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Hi, my name is Ann. I’m almost six years old and I
am a typical little girl. Well, not quite in fact, and the
story I’m going to tell you will prove it. A love story. I
know, you may say that I am just a little girl. A little girl
who knows nothing about love. A little girl who knows
nothing of beauty, fate, sins or loneliness. Yes, probably
you’re right. Six-year-olds with shiny-fair pigtails usually
know more about dolls’ clothing than about these adult
things. True. But it doesn’t mean that it has to be like
that this time. After all, I don’t think that being an adult
makes you know much more about these things
anyways. And I dare say that I am pretty much right.
And I dare say that you know nothing about what
you’re going to read here, even more so because this is a
true story about bad love.
“You know, Daddy, when I grow up I’m going to
become a writer. This is what I’ve decided. People
become different people, don’t they? I mean, they stay
who they were but what they do is different.”
“But sometimes it is a different walk of life than the
one they dreamed of” said the girl’s father.
“Yes, I know, but sometimes it is exactly what
they’ve dreamed of, isn’t it, Daddy?”
“Mummy says that she wanted to become an engine
driver. She wanted to drive huge locomotives. Almost
as big as the other one.”
“The one from
the book we have
kindergarten,” I explained.
“Mummy didn’t become an engine driver. She didn’t
even become a ticket inspector. She became a typist
instead. And she can also sew clothes for my dolls.”
“Yes, she can. I’ve seen the checked shorts she
sewed for your teddy bear.” said father.
“For Egon,” I specified. “I love when mummy sews,
we can talk then. Once she said: “I am very happy, even
though I am not an engine driver.” “How come?” I
asked – “You don’t do what you wanted to do.” “But I
do.”, she whispered in my ear and winked. “The
locomotive is a noisy machine, a machine difficult to
operate, exactly like the sewing machine. So I do
operate a noisy and complicated machine.” “Maybe,” I
said, without a conviction and added, “I am going to be
a woman writer.” “A fire fighter?” was mummy’s
surprising answer. “You need to know, Daddy, that
mum’s ears are getting worse and worse. It’s probably
because of the noise the sewing machine and the
typewriter make. Sometimes you need to say something
twice before she is able to hear what you said.” “No,
Mummy. A woman writer.” I repeated – “That means a
woman who writes books of stories for children. Like
the one about the locomotive.”
“About the locomotive?” asked mummy with a
smile. “Yes. As far as I know that woman writer was a
man writer and his name was Julian Tuwim. I can’t really
remember.” I admitted a bit embarrassed. “But this
doesn’t stop me from becoming a woman writer.”
I laughed and hugged Mummy. You see, Daddy,
little girls want to become doctors or teachers. Those
brave ones dream of being flight attendants and of
flying planes which can seat as many people as the
strawberries I once ate.
“Strawberries?” he asked
“In grandma’s garden?” my father wanted to know.
”Well, boys, they want to be sheriffs,” I said with
dislike, “firefighters or footballers. They want to play
for very important prizes on very big pitches. So big
that I can’t even imagine how much popcorn people eat
there, and how much coke they drink. Both football
and boys are boring. But if you listen to them long
enough – I added – they may seem interesting.
“I see,” said father after a while.
“I wanted to become a woman writer. And I have
become one. But, you know, Daddy, I think Mum was
right when she said I should become a fighter.”
“Was she? Why?”
“Then I could have fought the shell that was
growing around me.”
“But you didn’t and the shell has grown, is that
As a writer I’m going to make up my stories at night.
Then, I am going to write them and sell the books.
They will have hard, colorful covers. They will wait for
smiling children and their mothers in bookshops, full of
shelves. I don’t know if writers do this but this is what I
am going to do.
“I think that this is exactly what writers do,” said my
“Yes, of course,” he nodded his head and asked,
“why don’t you tell me a story, Ann?”
“About whatever you want,” he answered with a
“All right. Can it be a story about a dreams
“Sounds interesting but you have to choose. It may
as well be about a wizard if you want.”
“It will be about a dream,” I decided after a while.
I pondered for a while on what he just said: “There
is something about it, although I don’t really know
what, as I am still a very little girl. A girl with clear plans
for the future, though. I haven’t learned what love,
hope, fate, beauty or sin is yet but I’ll grow up, won’t
“Of course, Ann,” agreed my father, “your plans are
like a line.”
“The line which Mummy uses to hang the laundry
“Similar,” he nodded, “Though it doesn’t really
matter what kind of line. Life is about choosing. We
follow a line to finally find what we are looking for.
Everyone chooses his or her own way. ”
“I don’t know much about ways,” I admitted, “apart
from the fact that not every one may be as good. But
none of them are bad until we reach their end.”
“It’s good to have someone to march with. We can
draw the line we want to follow but we can’t choose the
people we’ll meet during our trip,” said may father, with
a voice as if it was something very important.
“Right, Daddy, let me start,” I said and after a while
I started my story. “I had a very weird dream. It was a
dream about a story with a surprising ending. As a
writer I wrote it down after I woke up. And now I’m
going to tell you this very story.”
The room was filled with darkness, only a smudge of
moonlight lit up my bed. That was still long before the
morning, Daddy. I think a half an hour maybe. Or even
a half and an hour.
“An hour and a half,” I heard a voice in my head.
I looked at the alarm clock. I thought it had rung
and it was time to get up. Kindergarten time. “Before I
start working as a professional writer I have to learn to
get up on time, don’t I, Daddy? You said so once.” And
this is what kindergarten teaches you. And then the
school. But school is in the very, very distant future, not
before summer holidays, so let’s get back to the alarm
clock. I thought that it had woken me up but it hadn’t,
it only played a trick on me and didn’t ring at all. It was
only a sign on my dreamy way.
“We say ‘an hour and a half’,” I heard again.
Then I understood. I didn’t wake up at all, Daddy, I
was still asleep. I even let the dream last. I just
wondered where the voice in my head came from. Did
the alarm clock speak?
“That’s impossible.” the same voice replied in my
“Who are you?” I asked terrified. I got scared – you
don’t often hear strange voices in your head, sitting in a
dark room especially, when you’re a six year-old girl.
But this time the darkness did not reply. I didn’t
hear any voice. However, I felt that somebody was
looking, no – staring – at me.
He was there, right beside me. Not the voice, of
course, but… a little boy.
“You haven’t seen me for a while, Daddy, so you
don’t know. I’m a big girl now. I’m in the reception
class already. I learn how to read, write and count. It
will help me when I become a professional writer, so
my teacher says. It’s called a good basis.” The boy was
really small. He didn’t say anything, just looked.
“What’s your name?” I was curious.
“I can’t tell you now,” he said slowly and clearly.
“But I promise you that you’ll figure it out yourself.”
“Promise?” I repeated, not sure if unusual night
guests are reliable.
“Promise,” the boy assured me.
“Swear to God,” I demanded coldly. Boys have
always respected me. I’ve always handled them perfectly
well. But this one, instead of doing what I demanded
from him, made a strange gesture. Like a magician, he
moved his hand just in front of my face, from left to
right. In this very moment everything gleamed. Shone.
Then, without asking, he took me by the hand.
“Can you imagine, Daddy? A bit unbecoming, I
reckoned, especially that he was definitely younger than
me. Still, I was so curious I didn’t protest. You know,
Daddy, I had never flown before, maybe apart from
that one time on the carousel, when I almost did.” So,
he just grabbed my hand and I flew. I rose with him and
we flew into the light as if we both were birds.
“I’m scared,” I screamed, terrified.
”There’s no need to be scared,” whispered the boy
after a while, “there’s something very important I want
to show you.”
“But I can’t fly!” I didn’t stop screaming.
“Yes, you can. You can do everything. You just need
to feel you really want it.”
And I rose with him.
We landed in a big, dark house. In fact the house
itself wasn’t that big but I felt so small there, like never
“Why are we here?” I asked.
“It’s just the beginning.”
“The beginning of what?”
“Let me take you on a trip,” he said, looking into my
“A trip to where?” I wanted to know.
The truth is, I didn’t like it there at all. The place was
stenchy. There were empty bottles all over the place,
and the cigarette smoke stung my eyes. There was an
old stove. People call such stoves tiled stoves. The floor
squeaked under every step. And, in that moment, I
realized that neither mine nor the boy’s feet actually
touched the floor.
“You see,” started the boy in a very solemn voice,
“sometimes it is not the destination of the trip that is
the most important, but the way you take to reach it.”
“Weird words,” I commented.
“Maybe,” he agreed and added quickly, “or maybe
you just think so.”
“Why do you think so?” I asked
“Because…,” a moment of hesitation, “because it’s
your trip, not mine. Look,” he drew my attention to the
inside of the house.
There were people. Their feet touched that dirty
floor. They looked familiar but I couldn’t make out
where I could have met them before. That was a
strange feeling – I saw people but at the same time they
looked as if they’d just escaped from some old time,
“What else can you see?” the boy asked.
“A drunkard at the table.”
“Drunkard? How do you know he’s a drunkard?”
“I don’t know but he looks like a drunkard. He’s
pouring vodka and he’s crying. And the girl is playing
with an empty bottle. ”
“She looks just like me. I wouldn’t say she’s older
than six, and I’m sure she hasn’t started school yet.
What’s your name? ” I asked her with a smile.
“My name’s Amnesia. And yours?”
I looked at her and then at the boy and his warm,
blue eyes. It struck me that he got sad. His face was not
so bright and his eyes not so sparkling as at the
beginning of our trip. “I can’t explain it, Daddy, but I
somehow knew that he let me play with that girl,
though he didn’t utter a word.”
“Strange name,” I sat next to her on the floor.
“What’s its origin?”
“I don’t remember,” she said, still playing with a
I hoped to make friends with her, so I tried to keep
the conversation going, “you’re playing with a bottle.
What’s the game called?”
“Love? I don’t know this game. How do you play
“Don’t you know?” she asked.
I realized that I didn’t really know. In that moment
I got a sudden shiver down my spine. The boy did it
again, he looked at me with those blue eyes and I heard
the same whispering voice, although his lips didn’t
move at all. “Yes, you do know. Trust me.” The girl
kept playing oblivious to our ‘conversation’.
“I’m hungry,” she said changing the subject. “I
haven’t eaten for so long.”
The man at the table didn’t react to the girl’s words.
He downed another glass, and looking at the girl,
started to cry. Teardrops, massive and colorless, went
down his face.
“Why did he cry, Ann?” I heard my father’s voice.
“I’m not sure. I think that he lied to someone.”
“How do you know that?”
“I heard him sob: ‘I lost my way to you. I got lost
and I don’t know where to go to find you.’”
“Sir!” I tried to catch his attention. I couldn’t
understand how he possibly didn’t notice the girl. She
was wearing a pink dress! “Sir!” I repeated louder but he
didn’t hear me. He was still sobbing.
”I search for you, whether you want it or not. I
search for you whether I want it or not. This is my
“Who is he speaking to?” I asked the boy but he
didn’t reply. He disappeared. This was as sudden as was
his appearance some time earlier. And the girl
disappeared too. I was left alone. I felt so immensely
alone that I didn’t know what to do with myself. There
was only me and the crying man with hollow cheeks,
sitting at the table covered with a plastic tablecloth,
drinking vodka and looking blankly in front of him. But
he didn’t see me. I don’t think he saw anything around
him apart from his bottle and his glass. He was like a
blind man led by a dog.
“You’ve been in my heart, deep down on the rock
bottom, ever since I saw you for the first time,” he kept
sobbing. “Only sometimes do you come close to the
surface to remind me of you- like today. Still, I keep
searching for you. Where are you?” he cried knowing
well that the answer would not come. “I’m so scared
that I won’t find you, that I won’t find the real you!”
I grew sad. I felt so sorry for him. He was drunk, so
what? He was miserable. I stood there looking at him
and wondered, Daddy, did he want to find this girl who
had played by his feet or did he search for someone
I felt the boy’s blue eyes on me again. And I felt so
warm, Daddy. No, in fact, I felt hot and stuffy.
Suddenly, I understood why – the whole place, the
room where the man was drinking vodka and the girl
who was sitting on the floor, was on fire.
“We’ve got to run away!” I shouted to the boy and
started to run, although I didn’t know where to run to
escape the place. In that moment, the boy took my
hand and again, without moving his lips, he pointed at
the door and said:
I followed his eyes and saw two doors. “Which
one?” I asked. I ran to the door on the left and lifted
the handle but the door was closed. Quickly, to save
time, Daddy, I ran to the second door, and sighed with
relief – the door creaked open.
“It’s your fault,” I heard when I took the first step
Behind the door, deep inside, in the world beyond
the fire, stood the same drunkard. But now he was all
ablaze. His hair, his shoulders, his clothes – he was all in
red and blue flames. The door frame and all the
windows in the house were on fire. The thick plaits of
smoke hovered beneath the ceiling in the corridor.
“Me?” I shouted terrified, “What have I done?”
“You chose the wrong door,” he said.
I turned around. The floor, the walls and even the
ceiling, were burning.
“I was so scared, Daddy.”
“What were you scared of, Ann?”
“That it will hurt.”
“Life hurts, but we’re not scared of the pain. What
we are scared of is the fear of this pain.”
“Maybe you’re right, Daddy. Fortunately, it didn’t
hurt at all. And then I saw him behind the wall of
“Yes, he was standing behind a huge flame. My little
friend, with a shiny key on a green string, hanging on
his neck. The key glittered on the boy’s chest. He stood
there with these sad eyes, as the fire raged between us.”
“It is your fault, this fire,” I heard the same voice
“It’s not true!” I protested. I was so scared but I
decided to get the key. And I decided not to cry,
although it seemed to be the most reasonable thing to
do, except for picking up the key, of course. “Without it
I won’t be able to escape from here,” I thought. I was
terrified. I took a step in the boy’s direction but the
flames between us grew higher. When I took another
step he was completely behind the fire.
“I can’t,” it flashed through my mind, “I can’t. I’m
just a little girl.”
“You won’t know if you don’t try,” struck me a
thought, from my friend’s head.
I gritted my teeth. I knew I had to do this. I jumped
into the fire to tear the key off the string around his
neck. The key was cold. The tight string snapped. I held
the key in my hand and everything around me got red. I
could smell burnt feathers. The same odour I smelled
when I visited my grandma at the village.
“Did your hair catch on fire?”
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