- For Teachers
This is the second part of my short story "The Volunteer", please would you proofread it.
In those hot days I would search refuge by the river. I would take my bike and rode it to the other side of the town where the sound of artillery fire could not be heard. The river was magnificent, with clear calm water and the banks covered in grass, shrubs and willows which offered cool shade on the hottest days.
I liked to swim very much and I would imagine that I was a boat floating along the banks. The water was so clear that I could see every pebble on the river bottom. Sometimes a fish would swim under me so close that I could touch it with my hand. I learnt to swim when I was six years old and this river meant to me more than any other place in the town. I felt that I could live without my home, but without the river, I would certainly die.
The banks were always overcrowded with people, young, old, lovers, drunkards and the whole families. People had a barbecue, they cooked food on gas cookers and drank bottles of beer which had been cooled in the river. It was a festive atmosphere all the time because in our town everyone knew everyone and people treated each other with food and drink as if they were members of a big family.
One afternoon I was swimming slowly towards the middle of the river when I heard someone calling my name. I stopped and turning my head I noticed Zoran with a beautiful girl standing in the water until their waists. He was waving at me with his left hand and with his right he was holding her by the shoulder.
When I saw him, my mood changed, because I never liked him. I spent four years with him in the same class in the upper secondary school and he had made me angry so many times that I was tempted to give him a proper beating and teach him how to behave properly.
When I told my father some years before about Zoran’s behaviour, he smiled at me, telling me that he was not such an evil boy as I described him. “You must understand that his father had left him when he was a baby and he never cared about him. I know his mother, Biljana so well and I know how she struggles every day to earn money and give her son a better future. But what can she do, alone and without a man?” my father said.
I knew his mother also. She worked as a cleaner and whenever I saw her she had a painful expression on her face as if suffering from some kind of chronic illness. She was a woman in her forties, tall, with wavy chestnut hair and dark deep-set eyes. Sometimes when we met on the street, she would ask me how we had in the school and how his son was doing. I wanted to tell her that her son was a real swine, but how would I dare to tell her the truth when I knew that her Zoran was her only hope in life.
In the school it had not passed a day without him insulting us students or our teachers. When our teacher in philosophy told him off for making noise and disturbing students around him, he jumped up and shouted at, “Bloody stupid cow with a pea brain!” That was an unimaginable insult even if our teacher was not the brightest in the school and had a nickname “Hen.” The poor young woman who was still at the beginning of her career blushed crimson and I believed she was going to cry.
On that occasion she threw Zoran out more because she wanted to avoid further confrontation and embarrassment than because she wanted to punish him. After all, we all knew that any kind of punishment was worthless in his case. He was summoned to the rector on a few occasions, he was severely criticised and even threatened with expulsion, but nothing worked on him. He made as well students as our teachers furious and irritated, but they tolerated him certainly because they were thinking pity of him and hoped that one day after he had passed his final exam they would never ever meet him again.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you for your help. Your suggestion is the right one. I intended to say "she would ask me how we were doing in the school and how her son was doing."