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#1 2017-01-31 18:39:08


Перевод с английского. Проза.

From The Town That Drowned by Riel Nason

We live at the top of the road that leads down the valley to the bridge and continues over to Hawkshaw. This side of the river is Haventon, shortened from Haven Town years ago. The whole area is a long sprawling village. Our neighbours’ houses are staggered along the hillside on smaller winding roads and at the ends of driveways. It’s as if the houses rolled like rocks down the slope and got stuck on tufts of grass. This is what makes up Haventon for a few miles on each side of us - houses and barns and other buildings like the churches with big or little stretches of land in between. You can kind of imagine it like people sitting on bleachers: lots of them are clustered together and a few are alone, but they’re all waiting for the main event. Except here the main event is simply a view of the water.

A car drives by and swings extra wide around us, so I know we’ve been recognized even before the little beep. It’s Mr. Hogan, a teacher, and I manage to wave even though seeing him is just an unpleasant reminder that school starts in two weeks. In a way it’s hard to believe that the summer zoomed along so quickly. But then again (with my permanent sidekick), some days seem to go on endlessly. Percy raises his hand in a delayed wave, and since he’s finally calmer, I untie the shoelace that was knotted on his glasses.

“Ruby”, he says. He always uses my name. “Were you aware of the fact that seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water?”

“That sure sound like a lot.”

“It’s true. It is a well-established calculation”, he says, although I don’t doubt him. Percy reads all the time and has an amazing memory.

“So your bottles could have a long, long way to travel, right?” Even two and a half years into Project Bottle Launch I known talking about it makes him happy.

We’re passing in front of our next-door neighbour’s house and Percy’s cheeks are still wet. I see my father back by our shed, sharpening the lawnmower blades. My father hates it when Percy cries for what he calls “no good reason”. It bothers him more and more as Percy gets older. I can tell that my father does his best to tolerate it for days, even weeks at a time, by leaving the room for a smoke or a beer when Percy starts in. But then Percy will wail right in the middle of Bonanza and my father won’t be able to hear Hoss talking, and he will have to yell - have to - “Jesus Christ, Percy!” because he had waited a whole week to find out what would happen.

“The bodies of water comprising that total are not all connecected,” Percy says, wiping his cheek with the back of his hand.

My father looks up.

“Still,” I say. “That sound like a lot more water to float away on than land to get caught up in.”

Percy stops walking and looks at me. He is focusing on my mouth since he never quite meets anyone’s eyes. He’s perfectly quiet and doesn’t move for several seconds. Then he bursts into tears and runs toward the house crying.

Have mercy, Percy.

That’s what the other kids say when they tease him. They think of something, anything, trial and error, to make him cry, then once he’s going they hold their hands over their ears as if it’s Percy who’s distressing them. “Have mercy, Percy! Mercy!” they’ll scream between fits of laughter, sometimes hiding their heads behind the school bus seats. The way they act is a pretty good dramatic interpretation of the way I sometimes feel. If I’m there during the teasing I’ll say to Percy the ever-sensible but useless “Ignore them”. Then they’ll yell louder and ask Percy if I’m his mommy. So clever and hilarious. Even though I’m sure they’ve never stopped to think how ultimately terrifying being Percy’s mommy might be.

I wait until Percy makes it to the front door of the house and goes in. Mission accomplished. Then I find a rock and roll it around and around in my hand as I head back down to the water. Its edges are rough, but it’s warm from the sun.



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