first conscious sensation was the ringing of the mobile telephone.
"Barbara, are you alive?!"
"Alan", the woman felt intoxicating happiness. "Alan…" The air was as thick as a wall and that made her speech difficult.
"Barbara, where are you?!"
"Alan… I don't know…"
"Barbara, did you go to the Commercial Center this morning?"
"Alan… When I was unlocking the office door, … the floor split off."
"And then, honey?"
"Alan, I don't remember… Alan, was there an earthquake?"
"No, honey. An airplane has cut into the building."
"Alan… Alan… I can't breath…"
"Honey, perhaps you are pressed down. Try to help yourself."
"Alan… Don't fail me."
"I'm on my way, honey."
"Alan, I want to live!"
"You will live, gem. And we'll meet many more mornings together."
"Sunshine, I'm in the car; and on the way to you. Don't lose heart!"
"Honey, perhaps you shouldn't speak."
"Alan, I want to live."
"You will live. And now, take a rest. I'll call you again in half an hour."
Alan Mine was racing towards the smoking ruins. By effort of will he concentrated himself to see the color of the traffic lights. He found that it was hard for him to follow the tracks of his mind. When he reached the place, he immediately pressed the quick-dial button.
"Alan… I can't breathe…"
"Honey, I'm here. Near you. Shout. Scream in order to direct the rescuers."
"Alan, … I can't… Alan, I want to speak to Catherine."
With trembling fingers Alan dialed their daughter's number. A moment later he heard her voice vibrating with excitement:
"Daddy, are you alive?"
"Your mom, my girl, your mom is in trouble!"
"Daddy, I am watching TV. They are showing the Twin Towers burning. Daddy, has mom happened to be in the office?"
"Yes, my child. Call her."
"Mom! It's me, Catherine."
"Catherine, what happened?!"
"Terrorists-kamikazes aimed an airplane at the building where you were."
"Catherine, wasn't it all by chance?"
"No… Mom, I want you to live!"
The fifteen-year-old girl burst into tears. Barbara was also crying but she did not feel the tears; the only thing she was aware of was that something was choking the life out of her.
"Mom, I can't live without you…"
Those words seemed to move away the barrier, which prevented her from breathing freely and for a minute Mrs. Mine felt peace of mind.
"Mom, I will take revenge! I'll take revenge!"
"She'll take revenge…"
The memory of the long-lived war she had led with her sister came up unexpectedly live in the woman's mind. Barbara was a step-child in the family, while spoilt Sara was born from their mother's second marriage and thought that once she was surrounded by true parents, she was free to fling her cap over the windmill, i. e. when their mother happened to bake rolls with vanilla cream, eat them away, without leaving a crumb for Barbara; and then start telling her with shining eyes how tasty they had been. The next time, when their mother would start preparing the flower, in revenge, Barbara would sprinkle it with grated soap. At night they would beat her black and blue with the father's belt. The pains that followed would embitter her tenfold and her mind would figure out an even nastier revenge. To punish her, the mixed up mom and dad would apply another sadistic measure. That inquisition lasted till the moment Barbara met Alan. The fair-haired young man attracted her attention at her first new-year ball in the high-school hall. In front of the neon-lit Christmas tree their souls became one. Since then her life had changed. She had been so obsessed by her love for Alan that she had had neither the time, nor the will to occupy herself with spoilt Sara's fooleries. The feeling that had blossomed within her had made her appearance warmer and her voice increasingly tender. And that new Barbara had had effect on Sara's heart. Before she realized, the young one started treating her elder sister not merely with respect but with veneration.
"Catherine, …I want…"
"Mom, if it's hard for you, don't talk. But don't give up!"
"Catherine, I want to wish you to meet a man, whom you will love."
"Mom, I love you. And I will take my revenge…" The girl broke into loud tears.
By a last effort Barbara whispered:
"I love you infinitely. And I love your father too. You love too. And don't waste your time in taking revenge… That is not the way… It is not THE WAY!
Translated by: Valentin Krustev
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