Yesterday

(Translated from Romanian by Mihaela Alecu. For Romanian press here)

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Yesterday, around lunch, next to the antiques shop, I passed by a young lady, a centimeter away, we almost hit. We apologized to one another and only then I looked at her. It was M., for sure, but she did not recognize me. It’s true, months have passed, maybe even a year since I last saw her, but she looked the same. She wanted to leave. I called her by her name. She turned back surprised. You know me? she asked. Yes, of course, I told her. Don’t you recognize me? I’m sorry she answered in a hurry, then she turned back and left without leaving me time to answer.

This is how one of D.’s notebooks starts, a good friend of mine, who has now gone to other countries to try his luck. For a long time I thought it was a short story. It was one of the many notebooks he left me when he went away, to try to publish them. I won’t come back, he confessed, and it’s a pity. There were notes and reflections based on the books he wrote, a few poems and some short stories, the beginning of a novel, but most importantly, what he called “my philosophical system-episteme”. Because it would be absurd to talk of a philosophical system nowadays, my dear A., he added with a smile. Next to these there were a few notebooks, with their covers numbered, which did not yet comprise dated notations, but the way they were written led me to realize that it was his diary. The notebook I’m speaking of belongs to this series of notebooks, and not only due to its format, cover etc., but also in terms of content, I realized long time after, even though it is not numbered. Or, more likely, it used to be numbered, because you can see an erased mark on the cover. The style is no different from the others’, maybe only in respect to some passages’ length, which make you think of a story. A while back I wrote an email to D. to clarify, but his answer was nothing like that: I don’t remember that notebook and, moreover, I don’t remember such a meeting which is at least strange, you must admit! Are you sure it was among my notebooks? After I answered that even the writing is identical, not only the notebook, a proof that it was bought together with the others, he virtually shrug his shoulders and told me not to beat my brains over it, but to continue taking care of his philosophical work. I responded with irony for a bit, but I continued with what was really serious, something that could really become a remarkable philosophical work, like it’s never been written around here since Lucian Blaga. So for a while I neglected the diary and the notebook.

The other day, however, after I turned in to the publishing house the last part of the philosophical text, I found it again. This time I read it all, then I went through the entire diary and took some note of certain stuff that could have helped in the research I was decided to carry on. Firstly, names of common friends, phone numbers and addresses, places where they’ve met and so on. I tried to call M., but at that number pertained for a while to a different family. C., M.’s best friend was nowhere to be found either. But, little by little, the list got shorter and shorter, and I had come to a stop. If I wouldn’t have inherited an almost stupid stubbornness, I would have abandoned the search. Maybe it wasn’t but a short story written by D. so long ago that he even forgot about it. But I was decided not to give up, until I would run down of options. I started, therefore, in search of an address that I had found after several efforts. It was the last hope.

I ringed the doorbell uneasy, as if I was doing something illegal, or as if my future would depend on it. A young lady opened. She had dark hair, but I didn’t give up, although D. had written that the girl had light brown hair. Good afternoon, I’m sorry to bother you. I’m looking for Ms. M. The young woman looked at me surprised, then she said: that is me. But I don’t know you… I couldn’t withhold my happiness, however, I immediately became serious again: what if it is a different M.? M. I.? I asked again. Yes, but I still don’t understand… I will explain it, if you allow me.

After he explained the situation in a few words, I let him in. But you see, my dear J., I didn’t even know him. Not him, nor D., although they were arguing for the contrary. I told him that maybe he took my name and address from the phonebook and used it to convey some credibility into his story. It is possible, it is a good idea, D. was capable of something like that, he told me. But he would have told me. He had no reason to hide something like this from me, he added. After we talked for a while, he left, just as confused as he had came. He promised he will come back if he would find out something else. But, after a few days, nothing. After another three weeks, again nothing. This whole thing intrigued me as well, you see? So I called him. I did not find him. I called him again after a few days, still nothing. Happily I had his address. After I gave it some thought I decided I could go there, without seeming improper. After all, he came to me first, right? The next day, I rang his door. Or so I thought. It seems that I had a fake address, because the old lady who answered told me she had never heard of A. Or D. She was too serious to suspect she was hiding the truth, so I left without clearing up. On the contrary, the situation was even more intricate that in the beginning. And it started to annoy me, do you see, J.?

I see, I told her. It is really strange; but it is also fun, I added, so don’t be mad. Interesting, I told her again while preparing to leave. Call me, please, if you find out something else.

I had just left M.’s and I got a phone call. Can you come back? I discovered something… Immediately, I answered. In a few moments I was back. M. was waiting for me at the door. I found this in the mail box. It was a big envelope. It is from D. Can you believe it? I shrugged my shoulders. You haven’t opened it yet? She nodded her head no. I said I should wait. What could it be? Open it and we will see! M. tried to open the envelope, but her hands were shaking. You are nervous, I smiled at her while taking the envelope to open it myself. Inside, a book. It is signed by D. The title: Short stories. On the first page an inscription. I gave M. the book. You read it, she said. I don’t think, at this point, there is anything you’re not supposed to read. I do as I am told: “For M., in memory of the moonless nights when we used to walk by the streets and railways, pretending that they were something else and that we loved each other. D.” I look at her. Don’t frown at me, she said, I don’t even know the guy! This is too much, I said to her, confused. Who the hell are this people and why are they mocking you, us, after all?! I was already convinced that it was all a hoax, but I couldn’t see the point of it. Just for fun? I looked at the envelope: no sender’s address, just the name. No postage stamp, no stamp from the post office. When did you get it? I asked her. I don’t know. Just before, I found it in the mail box when I walked you out. It is so annoying that it almost makes me scream. Eh, never mind, she told me, don’t be upset. I will handle it. I will ignore them!

I coiled a bit, then I left again. For a few days I couldn’t get any news from M. It is true, I had a lot to work, too, that I couldn’t even find the time to call. But now I will take some time and go visit her. If I go by car, it won’t take longer than ten minutes, but I would rather take a walk, have some air from this clogged city. In almost half an hour I reached her place. I rang the door. No answer. I insist. Nothing. I use my spear key. Inside, no sign of M. I circled for a few moments around the apartment. I see D.’s book on the armchair. I sit down and browse through it. The first story starts like this: “Yesterday, around lunch, next to the antiques shop, I passed by a young lady, a centimeter away, we almost hit. We apologized to one another and only then I looked at her.” I continue to read anxiously, surprised and more and more confused. “It was M., for sure, but she did not recognize me.” I don’t need to go on any more. In fact, I can’t.

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Published by dorin

Full time husband and father; full time writer; full time artist (#fineartphotography). And in the free time, I like to travel, to read and to learn new stuff.

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