Translated by Antonia Terpesheva
I hate trees. Not really. I live among trees – how could I hate them. I am just bored to death with them. They are everywhere. Everything is made of wood. My world is wooden. Sometimes I want to disappear. Poof! And I’m gone. I am somewhere beyond. I don’t know where, I don’t imagine anything in particular, just being in another place. But then I will probably miss trees. I am not familiar with any other reality than their own. I am used to seeing them around me. They are my home. I love trees.
I am crawling on the pavement of Lisets Street. Heat and humidity. The climate has changed. The weather before must have been completely different, because the surroundings do not seem to have been created in a torrid zone. This neighborhood was built under other circumstances. The pavement tiles now stick out from the ground, pushed up by the rising soil. The trees swell up. Their barks crack. Their leaves became wider and thinner. The gaps between the tiles are overgrown with fleshy moss. Climbing vines everywhere. Lianas. Willows of olden times droop and water is trickling from their twigs. Flora and varied fauna. An orange cat is following me. It is watching me indifferently, but guile and confidence shine in its eyes. Cats are over-satisfied. They loaf about always ready to do something fatal for the sake of their own pleasure.
I’m walking up to Kaymakchalan Street. The vegetation there is removed regularly which is why the soil is dry and cracked. Whenever the wind blows, it causes dust to rise up. Rainfall causes sand to accumulate, which then gets trucked away. Rust is oozing on the facade of Serdika Mall. Workers take care of its removal while hanging with ropes from the roof. A hubbub resounds in the deserted ground behind the mall. I make my way there and take cover behind the leaves of the bushes. A few meters away an unsightly man has cornered a turban-wearing kid next to the garages and now threatens him with a wooden sword. Next to him there is a woman wearing a long skirt and a tucked-in white shirt. She has the face of a weasel. The man is a stiff-looking loser. Such people tend to resort to violence against weaker victims. That way, they gain at least a bit of confidence, without which they would be crushed by nature. Insecure wooden people, incapable of leading a positive life. The fake weapon is touching the kid’s cheek. The cat from a moment ago joins and watches apathetically while whisking its tail.
‘You, little brat, what do you take me for?’ the man screams.
‘Please, sahib, I didn’t do anything,’ the boy cries.
‘DiNio, spare him, we’ll get into trouble,’ the weasel says, pulling her hair.
‘Shut up, Eleonora. Who’s the man here? Do I make decisions or do you?’
‘You are, DiNio, you do.’
‘Sahib, I’m begging you. I’m on my way to look for a medicine for my old mother. She is sick. She doesn’t have a lot of time. Have mercy!’ the kid continues to cry.
‘Come with me behind that garage so that I can shove that thermometer in your butt. You’re in deep shit!’ DiNio grins and slaps the little guy in the face. ‘No screaming!’
‘Please, no. No, no, please…’ the victim sobs while being dragged.
A second slap.
The orange cat radiates satisfaction. I am already climbing up the tree led by some vague curiosity. Through the tree branches I will be able to see what is happening behind the garages. At this moment from the corner of Kaymakchalan Street and Bunaya Street a mime with a white-painted face, tight overalls, and striped T-shirt comes into view. He is running panic-stricken, dragging a bunch of multicolored helium-filled balloons in his hand. Following at his heels are four brothers, young tigers. They scatter according to some hunting tactic. The cat pricks its ears up, stays on the alert. The repulsive guy is startled by these sudden witnesses. He didn’t suspect others were watching him. The mime rushes past him and hands him the balloons. Becoming lighter, he picks up speed and soon disappears down Sitnyakovo Blvd. The tigers give up and start to circle around the street disappointed. At that moment the turban-wearing boy seizes the opportunity and also takes off; the weasel woman tries to slip into the mall, and DiNio is already rising up, incapable of controlling the pull of the balloons. That’s how he passes close to me and pushes me to the ground. I flop down, and my dense body bounces. The bump is soft. Back on the ground, I see in the sky above the mall an opening portal shaped like a gigantic human anus. It starts sucking. Its power is discouraging. The anus is so tight that its whole energy is manifested through a small opening. This nozzle creates a jet effect, which ruthlessly drags everything away. The first one to be sucked in is the man rising up with the balloons. Then off fly the mime, Eleonora, the tigers, and some passersby, after they desperately try to cling to the lit billboard sign on the nearby building’s roof. Last is the turban-wearing boy, who sinks into the celestial aperture. Then the anus disappears.
My hair is tangled around my elongated body. I make attempts to organize my dozens of little legs so that I can get out of here. The ginger cat has fled without a trace, but I know it will show up again once everything calms down. As I lie on the ground, I wonder how it’s possible for a caterpillar to know all of these things. How can I even have an idea about the world and the objects in it? Where does this information come from? The world has suddenly become so interesting. I start to understand. Movement, eventualities… trees. Now I’m asking questions, whereas a few days ago I used to only see green and that used to be my sole attraction.
What is the world like? I love it. I love trees, everything.
This without any doubt is some kind of metamorphosis. See, I’m gaining weight; my little hairs are matting. I will attach myself to something steady; I will hide in a cocoon of sheer fibers. Soon I will be a butterfly. My big multicoloured wings will carry me far above things and I will live. One day the ginger cat will come back calm, indifferent, looking for entertainment. Then it will jump in the air, wave a paw and swat me to the ground. In its mind this will be just a game.