17. 6. 2003
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Britské listy

ISSN 1213-1792


Jan Čulík


Karel Dolejší


Michal Panoch, Jan Panoch

Grafický návrh:

Štěpán Kotrba

ISSN 1213-1792
deník o všem, o čem se v České republice příliš nemluví
17. 6. 2003


Irena Dousková
Mother was standing at the work table in the kitchen. She had on an old flannel shirt with three buttons undone, her hair was drawn back in plaits but they wouldn't stay in place and kept falling forward. Her sleeves were turned up and her arms were covered in flour up to the elbows.

In front of her was a pastry-board and beside it two prettily plaited Christmas cakes on a baking tray. Her face was red, flushed with baking. She stood, silent and unmoving, one hand resting on the pastry board.. She looked like the statue of a mother.

Mickey stood wistfully in the doorway, quietly watching his mother. She did look nice. He loved her. For a while he quite forgot why he had come.

The man's face was getting dangerously close. He was gazing fascinated into her eyes, his intention almost too clear. She couldn't meet his gaze, she had to close her eyes for a second. At that moment she became aware of the touch of his hand. She trembled. "No!" she implored. "Please don't. It won't do. You know I am married." "Yes!" "No! I can't!" The fever and chill in her spine made her tremble again. She had to hang on to the table so as not to lose her balance completely. God!

"Mummy!" called Mickey. "Mummy, are you listening to me? Are you going to be sick? Mummy!". He was beginning to be afraid for his mother. "Mummy, I need a poo."

"What? Mickey! Are you there? Why didn't you say anything?"

"But I did. I want a poo. I can't wait."

Hastily she rinsed her hands at the sink. She splashed a few drops of water on her face.

"Come on then, hurry up. But Mickey, you can manage by yourself now. You know Daddy would be angry with you. You're a big boy now, after all you're nearly four!" She scolded him but quickly yet gently helped him undo his clothes.

"I can do it myself. But it's these braces. I can't do them."

"All right then, the main thing is we got there in time."

Just as she was wiping his bottom the door bell rang.

"Hang on a minute!" she shouted. "Hang on a minute, I'm just coming."

But the bell kept on ringing. At last she made it to the door.

"This is beyond a joke!" Dad said angrily. He was hung about with parcels like a pack animal. " What a time to leave me standing there."

"Hullo Daddy!" Mickey called brightly.

"Hullo Mickey, just a minute, keep off me. Don't get under my feet now. Anyway I've got to go back downstairs again."

"Should I come with you ?" Mother asked.

"You don't need to," replied Dad but it sounded a bit like a reproach. He was obviously annoyed.

"Daddy is always in a bad temper, isn't he ?" remarked Mickey.

"No, of course not, not always," said Mother. "Run away and play Mickey. Off you go."

He certainly is always bad tempered, she thought and it's driving me mad. Why the hell should I always have to put up with it? Why? We all just have to do the best we can.

Mother went and made Mickey's bed. "Listen," she said,"it's time to tidy up your toys now."

"Why? You said I was to go and play!"

"So I did, only I didn't realize it was so late."

The bell began ringing again in a way that sounded like someone kicking the door in. Mother dropped the polka-dotted pillow and rushed to open the door. Dad came in and, like a donkey, shook off what he was carrying.

"Phew,"he said,"I made it."

He even smiled at Mother. But it was too late. She had to gather all her strength to stop herself saying anything for that would only make things worse. She knew it would. She went off into the kitchen.

Mickey ran in and jumped up on Dad just as he was taking off his shoes and threw his arms round his neck..

"Mickey! Just a minute, leave me alone, please! I am all sweaty. Come on now. Mickey, do you hear? I said leave me alone!"

"Daddy, why are you always so...."

"Mickey!" shouted Mother hastily. "Come and do your teeth!"

At the same time she could not prevent herself directing a look at Dad, sparks of anger in her keen dark eyes.

"But I didn't say anything much this time, did I?" Dad sounded aggrieved.

"Should I put away the shopping or bath Mickey?" she tried to keep her voice neutral.

"I could bath him," said Dad.

"No-o-o, no-o-o! Mummy!"

Mickey ran in naked from the bathroom, toothbrush in hand "Please I want Mummy to bath me!"

"Nobody asked you. I'll bath you and that's all about it!" said Dad.

Mickey's lip started to tremble.

"What are you doing here? What are you doing here with the toothpaste? You're dropping it and...! Look what you're doing damn it! It's on the floor now! Get away I tell you, do you hear?"

"Don't stand there in your bare feet, you'll get cold," said Mother and took Mickey up in her arms. " If you like, I'll do both. I'll bath him and then put the shopping away. I don't mind."

"That would be great!" raged Dad. "Mummy will come and save the poor child from the clutches of the wicked old man. You'd think I was some kind of idiot the way you behave towards me. How do you expect me to have any authority over the child? Look here, give him to me. And don't you cry, youv'e no reason to."

Dad took Mickey, still resisting, from his mother's arms and shut himself and Mickey in the bathroom. Mother went back into the kitchen and closed the door but the hundred-year old double doors were not thick enough for her not to hear.

"Mu-u-ummy, Mu-u-ummy! "called Mickey tearfully.

"Stop that! Stop that, or I'll smack you hard and you'll know all about it!" roared Dad.

"On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me..." Mother shouted at the top of her voice, "A partridge on a pear tree," quickly putting all the shopping away.

"Can I have a story?" asked Mickey some ten minutes later. Now bathed, his face puffy with crying, he was sitting up in bed and his mother, that floury angel, dashed into the room, opened a window and after a minute or two shut it again.

"A story?"Mother repeated abstractedly. "Of course you can. But Daddy will read it to you today. I've still got a lot to do, you know."


"Mickey, Mickey love," she leaned over the little bed for a moment," do you know what day it is tomorrow?"

"No," Mickey shook his head. "Will you read me a story?"

"Tomorrow is the day Santa Claus comes!" Mother dropped her voice to a dramatic whisper. "Santa Claus is coming bringing presents. Daddy and I have to get everything ready so that it will be nice for Santa Claus and for Granny and Grandpa. And you'll get a lovely surprise after a nice sleep. Won't you?" "But we'll have to wait and see if he does come." Dad appeared in the doorway. "Santa Claus brings presents - but only to good children."

"Michael, please..." wailed Mother, "Are you going to read Mickey a story?"

"If you think he deserves it," Dad spoke peevishly but he already had a story book in his hand.

"Good night Mickey," said Mother and kissed the little boy's forehead. "Bless you, sweet dreams."

She closed the door quietly behind her.

"Now....." Dad took a deep breath.

"I thought, I wanted...... Could Mummy not read me a story?" Mickey's dark eyes, Mother's eyes, blinked up at Dad.

"What! What, you little.....!" Dad bristled menacingly.

"What?" asked Mickey.

But Dad merely threw up his hands, switched off the light and went out banging the door. Still holding the Bozena Nemcova book he made straight for the balcony to have a smoke. He would certainly keep well clear of Mother.

Mother stood in the kitchen at the work table, her face burning, her arms covered in flour up to her elbows.

Si-i-i-lent night, ho-o-oly night ....floated out from the tape recorder.

Mother plaited the last Christmas cake, her dark eyes blinking anxiously. But however much she blinked she could no longer prevent herself recalling that bewitching, brazen look.

Yes, yes...me too...yes. But we can't. Still hanging on to her moral principles she whispered passionately into the hot oven.

Yes...no! I can't! You know I am married.

"Listen..." the sound came from behind Mother's back.

In her fright she burned two fingers.

"Listen," said Dad, "How abut a drink?"

"Or," he went on after a moment, "what if you stopped working and we......" he didn't finish what he was saying but sniggered suggestively and gave Mother a look, partly imploring and partly full of desire. She really did look lovely. He was full of desire for her.

"No, not that," sighed Mother. "Absolutely not."

"Why not?" asked Dad disappointed.

"You know why. Anyway you'd better decorate the Christmas tree. There's still a lot to do," said Mother. "Besides nothing could be further from my mind at the moment than that kind of thing."

And she slammed the oven door shut till it rattled.

(Translated by Elisabeth Morrison.)

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