GilThis is the sixth part of my short story, Stieg. Please, would you correct my mistakes.
Stieg had a troubled sleep in the night. He woke up many times and was wet with sweat. He could not remember sweating so much in all his life. Not only his T-shirt and pyjamas were completely soaked, but also the sheet under him. He ran the bath with warm water and lay in it for about thirty minutes. He could not push Tony out of his head. His mind returned to the day when they met for the first time in the kitchen of the Hotel Park. Stieg had been working as a cook for a few years and felt well and satisfied. He had no difficulties of any kind with his co-workers or other staff in the hotel. He liked to cook, always tried new recipes and new ingredients, and was glad when the guests told the owner that the food was excellent. Everyone told him that he had a prosperous career in front of him. “One day you’ll cook for the Royal Family and the Nobel Prize laureates at the Nobel Banquet,” said his colleagues. It was highly probable that Stieg would have become a master and well-known chef if Tony had not become his boss. He did not understand why Tony had chosen him as the main target for his attacks, but probably Tony sensed that he was weak and would never dare to oppose him. Nowadays what Tony did to him would be called bullying, but fifty years ago, nobody used such a term.
From the very first day, Tony began destroying his self-confidence and his faith in his skills. “The guest are complaining,” he would announce aloud upon entering the kitchen, so that everyone would hear. “Stieg, you’re lazy again,” he would peer into Stieg’s face with his small, dark eyes. “They’ve been waiting for the main ("main course" or "entree") for half an hour. What are you doing man?” The poor Stieg, drenched in sweat, his body burning, would bend his head and silently endure all humiliations. Suddenly, the vegetables and the fish were overcooked, meat tasted horrible, soups were too thin or too thick, potatoes cold...There was no end of various complaints, no end of humiliations. Stieg would return home and instead of relaxing, he would cry. Soon self-pity would turn into anger, not only at Tony, but also at his own cowardice. He was bigger and stronger than Tony. He imagined shouting at him, telling him to go to Hell, hitting him with a meat hammer and smashing his teeth or his head and silencing him
for everforever. However, the next morning reality would catch up with him, and he would return to his silence, like an obedient servant who would fulfil all orders of his master and never complained. He hoped that some of his co-workers would stand up for him, and tell Tony to stop and behave correctly, but they all turned their backs on him. Stieg endured (endured what?) for four months and had had enough of the humiliations. He came from work one day and felt so miserable that he contemplated suicide. He decided never to return to his workplace, never to see his tormentor again. In the beginning, he believed he was going to find a job in another hotel or a restaurant, but his depression kept him away from people. His self-esteem was completely shattered. He did not leave his flat for days except for buying food and other necessities in the nearby supermarket. He would walk outside early in the morning, knowing that at that time his former co-workers were still sleeping after another long, tiring evening. He would never have dared to look them in the eyes and admit his misery. They would have laughed at him and called him a milksop who never grew up.
Stieg had believed that his poor mental condition was going to improve with time, but weeks and months passed, and he was still searching for himself. He contemplated suicide, and he would probably have killed himself, if he had not had the support of his parents. They told him to make an appointment with a psychologist and have a therapy (Either "get some therapy", or, "have a therapy session), but Stieg did not want any professional help. He would have felt ashamed of opening his heart to a stranger who would never understand him and treat him just as another number in a long list of unhappy human beings.
In the end, it took him about two years until he started working again. It was not in a kitchen as he
hoppedhoped and wished, but deep in the woods, away from civilisation and people. He always loved trees and when he saw that there was a lack of woodcutters, he applied for the job and started working immediately. He would sit in his harvester the whole day, felling and delimbing the trees, and was never bored. Sometimes he would not see another human being for a whole week - his only contact with civilisation a compact radio in his cabin, but he never felt lonely. This was his therapy. Surrounded with tall trees and thick vegetation, he gave his mind free reign. He asked himself how he would react if Tony appeared one day telling him he got lost and needed help. Stieg would ignore him, not lift a finger even if he saw him dying in front of him. Whenever he tried to persuade himself that forgiveness is Christian, there was another voice telling him, “You are not Jesus.”
Years working in the woods made him mentally strong. He had delved deep into himself and found the strength he did not know he possessed. His self-confidence began to increase. Soon there was another aura around him. If by chance someone had had the idea to bully him, he would immediately have understood that he had picked
upon the “wrong” person because Stieg would first scowl at him, and then shower him with insults and swear words, after which a ("the" is better here) bully would retreat without uttering a single word.
TO BE CONTINUED
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