Diary, Stockholm, in episodes – August as an explanation

A tiny puffy sparrow nibbled a lump of stolen from a table bread under my feet, desperately punching it with a beak because it wasn’t mighty enough to hold such a lump and pecked a pretty big hole which was twice as big as a grubby bagel. Sparrows around didn’t dare to come closer because this one managed to peck at the forehead everyone and fought for its bagel to death.

And then, the seagull with furious muzzle fell down just from the sky, grabbed a hefty chicken leg and started gulping it, taking off with this load. The girl who brought food to the tables managed to slap the seagull with a wiping cloth at its fuselage – it dropped the leg, making off. The leg was lying on the floor – already useless for people. The serious battle for the “birds’ rights” took place and I thought about the sense of this phrase. And a baby in a lace pram, watching these scenes, laughed at them with its toothless mouth fiendishly as an adult –  oh, if only an absolutely bold mother with a tattoo behind the ear saw its face! But she was attentively cooling down the bottle with milk in the glass jar with icy mineral water.

And altogether were sitting on the Stockholm island, the water was going blue and rippling with silver lather, the August sun was pouring copper rains on our heads, flooding the eyes so that any black sunglasses couldn’t return the ability to see the world in its darkness.

August isn’t the summer. It’s a demagnetized stretch of time, its pointers are desperate and haphazard, its sun is ridiculously dazzling and its heat is unreal and – a biting cold in its shadows. Literally, make a step under the tree crown and the goosebumps cover the skin. Every year something unalterable happens – and no one can predict it. And I love it, I celebrate it since there’s no sense to be afraid of it.

Once, I happened to decide to meet the August in this place, where under the immense linden the whole cafe is placed, where you can go astray on the fourteen islands, crossing 57 bridges. In such a way, it’s possible to cover your trail. And while the fate will be chasing me on this tricky route, covering miles of a giant imperial city – I will give a thought to another August story about the people, birds and the sun.

People went out under a sunny shower, and walk, stunned and blinded together with birds – one face, daydream on the green grass in the farewell arms, idle away on the boats which offer to dine away from the land, throw their large and reckling bodies just from the berths into the dark-blue water to the fishes which the concentrated old men in the ironed trousers catch. People pedal their bicycles, drag the dogs which string the leashes, leaning on each flower pot on the street – each should be marked to spread the signal about this dog.

What can I say about them, the people, watching them and remembering under the golden sun of the August luminary? Every time, they search for something. They feel: August is a deception, the end is already sensed! the cold is sensed, the final curtain – but there’s still time to play in the last episode, to meet the round of applause. Women and girls walk around the city dressed in tiny shorts. My friend Vika says that many don’t have any ground to put them on. In lace, ripped, transparent, half-open on the strategically important parts, pockets outwards, critically strained. On the fatty legs, on the exquisite round ones, on the cellulite, one the sun-tanned, on the porcelain white, on the long, on the legs-sausages, on the curved and dry, on the young and tired. Shorts-panties, shorts-sexy, shorts-“I have nothing underneath”… My friend Vika (in shorts) can’t bear this parade any more and claims: “In front of our eyes – obvious competition for a male. Who is sedentary and a minority. That’s how I define this delightful phenomenon theory”. And I think that I shouldn’t wear shorts when I go out to wander tomorrow.

A male passed by, big and small, plain and memorably embossed. There’s a young man with a nicely shaped beard, with installation in the moustache, in the short coat buttoned up to Adam’s apple and fastened tightly around the waist, beneath of which there’re naked legs in massive boots on the thick high-heels. He thrust his hands in his pocket (probably there’re fists) and walked along the path but the face expressed only: don’t dare to come up to me or blunder something, I’ll punch you at the teeth! Rather, it seemed that he wasn’t so determined, he struggled for his bird’s rights…

Two giant boys and two long-legged girls in tights cut on purpose were talking louder than the situation required. One of the boys, with a brightly expressed homosexuality, had yellow nylon bow on a bold skull (Vika tip-toed around him to inquire how it’s attached to the bald head. Nothing special – on the lace). And it symbolized nothing but the measure of the Sunday binge.

Viktoriia doesn’t shy away from such rallies and says that she’s used to seeing nature red in tooth and claw. For instance, in Florida, the hotel manager advised her and her friend not to go for a walk there, where they asked for directions. He said that there fucking something was happening. But they went. Saw homeless, junkies, dubious kind of blokes and everything would be alright. But for a man, who got off a late bus, in black boots, black suit with a black attache case – and in a pink ballet pack and with pink ears. Perhaps, it was that fucking something, the ladies thought and made off more quickly.

You cannot but assume that a man was getting back from the office team building party. He might have been getting back alone to his carton box, in which he’d throw all these clobbers and fall asleep in a fetal position. The life won’t be enough to understand people in their restlessness.

Greta Garbo, for instance. What did she lack? Somewhere here, in a Stockholm building of the father-honey dipper, she watched how he was scribing something after work in silence. And mother, having come back from her factory, was gloomily sewing everyone’s clothes… Was sitting next to all children in anxious, as she wrote, silence… Was born among the blue waters, mighty oaks, fortress houses, in anxious, how she perceived, silence – now the world remembers her as one of the five most prominent actresses in the world… What happened to her? Why was she silent and hid the face with black sunglasses, abandoning everything and wandering Manhattan, alone?

There’s the girl in front, without hands, with two sewn stumps instead of the hands… Didn’t want to look at her eating. I didn’t have time to avert the eyes – she said something to the waitress and swung the stump, to which a weird construction resembled a tattered colander was adjusted. Instantly, after getting apple and pineapple, she caught a knife from the table with that colander and started cutting all those into small cubes, mixing in a bowl with muesli. She didn’t ask something simple but knuckled down to cut an extremely uncomfortable pineapple. Cut everything for a long time with a weird smile as if revenging for her feelings. Poured everything with milk, then caught a spoon with her device and started eating, squinting with pleasure. Twice, I attempted to get up and help her but understood that she’d refuse. Without a doubt, she’d hit at the forehead with that colander. It’d be logically. Was it pleasant to look at this picture? It wasn’t, for sure. Because it’s ugly? Because she wasn’t sad? But did she have to? Because she demonstrated her exceptionality, not asking cereal without ado and help of others? Because she was sitting among others and didn’t hide in the shell? Or did she revenge? Nothing of this list wasn’t captured in her mind. We simply don’t like something we’re afraid of. And it’s so scary to be in that girl’s shoes and desperately cut the apple. But she, like me, was fleeing away from August, searched for something and like everybody here she travelled with her colander! She herself made her hair and pinned it slightly askew. It made her look plucky as that sparrow, which defended its bagel.

She finally noticed that I was watching, guarded my cautious look and blinked – as if to say, “Relax and celebrate! We’ll meet applause together with you, babe!”

I blinked at her, “The flight’s normal, candy! Alrighty, let’s go out together then!”

Olga Gerasymyuk

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