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Short Story by Liana Margiva
On web since 05/08/2006
You still shall live
Such virtue bath my pen
Where breath most breathes
Even in the mouths of men
It had been two months since they parted. She kept waiting for him to call, but he had disappeared again. She often thought about how passionate he had been when he’d kissed her in the car before saying goodbye, promising to call soon. She was going out of her mind with worry that that something happened to him. Maybe he was ill and needed her. Why was she always waiting for him to call and never called him herself? She would have gladly called him, but she was afraid that he wouldn’t pick the phone up once he recognized her number. It happened before, even though he denied it later, but she knew she was right. Still, she summoned whatever courage she had and dialed his number. The phone rang for a long time, and just as she was about to hang up, she heard his cheerful voice on the other side.
“Lily, I’m so happy to hear from you! You haven’t called me for so long!”
“I wrote several poems for you. Everyone likes them,” she said quietly.
“You’ve written poems for me?” asked Edgar with such warmth in his voice that Lily’s heart nearly burst with happiness. She was about to tell him how she had been missing him all that time, how she had been waiting for him, how she loved him, when she heard Edgar shout to someone.
“Sarah, don’t pick, I’m talking.”
“I won’t, I’m in the kitchen,” she heard a female voice respond in the distance.
Lily’s knees buckled, she felt weak and about to fall. But she composed herself and didn’t betray her feelings in any way, pretending that she hadn’t heard that exchange.
“Lily, when are you leaving? You were going away somewhere, right?”
“Not for a while”, she answered with sadness.
“That’s good, then we should see each other soon,” Edgar sounded overjoyed. He kept talking and talking. Eventually, they ran out of things to talk about, but still, he wouldn’t hang up. It was obvious that Edgar was really happy to hear from her. Lily almost believed him.
“Lily, let’s meet day after tomorrow, Sunday. I’II pick you up around 7 p.m. I missed you, Lily!” He spoke with such tenderness that Lily felt more and more confused.
For a long time after Lily hung up the phone, Edgar’s voice resounded in her ears. How happy he was to hear from her! How affectionate his voice was! It was as if Lily lived on a different planet and had finally returned to Earth, as though they didn’t live in the same city, and he didn’t know where to find her. How could she possibly understand him? How could anyone ever understand him?
Today is Friday. The entire weekend is still ahead, and Edgar wants to spend it with me. Another woman? Who is she? And why was he so happy to hear from me if he’s seeing another woman? She thought to herself. Lily slumped to the floor, put her head on the sofa, and quietly sobbed. She was so tired of waiting for him, of dreaming of him! She felt sorry for herself and ashamed, yet she couldn’t change how she felt. She loved him! If only he told her that he didn’t love her, that she should leave him alone that would make her feel better, she’d be content to know her fate. But he wouldn’t do it!
When they were together, he showered her with love, or feigned it. He would be tender and gentle, and then discard her for months. And yet she waited; she waited for him every minute. Her soul became a terminal waiting area, and its only passenger-her beloved Edgar-wouldn’t return there.
By Sunday afternoon, Lily was an emotional wreck. As clocks ticked closer and closer to the time of their impending meeting, she became more and more distraught. Edgar was coming to pick her up; she would see him again! She wanted to be near Edgar, or just to see him and hear his precious voice. It was a dream that never went way, and only rarely came true .
She dressed and stepped outside. Time will pass faster this way, she thought. A while later, she saw his black car appear. Her heart jumped and pounded with excitement! Good God, how she loved him! She would be happy to give her life for him! Only he didn’t need her life, or her love. She had come to understand it slowly and painfully.
Edgar pulled up, and Lily climbed into his car as he beamed at her. He was so handsome, and she was so happy to see him again! ”Lily, it’s so great to see you! I’ve missed you so much! Tell me how you’ve been. What have you been up to?” Edgar spoke with such warmth in his voice that Lily had a hard time holding it together and not bursting into tears.
She wanted to scream,” And who had stopped you from seeing me? Why did you have to miss me instead of coming to see me?” But she didn’t. She didn’t know what was true anymore.
Edgar kept talking and talking. He tried to be cheerful, but didn’t look at her face even once. Lily guessed that he was somewhat embarrassed by a prolonged silence.
They arrived at his house. Lily kept pushing away the question that nagged her the most, ' How many women have visited this place in the last two months since Edgar saw me last?” She tried to avoid thinking about unpleasant things so as not to ruin their time together. She sat down on the black leather sofa across from the TV, but she wasn’t listening to it or watching it. Her thoughts were elsewhere. She carefully studied the objects in the room: the staircase that Edgar climbed every day, the rug his feet walked on, and the sofa he sat on. Those inanimate objects were luckier than she was-they saw Edgar every day, but she wasn’t meant to! Why did she always have to wait, and wait…
“Lily, show me your poems,” said Edgar, sitting down next to her with two glasses of her favorite cherry liqueur. Lily stood up and took a few pages of her poems from her bag. She gave them to Edgar. He glanced at them curiously, and then gave them back to her.
“You wrote so much?” he asked. ”I thought it was just one poem. Would you read them to me yourself? I’d love to hear you read!”
Lily put her glass on the table and sat next to him. He stretched his feet and placed them on her lap. She held his feet with one hand, and her poems with the other. Lily read quietly, with sadness and depth of emotions. Edgar kept sipping the thick blood-red liqueur, staring at her face.
“My God, what a talent!” he suddenly exclaimed and embraced her. He squeezed her so hard that she found it difficult to breathe. Suddenly, he kissed her with such passion that Lily felt lightheaded and ready to die!
“Edgar, what do poems tell you?” asked Lily, as soon as he calmed down.
“I love you!” he drawled. Lily embraced him quietly, yet aware of all the heartache she had concealed inside.
“Let’s go upstairs,” he said and pulled her along.
How he loved her! How he caressed her! She embraced him, kissed his lips, eyes, and her heavenly feelings transformed into real words.” My Edgar, my handsome, precious Edgar! I’ve missed you so much! Life is unbearable without you. I love you so much!”
She gave herself to him without hesitation and with such passion and such love that it was impossible to put her feelings into words. She kept kissing his dark skin and every part of his strong, muscular body with joy and abundance.
“Lily, I don’t want you to suffer”, said Edgar, and tenderly kissed her neck. But she had nothing to say. She held his face with both hands and kissed his lips with all the love she felt in her heart.
“Lily, you’re crazy!” said Edgar, understanding her passion and the depth of her feelings for him from her kisses.
The following day, and on many days afterwards, Lily went to work happy and exhilarated. Her heart was filled with deep endless love! Good God, Edgar was incredible! So unlike other men! And how could she not love this most handsome man! She could think of nothing, and no one, but Edgar. His beaming face, his eyes, his short black goatee that suited him so well, his lips and that gorgeous body of his were constantly on her mind! How he loved her poems! He had even called her talented!
Day after day, she waited for her beloved. She played their last meeting in her mind over and over again. She remembered his hugs and kisses! She was sure that he had loved her that day! He had loved her, even if just for a day. And that was enough to live for!
Three weeks passed after Lily saw Edgar last. Week four passed, then week five, and many more days after that. Edgar didn’t remember her. Lily knew that if she were be unable to wait any longer and called Edgar, he would be happy to hear from her again, or would pretend to feel happy. He would probably make passionate love to her again, or feign his fiery love. She didn’t believe him anymore. She knew his words worth. They were beautiful, but meaningless. It was hard and painful for her to realize that the man she loved could lie so easily, so bluntly.
Edgar had left Lily again, abandoned her, and discarded her wounded heart. The anguish she felt was killing her. She was angry with herself, the torture that love filled her with, the enormous suffering it caused her, and yet she was unable to change anything. She couldn’t forget Edgar! That crazy love penetrated every part of her body and soul! She loved him endlessly, and she suffered deeply! How could it be different? He didn’t love her back, and had probably forgotten about her!
Her Edgar, her handsome olive-skinned man floated peacefully along the river of life. He was happy. He dated different women, while Lily’s life turned into perpetual suffering. She couldn’t rip that damned love out of her heart! It left her no peace, and was pushing her into the downward spiral of sleepless nights.
Lily often told herself that Edgar must be away on business, otherwise he would have called. A man can’t love and desire a woman so much, and then forget all about her the very next day! Where could that love go? How could his feelings for her die at dawn? Why did she have to fall in love with a man who didn’t need her? She asked these questions of herself thousands upon thousands of times, but never once did she come up with answers.
Finally, a month and a half later, Edgar finally called Lily. In the morning, as soon as Lily entered the office, her friend said:
”Lily, Edgar called! He finally remembered you. He said that if you’d like, and if you have time, he will pick you up tonight after work.”
Lily was so excited that she threw her arms open and hugged her friend.
“I’m so happy! You’ve made me so happy! You are a dear!”
“Lily, don’t you have any pride left? I can’t believe you’re the same Lily I used to know!” said her friend, Alla.
“When your love is this strong, there’s no place for pride! Your soul aches, and though you understand everything, you submit to humiliation,” Lily responded, with sadness in her voice.
“I hate this Edgar so much, there are no words to express it!” said Alla.
“I wish I could hate him myself, if only I didn’t love him so,” whispered Lily.
“Alla, I’m going to go to the university, to the department of cardiovascular diseases. Edgar’s book on heart diseases came out already, and I’d like to have a look at it.”
“Maybe he knows about heart disease, but he has no heart, that Edgar,” said Alla.
“He has a heart, of course he does. There is just no place for me there,” Lily remarked sadly, and left the room.
Around 7 p.m. Edgar came by to pick her up from work. He waited for her near the main entrance. As Lily walked toward him, her gait was light, as if she were floating on air.
“Hello, darling!” said Edgar, smiling as soon as she climbed into his car, and kissed her on the lips.
“Hello”, she responded, also smiling.
“How are you, dear? How are your students behaving?”
“Everything is fine. I saw your book today. Congratulations!”
“Thank you, my darling,” said Edgar, smiling. ”Lily, do you really love me?” he suddenly asked.
“Yes, I do” she said quietly.
“And what do you love about me?”
“I love your laughter, your smile, and your eyes. I feel the touch of your lips even when you’re not with me. I never loved anyone as much as I love you!” she said.
“Lily, you’re really crazy!” said Edgar, laughing.
“Maybe you’re right, and this bottomless love I have for you is but a confirmation of that,” she said with sadness.
He didn’t respond, and didn’t ask anything else.
They arrived at his house. After dinner Edgar moved to sofa and said, “Lily, why don’t you read your poems to me?” She smiled and began to read her poems, feeling sad, exalted, and full of love.
“Lily, is there anything you don’t like about me?” asked Edgar.
“I don’t like the fact that you don’t love me,” she said.
“Have I ever told you anything like that?” he looked surprised.
“It’s not always necessary to say things for others to understand you,” she answered.
“When did you fall in love with me for the first time?”
“At the coffee shop, remember? You were looking for me near the store, and I was waiting for you at the coffee shop. Later, you found me, stood near the window, threw your arms in the air, and exclaimed, “Lily, I’ve been looking for you for so long!” I can’t explain it, but I felt like my heart had opened up like the jaws of a shark, and then it swallowed you whole!”
“You’re strange, Lily, you know that? Usually, women love men who give them expensive gifts, buy them houses, cars, and jewelry, but you, you love me for silly things.”
“You should be happy, because it has nothing to do with your money,” she responded.
“Lily, I don’t want you to be unhappy. I don’t like it that you’re always sad. Your eyes are full of pain and sorrow, but they used to laugh all the time” said Edgar.
“I’m missing the one thing that makes me happy-you! My eyes forgot how to laugh since the day my heart swallowed you,” said Lily.
“But I’m with you, Lily!” he exclaimed.
“But you don’t love me,” she said with sadness.
“It’s not true ! I never said that to you,” retorted Edgar.
“But why can’t you love me, Edgar? Why did I fall in love with a man to whom I mean nothing?” she groaned and tried to smile, but her eyes filled with tears. Edgar walked over and sat down next to her, taking her hands into his.
“Lily, look at the sky. Look at all the pigeons flying out there,” he pointed in the direction of the window. ”Soon the night will come, and yet, they will all look the same. That’s the beauty of it, they are all equally gorgeous! And why would anyone want to take one home and try to prove that it’s different than all the rest! I don’t need that. Lily, this is the way I am, and I can’t and won’t change myself for anyone!” he said.
“But after every night there is a day!” she exclaimed.
“And during the day, I work. I’m busy, my dear. I perform several surgeries a day, and I have no time for this!” he responded.
“Others work too, you’re not the only one!” she said.
“I don’t care about others! I live for myself, and in my own world!”
“I’m going home. It’s time,” said Lily, and stood up.
“Don’t go, Lily. You don’t really want to leave me, do you?” said Edgar.
“So, there are many pigeons in the sky, and I’m simply one of them? I can’t sleep at night, my life turned into one unending torture. I wait for your call all the time, yet I’m just a night pigeon for you?”
“You put it so well! A night pigeon! You really are a good poet!” said Edgar, excited.
“If I didn’t write them for you?” she asked, hurt.
“Lily, my darling, why are you always looking for a reason to suffer? Why can’t you enjoy life like the rest of us?” said Edgar, holding her hand.
“I have few reasons to enjoy life,” she answered.
He embraced her with all his strength and kissed her on the lips.
“My Lily, my darling, my crazy Lily!” repeated Edgar, and soon a wave of embraces and kisses swallowed her in the twilight!
Edgar walked along the hospital corridor, happy and excited. He looked incredibly handsome in his black patent leather shoes, light slacks, black shirt and white frock. His body was so strong, muscular, and gorgeous that he seemed like a fine painting by a famous artist.
“Edgar, my son, happy birthday! May you always be as handsome as you are now,” said an elderly woman cleaning floors. He beamed and thanked her.
“You’re so handsome, Edgar! Women must go crazy for you,” she continued. Edgar rewarded her with another of his charming smiles and walked towards the doctor’s lounge.
“Happy birthday, dear Edgar!” he heard as soon as the door opened. He was dumbfounded. Prominent physicians, professors, practically the entire medical personnel group had gathered in the lounge.
“I’m honored to salute you! I am very proud that my favorite student grew to become one of the top cardiologists in the hospital. At your fiftieth birthday, you look just as glorious as you did what seems like eternity ago, when you were thirty and I was teaching you everything I know,” said the gray-haired lady professor.
Edgar bowed and kissed her hand. Then he hugged her and kissed her cheek. He was presented with heaps of flowers, and everyone showered him with hugs and kisses.
“We’re on for tonight!” Edgar whispered to an attractive young nurse, when she came up to him to wish him a happy birthday. She smiled flirtatiously and stepped away. After the celebration died down, the workday went on. Edgar had two operations scheduled that day, a seventy-year-old man and a thirty-year-old woman.
In the evening, tired and wincing under the weight of the flowers and gifts he had received all through the day, Edgar went home with the young nurse. They walked in, put the flowers in several huge dark-blue vases, and then carried them to the bedroom.
“My goodness, it’s so beautiful, I think I’m in heaven!” exclaimed the girl.
“You’ll always be in heaven with me, my darling!” said Edgar, and embraced her tenderly. 'Anna, I had a hard day today. Let’s take a shower and go to bed. I need to rest.'
“You’re always right, Edgar. If you say ‘to bed,’ then to bed we go,’ she smiled and went into the bathroom.
“Anna, honey, I adore you!” said Edgar lying in his wide bed.
“Don’t squeeze so hard, Edgar. It hurts.”
“How can I resist such beauty? Your hair is as beautiful as the first snow. Your eyes are as large as the blue sky…I crave you!”
“But you already have me,” she flirted.
“I’m ready to fight for you forever! Lovely women like you are so rare, and I’m lucky to have found you!”
“You really think so, Edgar?” she asked and looked at him with her radiant eyes.
“I always say what I think, darling! Look into the mirror. We look so good in bed! Our bodies are like two drinks-a snow-white one and a bitter-chocolate one mixed together. Although I’m not bitter, am I, baby? asked Edgar.
“You are the sweetest man I’ve ever known!” she exclaimed. ”What mirror should I look in? Your bedroom has so many, I don’t know where to look. I feel like I’m in a palace worthy of the shah!”
“In my bedroom, I’m as much a shah as any man in his bedroom, my beauty. And everything here is mine,” said Edgar, embracing her.
“I like being yours!” she answered, taking delight in his touch.
“I like you too! You are as joyful as I am, fluttering through life. You’re almost as old as my son, but you’re smarter than many. You don’t write poems. And that’s what makes you so charming!” he said, kissing her.
Anna laughed out loud.
”That crazy woman has written more poems for you?”
“Yes, I don’t know where to hide from her love! I spent a few nights with her, and ever since then she’s been confessing her love for me, writing poems! If all my night pigeons wrote poems for me, I’d probably have more books attributed to me than Shakespeare does,” said Edgar.
“Does she come here often?” she asked.
“She’s definitely not on the top of the night pigeons list,” he smiled.
“What pigeons are you talking about? I don’t get it,” Anna said, confused.
“It’s my little secret, darling. No one can compete with you, rest assured!”
He embraced and kissed her with passion, taking delight in her beauty, her young, tight body. He kept thinking to himself: ' She is as old as my son, and she is with me! My God, women are so stupid! It doesn’t matter how old they are! Once you tell them how much you love them, how lovely they are, they love you! You could be not just their father’s age, but also their grandfather’s, they’d still be at your feet!
In Lily’s thoughts, Edgar was constantly with her, as if they had never parted. Sometimes, she found herself wandering the streets, reading aloud poems she dedicated to her love. Her lips moved, her face lit up, and she became happy, as if invisible wings carried her to a different, happier world. People smiled at her, some starring in amazement.
Lily remembered his words, his smile, everything that she thought meant that he loved her, and peace and joy returned to her. Self-delusions helped her endure life! She realized that if he didn’t love her, there was nothing she could do to change that, and the best and most reasonable thing to do was to forget him. Yet her heart refused to listen to her. She couldn’t fight it, so she accepted it.
Dull, nagging pain never left Lily for a moment. She was restless from constant loneliness and sorrow, and continued to write poems. She gave them to her friends and acquaintances. No one remained indifferent. Everyone without exception was touched, even excited. The poems told of enormous love, and conveyed the pain of a wounded, bleeding soul. Everyone knew that the poems were about Lily herself, and she felt happy and vindicated when others commented on the depth of emotions expressed in her poems. Once, an elderly lady from the office remarked, “You’re writing about yourself, aren’t you?”
Lily smiled. She wanted to deny it because she didn’t feel like explaining, but she knew that her sad eyes betrayed her. She hated lies. She only had to smile and people understood everything.
“If you hadn’t experienced such pain, such suffering, such utter disappointment, you wouldn’t have been able to put it in words with such passion. But you must be happy because you can write so beautifully. Many people see themselves in your poems. Others suffer too, but their suffering dies with them. You, on the other hand, can immortalize these feelings by putting them down on paper! You will die one day, but your poems will live on forever. People will read them; they’ll fell your pain and admire your talent! And that’s what’s important! This Edgar is not worth such enormous love. He might be an intelligent man, but he doesn’t love you. You know it yourself. There’re many good men out there who are worth your love, only they are not lucky enough to have met you.”
Lily listened to her with interest, and her eyes filled with tears.” Can men really love?” she asked.
“I wasn’t so lucky, I never met one that truly did. But we must never lose hope that they are indeed capable of this feeling. We give birth to them, we make them men, and so it would be impossible of us to have taught them not to love us, the women! It can’t be true !”
Lily thanked her and left.
Every hour spent without Edgar made her feel more and more aware of how much she needed him. She carried him deep in her heart. She waited for him, but he wouldn’t come. Months passed before he called again, yet Lily ran to him the moment he called, concealing the pain in her heart. Of course, she realized her humiliation. What could be more brutal than unrequited love! What could heal that wound in the heart to stop it from aching! What loving soul could ever fully accept rejection! Who could explain why those we love reject us?
Lily had another problem. She began to experience inexplicable mood swings-from unimaginable horror to delirious happiness, even though she realized there was little or no reason for either. For a long while she couldn’t talk to anyone about it, but then decided that she had to share it with her girlfriend Alla. One evening, after work, the two women went over to Alla’s place, and finally Lily couldn’t hide it any longer.
“Alla, I need to tell you something, but I’m scared of you may react,” started Lily, sitting on the sofa by the window and carefully watching her friend’s green eyes.
“It’s probably about Edgar. What else would we be talking about! That handsome devil has overshadowed the world for you!” said Alla as she sat by the TV, smiling at Lily from across the room.
Lily was quiet for a while. She was searching for the right words to explain her problem. Then, she waved her hand in the air as if indicating that she didn’t care what might happen now.
“Alla, I’m pregnant. It’ I be three months in a week,” she said quickly, carefully watching her friend’s face.
“What do you mean ‘pregnant’?” Alla’s face twisted. ”What do you mean ‘it’ll be three months in a week’? You only have a week to get rid of this baby. What were you thinking all this time?! What were you waiting for?!”
“But I don’t want to get rid of it,’’ said Lily.
“You can’t have this baby! I won’t hear of it!” said Alla, completely astonished.
“I can’t kill his baby-I think he will even look like Edgar. I want to have his child. I’m so happy,” responded Lily.
“You’ I love another man, one who’ I love you back,” Alla said trying to talk sense into her friend and finding it almost impossible to believe what she was hearing.
“I don’t want to love another!” retorted Lily.
“You’ll be happy again, mark my words.”
“I can’t be happy without Edgar.”
“Are you really crazy? Or are you imagining he’d love you because of the baby?” yelled Alla, jumping to her feet.
“No, I know he doesn’t need me, but I can’t forget him. I truly love him.”
“My goodness, what did he ever do to deserve this kind of love, I’d like to know!” Alla couldn’t calm herself down, and kept pacing the room.
“I don’t know. I have no idea! He probably hasn’t!” answered Lily.
“Lily, dear, look around! Life hasn’t stopped. It keeps on going! Why would you bury yourself because of this one man, when there’re so many other men? All right, Edgar doesn’t love you. So be it. There will be another who does!”
Lily looked at her friend with sadness.
“Think hard, why would you have a child from a man who doesn’t need you? By the way, you have a head for the purpose of thinking, not just to show off a new hairstyle once in a while! All men are the same, regardless of the color their eyes or skin, it’s as though they all came from one mother. They are always disloyal and mean to women, and we should never trust them! Rip that Edgar out of your heart, and you’ll become happy again! That man is not worth your suffering. So what if he is handsome. Who cares? A man doesn’t have to be handsome. If he looks just a little bit better than an ape, that’s good enough. He has to be strong and beautiful inside! Your Edgar is in love with himself, and with his freedom. What does he need you for, if he can spend every night with a different woman?” Alla sat down next to Lily, and became quiet.
“Is that what you think he does?” Lily had a hard time squeezing the words out.
“Silly girl, how can you doubt it? You said it yourself that he called you Sarah on the phone. Remember one thing: You have to know your worth, respect yourself, and others will respect you too! What’s so special about your Edgar? How’s he different from all the other men, the men you don’t even want to hear about? I’m more than sure he isn’t. He simply knows his worth. And you are silly and crazy and dumb, although before this I’ve always considered you smart.
“You’re a fool for allowing him to have you for one night, only to leave you again and again for months at a time, until it’s your turn again! You want to keep his child? And what are you going to tell this child when he grows up? What will you say to him about his father? Or maybe you’ll tell him that you were one of precious Edgar’s night pigeons?” Alla was so distraught that she couldn’t contain her anger.
Lily lowered her head as she listened to her friend. She looked so sad and miserable that anyone would have felt sorry for her. ”You don’t want to understand that I love him. I think of him all the time. I miss him constantly. No matter how much it hurts, I still think of him with love. My heart is beyond my control. It refuses to hate him. How can I believe that he doesn’t need me, doesn’t care about me? His kisses and warm embraces when we’re together tell me otherwise. Could you embrace and kiss a man you didn’t care about?” asked Lily.
“You silly girl! You’re talking about a man! He can embrace a different woman every night without having a clue that all women aren’t one and the same!”
Lily was shattered. She had no strength left in her to resist her the arguments of her friend.
Lily constantly longed for Edgar. Regardless of what she did, or with whom she spent time, her mind was preoccupied with Edgar. Her love was overshadowed by sadness. He forgot about her, and didn’t call her for months at a time. Oh, those torturous days of waiting for his call! Every time she heard the telephone ring, her heart froze in expectation that someone would knock on the door and she’d hear “It’s your Edgar!” But those words never came. She wanted to understand why he only remembered that she existed sometimes, but she couldn’t. So, Lily waited and waited...
Deep inside, the situation hurt her greatly. The pain and humiliation never left her. She realized that to feel her pride again and to shake off the humiliation, she had only one choice-to forget him and rip that love out of her heart! By now, he’d become a part of her soul and her mind. He’d become the sole meaning of her life! Her pain seemed to subside, it sunk deep into her heart and was making itself known from there, teasing her, making her recognize that the pain was still there, and it wasn’t about to leave its cozy place!
After endless days of waiting, Edgar came to pick her up once again. She wanted to dash toward him, fall on her knees, holds on to his feet, and gives him all her love, but she knew that he didn’t care about her feeling or her thoughts. Her endless love could embrace the whole world many times over, but it didn’t touch him in the least. If he could only fall in love with her, even a little! If she could only see him even rarely! Just see him at all!
She was so happy that Edgar wanted to see her again. She kissed him all over. How long she had been waiting for him, how many sleepless nights she had spent! Yes, he called her, but how long would it last this time? She couldn’t refuse him-she loved him too much. Tears of happiness and sorrow streamed down her face, because she didn’t know when, or even if, she would ever see him again! Would he ever call her? Her situation offended her. She would’ve never allowed anyone else to humiliate her like that!
But Edgar could do no wrong, he was dearer to Lily than her own life, more important than all the prejudice and propriety. She could reject anything, just to hear his voice, see his smile, and feel the warmth of his dark lips on hers. Before meeting Edgar, she could never imagine that one could love another’s voice so much, that one could be happy just from the presence of another. She loved everything about him, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
Perhaps, she guessed that he had other women besides her, but she was unable to ponder it, even though thoughts about it wouldn’t leave her alone. They swirled in her mind against her will, sinking their claws into her, driving her mind. In those moments, she remembered his caresses. She was completely unable to imagine that his lips could ever touch other women. It was inconceivable that he would ever feel as good with anyone but her! He couldn’t possibly embrace and kiss someone else as he did her, could he?
“Lily, did you really write those poems yourself?” asked Edgar, lying on a black sofa across from the TV.
“Yes, I did”, she answered.
“Lily, you’re smart, so why do you feel the need for such silly things? What do you need that love of yours for? Can’t you live like normal people? Live and enjoy!” he said.
“What if I have nothing to enjoy? I live to hear from you, but you hardly ever think of me, calling me once every few months!” Lily answered as she sat on the other end of the sofa.
“Aren’t there more important things in life than my calls? I’m busy. Why can’t you understand that?”
“So busy that you forget about me for months at a time?” she asked with sadness.
“Come on, Lily, don’t be mad. You know how I feel about you! I love you, too. Only your love is too bountiful, and it weighs me down. It’s old-fashioned. Nobody loves like that anymore. Times are different. Think about it. Why would anyone suffer from love our civilized times! People explore space, and might eventually move to other planets, and you’re suffering because I don’t call you every day? It’s ridiculous! You’re educated person. You have to understand that love is not the main thing in life. Hundreds upon thousands of women live without wasting their time waiting for a phone call from someone they love!” said Edgar.
“It saddens me, it weighs down on my soul that I see you so rarely. Do you ever feel the heartache?” she asked.
“I’m a doctor, Lily. Heart is all I know. When I open a patient’s chest, all I see is the organ. The soul is your domain, the domain of fantasy invented by people or poets like you. And in any case, why do you need to understand me? If I don’t call, I don’t call. And if I called, then I called. You give it too much thought. It’s pointless, and all this thinking only gets in the way. It gets in the way of happiness,” he said.
“Yes maybe. Perhaps, I either think too much, or not nearly enough. I’m already confused,” she said with sadness.
“A woman doesn’t have to be smart. Men love women for other things,” he responded, smiling.
“And how many stupid women do you love?” asked she.
“Many, too many. But you’re the only smart and crazy one!” laughed Edgar, approaching her. He sat on the floor in front of her and embraced her legs.
“Kiss me, Lily. No matter how many women I have, no one ever kisses me with so much passion… Your lips are always burning hot, you’re all aflame…”
“So you do have other women?” she strained.
“Lily!” he said quietly. He pulled her down to the floor, kissing her softly. His eyes held so much warmth, such incredible passion! His body was full of fierce desire! She caressed him, and kissed every part of his dark body. Her heart seemed to stand still from the touch of his lips. And after this night, a night full of love and passion, he would forget her for a long time again!
She understood the meaning of his favorite phrase, “At night, all pigeons are alike,” too well.
Lily imagined that Edgar could probably have nights like this one with many different women…but how could she accept it? How could she bear the pain? Her beloved Edgar didn’t care whom he was spending his nights with. He had a wide circle of women, because at night, all pigeons seemed the same to him! And how could he notice that one pigeon had a wounded soul! But why would he, after all, it’s so much easier to overlook it!
Edgar was watching Lily sleep next to him. Even in her sleep she was happy! She tightly clasped his wide chest, and he was afraid to turn and wake her up. 'Damn, will this woman ever leave me alone?' he thought. ' She’s not like the rest of them. The others leave you alone if you don’t take them out several times in a row. This one is a leech. It’s not easy to shake her off! Do I have to be rude to the woman to make her understand that I don’t need her anymore? What do I care about her love or her poems? She likes suffering, so I’II let her suffer. If she’s crazy, what does it have to do with me? All these silly creatures want is love, and what if my love starts and ends only at night? Where am I supposed to find it later? And why would I need it at all, if I’m happy as it is?'
Lily woke up early in the morning, but Edgar was gone. She got up, made the bed, put herself together, and came downstairs. Edgar was on the sofa, drinking coffee and reading her poems.
“Lily, I really like your poems! You’re positively talented,” he said as soon as he noticed her.
He kissed her, embraced her and holding her tightly against his chest. ”He loves me!” she thought as she fell under his spell. He was so handsome, so strong, and so divinely attractive in his black slacks and raspberry shirt. She had never liked men with beards before, but now she couldn’t even imagine a man without one, because Edgar had a trim beard. She admired him, took delight in him, and worshipped him; but she was still full of sorrow.
Deep inside, even if she was pushing away the thought, it didn’t matter how much he kissed and embraced her. She could never forget that he didn’t love her. There was one thing she couldn’t understand. If he didn’t love her, why did he caress her? And if he loved her even a little bit, why did he neglect her? She often asked herself, ' what if Edgar wasn’t as handsome, would I love him still?' And the answer was simple. No matter what even if he lost his arms and legs, or became blind, I would love him even then as much as I love him now, the handsome man that be is. She’d become his mother…or his maid. No one in the world would be more precious to her than Edgar.
But Edgar always forgot about her. He kissed her, craved her, and then discarded her She tried to understand it, solve the puzzle of his heart, but it was useless. She was embarrassed to ask him and suffered in silence, pretending not to understand a thing!
“Edgar, you’re so handsome,” said Lily, staring at his face with delight.
“You only think that I am,” he replied, smiling.
“No, you really are handsome! You have beautiful lips; your beard really suits you. I love your eyes. They are so expressive, deep and black like an African night!” said Lily tracing his features with her hand.
“African night!” laughed Edgar. ”Do you think that Moscow nights are lighter?”
“Edgar, can you give me a photograph of yourself?” she asked.
“What do you need my photo for, Lily?' he asked and looked at her carefully.
“I’m tired of living without you. I want to see you all the time!”
“I’II give it to you next time I see you,” he said.
“That’s too long of a wait,” she replied, and lowered her eyes, so that he wouldn’t guess the meaning of her words.
“You really are strange, Lily! Usually, women ask men for something of value, something expensive, but you, you’re asking only for my photograph!'
“For each its own. I’II take this photograph, if you don’t mind,” she said and took a framed photograph from the table. “The white doctor’s coat really becomes you. You look even more handsome in it. All your patients must love you.”
“Lily, darling, you’re simply a delight!” said Edgar, clasping her waist, and kissed her lips.
They climbed into his car and sped through empty streets. When they approached University, Edgar pulled over. ”I’II call you, Lily,” he said, and tenderly kissed her .
Lily left the car happy and cheerful. Never before did her university seem so large and beautiful as it did now. She went up to the second floor, opened the door and entered the world of books, her library. Here, among multitudes of books, she found peace. This was a different world, her world, the world where no one ever hurt her, where she was always happy, and that was why she loved it. If books could replace people! However, no one would ever be able to replace Edgar!
One day, Lily sent her poems to the local paper. About a month later, they were published and the editors sent her the issue. She had a hard time believing her luck. She was overjoyed and wanted to tell the whole world about it. She decided to call Edgar. So what if he didn’t love her and always forgot about her? He would be excited too, because the poems were dedicated to him. She called him several times, but no one picked up.
What if his telephone is broken? she thought.
Lily decided to go to his house, even though she had never done it before, but extraordinary circumstances made for an exception! She arrived in a taxi and rang the doorbell. No one was home. She was about to go back, but suddenly remembered that there was an entrance on the other side of the house. She walked over. The door was open, and she entered.
Lily was climbing the stairs when she heard Edgar. The higher she climbed, the better she could differentiate the voices. She realized that Edgar wasn’t alone. She was already on the second floor, near the bedroom, but her feet refused to take her any farther. She had to force herself to walk forward. She touched the handle, and opened the door. She froze and stared, her eyes going blind. Another woman, with long blond hair, beautiful and slender, was lying in Edgar’s embrace in the same bed where Lily lay not too long ago! Lily stood petrified. She wanted to run, but her feet refused to obey. Suddenly, Edgar, as if feeling her presence, turned and looked in the direction of the door. Their eyes met and he seemed slightly embarrassed, but quickly regained composure and asked in a calm voice,” Lily, what are you doing here?”
Here face reflected all the sorrow she felt. She silently closed the door and slowly walked down the stairs. She was unable to think. That image was imprinted in her mind. Edgar was embracing another. For her, it was a blow equal to death. She felt sorrow creep into her soul. She tried to stifle it, numb it, but it nagged more and more. The pain wouldn’t leave her, and instead permeated every cell of her body. Suddenly, she remembered with panic and fear that she was carrying his child inside! Only now she finally realized what she had done to her life. She darted out into the street, anxious and troubled. She wanted to cross the street, then heard the notice of suddenly screeching cars. Everything went black and she collapsed on the asphalt.
Lily regained consciousness late at night. The first think she saw was a middle-aged woman lying in a bed next to hers. She didn’t immediately recognize where she was. Iron beds stood in the corners of the room. She turned to the stranger.
“Where am I?” asked Lily noticing that her neighbor was not asleep.
“In the hospital,” she replied quietly.
“God, I hate hospitals. They are like prisons. What have I done to deserve it? When am I allowed to leave, do you know?” asked Lily.
“If you’re normal, then soon,” replied her neighbor.
“Normal?” repeated Lily, and added to herself, why would I not be?
She didn’t ask her neighbor anymore. Her eyes closed, and she passed out. Noise woke Lily up early in the morning. A young woman stood in the middle of the room, and spoke loudly. ”When are they going to let me go home? He’s going to marry her if I’m not there to stop it! He loves me, he told me so many times! How did I ever get here? I can’t remember!”
Lily stared, but couldn’t understand her. ”She’s talking about her boyfriend He dumped her and married someone else. This poor think had lost her mind, she’s been locked up here for a year now,” said her neighbor, noticing that Lily was awake.
“Where am I? What kind of hospital is it” asked Lily.
“Psychiatric! Didn’t you know?”
“Psychiatric?” she repeated, surprised. ”Why am I here? I don’t understand anything!”
“Dear child, would you watch my house? I have to run over to the grocery store, because my son is coming home from work soon, and I haven’t cooked dinner yet?” asked an old gray-haired woman of Lily.
“She will, she will. Go, and don’t you worry,” answered her neighbor.
Lily looked at her completely lost.
“This poor thing buried her son, and has been here since,” explained the neighbor.
“And how come you’re here?” asked her Lily.
“I wanted to die and ended up here instead,” she replied, smiling.
“What do you mean?” asked Lily.
“I divorced my husband, but we lived in the same house. He brought women and loved them while I was there. I couldn’t take it, because I still loved him. I wanted to kill myself, and now I’m here.”
“My God, how much sorrow there is in the world! And everyone has their own, everyone has to bear their own cross, their own baggage, and no one is able to help except our Lord. But somehow He is not in a rush to help us”, exclaimed Lily.
“There is also a lot of happiness, but not everyone has it. And what about you, how did you get here? Also love?” asked her the neighbor.
“I don’t even know myself. Someone decided that my place was here. It’s scary. I didn’t know that a psychiatric hospital was the last refuse for women in love.” said Lily.
“Women in love and scorned women, or those no one want. It’s hard to imagine a man checking in at this hospital on the grounds of unrequited love,” said the neighbor.
“Men love differently. Their love starts and ends in one and the same place,” said Lily.
“They must love you then, you’re beautiful!”
“Many thought so, except for Edgar,” said Lily sadly.
“One day, he will think so too,” replied the neighbor smiling.
“Maybe one day. Probably when I’m dead! Do I really have to die for him to understand how much I love him? He is so handsome, so full of joy. He has so many women that he won’t even notice that one has disappeared,” she said sadly.
“Have you loved him long?” asked the neighbor.
“Long. I have lost my peace!”
“And why do you love him?”
“I don’t even know. I was waiting for him in a café. He couldn’t find me, and then saw me through the window. He raised his arms and exclaimed, ‘Lily, I’ve been looking for you so long!’ From that moment on, I fell madly in love with him, and he became the dearest of all men to me. It’s silly, of course, but it’s true . Only he never did fall in love with me,” she said with melancholy.
Lily was released the same day. They explained that she was taken to the psychiatric hospital by mistake. And again, she was left alone with her troubles. The wound in her heart would not heal. Her soul wept, but without tears.
She went to church, to be closer to God, because when people suffer, they always remember God. However, she didn’t ask for His help anymore. She understood that God didn’t help everyone. The only thing He gave to all was life, and then He claimed us back, one by one. She put a candle to the image of God, and sat down in a chair right across from it. She looked Him in the eye, and silently talked to him.
' He has left me, abandoned me forever. He will never remember me again! Days are so long. They never end! How do I live without him, God? If he could only love me, even a little, even one tiny bit! Why wouldn’t fate help me, or maybe my fate is to suffer? How can I stop thinking about him, and shake off the burden that weighs down my soul? Why wouldn’t you give him to me? Why do you need my suffering, God? For him, I exist neither among the living nor among the dead!'
She held her belly with her left hand, and she felt her child, a part of Edgar, kicking inside. A piercing feeling of grief overwhelmed her, and her soul lamented again. She took his photograph out of her bag, and slowly traced the features of his handsome dark face, saying softly, “Teach me, Edgar, how to live without you. How do I accept that you don’t need me, and that you will never need me for as long as I live, and that I will never have a place next to you?”
She loved him with such passion! Why did she love him so much? There was absolutely no reason to love him, she realizes that, bit still she did, and suffered, and waited that he would return to her, apologize, and one day, might even love her! The longer she was without him, the deeper the emptiness inside of her got, and some inexplicable force pulled her to him. Her mind carried her again into his house, into his embrace. How he embraced her, how he desired her! Who would ever believe he didn’t love her! A man couldn’t be that loving without feeling love!
Every night, Lily came to the nearby river and sat on the beach listening to the sound of water. She watched enormous foaming waves approach her, wanting to swallow her, and then proudly withdraw, returning her life. She imagined Edgar standing beyond the waves, laughing at her. And she fearlessly stared at the waves, silently asking them to swallow her, if they had enough courage. She watched for hours, day after day. It was the only thing that could calm her down. She loved to listen to the singing of birds, and watch the sky. She never forgot that Edgar also watched the sky sometimes…Oh, that Edgar, whom she loved so much, and who never loved her back! She lived only through him, again and again remembering his love or his game of love….
It was hot. Lily didn’t feel well. Her due date was approaching, and it became harder and harder to breathe. She came out into the yard and slumped near a tree, leaning her head on it. She looked up and saw countless pigeons fly across the clear sky. ' Pigeons. How many are there? How beautiful they are! she thought with sadness. Edgar’s night pigeons, my Edgar’s. He has forgotten me, or maybe never even remembered me. It was I, who always chased him. Soon, I will have his child, a part of my Edgar, and I will never disturb his peace again, or his pigeons.'
She lowered her head, and covered her face with both hands. Her shoulders shook, and one could hear her cry. ”Edgar”, she sounded barely discernable. ”I will never hurt again because of you! I won’t suffer anymore because of my unrequited love! I will forget you, just as you forget me! I will stop loving you, just as you have never loved me. I will forget you, just as you forgot me! I will stop loving you, just as you have never loved me. I will be happy as happy as you are without me! I will learn from you to think that at night all the pigeons are the same, only for me they will be the same only in the sky. In my house, I will have only one pigeon, the one who is dearer to me than all the rest!” She lost control, and her quiet weeping turned into wailing. She kept repeating, “Why did I have to fall in love with a man who doesn’t care about me?”
On Wednesday, after dinner, Lily didn’t feel well. Her belly ached terribly, and so she called her only loyal friend, Alla. Alla came over right away and called the ambulance as soon as she saw how much pain Lily was in.
“Don’t worry, dear. Everyone gives birth, and you will too. You’ll have your own Edgar!” Alla sat next to her on the sofa and tried to reassure her friend, but fear flashed in her green eyes, and she felt inexplicably worried when she noticed her friend’s pale face.
The ambulance arrived a few minutes later and took Lily. Alla went along. At five thirty in the evening, Lily started having contractions. They stopped only for short breaks, and then resumed. She felt as if she was being burned in the campfire, and her bones were being crashed with mallets. Her mouth opened by itself and produced wild and violent wails. She banged her head on the wall, and kept repeating, “Edgar, help me, Edgar, I’m dying!”
She lay on the hospital cot, exhausted, spent, without any strength. The doctor came up to her and tried to reassure her. He said her hips were narrow, and the baby was moving slowly, but everything would be fine. Everyone gave birth, and she would too. At three o’clock in the morning, they rolled her into the operation room.
Alla sat in the waiting room alone, nervous and anxious. She jumped to her feet as soon as she saw the door open and the doctor walk toward her.
“How is she?” she asked abruptly.
The doctor was quiet for a moment, then, he spoke with compassion in his voice, “We did all we could, but we couldn’t save them.”
Alla turned pale, and her lips started to shake. ”What are you trying to tell me?” she asked stuttering. She stared at the doctor’s face in horror, and the meaning of his words finally reached her. ”Lily? It can’t be! God can’t be so unfair!” were her last words before she collapsed on the floor.
“In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, take the soul of your humble servant, Lily, and soothe her spirit that couldn’t find peace in this sinful world. Take the soul of her tiny offspring. It is pure as a drop of morning dew!” read an ancient man with a long, gray beard, dressed in white vestments and holding the Holy Book in one hand, and a cross in the other.
The service was in a small church in the outskirts of town. A few men lifted the coffin, and exited the church. They headed for the cemetery that was right there, behind the church building. The coffin was placed on the ground, next to the grave.
Lily lay in the coffin, looking beautiful and young. The sun shone on her pale face. It seemed to play hide and seek with her, here hiding behind the clouds, they’re emerging again in the clear sky, directing its rays at her. In her arms lay Lily’s stillborn baby, who never had a chance to enjoy life.
Friends and relatives, a rather large crowd, gathered around the coffin. The women’s eyes were red from tears, and the men’s faces were somber and impenetrable. ”It’s time”, said one of the men, and two of them lifted the lid of the coffin.
Alla, her eyes swollen, bent down next to the coffin and kissed the deceased on both cheeks and on the forehead. She said quietly, ‘Sleep well, my dear. Now you don’t need his love anymore!” She draped Lily’s entire body with a white silk fabric, and the men lowered the lid of the coffin over her. They hammered long nails all around the coffin, tightened the ropes under it, and slowly lowered her into her new home.
Red and white roses and branches of lilacs flew down from all sides into the grave. Wiping their tears, men and women said their last loving words to her and left.
Three men took the shovels, and the black crumbling soil fell down. It fell until Lily’s wounded soul, her one-time blooming face, her strong, passionate and loving heart, that used to be hot and now was forever cold, was buried under the heavy soil. Finally, her exhausted soul would stop suffering and find peace under that weight for good! They put the remaining flowers on top of the grave and left. In the descending quiet, one could hear the birds sing, and nearby, the waves of the giant river raised high, and violently crashed against the cliffs.
“Sarah, you smell so good. Your perfume is incredible! I feel like I completely melted into you,” said Edgar, his eyes half-closed, as he gently embraced her. ”I have the feeling that I’m lying in the green grass, among thousands of flowers-rose, jasmine, and lilies. What’s your perfume called, Sarah?”
“It’s a secret, but I knew you’d like the scent, Edgar,” she replied, kissing his lips ” By the way, remember Lily, that crazy one, who used to confess her love to you all the time? You didn’t know how to get rid of her, remember? That foolish woman, who caught us in bed together,” she said.
“I remember. Yes, I still remember,” he replied.
“She died. Her funeral was today, I read it in the paper.”
“What do you mean ‘died’? How could she die?” he asked bewildered, and sat up in bed.
“She died in childbirth, and her baby died too. The foolish woman probably wanted to force herself onto someone else, after it didn’t work with you. You saw right through her just in time, or you’d be a widow now,” she said with a smile as she caressed his naked body.
“I don’t understand. What do you mean ‘died’? How could she die? What childbirth are you talking about?” Edgar got off the bed, and stared at Sarah, stupefied. ”Lily died in childbirth? It can’t be true ! How long has it been?” he thought and counted.
He was confused and counted on his fingers. ' It’s been five months since that time she caught Sarah and me in bed, that means that she must have been already pregnant then. And she didn’t tell me anything. She hasn’t been here for five months, and I haven’t been in touch with her… .Did she give birth to my child? Was it my child that died?' He continued thinking.
“You must be confusing things. Why would they write about her in the paper?” asked Edgar.
“The relatives have written an eulogy. The only thing I don’t understand is why you’re so upset. You’ve always disliked her, you told me so yourself,” she said, miffed.
“I disliked her? Lily?” Edgar repeated surprised. ”Why would I dislike her?” He sat down on the bed and closed his eyes. Lily’s image sprung in his mind, her sad eyes that used to look at him so gently. Suddenly, it occurred to him, “She loved me so much! And all she wanted was for me to love her back! Her sad eyes forgot how to smile after she fell in love with me!”
It seemed like the whole world collapsed and crumbled over his head. He felt the vast emptiness in his soul. He jumped up, and paced the room in despair. Suddenly, he heard a cheerful piercing female peal.
“Edgar, you look so funny, all naked and yet so serious,” laughed Sarah merrily.
He felt as if a bucket of ice-cold water was dumped over his head. He stopped short, glanced at her abruptly, and suddenly saw Lily’s face again, her face twisted with sorrow when she caught him in bed with Sarah. He looked at her in horror and disgust and thought, And Lily suffered because of this brainless puppet?
He remembered Lily’s eyes again and again. They bore into him, asking one and the same question, “Why can’t you fall in love with me, Edgar, at least a little, even a tiny little bit?”
“Edgar, what’s wrong? Your face has changed. You’re all pale! You told me yourself that you didn’t know how to get rid of her, or where to run from her love. She is dead, and thank God for that! She won’t ever bother you again. People die every day. That’s life. Why should you worry? Come on. Come to bed with me,” said Sarah stretching her hand to him.
Edgar looked at her and thought, ' Lily died and there’s nothing I can do to change that. We are all going to die sometime…besides, why hurt Sarah’s feelings…?' He walked over; climbed into bed with her; inhaled her aroma of roses, jasmine, and lilies; and softly kissed her lips.
Edgar sat a small table in a bar, and drank his favorite Amaretto liqueur. He was alone and bored. He had performed a hard operation in the afternoon, and was resting now. He noticed a young slender red-haired girl. She sat across from him at a separate table, and appeared to be waiting for someone, because she kept looking at the watch.
' She’s cute,' he thought. ' She’s young, probably not older than my son. That’s good. The younger the woman, the more stupid she is.'
He watched her so intently, and with such curiosity, that the girl noticed him and their eyes met several times. He picked up his glass, walked over, and sat down next to her.
“Do I bother you?” he asked her, smiling and looking straight into her green eyes.
“Nope, go right ahead,” she replied.
“Are you waiting for someone?” he asked tenderly.
“I’m waiting for a friend, but he is late.”
“I don’t think you should worry, it’s not worth it. Life is too short to worry about trifles,” he said smiling. ” What’s your name?”
“Martha,” replied the girl.
“Your name is as beautiful as you are! A woman should have a light and airy name to entice men. And a man’s name should confirm his dependability and masculinity. My name is Edgar. A pleasure to meet you,” he said smiling.” Are you married?”
“Not yet. What’s the rush?” she exclaimed, melting into a smile.
“I didn’t think so. And I’m not either. I can’t seem to find that special one to love, and worship, and court, and whose hands I’d wish to kiss, and whose feet I’d embrace. I don’t like women who kiss my feet. They cease to exist for me!” said Edgar, staring right into her eyes.
“You mean there are such women? Although, it seems to me if a woman kisses a man’s feet, it can only mean that she really loves him. Without love, no one would kiss a man’s feet, you can be sure of that,” she replied smiling.
“I hope you haven’t done that yet?” asked Edgar.
“No, and I’m not planning to,” she said flirting with him.
“Then, you’re made just for me!” He looked at her face, scrutinizing it. She wasn’t a beauty, but she was quite lovely. As usual, he was attracted to her age. The rest didn’t matter much.
“…Come on in, sweetheart, be my guest,” said Edgar opening his entrance door.
“What a beautiful house you have!” she exclaimed.
“You only have to wish, and it’ll be all yours,” replied Edgar, grasping her around the shoulders. They entered his spacious house. She immediately noticed the expensive furniture, and her eyes quickly shifted from one object to another. He led her over to the bar, still holding her in his embraces. Edgar opened the cabinet and an endless multitude of drinks revealed itself to her eyes.
“My God, you have so many drinks,” she exclaimed.
“Choose, my darling. They are all at your disposal. I”II drink Cinzano. I love that drink. Are you familiar with it?”
“I’m familiar with many things,” she smiled.
He filled two glasses with the thick red liquid and gave her one. He placed his arm around her waist, and led her to the bookshelves that were right there in the corner. ” Look at my wonderful collection of books! For instance, here are Shakespeare’s sonnets. I adore them. He dedicated them to his Lady in black. They contain so much love! So much warmth! Even great Shakespeare suffered from love,” said Edgar, holding the book in his hand.
“I don’t read books. It’s for pensioners. I have other interests,” she replied smiling.
“You’re simply adorable, my darling. I love straightforward people. Maybe you write yourself, since you don’t like reading?”
“God forbid! What am I, crazy?” she exclaimed. Edgar burst out laughing, from the bottom of his heart.
“Crazy! You put it so well. By the way, all the poems in this book are dedicated to me.” He picked up a small white book off the shelf and opened it. ”Yes, time flies. It turns out tomorrow is the anniversary of her death. This book was published posthumously. She never knew about it. Her friend sent it to me.”
“How interesting. Why did she dedicate the poems to you? Did she love you?' She asked, surprised.
“She was crazy, that’s why she wrote. She’d spend the night here, and then write! Only you should never write poems, or I’d run away from you.”
“I’m not planning to, besides, I don’t know how. I’II just kiss you really hard,” she said, and kissed him hard on his dark lips.
“That’s all I’d ever need from you, my joy!” he said, smiling. He pressed her closer and kissed her lips. Everything excited him about her: her pink blouse with a deep cut through which he could see her round breasts; her short skirt, just barely covering her underwear; her freckled face and her green eyes, the weakness of all dark-skinned men. She responded to his kisses and moaned passionately.
“Come,” he said, and tugged her after him. Before they the door, he yanked her blouse off in one rough movement.
“You’ll rip my blouse,” she smiled.
“Don’t worry, my love. I’II buy you anything you want!” The rich furnishings in his bedroom also impressed her, and she kept thinking. ‘’He must be very rich. I finally lucked out!'
The following morning, Edgar sat on the sofa, drinking coffee and watching the morning news on television. Martha walked into the room cheerful and with a smile on her lips.
” Is my sweetie up? Come, I missed you already.’’ She sat down next to him. He embraced her and kissed her lips. ” You’re so delicate, I’m afraid to break you! How old are you, darling?”
“Frankly, it’s not a good question to ask a woman,” she replied, laughing.
“You haven’t reached the age yet when women hide the answer, my princess,” said Edgar, and kissed her again.
“I’m twenty-two tomorrow.”
“My goodness, I can’t even remember when I was twenty-two. Then, we’re meeting again tomorrow to celebrate your arrival on this large planet and in my life!”
He searched in his pocket, and took out some money. ‘’Here, this is for you. Buy yourself the most expensive dress that you’d like. Tomorrow, at the restaurant, I want to have the most beautiful girl in the city on my arm,” as he was saying it, he stuffed the money into the deep cleavage in her blouse.
“You’re giving me too much, Edgar. No one has ever given me that much,” she exclaimed, beaming with excitement.
“Now, everything in your life will be different,” he said.
They decided to meet at Martha’s place the next day. After work, Edgar bought a large bouquet of red roses and rushed to her house. He arrived at the address, stopped near the building, and beeped. Martha peaked out from a window on the second floor, happy and cheerful, and yelled out, “Just a moment, Edgar!”
“I’m waiting, sweetheart,” he replied.
At that instant, a red car appeared behind him, moving with incredible speed, and crashed directly into Edgar’s car. He shook all over and lost consciousness. At that very moment, Lily in a white dress and sandals appeared in front of him. She radiated happiness as she opened her arms to him in an invitation for embrace, and said tenderly, “My handsome Edgar! Have you come for me? But I didn’t expect you yet, leave!” and she disappeared into the white fog.
Edgar opened his eyes, and found himself in a hospital bed. He wanted to get up, but couldn’t. He pulled off the white sheet. Everything seemed to be in place. At that moment, he heard Martha’s voice behind the half-closed door.
“Tell me, Doctor, what’s wrong with him?”
“Are you his daughter?”
“No, we’re friends.”
“The better for you. He spinal cord is affected. He will never walk again. But, still it’s better than if he died. People can live even in wheelchairs.”
Edgar immediately understood that they were talking about him, but when he heard Martha’s voice again, a chill ran though him.
Once more, he carefully examined himself. He wanted to move his foot, but it didn’t obey; he tried to move the other, but it didn’t respond either. He couldn’t feel his body below his waist, as though it didn’t exist. Then, he finally understood the horror. He howled at the top of his voice like a wounded animal.
“Anything, but this. Not a cripple! I’d rather die! Let me die!” Immediately, Martha, the doctor, and other personnel ran into the room. They gave him a shot and a few minutes later, he was sleeping peacefully.
In the backyard of a large and beautiful three-story brick house sat a thin, dark-skinned, and bearded man. He was gray, hunched, and prematurely covered with wrinkles. He sat in a wheelchair and held a small white book in his hands. He took off his glasses and looked high up at the sky. He saw a flock of pigeons, flying towards the embrace of the sun.
' Pigeons. How majestic they are! And they are glorious in the daylight too!' he thought. He put his glasses back on, opened the book and started to read, ” To my beloved. To the kindest, the most handsome of all men, to my darling Edgar, I dedicate these poems!” He read word after word, line after line, and tears streamed down his dark emaciated cheeks, but he didn’t wipe them off, and they disappeared into his gray beard.
' How she loved me! How she wanted my love! Could such deep love really exist in the world? Lily, my poor Lily, so much sorrow filled your eyes!' he repeated in his mind.
“Edgar, it’s been six hours already. I have to clean you up! I have the night shift today, so I’II be back tomorrow morning,” said the young nurse, wearing a light open blouse and a short black skirt, barely covering her underwear.
Edgar shuddered and came back to reality. He closed the book, took off his glasses, and rolled his wheelchair through the house. He stopped near his bed, on the first floor, and waited for the nurse. She was there right away, and lowered the brakes with her small hands to keep the chair in place. She took out a flat piece of wood from the bed, inserted one end under Edgar, and put the other end on the bed. She stood behind Edgar, put her arms around his waist, and started to count, “One, two, three!”
As soon as she said it, Edgar jumped up, and would have fallen down, if the girl hadn’t held him tightly and pulled him up onto the bed. She moved the wheelchair aside, walked over to him, rolled him down on his back and pulled down his pants.
The nurse straightened his legs, opened a small box next to her, and took out rubber gloves. She put them on, picked up a catheter, and disappeared into the bathroom. She inserted one side of the catheter under the running water, and rinsed it out. She returned to the room with a small rectangular basin, and placed it between Edgar’s legs. She opened his diaper, pulled a wet cloth from the box and wiped between his legs. With her left hand, she lifted his sex organ, and with the right hand she inserted the catheter. She pressed on his abdomen, and urine ran down the catheter into the basin. When it stopped, she took out the catheter, picked up the basin with urine, and went back into the bathroom. She reappeared with a clean catheter, and placed it back into the container.
Then, she silently turned Edgar it his side. He held on to the metal handles on the bed with both hands. She wiped him with the diaper, and then she pulled out a wet cloth, and wiped him. She folded the soiled diaper together with the used wipes and threw them into the garbage bad. She took out a clean diaper, pushed it under Edgar, and closed it on the sides, then, removed her rubber gloves, and left the room. A moment later, she returned and covered Edgar with a blanket.
“The money is on the table,” said Edgar. ”Tomorrow, would you please bring your boyfriend with you. I’d like him to take me to the cemetery. I’II pay him.”
“All right. I’II take care of it. Would you like to eat dinner? I’II get it ready.”
“No, thank you. You may go. See you tomorrow,” replied Edgar.
“See you tomorrow,” said the girl, and left.
As soon as she closed the door behind her, he took out the white book again. 'To my beloved, darling Edgar, who is more precious to me than anything in the world!' he read with delight and repeated after each word again and again, “How much she loved me! How she dreamt of me loving her back!” He stared at the book, at her portrait in it, and caressed her face and her hair with his thin fingers.
'Yes, she was beautiful! She had sad brown eyes that are closed for eternity. Her chestnut hair really adorned her! And those lips! How they kissed me! How much passion and fire was in those lips! Her body seemed to sizzle in my arms! How could I not love her? How was that possible? And now she is rotting in the ground, and she has probably turned into the soil! But she would have been alive, if I didn’t push her away, if I only loved her! If only…if only…Oh, if only one could change the past! Lily!' He closed his eyes and saw her sad loving gaze. She pressed his head to her bosom, and kissed his eyes and his lips! She kissed his entire body!
“She gave herself to me with such passion, with such all-consuming love! There has never been anything better in my life than those nights! Good God! Does that kind of love really exist?” he moaned. “The words she wrote for me! And I didn’t even notice them then! All my night pigeons have flown away. Only Lily warms my soul even from her cold grave! You have to pay for everything in life, and I’m paying with my loneliness! Human kindness and depravity have no boundaries! I treated Lily with such depravity! Why wouldn’t I understand her love then? So many people would have been happy to be loved like that! But I rejected her! They all have flown away, they all forgot about me, and only Lily has left her love for me! Good God, how could it have happened?”
Edgar closed his eyes and tears streamed down his dark, wan cheeks. His body shook like an autumn leaf on a tree that was ready to fly off at the slightest gust of wind, fly far off to rot somewhere out there. His ears seemed to hear the same thing over and over, “My darling, my only beloved, my handsome Edgar! Why can’t you love me, a little, just a little bit?” His blood-curdling scream reached all the corners of his enormous, rich, and empty house, and returned to him in an echo.
Only now- when happiness had left him and life had turned its back on him, when all his pigeons had flown off in different directions, when nothing was left of his handsome appearance, when he had become a cripple-only now, did he think for the first time about how much Lily had suffered because of him. He had liked her. He had liked her intelligence and the rest of it as well. He had even told her that himself. But, he had kept too many other women around who could take her place. And Lily had suffered, tortured herself, waited for him, and worshiped him! But Edgar hadn’t cared, he had only loved himself. His easy life-he thought it had meaning!
And now, Edgar, a handsome man in the past, the always-happy Edgar, the beloved of many women, he lay motionless in his enormous house, abandoned and forgotten by all. No one would even give him a glass of water unless he paid for it! Where was justice in this world?
Now, he understood that Lily had been the only woman who really loved him. And she would have taken care of him as if he were her own child, because only the woman who really loved was capable of self-sacrifice! If only she could rise from the dead, he wouldn’t have been so lonely! And she would, if she only knew how much her beloved Edgar suffered!
To think how much she had annoyed him then! Edgar hadn’t known how to get rid of her love. He hadn’t picked up the phone when she called. He had always promised to call and had always forgotten about her. Lily died still hoping for his love, his embraces, and the warmth of his cold heart.
She lay dead in the ground, but he was dead above the ground. Lily was buried in her grave, and Edgar was buried alive in his own enormous house. There was a time when he had been proud of it, had admired it, but then he hadn’t known yet that happiness would soon abandon him!
If only she were alive, the suffering Lily! Why had she died so soon? Why hadn’t her loving heart predicted that Edgar might need her? If she could only have a glimpse of him, of what her adored Edgar had turned into, she would have died again from the pain, and she would have forgiven him for never having returned her love.
Who could have predicted that Lily would become Edgar’s only beloved, after her death? That her poems, so full of warmth, passion, and unrequited love, would become the last joy of his life? Had Edgar really needed to become disabled to understand how much he had been loved?
The next morning, the nurse arrived with her boyfriend. She cleaned Edgar up and cooked his breakfast.
“Would you please take me upstairs?” asked Edgar after breakfast.
The young strong man lifted his wheelchair and rolled it upstairs. Then, he pulled Edgar up in his arms and carried him up to the second floor.
Edgar entered his bedroom in his wheelchair, and closed the door behind him. He saw himself reflected simultaneously in all the mirrors that surrounded his enormous bed. A gaunt, gray, broken stranger stared at him from every side, covered with wrinkles. How much he had changed! What had happened to his strong, muscular body? He looked at his empty bed, and different female faces flashed in front of him as if in a fog. They changed one into another so fast, that he couldn’t even remember them.
Suddenly, he distinctly saw Lily’s face. She lay right there, on that side, and embraced him, and kissed his shoulders, and he felt her tears drip on his back. And when he asked her why she was crying, she replied smiling, “Edgar, I can’t live without you. I need you like air, like the sun, but I don’t have this air, this sun. And I don’t know where to find them!”
He lowered his head and moaned. He opened his closet and pulled out his raspberry shirt that Lily loved so much. Edgar changed, and buttoning his shirt, he saw himself in the mirror and thought of Lily again. He wore that shirt while they had been sitting at a bar. She looked at him with such love, and tenderness, with so much warmth…
“Edgar, you are so handsome in this shirt. God himself would be jealous! I have never loved anyone as much as I love you! My heart constantly aches, because you are not near me! Sometimes, I’d like to die to get rid of this feeling!” she said.
“Lily, you loved me so much that you died!” he said quietly, and closed his eyes. Edgar opened the door. The young man was waiting for him in the corridor.
“Edgar, do you know the cemetery we’re supposed to go to?” asked the young man as soon as the door opened.
“Yes, I found out the address yesterday. It’s not too far from here,” replied Edgar. The young man picked Edgar up and brought him downstairs. He sat Edgar up in his car, then rolled out the wheelchair, folded it, opened the trunk, and put it there. A few minutes later, they were at the cemetery. The young man placed Edgar into the wheelchair and the three of them went on to look for the grave.
“Please take me out of my chair and put me next to her,” said Edgar, as soon as they found the grave. The young man lifted him up and lowered him next to the grave.
“Now, leave me.”
They walked away in silence. Edgar opened his once strong-arms, draped them over the grave, and embraced it.
“Hello, Lily my beloved! This is your Edgar whom you loved so much! I am asking you to forgive me for all your suffering, for your cold grave, for not holding on to you, and for not loving you! Those strangers came and went, but you left only to stay forever! Now, no one can replace you! You will never know how precious you are to me, how much I miss your love. You were the only woman, except for my mother, who loved me so much. Can you hear me, Lily? God has turned away from me, and He doesn’t want to help me anymore. He takes only those who want to live, and He remains deaf to those who want to die.
Lily, take me with you, and warm my heart with your love. Your Edgar has also died, but you don’t know about it. I’ve lost everything, Lily. Your poems are the only thing left to me! Forgive me, Lily. Forgive me for the last time! Let my love and the warmth of my heart illuminate your cold grave, so that you wouldn’t feel so lonely!”
Edgar sat up. Lily looked at him from her tombstone with sadness, as if she wanted to smile at him, but the pain frozen in her heart stood in her way. It seemed to him that her sorrowful eyes asked him once again, “Why can’t you love me, Edgar? Even a little, or just a little bit!” He embraced her tombstone with both arms, and held it for a long time. He pressed his face to her sad eyes, and tears streamed down his gaunt dark cheeks.
“My Lily, my beloved! If only you were alive! If only you knew how much I love you! I always liked you, only I never admitted it to myself!”
Lily had to die to hear this confession of love from the man she loved!
He slowly traced her features with his hand. He kissed her cheeks, her eyes, and her lips. But instead of the hot loving lips of the past, he kissed only the cold stone.
Edgar sincerely cried over Lily’s death. Tears flooded down his emaciated dark cheeks and quietly fell onto her grave. But they were too small to penetrate the thick black soil, and to announce to Lily that her only beloved, her Edgar, was there.
P.S. Lily died, and one day so will Edgar. We all will slowly leave this life. Nothing in this world is forever. Only words written on paper, only her poems full of warmth, passion, unrequited and unfulfilled love, will live forever! As long as people read books, love and suffering will live on forever in this world of ours!
By Liana Margiva.
Translated from Russian by Marina Teper.
Reader Reviews for
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|Reviewed by TONY NERONE
|My goodness what a lovely story. Beautifully done so well crafted. Thank You for sharing your genius.
|Reviewed by Joyce Bell
|YES LINANA, TRUE LOVE....WILL FOREVER LIVE ON. WELL DONE AND SO ENJOYED. THANKS FOR SHARING AND GOD BLESS, LOVE,
JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS
|Reviewed by kg cummings
|so many never realize what they have until they lose it. this story of unfulfilled love is a heart breaker and leaves the reader more in touch with his/her own feelings. Great piece. Your friend, Kathy|
|Reviewed by Daniel Gereige
|Just Read 'Crazy' its was Fantastic. Thank you for your comments on the lost soul.|
|Reviewed by Debra Baugh
|this is the most eloquent love story I have ever read......this is one real well-written short story from your book "Crazy"....love it was mesmerized while reading it......well done....kudos.....love peace & harmony|
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Very fine storytelling, Liana. Thank you for sharing your creative genius. Love and best wishes to you,
|Reviewed by Dean Fraser-Phillips
|Awe inspiring writing.|
|Reviewed by Dawn Anderson
|You, Liana, take my breath away...beautiful work.|
|Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain
You are such a beautifully gifted writer . . . excellent!!
|Reviewed by David Livingstone
|If one wants to learn how to write, all one has to do is to read the creations of this gifted author Liana Margiva.
This story is a true flower from a scented literary garden.
|Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU
I would call “CRAZY” ~ “A Short Story Of Longest Emotion” ~ for the richeness of its images, the rhythm of its wording and the live depicting of all actions of its protagonist and caracters.
Reading “CRAZY” is like soaring through the clouds of imagination collecting ontological pictures, and feeling winds of emotions.
This short story, “CRAZY” has many thought’s developer sentences; and this one made me breathe: “He takes only those who want to live, and He remains deaf to those who want to die.” And this: “Her soul became a terminal waiting area, and its only passenger –her beloved Edgar– wouldn’t return there.
I congratulate Ms. Marina Teper for the outstanding translation of “CRAZY” from Russian, and thank Author-Poet Liana Margiva for posting this magnificent story.
Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU
|Reviewed by Leonard Goslee
|"Crazy" ~ a story of life and passion... A love story that kept my eyes opened from the first line to the last.
I congratulate the author of "Crazy" for her magnetic pen, and for her unique writing style.
It was a pleasure to visit this DEN.