- For Teachers
This is the second part of my short story "A Flat". Please, would you proofread it.
At weekends, Ivan would go to the sport hall where young men and women gathered and danced to the music. The latest trend was rock and roll, which came from the decadent West and which the local bands often imitated. The audience was trying to keep up with the latest mode, although their incomes were rather meagre comparing to their peers in the West. The men had long hair and wore bell-bottoms, while women had perms and wore short skirts. The only drinks which had been served were soft-drinks and beer, which people drunk directly from bottles. They swayed their bodies to the music or stood around in small group and talked.
Above the seats hung a large portrait of the great leader who watched the youth with his penetrating eyes, making sure that they were behaving according to the ideals of communism.
Ivan was by nature a timid man and did not have any previous experience with love affairs, although he would never admit that for anyone, for fear of been called a bumpkin. He was not a good dancer either and he would usually stand aside with a beer bottle in his hand, discussing with other men the latest sport results.
Still his eyes did not miss to see other men flirting with women and later leaving the sport hall holding them in hands. He was yearning to have a woman beside him, but his shyness was preventing him from achieving his goal. He went there week after week, until one day he noticed a young woman who stood there alone, with a forlorn expression on her face.
She was neither beautiful nor ugly, but there was something about her that drew him towards her from the very first moment.
She stood there for more than twenty minutes, her eyes sweeping the interior of the sport hall as if she were searching for someone who had promised to be waiting for her, but did not come. He was talking with his friends, pretending to be interested in their discussions, while at the same time his eyes would glance at her even if he tried not to look at her direction.
His mind was racing and he knew that he had to do something. He could not stand there day after day and hope that a wonder would happen and a woman would come up to him and take him by the hand. He went to the toilet and while he was emptying his bladder, he was preparing the opening phrase. Entering the sport hall again, he deliberately passed close to the woman and their eyes met.
Her brown eyes sparkled as if inviting him to talk to her. He stretched out his hand and at the same moment, he could feel her slim fingers touching the palm of his hand. Her name was Jelena, comrade Jelena. She was new in the city, just moved from her village here. She had a job in a biscuit factory where she worked at the conveyor belt, packing biscuits and cookies into carton boxes.
Being here only for three weeks, she knew almost nobody and she still felt nostalgia for her village and her family she had left behind. She was about a head shorter than he was and he looked at her plain face with wavy chestnut hair and felt something warm welling up inside him. He asked her to join him and his friends which she accepted and they spent the whole evening chatting and laughing. Afterwards he followed her to the door of the house where she rented a room and before parting, they agreed to meet again.
Three months later, they married and moved together in an attic of an old house whose owner was a middle-aged married man with two small children. The attic was small and did not have a proper bathroom, but it had a separate entrance. Their landlord and his wife were kind people and often they would invite the young couple for a cup of coffee or a drink. One of the first things that Ivan and his wife bought was a new black and white TV set which made their evenings stimulating. No matter the weather condition outside their flat, the great leader was always there, dressed in his white uniform, swaggering about on his own island, or in a black suit smoking the thick cigar, reclining in an armchair and engrossed in deep thinking about the future of his country. These beautiful shots of him made every citizen of the country immensely proud and if there was any shortage of any kind of articles or material, people knew that the wise man would soon find the best solution and bring the country a step closer to paradise.
TO BE CONTINUED.