TE21 Serbian Moments

Like Lips, Like Skins (novel excerpt) Andrea Scrima

Chapter Two When I close my eyes, I can see her: a face in the bedroom window looking out onto the backyard, a shadow behind the aluminum screen, barely visible. She is, as is nearly always the case, angry. She’s muttering something, pressing thewords out through clenched teeth, and the sound is so low and guttural that I can barely make out the words: bastards, bastards . I look around for my little brother, a slow panic developing, wondering what I’ve done, what have I done wrong this time. Or: I hear the sound of an iron cranking and see a face appear in the kitchen window behind the bushes with the tiny orange berrieswe used todrawwithon the cementwalk. She’s chewing something, she tries to speak, but only a muffled gurgle comes out of her full mouth. She swallows. This time she’s not angry; she only wants to know if we’re there. Stay close to the house, she calls out; Supper will be ready in half an hour. It should be possible, I’d told myself, to spend a few days in my mother’s company without succumbing to the power of the past. It was a matter of exercising the will. Picture an invisible cocoon around you, a force field, Micha said, his fingers splayed 171

Andrea Scrima

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