Student or Learner
This is the first part of my short story "Autumn Story." Please, would you proofread it.
It had been raining for two days, a persistent, moody autumn rain, which made everybody and everything grey, slow and apathetic. Then the clouds quickly dispersed as if blown away by a gigantic air compressor, and the sun appeared in its full glory. The light was bright and strong and fell over the treetops covered in yellow and brown leaves. The clear blue sky, the sun and colours of the autumn now turned into a lighter shade woke me up from my lethargy. I felt confined in my little flat. I knew that if I did not leave it soon, I was going to panic.
After spending some months in a prison camp in Bosnia during the war, my mental state had become miserable. There was no cure for my illness, although the Swedish doctors had done everything in their power to restore my health. At the end they were obliged to give up, and they moved on to the other patients, who still had a chance to be cured. I was left to roam the street without goal and purpose.
From outside I was like all other people, i.e. neither beautiful nor ugly, neither slim nor overweight. Only inside me was horrible. On some occasions when that horrible came into my thoughts, I would run out of my flat and inhale deeply, afraid that my own thoughts were going to destroy me. At the beginning people would ask me why I did not work, and when I explained to them they would wince, cower and shudder and stare at me as if I were exuding a lethal poison which could kill them.
They were not interested in my experiences and did not want to hear anything about torture, beatings, cutting of man’s throats and similar bestialities. After that the majority of them would usually avoid me on the street and never return my greetings. When I finally understood how people thought, I invented a white lie. Henceforth whenever someone asked me about my unemployment, I would say that I had a terrible back pain. After they had heard my answer, they all became congenial and sympathetic. They would pat me on the shoulder and give me advice about medication, ointments, physiotherapists and naprapaths. I listened to them and their platitudes and was tempted to tell them the truth and see them running away from me like scalded. But I managed somehow to stay calm and wore the mask of civility.
Last week a found a book which had helped me more than all doctors and psychotherapists. I went into a charity shop and saw a pocket book which cover illustration is a sitting man with his bare back and his hands tied behind by a thick string. Close to the man’s fingers is an open black fountain pen. It looks as if man’s fingers could touch the pen, which will always remain only a faint possibility. Anatoly Marchenko “My Testimony, The first detailed report on Soviet prison camps today,” said the title. I came home, opened the book and started to cry.
Every page of it was a pain. The pain of a man struggling against the merciless system which kept more than 20 millions of its own citizens like slaves in gulags. The pain of a ordinary man who would eventually perish, but whom they were unable to break down spiritually. I compared my suffering with his and felt ashamed. I was complaining all the time, and he was suffering indescribable things in silence. He was brave and I was a coward. I promised myself never to complain again.
The sun was dazzling, its heat vaporizing the soil and pulling out of it a bouquet of scents. Under the apple trees lay a sea of ripe apples, which nobody bothered to pick. Sparrows chirped and chased each other in bushes. These images conjured up in my mind my school days at the beginning of the autumn term when I would happily scuttle the streets with my schoolbag on my shoulders, passing orchards blue with plums and people making jam and brewing slivovitz. I wished I could turn the clock back at that time and stay there forever.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you again.
I looked at the text which you have corrected and I am wondering if I could write:
On same occasions when that horrible sensation came into my thoughts, I would run out of my flat...
I listen to them and their platitudes and was tempted to tell them the truth and see them running away from me like scolded with boiling water.
Every page was permeated with pain.
And in the sentence "The sun was dazzling, its heat vaporizing the soil.." I have meant to say turning it into smoke, because that is what I have observed sometimes, when after the rain the hot sun appears in the sky.