TE21 Serbian Moments

The Smile (short story) Kristin Dimitrova Translated from Bulgarian by Petya Pavlova Can you bury a smile? That’s what I was thinking on the way back. Not just to bury the corpsewithall thegestures belonging to it but only the smile? Death erases movement. Facial expressions, reproaches, whimsies, looks - all of that drains somewhere out of the body and it is left lying there like a used- up disposable lighter. It’s hard to think about my mother this way. It’s hard to think about her smile. In general, she rarely smiled. There was always something about me she didn’t like. Either my grades at school were disappointing or I had come home late froma classmate’s birthday party, or gone out exactly when I had to help her make jam. “Who is going to eat this jam?” I ask her. “What do you want it for?” She looks at me as if I have just placed the foundations of the Universe under suspicion. She says nothing for a while, probably to make me think of the answer myself and then says, “Just so it’s there!”

“If you need it, we’ll buy it from the shop. Like everyone else.”

That’s what I told her. Back then my mother and father were not yet divorced and she found ways to work on me through him too. The two of themwere constantly fighting but when it came to me, they were united in their low expectations.

Kristin Dimitrova


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