Polish golden autumn came in and overwhelmed entire country
with unimaginable splendour and beauty as usually when it was her turn to take
over the insignia of rule from the handsome summer boy who seemed never to grow
up and was therefore no match to such a beauty as autumn was,the Polish autumn,a
woman with the fullness of her shapes and freshness of her entire being,and a
tremendous wit at the same time.No,the handsome summer boy had to grow up,turn
himself into a fullness of manhood and wisdom equal to that of Einstein.It
happened so every year in that mysterious country which was named Poland,the
country of unspeakable dramas across its history and great events which took the
breath away from the mouth of the world which witnessed that events.Every year
began always with spring,a teenage girl crazy for love,then came summer,a boy
turned a man who burned from the excess of testosterone and had as much fuel in
his guts as the shuttle which opened the gates of sky within
minutes,but,sorry,not quite a man yet from the point of view of the beauty of
all beauties as autumn was.And,finally,the insignia of power were given to an
old man,winter,with silvery hair and as much silvery coat,a man who was all
wisdom and to whom autumn had much respect.Nevertheless,he was too old for her
so she had no a choice as to continue to live a life of a virgin.A lone beauty
living in solitary and that was her secret.
It was already October 1992! The Polish autumn was brilliant and radiating
incredibly from all colours there could exist.All Europe was jalouse of her! She
was devine,the queen!
It was not yet 5 a’clock in the morning when Emilia Barton broke away from her
sleep.She breathed deeply and her eyes still expressed a thrill.She had a very
bad dream,one which concerned her youngest son.A river came suddenly,a strange
river which was filled with half water half blood.Her son,Robert Vangard,was
taken away by that river.She tried to catch him desperately and..did not
succeed.It was then when she woke up and realised she might have screamed
because her husband was also awoken and took her face to both his hands.
-“Mila,what was it? What happened?”- He asked.
She narrated the dream to him.He looked concerned.
-“It was only a dream.Don’t bother with it.”- He concluded firmly,however.
But she could no longer sleep.She got up from her bed and went to the
kitchen.She poured mineral water into a glass and went yet to another room.She
needed to think.There was something strange in that dream.Something very
dramatic.Every mother would be concerned.And it was not only that dream.She had
more of such dreams concerning her youngest son,less or more dramatic but always
with a pessimistic tone.
Why didn’t she have such dreams about her two other sons? It was true she was
not concerned about Marek who was her oldest son because he was simply a
successful man who could manage to live without a need for help from anyone.But
Tadek,the other son who was so far away from her,somewhere there on the
outskirts of the world! He was so far away,in New Zealand,and she felt confident
about him,feeling somehow he had a steely heart despite being so gentle by
nature.No,she did not have to worry about him,too.
It was probably a psychological matter.She knew her youngest son,who actually
was away in Belgium,still was addicted to alcohol and his wife behaved
strange,mildly to say,because she did not answer his numerous letters,did not
call back to him and he could not find any sort of warmth and enthusiasm while
talking to her on the phone.He suffered because he loved her.Emilia Barton knew
all of that.He telephoned to her sometimes,quite unexpectedly and confessed to
her of the pain he felt within himself because of despair which consumed him.Why
his wife was so strange to him,so cold at times…,he used to ask questions
Emilia Barton could not answer.She advised him usually to take things lightly
and not to bother with the strange behaviour of his wife.She herself often did
not understand Katarzyna.There was indeed something strange with her.One thing
could be said for sure: her parents fed her with wrong sort of advises directed
against her own husband.Perhaps it was this,the psychological syndrome which
made her to be or seemed to be so strange in the eyes and mind of her husband.
Emilia Barton felt thrilled when she got a telephone call from her youngest son
just at 7a.m.,definitely too early for a telephone conversation.She would have
any time available for her son,even if he called in the middle of the night.But
it was her nightmare dream she expierenced just a few hours back which filled
her mind again.
-“Mom,it’s me…Robert…”- She heard him to say.-“I tried to reach
Katarzyna but have not succeeded neither yesterday in the evening nor today in
the morning.I’m worried for her and my kids.I thought,mom,perhaps you know
whether everything is O.K.I need to hear just that!”
-“Oh,Robert,my dear son,don’t worry!”- She hurried to say although she was
not sure whether there indeed was nothing to be worried about.-“Kasia and kids
-“Why then can’t I reach them?”- She heard a puzzled voice of her son.
-“Because she is not at home.I’m surprised,my dear son,she hasn’t let you
know what happened?”
-“Something serious,mom?”- The voice of her youngest son was again
-“No,not with her.It’s her father.He had heart attack and was taken to the
hospital in Bielsko-Biala.You know there are the best cardiologists in the
-“Is he O.K.?”
-“Yes and no.He feels very weak after an operation he was through.A piece of
his aorta was cut off and shortened.There formed a sort of vein sclerosis,so
much fatuated that blood could not circulate.Now at least he’s got no problem
with that but he’ll have to change his lifestyle definitely.Certainly not
eating whatever he likes.That’s no longer possible.”
-“It’ll be difficult for him…”
-“But…a matter of life and death!”
-"Mom,I still don’t understand her.She should have phoned me!”
-“Yes,son but you know Kasia is difficult.Be patient with her.I think she
-“Yes,Robert,I think so.”- She answered despite that she has not believed at
all in what she was just saying.
She just wanted to calm down her son.To make him feel good.He was so far away
-“Thanks,mom.I think I return home in a month or two.”
-“Be careful,Robert.Care for yourself!”
-“Bye,Robert.I’ll telephone to Kasia and let her know you phoned.”
She sat on her bed quite a long and was lost in her thoughts.There was something
strange in her consciousness or perhaps unconsciousness,something as if it
wanted to warn her of something else.Was it related to her youngest son? Or to
the other sons? Or was it just a product of her worries she knew she should
She had no idea,went to the kitchen and prepared a breakfast for herself and her
She was just finished with making breakfast when her husband appeared in the
kitchen,approached her and gave a loud and enthusiastic kiss to her.
They enjoyed the breakfast and she told him about the telephone call from
-“He worries too much about her.She knows it and this is why she behaves so
strange to him.Women like to do things upside down!”- There was his remark.
-“Bolek!”- Emilia Barton warned him.
-“Oh,sorry,Mila.I did not want to affront you.I take my words back.”- He
laughed out loud,caught her into his hands and gave a hundred kisses while
having firmly in his hands.
An hour later he went to a dentist.
Emilia Barton took album with photos to her hands and felt herself being
engulfed by some vehicul of trance bringing her back to her
memories.Strangely,she heard a song “Memory”,performed by Barbra
Streisand,within her mind.It was often so when she let herself being overwhelmed
with memories.She had a dramatic life.Even a very dramatic life.But she was also
lucky to find love and get married to a man she loved when she was still a
beautiful woman.She loved Wolfgang Barton also for this.
She heard a bell at the door and had to shake her memories off herself.She
rushed to the door and realised her daughter was just on a visit to her.She was
surprised because the visit was not announced.Usually her daughter phoned to her
before coming.Neverthelless,she was happy.
-“Hello,Dorota,come in! What must I make for you? A cup of coffee? Orange
-“A glass of orange juice is just fine.Mom,I got too early out my
apartment,brought both children to school and still have an hour free before
starting my job.”- She said.
-“Oh,I’m happy you’re here! Wait a moment I’ll bring the glass with
orange juice.”- Emilia Barton rushed to the kitchen.Her daughter worked in a
cosmetics section of a large department store nearby,one which was called “A
Belg’s Department Store”,due to a fakt that the owner was a Belgian who
tried luck in Poland.She brought the glass of orange juice,handed it to her
daughter and sat down just opposite her.
-“Robert phoned this morning.”- Emilia Barton announced to her daughter.
-“Oh,is he good? When he’s coming back?”-A lovely smile appeared on Dorota
Starcz’s strikingly beautiful face.
-“He was worried.He couldn’t reach Kasia.”
-“Oh,I can understand him.Kasia isn’t fair to him!”- This time the smile
vanished from Dorota Starcz’s face.-“Maria is also difficult!”
Emilia Barton knew her daughter meant the wife of her oldest son.
-“Why do you think so?”- She asked.
-“She never visits us,does not phone to us,keeps a distance.I don’t
understand this.She should try to have closer relationship with us
because,simply to say,she is a member of this family.”
-“Perhaps she thinks the same?”
-“Oh,I don’t think so.I phoned to her numerous times.She was always kind
but…only kind.There were no emotions envolved.”
Emilia Barton laughed out.
-“Oh,Dorota,make it easy.We can’t blame people just for such small
-“Small things?”- Dorota Starcz felt herself irritated.-“How that can be
'small things' when we’re not quite a family?!”
Emilia Barton was far from doing a quarrel.She put TV on and tried to find a
channel with something interesting on.She gave up a moment later realising it
was a morning and there was no way anything good enough would be displayed on
the silver screen when most people are out at or to their jobs.There was a talk
with a priest on one of the channels who emphesized tirelessly the values of a
family as a fundemantal structure of a society and used strange slogans such as
“natural law” or “the limits of tolerance”,which were directed against
all those who lived outside the family model and at homosexuals.Poland was still
a very traditional country in which abortion and homosexuality were not
Dorota Starcz made mimics,clearly not liking what she was seeing and hearing.
-“Mom,please,turn it off.I don’t want to listen to it!”- She asked with a
grimace on her face.Her mother did as she asked.
-“Mirek went to the job?”- She asked trying to put the conversation on a
-“Yes,he went early in the morning.I’m so afraid for him!”- Tears appeared
in the Dorota Starcz’s eye sockets.
-“Don’t worry.He’s a strong man!”-Emilia Barton knew she made yet
another mistake mentioning her daughter’s husband at this hour.Mirek worked in
a coalmine,deep underground,and there was always a danger involved he might
never again return to them.Just a few years ago died a husband of Mirek’s
sister,also a worker in a coalmine.His death occurred inside the coalmine when
he was working there.
-“Oh,mom,I’m dying from worry…”
-“Why don’t you tell him to change a job?”- Emilia Barton asked
-“Why? I told this to him thousands times! He doesn’t listen! He is saying
he can’t earn as much in the other jobs…”
-“You press him to do it.You tell him you can’t stand it anymore.”
-“He won’t listen!”
-“He must! You’re his wife!”
-“O.K. I’ll try it again.”
They chatted a bit longer and then Dorota Starcz excused herself and went to her
Emilia Barton made a cup of coffee,sat down in her armchair and got herself lost
in her memories again.She had one great secret no one in the family knew.Not
even Bolek and certainly not her daughter or her sons.This secret dated from the
time when her husband was Joseph Vangard,the father to her sons.She hated him
then and he hated her.He treated her rudely most often and also beat her at
times.She escaped then away from him for a couple of hours.It was then when she
became friends with their neighbour,a lonely man in his early forties,handsome
rather and oh,so quiet,with a perpetuous smile on his face.She fell in love to
him after a while,when she learnt from him he loved her.Any time her husband was
away she went to him to seek a consolation and he did it so good she regained
her composure,so much shattered every time she had to endure long hours together
with her husband.She was not yet thirty years old then,incredibly beautiful,with
long and thick,black hair,almond eyes and classic features of her face.Franek
Brodawicz,the neighbour she has fallen in love to,was a sculpturer,quite
talented and bright but without chances for a career.Who could have such chances
in a village,hidden somewhere there in the Beskidy mountains? In a communist
country as Poland was then? At first it was a platonic love.He played often on a
piano and sometimes sang to her.He photographed her.And he was always very
gentle to her,the treatment she needed the most because of the harsh reality she
expierenced with her husband.
One day when she was beaten again by her husband she came to him filled with
-“Let’s go away!”- He proposed to her.
They found themselves in the train yet the same day.A few hours later they
arrived in Zakopane,the Polish Innsbruck of the Tatra mountains.They got an
apartment in a hotel and had a breathtaking lookout at the highest mounts from
their window.That first night they made a fierce love,the first so much intimate
and it was then she learnt what love was really.
She had impression she dreamed.
-“No,you don’t dream.It’s real.I love you,I love you…”- Franek
Brodawicz ensured her love was a blossoming flower.Every next day was a song of
What a love story was it!
Yet there was a worry at the back of her head.She had three young sons.Marek was
nine years old,Tadek seven years old and Robert only four years old.She could
never leave them.When Franek Brodawicz proposed her to move away to some other
part of Poland she refused.
-“I love you,Franek,so much! But…please,understand me,I have children and I
can’t,I absolutely can’t leave them.No,Franek,I must return to that hell of
mine with my husband,I must do it for my children.He had tears in his eyes but
A week later she packed up and announced to him she must return home.He
protested at first but then understood her.
-“O.K.,Mila,you do as you think it must be done but whenever you need me you
know I’m waiting.We’re neighbours!”- He answered with a joking tone.
-“You’re the best neighbour there can be on the earth,you’re my angel!”-
She answered then.They kissed themselves passionately.
-“I’ll come back in a week!”- He announced to her before she was carried
away in a train carriage back to her children.
A week passed,then second week and Franek Brodawicz was still not back at home.
And then she learnt what everybody else in the village learnt:Franek Brodawicz
had an accident in the Tatra mountains and was…dead.
God,she thought she was going to hang herself.And perhaps she would do it
if-again-not her children.She always chose suffering,specially for her
children.She cried at nights and any time during the long days when her husband
was away.Her life was again a never ending nightmare.
Soon afterwards she learnt she beared a child,Franek Brodawicz’s child!
It was then she got a determination.She wanted that child.She would never do
abortion.There was no way her husband could say the child was not his.He forced
her to sex so often!
When the daughter,the daughter of her lover,was born,she had an angelic smile on
her face.Somehow she felt herself stronger.Emancipated.She thought she might be
indeed able to stand firmly against her husband and begin a new life.Her
daughter,Dorota,gave her that strength,miraculously.Perhaps it was passed to her
by her Franek…
-“Mila,Mila…You hear me?…What happened to you?…You don’t answer
me…”- She suddenly heard her husband,Wolfgang Barton,and felt panicked a
moment.Her memories and the reality crushed and she had a difficulty to adjust
to the reality.Her husband was holding her by her hands and looked into her eyes
while she saw rapid images of her previous husband,her lover and her present
husband until,finally,she grasped fully the image of Wolfgang Barton.
-“Oh,Bolek,I was lost in my memories.Thanks God you’re back home.”- She
answered and gave a smile to him.
-“Mila,do you love me?”- Wolfgang Barton asked her,concerned somehow.
-“Yes,Bolek,I love you.”- She answered simply,knowing that her husband was
the only man on the earth she loved.
They kissed and engulfed themselves with their arms…
To be continued…Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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