GilThis is the fifth part of my short story, Stieg. Please, would you correct my mistakes.
In the beginning, Stieg missed his house and his habits, but eventually became fond of his new home. He liked his room and its view, the comfortable bed in which he slept like a log, and the IKEA armchair in which he reclined and read newspapers or listened to the radio. He liked the kitchenette, where he sometimes made his own meals and brewed tea or coffee. A new world had opened up for him. He had the opportunity to meet the people from different parts of society whom he had never met before. There were former teachers, journalists, engineers, lawyers, manual workers and all kinds of tradesmen who
hadalways had something interesting to tell, to refresh memories from their rich past. Among the staff, there were people from many countries. Thus, one day Stieg would talk to a literature professor from Ghana who had never got an opportunity to work in his profession since he came to Sweden, probably because of the colour of his skin, but still had to work to support his family. Another day it would be an architect from Afghanistan who had sent his CV all over the country hoping that someone would give him a chance, but the only answer he received was No. There were young women from Eastern Europe who worked hard and lived frugally because they had to support their respective families in their homelands. Their beautiful bodies and buoyant mood stirred something inside him, which he had not felt since his wife’s death.
After a few months, Stieg felt at home. He did not miss his house any longer, which eventually was going to be sold or his fruit trees, which someone
otherelse was going to prune. This nursing home has become part of him and he could not imagine a better place to live. He did not lack anything, he never felt lonely, depressed or nervous. If he felt that boredom was creeping up on him, he just needed to sit down in a day room and listen to all those stories, which would sometimes occupy his mind for hours. His health improved considerably. Spells of dizziness became rare. His body felt strong and rejuvenated.
He always welcomed his children and grandchildren with open arms, although their presence left him rather indifferent. Here, in his new world among the residents, there were no discussions about taxes, stock market bonds, mortgages or other financial issues. The visits of his children reminded him of his old world, which he had left behind him and did not wish to return.
A year passed in a serene atmosphere, and then, one day a nurse came into the day room accompanied by a well-dressed, stocky man in his eighties. He had lost most of his hair, but the remaining patches were neatly combed. “Here is our new resident,” she announced, “Antonio, or Tony, as he would like to be called.” The man grinned broadly. Stieg was playing chess with another resident when he heard the name, and he instinctively turned towards the man. "I must have been dreaming," he told himself. "This can’t be true." Tony shook hands with everyone present. When he came up to Stieg and he saw Tony’s small dark eyes, he felt as if someone had hit him in the stomach. These eyes and the fleshy hand could belong to only one person, the man who had caused him so much suffering, more than fifty years ago. Stieg carried on with the game, but the wooden figures in front of him had become meaningless, he was unable to concentrate and lost in a checkmate. The presence of Tony unsettled him. He could not stay in the same room with him, being unable to repress the thoughts and feelings associated with him. He walked into his room and lay on bed thinking how life played with human beings. After so long time, his and Tony’s fate had come together in this place, which exit doors opened onto a graveyard. He believed he had left the past behind him, shoved it in the deepest part of his mind where it would stay until his death, but today it had surfaced again, causing him pain and anxiety. He had met hundreds of people during his life; the majority of them were honest and friendly fellow human beings. There were others also who were dishonest, who quarrelled with him, were envious, who duped him, borrowed money from him and never paid back, but he never hated anyone of them. He had forgiven them all, hopping that one day they would become better human beings. The only person he could not forgive, whom he wished harm, was the man who shook hands with him today.
Stieg ate his dinner, but it did not taste as good as before. His eyes wandered to the table where Tony sat in the company of three old ladies. He spooned the
leakleek soup into his mouth and at the same time was cracking jokes, which made the women laugh. Tony was always good at entertaining ladies, thought Stieg. Within days, they would end in his bedroom and probably some of the nurses also. He knew which buttons to press to get what he wanted, He remembered those days when he and Tony worked together and all the women Tony picked up as if they were carp in the pond. To tell the truth, he did not abuse his position as their boss to get them into bed. He never blackmailed, or threatened them. They fell for his charm and talk. At that time Stieg was shy and would never have dreamed about flirting with women. He would blush whenever a female colleague talked to him. He knew he would be terribly hurt if a woman rejected his advances. He admired Tony and was envious of him, especially when he understood that for Tony even a rejection was a part of the game, which he would joke about.
TO BE CONTINUED
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