He heard the alarm, turned it off and was still immersed in the warmth of the blankets, the cold had begun to knock on the doors. Today it was his turn to go and collect wood on the top of the mountain, and the older sister would take the sheep and the cow to graze. She had woken up full of thoughts, the shouts of the head of the brigade from the previous day echoed in her ears.
He was chief brigadier of the cooperative where Marie had worked for two years, and bad rumors were circulating about him. While he was unloading the weight of the harvested onions that he had inside the basket on his back, he had come closer and touched her breast. The first thought that came to Marie was to watch that no one was around them, and then she turned around and slapped him. - But how dare you ugly spinster? - He had screamed Leke, don't pretend that you don't like him and that nobody has ever touched you before, otherwise at your age, someone would have already married you, this slap will cost you dearly. He immobilized her against the warehouse wall, in a corner where not a single thread of light filtered through and began to kiss and touch her. At that moment, one of the girls who worked with her arrived, to help her unload the weight she was carrying on her back. Thus, Leke had to leave her and walk away for the weighing of the onions that the other woman had collected.
- "Marie get up, you'll be late, you risk going home when it's already dark, and today you're alone, Vera's mother told me she won't come with you to collect wood because she has a fever. "Her sister's voice was bothering her, even more than the voice of the sergeant the day before. It was his fault that at twenty-two Marie was still a "spinster". They were seven sisters, they were all married except Drita and her. Drita was four years older. At the age of seventeen he had had some marriage requests, but the parents had not accepted anyone, not because the suitors had not been up to par, but because they had no other child at home, apart from her and Marie, who help with the cattle, to work the land and go and collect wood and hay. Moreover Drita had no dowry, she could not embroider, she was not beautiful and she did not even have a physique that characterized her particularly.
At the end of Drita's nineteen years, the eyes of the pretenders rested on Marie, who was growing like a flower, blue eyes like the sea, wheat-colored hair and a shiny white skin. Marie had everything, in addition to her youth, but only one "curse", the curse of the law of the mountains: she could not have married before her elder sister. - Marie, get up, damn, that the devil can enter your body, his sister continued, cursing. The blasphemies, for Drita, had become an outlet for his anger, for never having been accepted as a woman, but only as a "machine" for work.
Marie tried to indulge her sister's screams, put her trousers on her skirt and two wool sweaters, went down to the barn to get the rope to tie the wood and greet her favorite sheep as she did every morning before going to work. He went back into the house and took his bag where the night before he had made the bread, an onion cut in half with a little salt and "turshi" (green tomatoes in salt). That would have been his lunch, then he stopped again at the torrent of the town where he filled a flask with icy water and then took the steep and treacherous path.
The sun had already set its rays on the jagged edges of the mountain, and Marie felt better thinking that she would not have suffered so much from the cold, although she would have found a slippery and crystalline carpet of frost up there. She had decided not to run as she always did, not because of the dangerous road, but because she happened to be alone in her thoughts a few times.
On the way he thought again of the brigadier; he was a handsome boy, a graduate, but by no means serious, plus they were relatives of seventh grade. He could not even dream of it, he knew very well that the law of the mountains forbade marriages up to the ninth degree of kinship, and also with people of the village, and furthermore they were supposed to have a blood bond, and therefore conceived children were born with serious problems of health. He remembered his married sisters, who lived more distant than the other, who joined their families only on some special occasion, such as for a wedding or a funeral.
Lately, more and more he felt empty inside and without a desire to live. Thus, immersed in her thoughts, she did not even notice that she had arrived in the woods, half bare from the leaves. Her cheeks had reddened because of the sun and the cold. No more than half an hour had passed when he heard footsteps approaching her. He didn't notice immediately, since on Saturday even others went to collect wood, but then he realized that Leke's steps were in his heart and he felt a bad feeling in his heart. ........................................................................................................................ ..
The bus stopped at the station was filling up little by little. Marie waited on the sidewalk without the desire to climb it. He had the feeling that the journey would be without return. He looked at people already on the bus and it seemed to him that part of them was as if they had not yet got out of bed, someone had also brought blankets. It was four in the morning. At that time there was still no suffocating summer heat in June. Marie, with tears in her eyes, looked at her mother again, but her eyes came across two icy eyes ... she was still, with that hardness in her heart that characterized her, not even a tear, or a sign of mercy on her face.
He had to go up, otherwise he risked being left without a seat until Tropoje. He greeted his sister first. "Goodbye Drita, I don't know if we'll see you again." The sister held her in his arms, drying her tears and then he said to her; " What are you saying? Of course we'll see each other again. And don't forget it, despite all that has happened I will always love you ".
In truth his sister loved her, in his way, but he had also added "despite what happened" That word stuck in her heart like an arrow. At that moment her mother's harsh voice came to her ears, like a scream. "Enough, now get on that bus." He turned to her to hug her, but his hands remained suspended in the air. She had already turned her back on her. A light summer rain was falling. Maria looked up at the sky, so that the tears that had reached her mouth, mixing with the rain, would have seemed sweeter to her. She needed caresses and those raindrops would lighten the weight of her infinite pain. But on that journey, he would also carry the weight of the conscience of his family members.
He had asked his mother for forgiveness thousands of times, without understanding why. And she had not forgiven her. He had told her to ask God for forgiveness. Mary would not ask God for forgiveness for a sin, a sin she had not committed. The creature he was carrying was not his sin ... but it was the result of the violence he had suffered that day, from Leke.
He took his place on the bus next to a young woman with her baby in her arms. He turned to the window to greet his mother and sister for the last time, but of them, one could see only their silhouette in the distance. He felt a strong pain in his belly so much that he curled up on himself, and cried with despair in his heart, suffocating his screams at the back of his throat. He narrowed his eyes trying to imagine his future, but he broke off ... like the worn film of a movie. Suddenly her friends came to mind, when they gathered after work in the cooperative to have lunch together, their smiles and life-filled voices, their fantasies, the ladybirds when they climbed on the arm, with the custom of asking "Ladybug, ladybug how far away from home will be my bride's fate?" If the ladybug walked long on her arm, the fate of their married life would be very far from their childhood home. The ladybug on Marie's arm did not walk long and did not even fly, but fell to the ground. And Marie added "girls my destiny will be just underground". Not even on this journey, with his creature in the womb, could he see his future. He remembered the moments of the violence suffered. He had thought well not to fight against such a furious person, who seemed wounded in his pride after the rejection of her the day before. He had seen so much blood around her, he had felt so much pain and he had seen a dream go out forever. That of not being able to marry one day. Marriage was important to them, it was the bond to give new life. It didn't matter that he should have married a person chosen by his parents or relatives. In the end, in that remote place of the mountain nobody knew that love existed. He felt himself suffocating and opened the window of the bus, he felt the acrid smell of burning tires mixed with dust and rain reach his nostrils. Ahhh, how she liked to smell the earth.
She lost herself again in her memories ... in that damn day when she had gone up by herself to collect the wood. Why did that have to be his destiny? What had he done wrong to deserve punishment like this? From the day he discovered he was expecting a child, he had clenched his belly with a large band to forbid its growth, he had tried to jump off that mountain hill ... into the river that flowed. But he hadn't made it. The creature within her had been stronger than her mother's hardness. She had survived every torture. He remembered when, in the eighth month, he had told everything to his mother, who hadn't noticed anything. She had cursed her with all her heart, for a fault that Marie had not committed.
Now he was going to give birth away from home, away from the curses and condemnations of the country. He went to an aunt of his mother. Mary hoped so much that the creature she was carrying was a female, although in her country it was said that females are a disgrace. But she wanted to revive in her child, she knew that once she gave birth she would leave him in her cousin's hands ...
During the birth she had turned to God with all the strength she had left, asking him for an exchange of life. A life of "sinner" with a pure one. God heard his prayers. He gave birth to a little girl, with wheat-colored hair and blue eyes like her mother ... but as soon as it came to light, she closed forever those of Maria, who died during childbirth. At birth, the child was adopted by her cousin who had other children.
That child is now thirty. His name is Klara.