Clinking

Yvonne Hergane
 
Clinking
It is not always that life lines bend so much that they become a full circle. It is not always that things, whether good or bad, come in threes. Sometimes they come in pairs, duos that were born together, intertwined, died together, twins thrown through time and space, yet inseparable together.
Hanne is thirteen, her mother not here. Hanna forgot her keys, but did not forget that her mom should actually be here. She is always here at this time. Did something happen to her?
Hanne rings the bell, knocks, pounds on the door, runs into the wet, green garden, steps in front of the window of the ground floor, calls through the glass, first quietly because of the neighbors, then loudly because of her mom.
Is that a body lying there on the floor of the dark room? Black shadow, motionless. Mom! Mom! Are you okay? She has to get inside. A hammer, no, a shoe, no, a brick. A brick. A couple months ago, when Hanne smashed a window at school, mom didn’t scold her for the break, just for the fact that she now had to buy a new window pane and a glazier is terribly hard to find in an economy of scarcity.
And now? It doesn’t matter, Hanne decides, with or without Window and glazier, she has to save her mom.
One toss, from an angle, her free hand shielding her face. The window withstands. Again, harder. The glass trembles and shatters, it is raining shards of glass. Hanne wraps her sweater around her forearms, plucks the lowest glass stalagmite from the frame and climbs into their apartment. Mom! Mom!
She is not here. Not. Here.
Hanne drops to the ground, her head buzzing, thoughts swirling, chasing away any sense for the passing of time.
She does not hear her mother enter, just her cry. Hanne! Hanne! Are you okay?
Stammering shredded sentences on both ends. I thought you are… I was just … at the market they had fresh tomatoes in stock, so I just quickly went… and the bakery …
Ellie picks two tiny splinters from Hanne’s palm, sweeps up the glass shard below the window, sighs, and looks for the note with the name of the glazier on it, at least she already knows him from last time.
They breathe through the adrenaline, eat tomato salad with cheese and fresh bread, Ellie gently strokes Hannes hair. The smell of warm earth drifts in from the garden. Hanne falls asleep with her mother’s thumb held tightly in her fist, as always. Ellie does not sleep a bit, the whole night long she stares at the shadow play which appears on the blanket she hung up in front of the gaping glass hole.

Hanne is forty-two, her mother not here. Hanne didn’t forget her key, but her cell phone, and Ellie’s key is in the lock inside. Mom can’t be far, she can barely make it to the bathroom. Hanne rings the bell, knocks, pounds on the door, quietly at first, because of the neighbors, then loudly because of her mom. Mom! Are you okay?
Was there a whimper? The shadow of a voice. It is late, the neighbors have small children, but there is no other way. Hanne rings next door, explains her worries to her sleepy, bed-headed neighbour. My mother hasn’t answered the phone in hours, so I just …
The neighbour brings her to the balcony smelling of autumn that is adjacent to her mother’s. Should we call an ambulance? No, no, said Hanne, I will take care of it.
She climbs from one balcony to the other, flattens her nose against her mother’s window. There she is on her bed, almost unnoticeably moving her lips, a hand. Hanne pounds on the window, her mother hauls herself up on one elbow in slow motion, and falls back on her pillow. Hanne doesn’t know any glazier, and wouldn’t it get too cold overnight with a broken kitchen window?
Does not matter, she has to save her mom.
A brick? No. The neighbour hands her a hammer over the railing.
One hit from an angle, her free hand shielding her face. In her fear, Hanne is thirteen again. The glass withstands. The second hit propels an echo of splintering glass through the courtyard of the residential complex. Somebody opens their window vis-à-vis and threatens to call the police! Everything fine, it’s the daughter, she has to save her mother, the neighbour answers.
Hanne wraps her sweater around her forearms, climbs through the window with great difficulty, which reminds her that she isn’t thirteen anymore after all, and rushes to her mother’s side.
“Sugar!” she wheezes. “No doctor!” She is more scared of doctors than of dying. Hanne makes her way towards the apple juice packages, glass crunching beneath her feet, sticks a straw into the juice pack, Drink, mom, drink.
The neighbour knocks on the door and needs to be calmed down, she was just hypoglycemic, everything will be fine, thank you. Hanne! Are you okay? In my nightstand is the contact info of a glazier. Hanne looks into the drawer and finds the note of the glazer from way back, two thousand kilometers and three decades away. Hanne breathes away the adrenaline, and smilingly strokes Ellie’s hair. Then she sweeps up the glass and cuts up some fresh bread, cheese and tomatoes before she closes the kitchen door to keep out the October cold. But Ellie only wants a few crumbs, and to hold Hannes hand, just for a little while. Hanne would like to stay overnight, but Ellie won’t let her: go home, you have a child to take care of, I will manage.
Back home Hanne does not sleep a bit. The whole night long she stares at the shadow play behind the freezing cold window, and strokes Luis’ hair, who tightly grips her thumb in his tiny fist.
Sometimes in life, things appear like twins, separated at birth, one of whom is accelerated into space and returns young to her much more quickly aged twin. Quietly they face each other, what is there to say.
Or like a child, that looks into the mirror, frightened by the wrinkly, gray-haired ancestor who stands before him.
Years later, Ellie is long gone, Hanne looks into the mirror and sees her mother, at first startled, then moving in closer, she turns right and left in order to find as much as she can of Ellie. She caresses her cold glass face: do not cry, Mom, I will manage.

Translation by Shan Wardell
 
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