Excerpt: Affairs of the Heart by Borislava Borissova

Novella: THE LAST SECRETS OF THE ANCIENT ISLAND

The day was sunny and muggy. In a small apartment in a country-town, a mother spoke at the slightly ajar door of a simple bedroom, “Why did you buy new medicines? Don’t hide them from me! I noticed how you sneaked into the room with them. Your new sickness is in your mind only. As long as you think about it, you will feel more ill. I am sure that if you find a friend you will forget about diseases quickly. It is better to rise and go to enjoy yourself somewhere as your numerous young coevals do.”

On the bed, someone lay covered with a blanket. There was no answer. Upset, the old woman closed the door and stayed in the vestibule lending an ear for any noise, but in vain. In a while her irritated voice echoed again:

“You are feeding your depression! No one else is to blame. You cause yourself to fall in such a condition. Why are you doing this? You have never been so reticent. Where is your passion for life?”

As if only the clothes and the posters on the walls listened to her inside… Later, she didn’t hear the door closing. The concerned mother was too busy watching TV serials and other programs. Actually, the leaving person gave no sign with “Good-bye” as if wanted to remain unnoticed, to avoid any dialogue, any words to be said once again…

In the same time for a young man it was the beginning of summer, the kind of day he loved since his childhood, bright, idle and carefree. Returning to his native land by bus after a long absence that was filled up with student pursuits, newly-graduated Ralph enjoyed the wind, the serene Sicilian sky, the music and the sense of vacation.

Finally, he immersed himself in the spirit of long dreamed relaxation.

It was evening in the countryside near an old historic place on the bigest Mediterranean island, when Ralph passed along the first houses at the foot of beautiful National Park called Etna. There on a street, in front of their garden, James Rule, a solid, broad-shouldered former neighbor, opened the post-box. Ralph did not node him, hoped James was busy with the usual advertising flyers found inside. Actually a letter to Mrs. Kate Rule, his wife drew the attention of the older man. The address was: “The Luminous Publishing House”. Surprised, James went home and first put it unopened on the cupboard in the corridor. A little later when Kate came ready to leave with him to a business-party he torn the envelope up in front of her eyes asking how many secrets recently she had from him and why.

When Ralph arrived to his brother’s house, Michael, a single architect in his forties, with the same warm radiance from the eyes and whitened hair, welcomed him with gestures while talking on his cell phone.

“Kate called me, Ralph. Her home is a living hell.”

The much younger and thinner boy became suddenly tired. He was bored by that story. “It’s a high time to be stopped meddling in her life, Mike. Love isn’t a good excuse to do it.”

Sighing he refused giving any advice. It was obvious that Michael had an ear only for the voice on the cell phone. Snapping the car’s lid closed, he jumped into the vehicle in a furious spirit. “I should make James stop bullying her!”

At the door Ralph made one more plea. “What are you going to do to him, Mike?”

Overfilled with mixed emotions, his brother started the car, not answering. The high speed on the road was driving his mind to serious action despite his intuition telling him to master his impulses first.

Remaining behind in their parents’ house, Ralph took his baggage inside. He searched for some food and losing all inner peace minute by minute, slipped into his jacket and took his old motorbike out of the garage. In the shadow of the mountain the night was hugging the town in a tight embrace.

In a house near the road, in his boyish room hid behind the curtain, Al peered into the darkness, followed the signs of the wind in the trees and the increased intensity of the moonlight. Too meek for his rebellious classmates and never obedient enough at the same time to the criteria of his authoritarian mother, he had an ordinary evening with some pizza, a computer game and a movie when all it suddenly turned into the strangest night with a message from his schoolmate. His impatience was growing but instead of the shadow of his friend, fourteen-year-old Bob he was expecting, a car stopped nearby. Soon he noticed signals produced by its headlights, brushing the windows and the walls of the house. A slight frightened figure emerged from the driver’s seat, appeared between the branches and Al finally realized what was going on.

The next moment wearing expensive shoes and designer’s jeans the boy was rushing outside, whispering, “Are you mad? Whose car is this?”

“My mother’s. She is at Dad’s business party so I decided to practice my driving.” Pale and trembling from head to toe in his cotton T-shirt, Bob held firm to his decision. “I must escape from home.”

“What? With your driving? Better take a cab.”

“The cab-driver will give me up to my parents or police and even if he doesn’t, it will cost a lot of money for such a long distance drive.”

“When?”

“Any night soon. In the dark nobody will notice me. Will you come with me, Al?”

Usually expansive, now Al did not feel inspired or impressed. “My parents will kill me.”

“They will not find us. We will be somewhere unknown.”

“Why? What shall we do there?”

“Work on a farm or something like that. We will be independent! And afield…”

Standing a little away from the street lamp so his parents couldn’t see him, Al hesitated between his love of familiar safety and the allurement of an adventure. Different reasons led Bob to such an action. The time he thirsted for a peaceful home like Al’s was behind him. Now the growing teen up desperately wanted to become more mature and stand on his own, and he also needed a friend on the road to deal with the tough face of difficulties.

“Leave your uncertainty behind, Al! Life will be ours to live.”

Dizzily, as if he had taken some of the forbidden pills, Al uttered, “We can try to scrape some money together.”

In the dark he could not catch the relief in his schoolmate and was too busily engaged with his own emotions to be able to think of Bob’s. Instead, he just rushed home.

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