(scroll below for links to other stories in this series)
The ball is in full swing. Slava knows two directors at the Koliba Film Studio and has brought a slew of secretaries, assistants, and starlet bed partners to its parties but he’s never looked forward to any party as much as to this one, with his flame, the ravishing Dorota. The ball’s theme is British culture and everyone is trying to look like the Beatles. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” has been played three times in the first hour. Slava is wearing a Nehru jacket Uncle Fero bought at a Vienna flea market. Three other Nehru jackets are bobbing around the dance floor. Dorota has auditioned for the National Ballet School and normally takes to the dance floor like a swan to water but she is now sitting at a corner table, sobbing, as Slava caresses her shoulder.
“Dortička, Buchtička, don’t cry. It’ll be OK. We’ll have one later.” He runs his finger up her cheek and licks off the tears. They are like sea water.
“You’ll leave me. You weren’t careful. More, more, more, you always want more.” She grips his arm and he can feel the nails breaking skin, sees the blood. “It would have been a boy just like you and I wanted him and now ...” Dorota rakes the bloodied nails through her hair and sobs again. The sound system blares “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.” Slava wipes sweat off his forehead. Right now leaving her has its attraction. On the dance floor two blondes are dancing together, dressed in identical white dresses and Slava wants to squeeze himself between them, bite all four shoulders.
He’s nineteen, for god’s sake. He can’t pretend he wants to be tied to diapers and a baby carriage, even with Ravishing Beauty. He puts an arm around her but his nostrils are full of the smell of paprika and garlic, cilantro and pickled mackerel, sausage and schnitzel. He can’t remember when he’s last eaten: yesterday? His stomach has been gripped by a claw; his head resounding with a cackle of “gotcha”. When the ball began, a tower of delicacies graced each table; most platters now yawn empty. In their shadowy corner Slava reaches for something on a piece of bread, swallows it in three bites without chewing. Anchovies.
published 10 March 2013
click below for more stories in this series:
• Sweet Dreams (#1)
• Sauerkraut (#3)