Here are my suggestions.Please could you proofread the fourth part of my short story "The Volunteer".
Later we all three sat on the bank, eating tasty pastries which Milena had made in the morning and which she took out of the basket and was feeding us as if we were small children, prodding Zoran and me to eat even if we were sated. She told me that her father was a manager at a paper mill, which was one of the biggest factories in my town.
She was the only child and was twenty years old. She never lacked any material things and sometimes she felt embarrassed seeing how other people lived on the verge of poverty, while she could enjoy
inthings they only could dream about. “Look at thisthat red car over there,” she said pointing her finger at the small sports car parked under the large oak tree. “I ’vegot it for my eighteenth birthday. But none of these material things and no money could give me love which I now can give and receive.”
I asked her how she met Zoran the first time, and she told me that she was with her friend in a disco sitting at the table and drinking “Coke” when Zoran and his friend arrived and asked if the chairs were available to which she
replayedreplied therethey were. She saw his sharp eyes and heard his jokes and although there was a hint of malice in some of them, she understood that he was a man with a warm heart.
After that they met on a few occasions,
and thenshe presented him forto her parents, who at the beginning waswere not so delighted as she had been, but after they had met Zoran more times, both her father and mother changed their minds and treated him as a member of the irfamily.
In those days the discussion about the war on the other side of the border would start whenever people met, and now Zoran asked me what I was thinking about the war. Which side did I support? I told him that I did not support either of them. I knew how the conflict was going to end. They would kill each other for years, and then the big powers would emerge and decide how and when to end the war, without bothering that thousands of innocents had been killed.
Zoran stared at me with his small eyes, and I knew he was not satisfied with my answer. “So you think we should simply stand aside and watch?” he asked.
“But what can we do? When have our leaders listened to ordinary people?
Milena was sitting and listening silently to us while our discussions moved from the roots of the conflict, the massacres in the Second World War, the communist dictatorship under Tito’s iron hand to the conflict between Serbs and Croats after
theCroatia had decided to become independent.
This kind of discussion was never-ending, and I knew from the experience that I would never convince Zoran to change his political conviction. Suddenly, he blurted out, “I’ve signed on as a volunteer. I’ll be leaving this week or the next!”
I thought he was joking. I expected to hear him burst out laughing, but he was silent. I glanced at Milena, and she lowered her eyes. I could not believe my own ears. I could never imagine Zoran as a warrior, carrying a weapon and shooting at other human beings. I always saw him as a kind of a jester who lived only in the present and did not care about politics, nations or other issues, but apparently, during these years he had matured and become more serious.
“But how can you leave behind you pregnant wife? Now you’ve got everything. You should start living an ordinary life and take care of your family. Let others fight and kill each other. Or do you want your wife to become a widow and your child to grow up without ever seeing his father.”
“You don’t understand,” he answered. There are more important things than a family. Just now they are killing my people, my nation, and my blood. I would rather be dead than sit here and wait like a coward.”
Then we ran into the river. I
madeswam a few strokes, and when I turned my head, I saw them playing in the water. Milena swam before him and when Zoran reached her, he pulled her towards himself ,. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he kissed her on the mouth. They disappeared under the surface and after a few seconds they appeared again, their mouth still pressed together. They swam towards the other bank, stopping for a moment, kissing each other and floating on as if they lived in their own world, their own reality which neither war nor any other predicament would be able to harm.
I was watching them with yearning and jealousy. I wished I had a woman beside me; I wished I could swim now together with her in this beautiful river and feel her wet supple body under my fingers. Never before had I kissed a woman except my own family members and I asked myself if my fate was to die as a virgin. Zoran’s happiness only reminded me again of my own misery and loneliness.
TO BE CONTINUED
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