaffer Costel sent gaffer Onedin down to hoist something up and he hoisted up a wooden toolbox with a wooden handle. But before gaffer Costel could take it granny came out again and started moaning that: "When are you going to finish with all this lifting? Where am I supposed to put my deck chair because youve taken up the whole yard?" Gaffer Costel got really annoyed about that and said that: "Leave them where they are. Because I'm not laying another finger on anything else in this yard." And then gaffer Onedin tied the rope from the winch to the drainpipe and left it there with all the tools inside the box. But the other one still put in an effort and removed from the yard the tyre that dad took off the wheel of mums Dacia. After that they left and I climbed down to check my reserves and see how much money I had for the other day at the pictures. And in any case it was cloudy and the weather was just right. I could hardly wait to go to the pictures with my classmates. Especially with Precup Laurentziu and Dima Sandu because I hadnt seen them for ages. Precup Laurentziu has sat at the same desk as me since we were in the first form. He always gives me the wrappers from the chocolate bars he eats so I can enter the Competitions. H'es not allowed because his mum works at the chocolate factory and so that no one will say anything if he wins. But I havent won anything either because our family arent very lucky and we have to work from dawn to dusk like dad to have food to put on the table. Dima Sandu has a bit of a stutter and he has a mouth like h'es smiling all the time except that he isnt. Thats how he is. When he was little and before she got used to him miss always used to punish him because she thought he was laughing at her. But in the end she got used to it because she was just out of college and she was young too. His granddad has sheep so h'es always getting a new sheepskin cap and h'es really ashamed because he doesnt have a woolly hat like everyone else. But he gets rid of it quickly enough because the lads in the 7th form who copy from us always knock his sheepskin cap off and then kick it around like a football. But he doesnt get angry because h'es always calm and doesnt blow his top. I dont know how he can be so calm because I get annoyed really quickly when I see worthless dregs in front of my eyes. But i got annoyed the worst the next day when i was going to the pictures and had to meet a load of people at the bus stop because granny was in a foul mood again and didnt let me go out of the gate. I woke up at the crack of dawn just as the cock was crowing although we dont have any cocks. But i have a picture of 1 on the clock by my bed which goes like that with it's beak up and down every second but that doesnt count. And when I went into the kitchen mum was drinking her coffee there and dad was in the bathroom with the door locked though I dont think he was doing his makeup. Granny was waiting by the door stamping her feet but I didnt pay any attention to her because my eyelids were gummed up with sleep and mum was even amazed: "Whats with you getting up at this time?" After she went to work I went to the bathroom and washed my face and cleaned my teeth all by myself and after that I put on my Marlboro teeshirt that granny bought me from the market even though dad said that we were too poor to buy stuff from the gypsies. I dont know where he comes up with them. And then I loafed around the yard like a lord in clover while granny kept begging me to high heaven: "Come here this instant and eat something or I'll break your legs." But i wasnt hungry. I kept going up to my room to see what time it was and at 10 to 10 Robert came to the gate who said to me: "Come on Raluca!" But just as I was about to go out what do I see? The gate was locked and the key had vanished from the padlock and from the hook behind the bush where we sometimes hide it. And when I went back granny was standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips like a fishwife asking: "Arent you going to eat something?" And I was quite hungry because I was annoyed but I didnt have any time so I said that: "I'll eat when I get back." But she didnt give in and turned her back and went inside to change the sheets on the beds and do the housework. I followed her around in vain and said that mum and dad let me go into town because she was doing the dusting and she said: "If your dad wants to be boss of this yard then he should spend more time at home." You couldnt talk to her in a civilised way in any shape or form. She had to go and rain on my parade even if it wasnt cloudy. It was so sunny you could have grilled yourself like on the barbecue so I went back and shouted to Robert through the gate that I couldnt come because I couldnt get out. Then I climbed the apricot tree all annoyed so I could be by myself and I left granny to tidy up with all her housework. I dont even know how long I stayed up there but in the end I got so hungry that I was seeing everything through a mist. I tried to reach some apricots that were higher up but I couldnt reach them because dad had already picked everything that was to be picked and the others werent ripe. So I didnt have any choice and I went into the kitchen and started eating something there. And what should I see? When I sat down at the table I felt something under my elbow and when I had a better look under the waxcloth I found the key to the gate. When I looked at the clock it was too late to go to the pictures but in the end I still went out without saying anything so as to leave her to call for me in vain. So I went to auntie Cheechees to buy myself a hot pie and a bottle of that fizzy pop which dad says is all chemicals and not to drink it. But I like it and I havent got anything against it. Mister Buliga was there too but I didnt feel like asking him whether Nahabetian had gone to the pictures in the end or not. And even so I didnt know whether or not he could tell me. But after I got a pie I still didnt go home. I sat on the kerb in the school playground and started to say my times tables in my head. Not that I dont know them because I do know them. But thats what Ive always done since the 2nd form whenever someone annoys me. When they took me home from school they used to make me go to bed after they gave me something to eat and I couldnt get to sleep and I used to say my times tables to pass the time and not to feel my legs going numb because I always felt like fidgeting. I left the playground later when some workmen and some soldiers came to play football. And the soldiers were the same workmen I met shortly before school broke up because they were working on Pancu Iancu's house whose father is a major. When I got home I put the key in the lock because I had locked it from the outside and first of all I didnt know what to think. Because granny was stretched out on the ground and I thought she had gone completely mad and decided to do some sunbathing after drinking her coffee. But she was stretched out on the ground because she was dead. When I went closer I saw that her head was split open because gaffer Costel's and gaffer Onedin's wooden toolbox had fallen down off the winch. It fell right on top of her head as she was sitting drinking her coffee all by herself because her Ladyship couldnt get into the yard because I had the key. And the deckchair was overturned on one side and it was spattered a little with the blood that poured onto the concrete. I think that when the toolbox hit her on the head she fell down and then hit herself on the concrete. But maybe she was already dead from the start. At first I thought I was going to cry because I could see everything as though through a mist but when I went to wipe my eyes I saw that I wasnt wearing my glasses. But I didnt go to look for them because it was an Emergency. I went to the telephone and rang mum at work and then the penny dropped that I could have phoned her before leaving granny to say that she wasnt letting me go to the pictures. But now it was too late because they were all long gone from the bus stop. But at first mum didnt believe me and said that: "This is another of your pranks." But in the end she believed me because she didnt have any choice. Till she came home I didnt know what to do and I went back into the yard to granny even though I was a bit frightened of her. And when I came out I chased away a cat that had turned up and in the end I climbed into the apricot tree. I found my glasses there which I had put on a branch so they wouldnt fall off when I leaned down to take an apricot and eat it. When mum arrived I was still there and I heard her down below from the gate as she went: "Aaaaaaggggghhhh! Maaaaammy! Maaaaammy!" Then I climbed down and went to her who put her hands over my eyes so I wouldnt see what I had already seen because it was me who called her. And mum got down next granny and started screaming and wailing: "Maaaaammy! What happened to you Maaaaammy?" But she couldnt tell her because she was dead. After she cried some more she got up the courage to lay her hand on granny and when she saw she was cold she turned to me and asked: "When did you find her? At what time?" But I didnt know exactly so I told her: "Well, when I phoned you." And mum immediately started to pull granny and turn her over because she was lying on one side. When people die they start to go stiff after a while and stay in the same position they died in. So if they die crooked they stay crooked and dont fit inside the coffin. And mum wanted to straighten granny out but she couldnt because she had been dead for a long time. But still it was good that she died with her eyes closed because otherwise she would have been looking at me when I went to make the phone call and climb into the apricot tree. In the end a while later dad came home too and mum immediately started to shout: "Where have you been? Didnt the boy phone you to come straight away?" And with him arrived the ambulance who said that they couldnt do anything because she was already dead. When her Ladyship saw the ambulance at the gate she quickly came over because thats what shes like. Nothing gets past her. And straight away she started wailing but dad took her by the wing and said: "Leave the keening for later. Now lend a hand and help me get her inside the house." He gave some money to the doctor so that he would help to get granny inside the house. He took her straight to the bathroom and dad told her Ladyship to wash her because in any case they had been bosom buddies. But her Ladyship told him: "I cant do it alone."Polirom, 2004 T. O. BOBE's "storyteller-hero is a diligent 4th-grader who spends his summer holiday writing the cliché-essay in the hope of getting a higher grade than his classmate Nahabetian Miruna. The plot of the book/essay, for which Luca develops an obsession, unfolds gradually: from the description of the initial commonplace days to the death of his grandmother, followed by a series of other deaths (murders or domestic accidents). In the second part of the book, the borders of daily triteness vanish altogether." (Bogdan IANCU, in Cultura, 16-22 June, 2004)

by T. O. Bobe (b. 1969)