Translated by Hristina Ivanova
She was famous for her desserts. And for her passion for blackness. It was a complete miracle that she didn’t think of making black desserts. My mother, her daughter, burned them to perfection. Cookies, cakes, tartlets – I’ve tried everything soaked in that unimaginable taste of burnedness that even the neighbor’s hens couldn’t appreciate.
I can’t even make scrambled eggs. The love for black clothes is the only thing I inherited from my grandma. I even have a black head scarf of fine lace that is in perfect harmony with my eyes. But I have no reason to wear it – it’s a mourning scarf, or so they tell me. To me it’s just eccentric, but I lost my right to an opinion because I’m in a wheelchair now. I can’t go out on the street until my appearance has been approved. I have to choose between hats with visors, but lip gloss is the most important thing, apparently it gives you certain freshness. Whatever, I guess it does match all my shirts.
I’m supposed to stay in this damn wheelchair for a couple more months and then start physical therapy. Car crashes suck and lead to a strong dependency on others’ assistance. Especially if those others are of a motherly disposition, they always require absolute obedience. And I somehow always forget to comply with the requirements.
What kind of daughter are you! You have no respect!
You don’t appreciate my hard work!
Honey is good for your health. And so are carrots.
Cigarettes are bad for you, give me one, because I can’t take it anymore.
By the sixth one she feels sick. Something to do with blood pressure. I’m still in the wheelchair, I can’t help with much, so I bring her a glass of water. She pants, but still gives me a lecture on the dangers of smoking. I light up a cigarette. Only the second today.
Then I eat a carrot. And an apple, but I don’t peel it. Because I’m too lazy. But there are nitrates in the skin. I listen to a lecture about nitrates. I imagine that I have earphones on, thank God, they are small enough now and it won’t be noticeable if I’m listening to reggae. I only have to be careful not to nod my head in time to the music.
I don’t want to be ungrateful.
Am I actually.
There are words that I’ve started disliking recently: guilty, gratefulness, are you even listening to me, you shouldn’t, why, did you take your medicine.
Yes, I did. I took it and I drank eighty cups of tea in the past week.
I have innumerous conversations. On the phone, on chat forums and Skype. I don’t want any visits with a whiff of bouquets and fruit baskets.
All my relatives, however, have come to visit me. After a civilized fifteen minutes, I feign faintness. They put me to bed and have tons of coffee in the kitchen accompanied by their own moaning. At least I don’t have to hear them.
What is the price of happiness?
I’ve forgotten how to be nice.
It’s not because of the medicine. It only leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And gives my face a nasty color. I don’t want to look like that even for a month.
Is this self-pity. No, it’s not. Oh, yes it is – and how.
In the long afternoons I remember my grandma even more clearly. The scent of her cakes and bread. The soft white of her hair and how it glowed in the dark. Forgotten words – kneading trough; hush, little one; let me blow on your hurt knee, so it never hurts again; little white bunny; a slice of bread with butter and savory; granny’s little one. She is no longer just a stout silhouette from my childhood. She had a colorful dressing gown, her apron gave off the sweet smell of comfort. She and mom laughed long and hard while making canned fruit and syrup. I was running around the yard.
There was a wheelbarrow next to the drinking fountain, I didn’t like its creaking noise. Now I make the same sound.
Even back then did I hear the creaking of today’s summer?
Was this what I heard as the car skidded off the road, as the brakes tore through the night, and the wheel came alive in my hands.
Is this why my whole life I’ve gotten goose bumps whenever I hear the screech of metal on metal. All the nerve endings at the base of my spine start tingling when a knife grinds against a fork. Right there where I have no sense of feeling now. I don’t have legs. Just wheels.
And I don’t pity myself.
I simply surreptitiously pour yet another cup of hot tea over my thighs. Nothing can awaken them but the skin reddens slightly.
My mom turns and out of habit I see reproach in the corner of her mouth. Then suddenly she rushes over, cleans me up and comforts me, anyone can spill their drink, she says.
Did you burn yourself.
I don’t feel anything.
It was on purpose I want to say, but I shouldn’t. It’s not proper.
I whirr away with the wheelchair over to the window and there I gather enough courage for a simple “Sorry.” Grandma taught me to apologize.
Then I tear off a chunk of mom’s cake. The crust is burned, it smells bad, but you can’t tell beneath all the powdered sugar she covered it up with.
“It’s delicious,” I tell her and she promises “I’ll show you how to make it when you get better”.
Then I feel like crying until night comes.
 White Bunny – a popular children’s song in Bulgaria
 Savory – a slice of bread with butter, seasoned with dried savory and often ground red pepper is or used to be a typical breakfast in Bulgaria