One life, short story

One life

by Heliana Stoichkova

A gipsy once told him that he will die at the age of fifty seven, on his birthday and that prophesy caused a lot of trouble. Ever since, he was wondering down the roads begging for a piece of bread to make the living. There were times he barely ate. He felt closer to life than ever and considered faith a word others were just playing with. For faith was way above anything they had known.
But the life of a wonderer often made him believe. Believe in the freedom that forth seen end gave him. Time helped in learning how to accept those complicated feelings. When, at last, the moment came he was ready.
He woke up, unwrapped himself out of the shabby sack, neared his fellow beggar, kicked him and as he saw the dirty face said:
- Well, I’m leaving.
- Man, what in hell do you want!
- I’m on my way. Swell! – And he slowly went down the street. He had to beg. Even if it was his last day it was no different than any other. He wanted to feel fed and full when they meet. And had no idea how it was going to happen.
The day was quite frosty although the winter was just beginning. A few centimeters of soggy snow made walking around hard and dangerous. He begged standing on the sidewalk with his hand forward. A few people dropped coins there, just enough for bread and coffee. That was his luxury. A matinee coffee was like a gift from god. He bought half bread and sat in the garden in front of the shop. He drunk his coffee, ate the bread and started off wondering the streets. He wanted to find her himself. He was ready to follow her and considered this end rather reasonable and normal. Life never gave him more than what others took, but let him live isolated without a belonging to society. Nobody needed him and he knew it.
The hours were rolling away very fast and he was sure it’s going to happen. He looked around searching for it. At the late afternoon he begged for a few coins more and took something to eat. Drunk another coffee and searched his pockets. He had only five cents. “Was that worth living for? – he asked himself - Did life do it better for me? It has leveled me down with a street dog! I am to beg, to envy and desire things that don’t belong to me? I didn’t keep a drop of humaneness. What is it that I deserve?” The words of the gipsy were all the time on his mind and he wanted it to happen sooner.
At dusk he started of for the graveyard. He decided to do it at his will. He opened the gate, looked around and entered. There was a spade propped up against the wall of the church and he took it. He walked by the graves and saw a few old women staring at him with a strange look. They yelled at him for they thought he was a burglar. He hid behind a memorial stone and waited until they left. He was startled by the thought he looked like a thief. Was that what he looked like? A sudden sense of lack of reason appeared. So many years were missing at that day of height sensitivity that he felt so much alone…
He searched for it more than an hour. At the end he found an unfinished row and started digging. The air was getting more and more freezing, but he felt it not being so obsessed with the thought… He felt necessity to do it. Dug more intently and small drops of sweat fell from his forehead. His soul was burning. The thought of what he has become was tormenting him so horribly and he was so tired of this misery and poorness that wanted to end the suffering. That friend of his, long expected, was going to come and it was happening tonight.
The wind started whistling behind him and gave him a chilling feel of fear and horror. The closer she was the worst he felt.
When he stopped digging he leaned on the spade. Everything was ready. He sat in the hole in the ground and remembered he had a smoke somewhere hidden in his jacket, pulled it out, lit it and silently enjoyed.
It got very cold. He put out the smoke and gathered some soil under his head as he leaned on the ground. He began remembering. They said one can see all his life in front of his eyes when dying. He remembered some of it – the moments of hope, the first woman. – A thin smile crawled over his freezing lips. He still remembered the years when he felt strong and capable of achieving things, the time when nothing could stand unsolved. He remembered that kid he abandoned some twenty five years ago and tried to imagine what it looks like now. Probably has grown to be a strong and handsome man. And probably it was for the best they didn’t know each other. He never called that kid, never gave it even a slight sign of existence. As a matter of fact he didn’t really exist during those years. He died a long time ago.
Gradually the sleep was pulling him away. His body had frozen and any movement now seamed too hard. He felt a desperate chill run trough his veins. As slowly as a disease eating the flesh on the inside all hope had dried and it was time to go. He closed his eyes for he needed no more the stars. No more the open sky was his home and he waited, just waited for her.
The sleep was taking over his mind as a thought stroke him as a blade. That was it. – One life! My life… - his breath slowed down as he was going somewhere far, far away. Soon all was going to be over. He whispered trough the freezing lips for the last time the one phrase that brought him here. The phrase that kept him alive all these years, kept him moving to reach his destiny. New convulsion restlessly shake his corps as tears began rolling down his face, torn out of bitterness and sorrow. The last words flew over the graveyard, echoed at the stone texture of the memorials and disappeared in the dark. “One life – sang the wind over his self dug grave – flew away…”