TE21 Serbian Moments

Nana Ekvtimishvili

The Pear Field

by her own. They’d lie down next to each other. Marika would put her hand between Lela’s legs and ask Lela to do the same. Lela liked it when Marika touched her like that. She didn’t like doing it back but she did it anyway, even though it left a strange scent on her hand. Marika would tell her to close her eyes and go to sleep and they’d lie there in silence, wide awake, until she decided it was time to get up again. Marika had no father and was abnormally scared of her mother. When they got older, Marika changed the rules. One day she took Lela to the cellar and let her look between her legs. Lela saw something strange growing there. It reminded her of a cockerel’s crest and the once smooth, fleshy skin surrounding it was now covered all over in thick black hair. Lela thought she’d discovered a third sex. Then Lela pulled her knickers down too and they tried to join themselves together. They stayed like that for a while, unable to quite make themselves fit. Marika warned Lela not to tell anyone what they’d done, even though they hadn’t done anything wrong and the girls in her class played the same game. A few months later, when her own body started to change, Lela realized there was no third sex after all. Then the game stopped. In fact, everything stopped. Marika stopped having Lela round and stopped coming down to the yard. Lela thought Marika must finally have realized she shouldn’t be playing with retards. Now they cross paths from time to time in the yard or on the street and they always say hello. Sometimes when Lela sees Marika all grown up and 208

walking around with her hair done nicely like other girls who have houses and parents, she wonders whether any of it really happened or whether she just made it up.

Marika is walking towards them.

‘Where are you going?’ Lela asks.

‘I’ve got an English lesson,’ says Marika with a warm smile.

Her auburn hair dances across her shoulders as she walks. She carries on down the road. Lela starts eating her lobiani . Irakli takes a large bite out of his slice too.

‘What did she actually say, then?’ Lela asks.

‘She says she’s coming next week. She says that’s what she told me last time.’ Lela brushes a scrap of newspaper off her lobiani, as if it’s an insect, and takes a bite. ‘Why do you keep sticking up for her? You know she’s not coming back but you just keep ringing anyway and making an idiot of yourself.’

Irakli tears off another piece with his teeth. 209

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