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    #1

    The Seminar , part three

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

    The pub was our favourite during my stay in Sweden. We went there together with our fellow students a few times a week. We would lose ourselves in the smells of alcohol, grilled meat, coffee and perfumes, in the sounds of music, loud voices, laughing, cheering and glass clinking. We were regulars and everyone knew everyone. It was our second home to which we returned frequently, even if it cost us fortune. Ten years later, the interior did not change at all: the same dark-brown wooden panelling and the same round, brown tables and chairs. The only visible difference was a LCD TV over the bar, behind which stood a Lenin lookalike. The pub was sparsely populated, as it was a working day. Filippo sat in a corner slouched over a pint of Guinness, engrossed in thoughts. He did not notice me until I came close to the table. His pensive face broke into a bright smile. We hugged each other, and I smelled the aftershave on his clean-shaven olive skin. He was a handsome man with curly hair which reached his shoulders.

    “I should have listened to you,” he said.
    “You were blind with love,” I said. “You didn’t see many blondes in Italy, and suddenly there were hundreds of them around you. The temptation was too strong.”
    “I was naive. I knew nothing about Swedish women. When I kissed Olivia for the first time, I knew I met my future life. We were alike. Sometimes we didn’t need to talk to each other. It was like telepathy. I had forgotten I had a family in Florence, a brother and a sister, and friends who yearned to see me back. I only wished to be close to Oliva, to look into her eyes and hold her body. I was selfish and did not want to see reality. It hit me after our second child, when she told me in a calm voice she wanted a divorce. No emotions, no anger, just information like they tell you on PA, YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED!”
    His voice died away, his dark brows furrowed and his lips tightened. We both drank from our glasses, and I felt the cold thick beer sliding my throat.

    “I begged her not to divorce me for the sake of the children, but she was indifferent, as if I were a stranger she met by chance. An Italian woman would have quarrelled with me, cursed and beat me. This Swedish woman ignored me, which was worse than humiliation. I wanted to move back to Italy, but the feeling of shame was stronger than nostalgia. I decided to stay and take care of my children. They are the most important thing in my life. I want them to know they have a father, and they can ask him for help and advice.”
    “Don’t you want to return to Italy?”
    “Of course I want. When the children grow up, I’ll leave Sweden and probably marry again, but this time it will be an Italian woman.”
    Filippo looked into my eyes, as if searching for verification. I felt for him but did not know what to say for fear of sounding trivial. We sat in silence for a while, slugging our beers until he said, “You’re smart. You left ahead of time and didn’t let yourself get bogged down.”
    “People warned me against marrying here,” I said. “They told me I could end up in tears. At first, I thought they were losers, bitter jilted men, but then I understood they were telling me the truth.”
    “The town is full of them. Africans, Americans, British, Germans, Greeks, Spanish...They should form a club of foreign divorced men,” he said.

    We drank a few more beers and parted before midnight. I walked through the empty streets to my hotel. It was late august and the autumn had already come. The cold wind rustled leaves in the trees and chased them down on the ground. I passed over the bridge where I had stood and kissed Linda on numerous evenings. On its railing, young people had attached dozens of love padlocks as a symbol of their love. They would be cut off in a couple of weeks - their existence probably longer then the romance of many couples who had locked them. The river ran quietly. The streetlights and the lighted windows from the restaurant on the riverbank reflected off the waves. I spread my legs apart and breathed in the fresh air.
    I went in my room around midnight. It was warm and smelled of flowers on the chest of drawers. I had a habit of reading papers on the internet before going to sleep, so I opened my laptop and started looking for the news, when I heard voices of a man and a woman going into the next-door-room. I did not pay attention to them, but soon their voices were pouring through the wall, spoiling my reading. The steady creaking of a bed blended with moaning put me in a bed mood. I was reminded of how thin walls in Swedish buildings were. The words on the screen blurred, and my mind was unable to process any information. I had to wait until the two people on the other side of the wall had satisfied their drives.

    The noise went on for a while, and suddenly there was a silence broken by a woman’s piercing scream. “Help! Help!” I hesitated for a second, not knowing how to react, but I could not ignore my fellow human being in distress. I darted outside and knocked at the next-door-room. The woman opened the door, and I almost fell to my knees with shock. Ms Svensson, her hair tousled, her sweaty naked body under the unfastened bathrobe, gaped at me, and without saying a word, pointed at the bed. In the soft bedside lamplight lay a naked man. At first, I did not recognise him. His grey eyes and his mouth were wide open. As I held his arm to check his pulse, I realised I was holding the body of my Australian colleague, Jim. On the night table lay an open packet of Viagra and an empty condom wrapper. I pressed my fingers deeper against his wrist, hoping to find any sign of life, but his tanned body remained lifeless. My heart pounded, my pulse throbbed in my head. My eyes darted all over the room until a saw his flaccid penis in a deflated condom lying on his thigh. My panic turned into sorrow, and Mamadou’s verses drifted like a desert wind into my mind, “I could have chosen between a woman and eternity. I chose her. That was a mistake.”
    THE END

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Paragraph one. Try:

    The pub was our hangout during our stay in Sweden.

    I don't know if they use "hangout" in British English, but in American English it is perfect there. (You could also say "favorite meeting place" to mean about the same thing.)

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    In the third sentence, substitute "laughter" for "laughing", and in the fourth sentene put a comma after "regulars".

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Say:

    It was our second home to which we returned frequently, even if it cost us a fortune. Ten years later the interior had not changed at all.

  5. Key Member
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    #5

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Tarheel,
    "Hangout" is also used in British English. The problem is I did not remember that word when I was writing my short story.

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    #6

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Say:

    an LCD TV

    And:

    engrossed in thought

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    #7

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Second paragraph. Say:

    "When I kissed Olivia for the first time I knew I had met my future wife."

  8. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Say:

    I had forgetten I had a family in Florence, a brother and a sister, and friends who yearned to see me again.

  9. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    Say:

    I only wished to be close to Olivia, to look into her eyes and hold her close to me.

  10. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: The Seminar , part three

    To touch, to feel, to know you have somebody to love. That is happiness.

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