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    #1

    On the run, part three

    Would you please correct the mistakes in the third part of my short story.

    We ate breakfast without talking much. The portable radio on the table droned on about growing economy. Outside in the street children were romping and playing. My father was chewing food with his badly fitted dentures, and I thought that one day if I ever got a residence permit in Germany, I was going to invite him to visit me and buy him a new pair.
    In November every year, we distilled our own slivovitz, and now watching the bare branches swaying in the wind, I had again a pang of conscience.
    “Who is going to help you with distillation?”
    “I’ll manage somehow. I’ll ask Bogdan or some of our neighbours. (Bogdan was my father’s best friend. They had spent more than 25 years working together in the same construction company before my father had to retire because of his bad heart).
    “Did you tell him about my plan?”
    “How could I? He’ll get terribly angry. He told me many times you would be a bigwig, an engineer or manager in a large company. Should I have told him you had chosen the life of a refugee?”

    After the lunch, I packed my suitcase. I did not want to carry much with me, just a few shirts, t-shirts, underpants, a pair of trousers and pyjamas. Of all my books, I took only the German dictionary. I did not care if I was going to be hungry on my journey and packed just a half loaf of bread and a wedge of cheese. I wanted to travel lightly, like a bird flying towards freedom. I sat in a living room looking at the brown suitcase while butterflies rampaged in my stomach. For the first time in months, doubts arose in my mind. You’re a coward, I told myself. You’re running away like a chicken instead of staying put and fighting the dictatorship. This is your homeland and your home. What are you going to do if you don’t like Germany or if they don’t give you a residence permit? Then another voice chimed in, You can’t give up now. You are a brave and honest man. You’ll never be conformist as the others. If you do not leave, you’ll wither away like a plant without light.

    My father shuffled out of the bedroom holding a white envelope in his knotted hand. He gave it to me and said, “I wish I could give you more, but I have to pay the bills.” I opened the envelope and counted the money. There were a few hundred dinars and three hundred German marks.
    “Thank you Father,” I said and gave him a hug.
    He stood in the hall leaning against the doorjamb and watched me as I put my jacket on and did my hair.
    “Son,” his voice was tired, “promise me you’ll never mix with the political emigration. Our secret police have their spies everywhere, in every country and every place where immigrants go. They have no compunction about killing their enemies.”
    “Don’t worry, Father, I am not interested in politics.”
    He seemed to be reassured by my words and his face brightened. We gave each other a long hug, and I breathed in the familiar scent of sweat on his forehead. His sweat always smelled nice, even when he was doing manual work. I wished to tell him we were going to see each other soon in Germany, but the pain inside me was too strong, and I felt tears beginning to form.
    “Good luck,” he said before I stepped outside into the grey overcast afternoon. I did not dare to turn my head and hurried down the road carrying my suitcase. I was afraid that some of my neighbours would be sitting in their gardens, and they would stop me and ask me where I was going. But gardens and orchards were empty, wrapped in blankets of brown and yellow and smelled of fallen leaves and wet soil.
    TO BE CONTINUED

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      • Chinese
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      • Malaysia
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    #2

    Re: On the run, part three

    We ate breakfast without talking much. The portable radio on the table droned on about the growing economy. Outside in the street, children were romping and playing. My father was chewing food with his badly fitted dentures, and I thought that one day, if I ever got a residence permit in Germany, I was going to would invite him to visit me and buy him a new pair.
    In November every year, we distilled our own slivovitz, and now, watching the bare branches swaying in the wind, I had again a pang of conscience.
    “Who is going to help you with distillation?”
    “I’ll manage somehow. I’ll ask Bogdan or some of our neighbours. (Bogdan was my father’s best friend. They had had spent more than 25 years working together in the same construction company before my father had to retire because of his bad heart).
    “Did you tell him about my plan?”
    “How could I? He’ll get terribly angry. He told me many times you would be a bigwig, an engineer or manager in a large company. Should I have told him you had chosen the life of a refugee?”

    After the lunch, I packed my suitcase. I did not want to carry much with me, just a few shirts, t-shirts, underpants, a pair of trousers and pyjamas. Of all my books, I took only the German dictionary. I did not care if I was going to be hungry on my journey and packed just a half loaf of bread and a wedge of cheese. I wanted to travel lightly, like a bird flying towards freedom. I sat in a living room looking at the brown suitcase while butterflies rampaged in my stomach. For the first time in months, doubts arose in my mind. "You’re a coward", I told myself. "You’re running away like a chicken instead of staying put and fighting the dictatorship. This is your homeland and your home. What are you going to do if you don’t like Germany or if they don’t give you a residence permit?" Then another voice chimed in, "You can’t give up now. You are a brave and honest man. You’ll never be a conformist as the others. If you do not leave, you’ll wither away like a plant without light."

    My father shuffled out of the bedroom holding a white envelope in his knotted hand. He gave it to me and said, “I wish I could give you more, but I have to pay the bills.” I opened the envelope and counted the money. There were a few hundred dinars and three hundred German marks.
    “Thank you Father,” I said and gave him a hug.
    He stood in the hall leaning against the door jamb and watched me as I put my jacket on and did my hair.
    “Son,” his voice was tired, “promise me you’ll never mix with the political emigration. Our secret police have their spies everywhere, in every country and every place where immigrants go. They have no compunction about killing their enemies.”
    “Don’t worry, Father, I am not interested in politics.”
    He seemed to be reassured by my words and his face brightened. We gave each other a long hug, and I breathed in the familiar scent of sweat on his forehead. His sweat always smelled nice, even when he was doing manual work. I wished to tell him we were going to see each other soon in Germany, but the pain inside me was too strong, and I felt tears beginning to form.
    “Good luck,” he said before I stepped outside into the grey overcast afternoon. I did not dare to turn my head and hurried down the road carrying my suitcase. I was afraid that some of my neighbours would be sitting in their gardens, and they would stop me and ask me where I was going. But gardens and orchards were empty, wrapped in blankets of brown and yellow and smelled of fallen leaves and wet soil.
    I am not a teacher.

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