S C E N A : T h e a t r e ..A r t s ..R e v i e w
Novi Sad, 2006/2007 . ..No. 20 . .January-December . .YU ISSN 0036-5743 .

d r a m a
Translated by Marija STOJANOVIC


Born in 1978 in Kragujevac. In 2002 she graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Dramaturgy Department. Since 2005 (as a DAAD scholarship holder) and has been doing her postgraduate studies in Dramaturgy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Frankfurt, in the class of Hans-Thies Lehmann.
Since 2001 she has worked as a freelance dramaturge at the National Theatre in Belgrade, National Theatre in Maribor, Bitef Theatre, Little Theatre “Dusko Radovic” and the Centre for Cultural Decontamination. During the 2003-04 season she was engaged as a coordinator of the Script Development Contest within the New Playwriting Program NADA at the National Theatre in Belgrade.
Plays: Fausse-attaque, mal parer (2000; produced at the National Theatre in Subotica in 2003, director: Ljuboslav Majera), Milk Tooth of Soil (2002/03), Face of Glass (2005; the opening is planned for autumn 2007 at the Bitef Theatre, director: Anja Susa).
Dramatizations: Life? or Theatre? (National Theatre in Belgrade 2003, director: Gordana Lebovic), Play of Folly (Bitef Theatre 2005, director: Gordana Lebovic), The Little Prince (Little Theatre “Dusko Radovic” 2006, director: Anja Susa).
She is the co-author of the libretto for the chamber opera Mozart…luster…lustig by Irena Popovic (Sava Center, 2006).

Dramaturg’s Note


Genre: thriller
Number of characters: depends on the director’s concept; in my opinion not less than two
Period: any, between 1950-2006 (due to the total design and actuality of the problems characteristic for the second half of the 20th century and later)
Place: restaurant, café in a bigger city

Reading the latest drama by Marija Karaklajic is really exciting. Both as a piece of literature and as the material for an imagined new performance. Writing about it is hard, for it seems that every impression is a matter of personal theatrical, visual, and emotional affinities…
It is very original in structure – somewhere between a poem, a confession, and a fast American movie script. Those associations put together sound like a paradox, but in them lay primarily the uniqueness of Face of Glass. It is, in fact, a poem about identity crises, missed opportunities, guilty feelings, unmerciful fate, and human frailty. In its theme, it is the most actual weltschmerz, the one from the asphalt, because of which thousands of people commit suicide every day all around the world, seek happiness through virtual partners on the internet; mental institutions are full of chronic/manic depressive patients, the drug market flourishes and is able to sustain just on the antidepressants trade, babies often begin their lives left at the monster city dumpsters, drug dealers are today’s Messiahs.
Marija Kraklajic puts her heroes into that very world in which we all live, only quietly and unpretentiously. We recognize that darkness from a distance; it is not talked about here, it only gives an aroma and situates that “ordinary moment of life” into an engaged contemporary moment.
It is exciting how the author changes the angle of narration, holding it all the time, playing with repetitions, amazingly tense. The narrator changes the facts, after every event they fit on differently. Along with an impressive rhythm that she establishes, she also makes a Rashomonean whirlpool – nowhere is it written what is the TRUTH and who is RIGHT. As if, somewhere between the lines, we are told: even being the servants of our destiny, we create our own history by ourselves!
A very successful experiment with the narration rhythm makes this drama, I believe, a most contemporary example of domestic dramaturgy. She lends musicality to her future plays; the same musicality that Jim Jarmusch, Darren Aronofsky (with the movie Pi) and Chris Nolan (with Memento) have already established in the most impressive way in movies with their directing and editing techniques.
So, the plot: a young woman sits with her young son in a diner. She drinks her coffee, he runs about, and all is harmonious. And then, “out of the blue”, everything stops and the questions emerge. I especially recommend the monologue in the Glass Face, which is some sort of a manifest for the joy of living and at the same time a lament over it.
Karaklajic’s a “To Be or Not to Be”. To remember…

Translated by Gordana KAMENAROVIC

– I’m washing my hands. I’m washing my hands in the toilet. The water is washing the sweat and heat and dirt away. I’m observing my face in the mirror. Rings under the eyes, birthmark on the forehead, fatigue in the cheeks. A common, everyday face. Under a neon light it is as yellow as the toilet walls, as urine, as the uniform of a girl who works at a bar. I’m moving my hands closer to the machine. The hot air is burning. Yellow sweat accumulating on the forehead, the shirt sticks to the back. The air conditioning is in bad shape, I’m thinking. I’ll complain, I’m thinking. I wipe the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand, leave the toilet. I look for my table. A man passes by me, stops, asks
stops, asks
stops, asks
– Got a light?
– No.
I answer. I look around. The restaurant is already packed, a crowd of people and their smells.
– Your table?
– I hear the girl in the yellow uniform
– There, to the left, by the column
– a round metal table with two chairs. I sit next to the column, in the shade, next to the cooling metal. It’s noon, lunch break, guests are still arriving, there are hardly any seats left in the restaurant of the shopping mall it’s noisy and hot. The glass dome of the restaurant behind me is incandescent with sunlight, the river, the city on the other bank, sweaty bodies in front of me pant from the heat, they’re cooling themselves with newspapers and menus, they will catch on fire, I’m thinking, all these napkins and tablecloths and menus on the hot tables in the hot air burning with the sun. I look around. To the left, some eat voraciously, in their light colored suits. One is reading the newspaper out loud. One comes up to the woman with short dark hair. Two men swinging to the music. An old man staring at his salad and glass of water. A woman is talking on the phone, placing plastic bags on the table and the chairs, ten, twenty bags from the boutiques and shops of the shopping mall. A child is toddling on the floor. I drink my beer. It’s lukewarm and tasteless. The smells of food and people evaporate, mix and settle in the hot air. I’m feeling sick. I’ll ask for a glass of water, I’m thinking. A group of young men at the table behind me is shouting. I look around. They’re talking loudly, results of the Premier league, no, it couldn’t have been for a red card, but still, two goals later, they laugh, four – five of them, regular faces, inconspicuous, one of them flushed with heat and anger. The girl in the yellow uniform comes up to me, asks
– Can I take this?
– Yes.
she takes the empty bottle from the table
– Can I get you anything else?
– Another beer, please. Cold. And a glass of water.
the girl nods, leaves. A boy with a blue baseball cap runs into the restaurant, runs past the bar, stops abruptly, eight or nine, perhaps, comes up to the table by the potted plants, next to the glass wall, comes up to the woman with short dark hair, how old is she? 35 – 40, kisses her on the cheek. The woman takes the boy’s baseball cap off, wipes his forehead with a napkin
– You’re all sweaty. Aren’t you hot?
– I’m an exhaust pipe! I’m never hot! I drove a red jeep and crashed into this character in a landrover and he wouldn’t move and I wouldn’t either and we pushed and pushed all the way to the edge of the fountain and we were this close to falling in but this other one separates us and and the girl in the yellow uniform is back with the beer
– Here you go.
– she places the bottle and glass of water on the table
It’s hot.
I say. The girl looks over my head
– And it’s only just May.
– You heard the forecast?
– Even warmer in the following days.
– she wipes her forehead with her hand. Sweat stains on the yellow uniform
Your air conditioning is out of order?
she shifts her weight from one leg to the other. Looks at me
– It’s been on all along.
– It’s very warm in here.
– I’ll see what I can do.

– she leaves. Commotion behind me, shouts, glasses rolling on the table. The guests turn to look. At the table behind as a young man flushed with heat and anger jumps off his chair, curses, mentions the referee and the fixed result, wants to leave, a blond guy also stands up, dares him to step out, others calm them down, they go back to the table. The boy with the blue baseball cap runs through the restaurant again, trips, nearly falls, the woman stands up, but he’s fine, he’s already out, in the midst of the boutiques and  shopping mall escalators. The woman keeps standing for a moment or two, looks after the boy, then moves, passes by other guests, in between tables, she’s going to the toilet. Heat. Nothing happens. The old man swallows his salad. The child is toddling. It’s moving around my table. Like a cat. I’ll kick it, I’m thinking. The murmur in the restaurant is growing quieter. Girls in yellow uniforms remove empty plates. Some people are leaving slowly. They’re dragging themselves, languid, limp. Full stomachs. Fatigue and boredom. Heat. A child is yelling at the top of its lungs. I’ll kick it, I’m thinking. The child is toddling, stands up, propped against my chair. My leg moves, but its mother runs up to us
– I’m sorry.
– takes the child and goes back to her table. She’s rocking it on her lap, the child squeals and snivels. A crash all of a sudden, chairs overturned, curses, yelling. Guests stand up, a fight at the table behind, and I look around to see, but there’s a blow from the back and my body is slammed against the edge of the table, I lose my breath, I thrash, a body leans against me with all its weight, and then slides down next to me, limply, a blond guy with his lip cut. One hides behind the overturned chairs, the guy flushed with heat and anger kicks and curses savagely. Some people run up to them to separate them, but two or three of them get involved and start punching those that started it and one another. Guests rush out or assume positions with a better view, someone’s pushing me, persistently, elbow in the back, doesn’t stop, and I throw myself in the crowd, I’m also hitting and punching and howling. They push me to the floor, kick me, trample on me. I wiggle, crawl, I want to get under a table, but they catch me by the legs, drag me out and beat me. I spot a gun on the floor, there, right next to the table. I crawl again, reach the gun. I stand up and look around, bewildered faces around me, screaming, commotion, and I shoot. People scream, fall, run out of the restaurant. Someone’s shouting at me to put the gun down. I turn around. The boy with the blue baseball cap runs into the restaurant, making his way through the crowd. I raise the gun up again
– No!
– one bullet, two, the boy collapses on the floor. I throw the gun. I sit. That’s how it was.
– He’s dead.
– All around me, they stumble and fall, ones over the others, like dummies.
– My son is dead.
– Like dummies. Have you ever shot dummies in an amusement park? I used to get them twenty a minute, before. Just like that. Never collected my prize either. Hearts, puppets, baseball caps and colored candy. Rubbish. I never had anyone to give it to.
– I want you to say… how it was…
– We had chips for lunch today.
– … what was in your head… that… before you… why?
– And a steak. Like rubber, it was. Couldn’t chew it.
– Talk!
– I swallowed a stone yesterday, with soup. Done thirteen laps around the yard. My shoelace snapped. I played preference. Stomach ache all night.
– Why?
– There’s the guard. It’s time.
– Talk.
– Visiting hours are over.
– We should go. It’s time. But he’s so cheerful, running about, taking the escalator up, looking at the toys, driving his play car around the fountain. He’s calmed down, there, beside me, eating his ice cream, sweating. I touch his cheek
Take your cap off, it’s hot.
– No. No one has a blue baseball hat like this.
– he scratches the glass with his spoon, he’s done, there, he’s already twitching, looking around, dangling his legs. Looks at me
– I’d like to go back there, to drive a car.
– You’ve already been there.
– Please! Just once more. Last time I saw a red jeep, you know how cool it was! Please, please!
– Alright! You can go.
– Wicked!
– he jumps off his chair, kisses me. Runs past the tables, some people look past him and smile, he runs past the woman talking on the phone and placing plastic bags on a table and chairs, heaps of bags from the boutiques and stores in the shopping mall. He overturns several bags as he runs past, stops to pick them up, the woman yells and snatches the bags from his hands. I want to stand up, come up to them, but he’s already outside, beyond the restaurant, amid boutiques and escalators, running to the fountain. I turn to face the glass wall, I touch the leg of the table, I’m startled, it’s hot, I’m thinking, it’ll catch fire, it’ll start to burn, a branch set on fire by the sun, a metal branch of the table. I look through the dome. Skyscrapers and houses, a park and a big sports arena, the city on the other bank shivers, appears and disappears in the heat of the sun at noon. A male silhouette stands before me, blocks the view of the river and the houses and the city. I look away, waiting for him to move, the man in the green shirt, but he keeps standing there, doesn’t move. He says
– Excuse me, madam…
– I look up, can’t see his face from the blazing sun. I cover my eyes with my hand
– Excuse me…
– he moves to the side
– You don’t know me… I live in the building across the street from yours…
– So?
he’s looking at me, not blinking, with a polite, baffled face
– Well… I’ve seen you… in the neighborhood… when you’re coming home or bringing your son home from school…
– he’s uncomfortable
– Sometimes we meet too. In the street or the super-market. You always just pass me by, don’t even look at me, and I always stare at you. I’m sorry.
– Why?
– Because I stare.
– I laugh, don’t know what to say
– Last month, you remember, the fire, two blocks down, before the firefighters arrived, we were all trying to extinguish the fire, I was passing you buckets of water, you remember?

– I shake my head
The fire, yes, but…
– It was dark and crowded, screams, panic, you don’t remember, naturally.
– he goes quiet and then
– I know… You have a son and live with… I’ve seen that man, I’ve seen you together…
but I… You… I wouldn’t. How was your day?
And how was your day?
– Why do you ask?
– Because I’m interested. Because I’m interested in you. Because… I like you. Very much.
– the man blushes. Goes silent. I burst into laughter
Excuse me.
– I don’t want anything from you, I just wanted to tell you, let you know. There. Now you know. I apologize, once again.
– he turns and leaves the restaurant quickly. I follow with my gaze
– And how was your day?
– a girl in a yellow uniform approaches
– How was your day?
– she smiles genially
– Woke up early, around six. Got up, went to the bathroom. Stumbled on two or three boxes on the way. Took a shower, turned the radio on, took another plate from the box, poured some oatmeal and milk in the kitchen.
– the girl in the yellow uniform approaches
– Ate, smoked a cigarette, turned the radio off. Sat, for a while. Two minutes or an hour.
Just sat there. At the kitchen table or on the couch. Stared at the scattered boxes. All over. Cardboard boxes in different sizes. An apartment full of cardboard boxes. An apartment box. You wanted something, something that was in one of the bigger ones. You couldn’t remember which one. Then you couldn’t remember what. You stood up, took your robe off, took the black skirt and black shirt from the wardrobe, got dressed, left the apartment. Paused in front of the building, looked around, wondered if anyone was watching you, now, at that very moment, the man in the green shirt? But there was no one in the street, two or three passers-by, perhaps. Then you got in the car. Drove to -
– the girl is smiling genially
– To?
– the girl is smiling genially
– To? Like the day before and the one before and the one before -
– the girl –
– Like the day before and that one –
the girl is smiling genially
Can I get you anything else?
– No, thank you.
– Are you sure? Another juice, perhaps? An ice cream?
– No.
– There’s the boy. He’s quick. Your son?
– Do you mind his running? I’ll tell him –
– No, don’t. He’s so cute.
– the girl collects the empty glasses. He stops abruptly, comes up to me and kisses me. I take his baseball hat off, wipe his forehead with a napkin
You’re all sweaty. Aren’t you hot?
– I’m an exhaust pipe! I’m never hot! I was driving a red jeep and crashed into this one in,
a landrover, and he wouldn’t move and I wouldn’t either and we were pushing and pushing all the way to the edge of the fountain and we were this close to falling in, but this one character separated us and he was all flushed and then he started crying and left and I … and I… I won!
– I laugh, stroke his cheek
– Want to go?
– No, a bit more. And then – then I want you to take me to the amusement park, to the house of horrors!
– Dad will be waiting for us.
he gets serious
– I told you I don’t like you calling him dad.
– I look away
You told me.
He walks around the table, comes up to me from the other side, looks at me
– Now you’re sad. But he’s cool, really.
– Want another juice?
he shakes his head. Sits down. Looks around the restaurant. Pulls my arm
– There! At that table! You should’ve seen him jump. Look!
– I look. A young man is standing, flushed with heat and anger, towering over another, shouting
– They’re gonna have a fight. I’ll go have a look!
– I keep him
Stop! Where are you going?
– Just to have a look!
– There, he’s sitting down again. It’s nothing, see.
– I see. You think you know.
– Know what?
– Why it happened.
– I don’t know. I do want to know. Why?
– Why did they want to fight, mum?
– I stand up
– Stay.
– They wouldn’t let me in yesterday. Said you didn’t want to see me.
– Stay.
– I return to the table
It’s hot. I go to the toilet. When I return, we’re going home.
– I’ll be outside!
– he jumps off his chair, runs off
Stay there!
I shout, but he can no longer hear me. He stumbles as he runs, nearly falls, I stand up, it’s nothing. I go towards the toilet, between tables, towards the other end of the restaurant, I pass by the guests who are leaving, with their smells and sweat. The toilet is packed. I’m waiting. Women wash their hands and reapply their makeup. One of them grins in front of the mirror, picks the remnants of the food from between her teeth with her fingernail. You can hear the gurgle of urine. Two or three girls lean against the yellow wall of the restroom, giggling. A basin is unoccupied, I go to it, splash cold water on my face. I look at myself in the mirror. My face is unclear and yellowish like the neon above my head, like the glass in which I see the door of the toilet and the girls leaning against the yellow wall. A loud crash comes from the restaurant. The girls stop giggling, move towards the door. I wipe my face with a napkin, I want out too, to the restaurant, but there’s a crowd of people at the door, noise, random words, fighting and overturned tables, a cramp in my stomach, I must go out, I make my way through the bustle, I’m being trampled on and pushed, someone shouts
– Put the gun down, boy!
– one shot, two, noise and screams, I look around confused, to my right is a young man standing and shooting randomly. I stare at him. Another shot, another. Then he stops. I stumble, bump into chairs, bump into guests, I look around, where is he? where is he? I shout, I call for him, but everyone’s yelling, howling, a girl is shot, one woman is carried out of the restaurant, no one answers, where is he? Right in front of me, a group of people, looking down, one of them turns his head and throws up, something down there, the bodies block the view, I can’t see, a blue baseball cap right beside them. I make my way through the crowd, a body on the floor. I scream. They take me away, to stop me from seeing, and I, and I –
– You’re wearing a blue shirt today. You wore a black one yesterday. And the day before. You look good in blue. And your hair. You combed it in a different way. You have a hairclip.
– and I stare. The young man is shooting randomly. Doesn’t aim. At anybody.
– You removed your nail polish.
– Why is he shooting?
– You have a pimple on your cheek. And sweat on your forehead. You have a scratch on your index finger. You bite your upper lip. You’re not wearing makeup. You’re not wearing lipstick. Or powder. Just the eye shadow, blue.
– Why is he shooting?
– To hide the rings under your eyes. Why? You couldn’t sleep again last night. You turned the TV on. Turned it off. You felt cold. You wanted to put on your white sweater, you stood up, looked for it in one box, then in another, in another, you couldn’t find it. You went back to bed. Kept turning. Got up, got a glass of water. Got back to bed. Stared into the darkness. No thoughts. No thoughts whatsoever. You fell asleep towards morning, slept for an hour or two, woke up at six. Got up
got up
got up
– Went to the bathroom. Stumbled on the box on my way, papers, photographs, some drawings, pushed it all away. Took a shower, turned the radio on. Looked for a plate, took another one from the box, poured some oatmeal and milk. Ate, smoked a cigarette, turned the volume on the radio up, news and weather forecast, contact-program, voices. Turned the radio off. Sat for a while. Two minutes or an hour. Just sat there. At the kitchen table. Stared at the big, solid cardboard boxes. Two or three of them sealed. With  adhesive tape. The rest almost packed. I’ll travel. I’ll move out, tomorrow I thought. Then I stood up, took my robe off
– Looked at yourself in the mirror? Touched your breasts and your belly?
– pulled a blue shirt out of a box, pulled a black skirt out of the wardrobe
– Imagined someone touching you? Me touching you?
– put my clothes on, put the shadow around my eyes, left the flat. Paused in front of the building
– looked around, wondered if anyone was watching. Imagined I was watching you, now, at that very moment?
– got in the car, drove to
– To?
– to
– to the parking lot in front of the school. Parents bringing their children, noise, screeching, children running, pushing each other at the entrance, squealing. Sat in the car, until all the classes were finished, until all the children left. Like yesterday. Like the day before yesterday. Like the day before. And that one. And that one. And then you came. Why did you come?
– It could’ve… different. If only I hadn’t… If only I hadn’t gone to the toilet. If I had grabbed him and took him out of the restaurant, if we had gone home, that very instant. Or – if I hadn’t taken so long. If I had returned a moment earlier, had there not been so many people, had the woman not reapplied her make-up, had I not washed my face, had the girls not giggled, had -
– had I gone to the toilet with you. What if I had? If there hadn’t been anyone, if I had come in after you and closed the door. Would you have sent me away, like that man who had come up to you? Then. And now? If I pushed you against the wall, if clung to you, from behind
– I don’t want that! Stop!
– if you had felt me grow, become hard, would you have got wet, would you moan if I pushed my fingers in your mouth and then in your pants
– I don’t want that!
– if I had taken it out and pressed it against you, if I had started to rub you, to penetrate slowly, would you
– No!
– to move, faster and faster
– No!
– would you
– No!!
– would you stick your tongue out with pleasure, would you pant and lick the wall, would you squeeze me and pull me towards you if I had started squeezing you, scratching, biting, moving faster and faster, sticking it in you, to
– No! Let me go! No!!
– Stop! Don’t go, please. I… there, I won’t… I’ve moved away, I’m not touching you…
I’m not touching you any more. Don’t go.
Talk to me.
Don’t be silent.
Don’t be silent. Please.
– Every morning, when I go to sleep, I dream I’m sitting in a park. Can you imagine?
Dreaming of sitting on a bench, he’s running towards you, you’re spreading your arms, embracing him, he’s laughing, wiggling, you don’t let go, you hold him tight, hugging him, then you wake up and feel the pain, I feel physical pain, every morning, in my arms, my chest, my head, in every part of the body I touched him with. I wake up and I think: I’ll leave tomorrow. I’ll go somewhere tomorrow.
– But you haven’t left tomorrow. You came. And tomorrow you came too. What is it you want?
– To forgive you. I want to – I want to -
– I want to sit at that table over there, mum.
– I want to –
he shows it
– That one over there by the glass wall. See?
– I want to –
he’s holding my hand, pulling me
– Mum, come on, see how packed it is, someone will take our place.
– I want to –
I’m letting him lead me, through the restaurant, between tables, he walks around the guests dexterously, we walk past them, he’s taking me to the glass wall
– There.
– he sits down, pleased, in the shade, faces the wall
– This is good.
– the girl in the yellow uniform comes up
– What can I get you.
I’ll have a Coke.
– A juice.
the girl nods
– These uniforms of theirs are so funny.
– he says, just to say something. He takes the menu, fans himself
Are you hot?
– No.
– he leaves the menu. Stands up, goes to the glass wall, presses his nose and finger against it, looks out
– On the other side of the river you can see the amusement park. Ferris wheel! And the house of horrors. Will you take me?
– Tomorrow.
he goes silent, looks through the glass
– Ow!
– he steps back
What is it?
– I’m dizzy. When I look down, it’s all spinning, the river, the bridge, cars.
– come back to the table
– How high is it? How far to the ground?
– You’re afraid of heights? And you want to go on the Ferris wheel.
– I thought I saw the bridge cracking, as if splitting, being torn into strips, many little bridges with nothing in between, the air, and the cars being torn too, sliding into the water and moving on, big water bugs, like when you look at the strips of the sky through bars, courtyards and people and it’s all torn, multiplied and standing still like that, walking or spitting and not noticing it’s been minimized, dispersed, with nothing in between, the air, the trail of the bars. Yesterday two men fought. I was watching from my window. One pulled out a knife and cut the other’s cheek.
– come back to the table
– Yesterday you wore the blue shirt. Today you’re wearing the black one again.
– come back to the table
– I’m scared. When I look down –
– Nothing’s spinning. Not the bridge, nor river, nor cars. You got dizzy. From the heat. Sit in the shade. Don’t look there.
the girl approaches, puts the glasses on the table
puts the glasses on the table
– Here you go, juice and Coke.
– You sure you’re not hungry?
– I’m thirsty.
– he takes the glass in both hands, drinks fast
Slow down, it’s cold.
leaves the glass, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, looks around
– Look!
– points his finger at something
– Fire on the other bank!
– They must be burning garbage.
– It’s really big.
– he takes his baseball cap off, spins it in his hand, looks at it, puts it back on, he’s quiet for a while
– At the table behind you, all the way to the left, there’s one in a green shirt. Keeps looking this way.
– Maybe he’s not looking at us.
– Yes he is, I’m sure.
– Where is he?
– Hang on, don’t look yet. Ok, now you can.
– I look. At the table to the left, the man in the green shirt looks away
– Do you know him?
– First time I’ve seen him.
– You sure?
– I’m sure.
– Never met him before?
– No.
– And after? Have you met him afterwards? Somewhere in the street, accidentally, passing by?
– No.
– He’s never called you, waited for you in front of the building, watched you?
– No.
– But he –
– I don’t know who he is, I’ve already told you!
– Are you cross, mum?
– It’s hot. The air conditioning doesn’t seem to be working.
– You’re nervous. You keep playing with that glass. Maybe you should get completely still.
Sit motionless, like that grandpa over there. Look, he looks like he’s dead. Just sitting and staring at the salad in front of him. Not moving. Maybe he’s less hot like that. He’s all dried out. He’ll melt soon. Look.
– You want us to go?
– On the other bank, where the amusement park is, but further down the river, I’ve never said this to anyone, about an hour’s drive from the city, my grandpa used to have a house, I used to go there in the summer -
– Tomorrow, I told you, we’ll go to the amusement park tomorrow. What is it you want now? Are you thirsty? Want another juice, an ice cream? Want to go? What is it you want now?

– I want to – to run, jump on the tables, stand on my head, eat a hundred and twenty scoops of ice cream, to pull down chairs, to yawn, to grab that grandpa by his shoulders and shake him, to break plates, to climb up on the bar and scream, to hide under the table, to spit, to trip the girl in yellow uniform, to throw food at people, to keep my eyes closed, to crawl around the tables, to stand in the corner and sulk, to bark, to first kick the man in the green shirt and then throw him out of the restaurant, to build a fire of table cloths and paper napkins, a little torch on every table, to not, to shout, to roar, to skip, to spin until I’ve turned into a fan, to pick my nose, to pulverize myself into salt and make all the dishes too salty, to cry, to bury myself in a flower pot, to become a two legged plant, to stick my tongue out, to fart, to cement the door shut so no one can come out, to not cement it, to do nothing, but still no one can come out, to let a flock of sheep inside, to kiss you, to grow tired on the seventh day, to pee, to become a napkin, a plate, a fork, a saltshaker, a fish knife, a hair in the soup, a cockroach in an omelet, to forget, to break this glass door, to bury my face in the splinters, for it all to become of glass, for the wind to come in and blow everything away. I saw cars outside, mum. Did you see them too?
– Where?
– There, on this same floor, by the fountain. Can I go for a drive?
– Now?
– Please, just a little.
– There must be cars in the amusement park and –
– I’d like to do it now. Please!
– Very well, but don’t disappear. Dad’s waiting for us at home.
– But dad’s not waiting for us. It’s been a while now. Since you’ve started coming here.
Dad’s not waiting for us at home any more. I’ve seen all sorts of things while we were passing. There’s this Lamborghini, I want to try it. I’m off! I’ll be back in a bit!
– You know what, I don’t feel like staying here. Let’s go home, now. We’ll get some veggies and spaghetti on our way, we’ll make dinner, we’ll have ice cream, and we can see the game afterwards, all together, or go for a walk, or to the movies. Come on, let’s go. Let’s go home straight away! The shots have been heard already, the first, the second, I’m taking you in my arms, taking you out of the restaurant, I’m sheltering you, quickly, as far away as possible, as far away as possible from here!

– But you’re not sheltering me, mum. You’re not taking me in your arms, you’re not taking me out of the restaurant. You’re in the toilet. There’s nothing you can do. Nothing I can do either. I’m just standing there and shooting. I can stop. But I’m not stopping. I’m shooting, randomly, I’m not looking at anyone.
– I’m holding you close. And there’s nothing anymore, restaurant or bustle or fear or people running or the young man shooting. You’re here. We’re leaving the restaurant, the shopping mall, we’re getting in the car, you’re chatting, laughing, showing me something through the car window, I’m not listening to you, I’m laughing too, we’re going home. Everyone else survived. Everyone but him. Why?
– don’t know. Don’t know why I’m shooting. I’m holding the gun, folding my index finger, pulling the trigger, I’m looking at the turmoil of the bodies and chairs and broken glass, but I’ve never – held it only once or twice, but never shot, not even in amusement parks, at mobile targets and dummies hanging on the strings, never, and now I’m holding it and folding and pulling and I don’t see at who. Then I throw it. Then I sit down. That’s how it was. Whistling in the ears, nausea, dizziness. I open my mouth, like a fish. No air. Then I want to stand up. I fall off the chair. The end. Then I’m sitting and waiting, lying and waiting, walking and waiting, looking through the bars and waiting. You haven’t come. For four days. You were gone. And I’ve never told you, the whole thing, on the other side of the river, where the amusement park is, further down the river
– I put adhesive tape on the last box, I push it into the lobby, where the others are, then I cover the furniture in the living room, I leave the apartment
– about an hour’s drive from the city, my grandpa used to have a house, I used to go there in the summer
– I get in the car, I drive through the clogged streets, nervousness, rush, crash in one of the side streets, out of the city, he said, on the other side of the river
– two or three of us would sit in a boat and get to the little island, it’s not hard to find, the only island where the river gets wider and the canals begin
– I pass by the amusement park, by the big Ferris wheel and the house of horrors, and it’s crowded again, cheerful children and tired parents, I turn to the side road, further down the river, he said
– we were building a little hut from branches, in the thicket on the bank
– I drive, I don’t know for how long, some people are working in the fields, I stop, I ask, they look at me with suspicion, they shrug, I keep driving, an hour, he said
– stayed on the island for the whole day
– I stop again, I get out of the car, an old man at the river bank with fishing equipment, I ask him, he looks at me for a moment or two, silent, I’ll take you to the island, he says
– climbed the trees and jumped in the water, fished and were Indians, made bonfires, baked corn and small fishes
– he takes me in a small motor boat, it’s getting dark, I shiver, I rub my hands, it’s cold
– I used to go there, afterwards, all by myself, with  food for three or four days, sat by the river, slept by the fire
– we reach the island, the old man asks if he should wait or not, no, I say, I’ll spend the night here, tomorrow morning, I ask him
– the last time, three summers ago, the hut was still standing a roof and two walls
– I walk around the island, it’s small and deserted, a hut on the southern side, roof and two walls, I sit, rest my back against a wall, look at the river, the water is still, glassy, crickets are heard from the depth of the island, the moon appears, mosquitoes swarm over the water, I fall asleep
– I’d like to go there, afterwards
– I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m shivering with cold, I gather branches and wood,
I start a fire, I’m getting warm
– I’d like to go there afterwards. With you.
– I take a thick branch, I burn it and take it to the wall, the fire spreads quickly, swallowing the hut and moving on, it catches the dry plants and leaves, I’m standing and watching, the heat is scorching my face, I keep standing, no thoughts, shouts from the bank, the churning of motors, two boats show up, then another and another, people with fire extinguishers disembark, they fill buckets with water and put the fire out, two men run up to me, I’m crying and shaking, I’m saying sparks I’m saying careless I’m saying fell asleep, they cover me with a blanket and take me to a boat, when we reach the bank the fire’s already out.
– Out? Completely? It’s gone?
– Visiting hours are over.
– Gone?
– Everything’s ready. Suitcases packed. Furniture covered.
– Tell me.
– This morning, in front of the supermarket, I met the man in the green shirt. When he saw me, he smiled and crossed to the other side of the street. All the boxes are already in the lorry.
– Tell.
– I’ll get in the car tomorrow.
– I’ll say anything you want to hear. What do you want to hear?
because because because because because because because because
you can’t leave
you won’t leave
you’ll come back, tomorrow
you won’t be silent
you won’t be
you won’t.

Belgrade, 2005
Copyright: Sterijino pozorje 1998-2007.