Stories

A Freak Summer – Réka Nyitrai

The pear tree

 

The postman’s arrival was unexpected. He rang the doorbell and handed me a tattered envelope. Inside, there was a letter addressed to my grandmother.
The sender, a man by the name of József, reports that he has successfully landed on the moon.
He escaped from a Russian workcamp and now lives on the moon. He has a new wife and three grown up sons. The eldest is a flautist; the middle one a jockey, and the youngest a priest.  
Inside the envelope there is a also a painting. It depicts a pear tree, full with fruit.
When he remarried, reports József, he could not keep the necklace and locket given to him by my grandmother and decided to bury it in the yard. However, the following spring, in the very place where he’d buried the necklace, a pear tree rose – a magic pear tree.
Sometimes, on fine summer evenings, when he and his new family are relaxing on the porch, they can hear the pear tree singing sad songs. The language of these songs can be understood only by the head of the family.
He says that, for him, the fruits the singing pear tree bears are always bitter. His wife sometimes feels they are sweet, though at other times sour. Only his sons find them to be consistently sweet.
With this in my mind, I would add, my mother and I share the same birthmark: a pear on our left breast.  
 
 

Summer snow

 
Everything happened one late summer evening.
I was coming home from a long shift. I was feeling spent and all I could think about was a rejuvenating bath.
I routinely tried the doorknob.
When my husband is at home he never locks the door. But, this time the door is locked.
I search for my key. I find it and place it in the keyhole but, to my surprise, I cannot turn it. The lock is closed from the inside and the key remains in it. I knock on the door. Nothing. I knock again. Nothing. I call out his name. Nothing. I punch the door. Nothing. I punch, punch, punch the door. Nothing.
After some time, I hear the key turn and the door opens. A woman steps from our apartment. As I see her I start to snow. Huge snowflakes fall from me. I snow and snow and snow until the door, my husband, that woman, the apartment, the block of apartments, the streets, the cars, the entire city is covered in snow.
If you wish to consult the newspapers of that time, you will find an abundance of articles about a freak summer snowstorm – the one that shut down Bucharest for an entire week. It is the only time snow has fallen in Bucharest during summer.

 

Dreamcatchers

 
Again, you wake me in the early hours. Again, you plough my dreams. Again, you plant whispers in my ear. Your hands speak a language learned from the clouds. They promise rain and rich crops. They promise lush flower fields and chattering birds. They promise a den, plenty of milk and fox cubs.
Nothing can stop your hands: not my marriage; not my sleeping husband; not the entire city that lies between us.
They ruffle my hair. They caress my face. They seek my breasts.
To ward off evil spirits a dreamcatcher must be exposed to sunlight.
Some believe that, over time, dream catchers fill up and need shaking out.
Love and marriage aren’t forever: to shake a marriage, it is enough to cheat once.