Student or Learner
Would you please correct my mistakes in the seventh part of my short story?
The days became warmer and longer and the barbecue season arrived. Hannah and Thorsten’s grill usually stood inside the shed, gathering rust. Being a hard-working couple, they could not afford sitting around a grill for hours, and then have all the trouble with cleaning before and after cooking. They preferred visits to restaurants, where they could wind down and enjoy their food without thinking of scrubbing and wiping. But their next door neighbours apparently had other preference. One day, a large, round, black object was placed in their garden. Soon, the whole family sat around and stared enraptured at Fadil, whose deft hands were turning slabs of meat over the charcoal.
Hannah, sitting at the table in her room, was not so delighted. She had to stop working again. Her irritation with her neighbours had become ludicrous, but she couldn’t help herself. People were grilling all over the country, all over the continent in this time of the year. Why should Fadil and his family be different? They had spoken loudly all their lives; why should they change their behaviour now? They probably did not know that the smell was spreading through her house and its porous walls, and that the crawl-space vents in her house stood wide open.
She grabbed her computer and went to the kitchen, where Thorsten found her when he came in to drink water. She told him what was going on in the neighbouring garden. He sipped the water and chortled. “Maybe we should take outside our own grill and make them smell our barbecue. We could have some pork and bacon as a starter.” He guffawed.
“I’m in no mood for jokes. I’m trying to write an editorial for the tomorrow paper and can’t concentrate because of the next door’s barbecue. Isn’t that awful?” She gave him an icy stare as he stood above her glancing at the empty screen.
He put his hands on her shoulders, massaged them, and kissed her hair. “You’ll be all right. They’ll get tired of grilling. Sooner or later they’ll prefer to stay indoors.” He went back to the living room and his favourite pastime, watching a football game on TV.
Hannah toiled over her text for hours, but the words trickled slowly onto the screen. She sneaked into her room repeatedly to see what was going on in the neighbouring garden, but every time her disappointment and frustration only grew. Her room reeked of burning coal and grilled meat. She wished to open the window wide and air it, but that was impossible while Fadil and his family were still in the garden. They ate with fingers, shoving large pieces of meat and bread into their mouths, and they wiped their mouths on the back of their hands, while all the time talking and shouting to each other. They had no manners at all, she thought. They would never acclimatise themselves to this country.
Not until the evening could she return to her room. She opened the window wide and let the cold air fill her lungs. It relieved her anger. Her day was ruined. She had to write her article from scratch, long into the night, while her neighbours would sleep soundly and peacefully. She was exhausted and drained of energy, as if some evil powers had concocted a plan to destroy her life
Two days later, there was another barbecue, and soon another one. There was a succession of barbecues, which prompted Hannah to all kinds of thoughts and speculations. How long could they afford such parties? Would they never tire of meat and smoke? What was going to happen in winter when -15C kept everyone inside? Thorsten told her that maybe Fadil and his wife had grown up in the desert with their families travelling during the day and erecting tents in the afternoon. And when everyone sat around, and the sun was sinking behind the dunes, it was natural to end the day with a barbecue and a strong, spicy tea. Maybe that had become a ritual, which they would never get rid of, something like heavy drinking at the weekends, which the majority of Swedes indulged in.
When August rolled around, and the heavy rains began to fall, Hannah hoped her neighbours would finally put their grill inside their house. But when she came into her room one rainy afternoon, she almost fainted with distress. A large, multicoloured parasol was placed in the neighbouring garden, and under it, huddled Fadil and his family. The grilling was in full swing, and they did not bother that the drops of rain pelted the polyester fabric above and splatted against the ground. Their guttural voices rose over the rain and gave her a headache. Part of her cursed her bad luck, and another part told her she was oversensitive. Her neighbours did nothing offensive. They had a full right to do what they pleased on their own property, as long as they obeyed the law. What she could complain about? Barbecue? The police would tell her it was better the Arabs were grilling than making bombs and plotting terror attacks. Everyone would laugh at her. She told herself she had to learn to ignore them and instead focus on her own work and her ideals.
As weeks went by, her good mood waned. On a few occasions, she said hello to Fadil and his wife, and was on the verge of telling them how she felt disturbed because of their barbecues, but every time her courage failed her. She wished she were an Italian or a Spanish woman. She read about them and saw them on TV. They were never afraid of conflict. When the discussions did not help, they even beat up their husbands and boyfriends to prove their point. Every time Hannah opened her mouth and wanted to speak to her neighbours, her throat constricted, and her face turned crimson. She saw a high wall rising before her, and she cowered back to avoid embarrassment.
TO BE CONTINUED