By Paul Levy
(Lights up on Davo. He stands in an old house, which is piled with boxes full of junk. Dust and cobwebs everywhere. He is speaking on a mobile phone. He wears a smart suit, hair slicked back)
Davo: Hallo? Yuh. Yuh. Sure. Well, tell him to be more patient next time. OK. OK. What? No, there’s nothing here. Maybe. Maybe a hundred thousand D-Mark for the building. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. Eh ? No, just a lot of junk, and old papers. And the village is a graveyard. No shop. No bar, no café. Just a cemetery. And a church. Another bloody church. OK. OK. Bye, Alesh.
(Puts phone down. Looks at a few of the boxes and crates. Leans against one which falls spilling out three pieces of paper. Curious, he picks up the first one and begins to read it out loud, squinting at the faded writing)
“Dear Papa. I am writing this letter to you on real paper from a proper box of letters and envelopes and ribbons, which we were given by the mistress today in class. She said that we should practice how to write a letter, a proper letter. You must put the address at the top of the page on the right – even though you know I know our address, I did it because we had to show we could do it. I even put the name of the town and the number like they do on the official Party letters that you and mama sometimes get. Then I put the date, with the day and the month sand the year – the fifth of the seventh – 1-9-1-9. Then I write ‘Dear Papa’ though you really should write ‘Dear Mr. or Master So and So’, but you are my own dear papa and not a dear So and So, so I decided not to do that, even though the mistress told me off for it. And then I started the letter which you are reading now, which I especially for you, my dear, dear papa. Though I really do not mind too much if you want to show it to anyone else. I want you to know that you and mama are the dearest people in the world to me – and Nana Neda. I have written the words as big as I could so that Nana can see them easily to read.
“Today we played catch across the Lannica up by the rock pool and Joanna nearly fell in again. And Nina says she saw a bear, but no one believed her. My pencil just broke. I will have to (he struggles to read the next two words) sharpen it. There. The mistress says I cannot use a proper ink pen, until I learn to use my right hand. But I can’t. just can’t, papa.
“I shall say goodbye now and see you later today. Are you reading this up on the roof with Eduardo? Did the fire really take all of the tiles ? Leonora says he papa says that the fire will make the earth better for growing things. If you are reading this on the roof, please do not fall off and hurt yourself. Mama would be very angry. I will bring your tobacco. I didn’t forget. Now I must write ‘fatefully yours, Lydia Duhonik.’ And, though I shouldn’t, I will write three kisses because the mistress has already inspected the letter and I am about to put it in the envelope. X.X.X.”
(He puts the letter down and takes another. As he is about to read it, the phone rings)
Hallo ? Yuh. No, Marko. Not until Wednesday. If I go tomorrow I will have to change at Zurich. You know how much I hate Zurich. SO it will have to be Wednesday. Of course, club class. Yuh ? Yuh ? Well, you tell him to either get out or get on with it. Yuh. OK. Bye.
(He puts phone down and reads the second letter, the paper is extremely ragged)
“October 1941. Dear Peter. I am sitting with my back to our birch tree – our chosen – which still shows your carving of the eagle, though you can hardly see it now. I am not good at writing letters. I will probably write this again before I send it. I will give it to Roberto and he swore on his mother’s soul he would carry my letter to you. Are you with the Communists again ? Or did you follow the gypsy boys through the pass and the Jew, Bernstein, our dear old Fox, Bernstein, known to his friends as ‘Smith’, to bury the guns? Are you safe and well, my love ? The red stain on the bottom of this paper is not lipstick. It is blood. My blood as a token of our bond. I miss you. I miss your warmth and you smell. The last nights have been so cold and we have only enough wood for the meal. The coffee is rotten and the bread is blue green again. But today we had a good broth from Mother Alenka. She is our true saint.
“I can see the north star and I know that , if you look up, you can see it too. So, by that star, we are together tonight. I want to touch you where you like it most. Come back to me soon, my love. Be safe for both of us. No more of your stupid risks with your angry temper!
“Stefan caught a huge Salmon with his bare hands and got painful chilblains as a reward. He loves the fire more than the river, and now his fingers are red raw, swollen like the Lannica in Spring. You are my blond bear, so bring yourself back to me soon. Say alive, my love. Stay alive. I kiss you everywhere and always. Your Suzanna. P.S. I will eat you when I see you.”
(He puts down the letter and, again, the phone rings as he picks up the third and is about to read it.)
Hallo? Hi, baby. Yes. It’s a bit weird. No, just a lot of boxes and I’ve found some…
(regards the letter)
…some things, some interesting things. You know, family heirlooms, letters. No, I’m sure it’s worthless. Yes, OK. I’ll meet you back at the hotel, in a couple of hours. Say, four o’clock. Yes, OK, baby. Bye.
(puts down phone and reads letter)
“Dear Maria. Everything lies at your feet. It is all possible. Do not let any fool tell you that something is not possible. If you want to love them all, then do it. Love them all. If you choose just one, then love him. Love him with a fire that could burn a village. I know you feel you need to make a choice. One is nice, he is handsome and has firm shoulders. One is small, but dark and moody. One has charm that works like a spell on you. Listen: let your decision flow like a river. Do not dam up your dreams. Never that.”
(the phone rings distracting Davo. He looks at the phone, agonizing over whether to answer but finally decides to switch it off before continuing to read)
“Remember, it is all possible. It all floats in the air before it finally comes to rest at your feet. Let it float. But sometime you will have to make a decision. One way or the other, all or everything. In the end your destiny will bring you crashing to earth like a dragon ready to nest. My Aunt Lydia told me our family has dragon’s blood in them. Make a decision. I will visit you again. Your Aunt. Suzanna. Lahore, 1964.”
(He picks up the other two letters, looking at all three of them. He looks at the rest of the boxes, the rest of the room. He suddenly makes a decision. He folds the letters and puts them in his pocket and walks towards the nearest crate, taking out his mobile phone and dialing a number)
Hallo ? Is that you, Gregor? Yuh, it’s Duhonik. Listen, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided not to sell. At least, not yet. And there are some things here, some crates belonging to the family. Some old furniture. I want you to arrange transport for them back to the States. Can you sort it ? Yuh, before I leave. Wednesday. Good. Thanks. OK. Bye.
(Davo puts the phone away and looks again at the nearest crate. He starts to pull things out of it, , a mirror, a wig, a candlestick, looking interestedly at each of them, as lights fade)
(c)2012 Paul Levy