Student or Learner
This is the thirteenth part of my short story "A Flat", please, would you proofread it.
Ivan had served three years of his sentence before being pardoned by the court. When he arrived home, after kissing and hugging his wife and his children, he strode towards the portrait of the Great Leader hanging on the wall. He unhooked the photograph, spat at it and tore it before opening the fire box and throwing it inside, where the Great Leader sizzled and crackled, consumed by flames. He felt instant relief. He had waited so many years to avenge himself at least indirectly on the Great Manipulator.
His children gazed at him in astonishment and Jelena glanced fearfully at the window in case someone had seen this unimaginable act. The regime could have forgiven a killing of another person, violence or even a bank robbery, but destroying the picture of the Great Leader was an unforgivable sin and a person who committed it would not only spend years in prison, but inevitably receive such a beating which he would be remembering the rest of his life.
Ivan mostly kept silence about his prison experiences. To his wife and his landlords, the old couple, who came to drink coffee with him, he told that inmates were treated correctly and nobody was ever been beaten by the warders.
However, as soon as he was alone, the picture from the prison flooded his brain: the dark sad eyes of the young, beautiful inmate who was raped repeatedly by his fellow prisoners who behaved like animals, political prisoners savagely beaten by criminals, men meeting their family members with the shackles on their feet, a warder hitting an older man just because he was bored on that day...
These were the memories one kept inside oneself, hoping that they would be erased by the flow of time, which unfortunately seldom happened.
When he walked through the street of his neighbourhood, Ivan noticed how people withdrew from him, as if he were suffering from a contagious disease.
In the city centre, when he met his former workmates they would shake hands, tell him that they were in hurry and disappear in the crowd, glancing nervously around as if afraid that someone would follow them. Ivan had not hated them or believed there were cowards.
They were cautious because they knew that one day everything could be used against them, a greeting, a handshake or a few minutes of friendly chat could become highly dangerous. As he strolled the streets, asking himself what to do next, his eyes would sweep the faces of passersby and he would ask himself how many of them were secret agent on duty, looking for the enemies of the Party and the Socialist Revolution. They must have been hundreds of thousands...
Ivan soon understood that his stay in the city was going to be unbearable. If he stayed here, he was doomed to live like an outsider, a stranger in his own homeland.
Who would dare to employ him in a factory again and trust him? For political prisoners there were only certain kinds of jobs, which usually other people avoided. However, the idea of working as a street sweeper or a dustman until his pension felt like another long prison sentence. He could not allow himself more humiliations.
He sat with Jelena many nights discussing their future until they finally decided to return to Ivanís village.
They would certainly have a difficult time in the beginning, but at least they would be free and they would not need to look outside the window whenever they talked about politics, to see if someone was listening to.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you very much again and again. You have helped me so much.
You are right regarding the sentence: "the picture from the prison..."
"Images" is indeed much better word.
All the best,