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Walls of Glass – A Short Story by Adela Racikova

The room was cool and dark. The cold was coming in through the old brick walls. The little lamp on the table was about to die out. The television was on all day, but no one watched it. There was an old sofa in the corner of the room. An old man was sitting on it, staring out of the window at the empty street.

He was a very strange old man. He was not at all like other old men. He very rarely left the house, although he had a lot of free time and nothing to do all day. When he finally did go out, he would completely cover his face so that no one could see him. He didn’t talk to his neighbours or people walking down the street like other old people do. On the contrary, he would always avoid people. Even in the shops, he always kept at least two meters distance from other people. And if by chance someone recognized him and greeted him, the old man simply waved at them and left. He was also very angry when he had to queue. What’s more, he had lost his appetite, not only to eat, but also to live. The food did not taste as good as it used to, and he could not smell the flowers in his garden anymore. I suppose you could say he was a very strange old man.

He turned away from the window and looked around the room. Suddenly he noticed something that brought some life back into his face, but it was simply the light of a more present sadness. He immediately stood up from his chair and walked over to the table. His eyes fell on a picture of a little girl with a big smile that was standing in a frame on his desk. He picked up the photograph and pressed it to his chest. He couldn’t stop the flood of memories flowing through his mind like a waterfall. He recalled all the delightful moments with his granddaughter when she came to visit him. She was only six years old, but she was very witty. She would always ask him, “Why is it like that, grandpa?” and he had to explain everything to her. Sometimes they would spend the entire day gardening. She loved the bright flowers in his garden. Furthermore, he always made her favorite meal, because all she ever wanted to eat was “grandpa’s special cheesy buns”. A feeling of longing broke into his heart as the memories refused to subside, and it always felt heavy and sorrowful when he recalled those beautiful moments he had lived. For some reason, they seemed very distant, vague, even false. It terrified him that he might never experience them again…

The old man’s memories were interrupted by a familiar voice. “Grandpa!” The old man’s granddaughter shouted impatiently. She ran straight to her grandfather’s house and knocked on his window several times. And suddenly the room lit up. It grew warmer inside. The drone of the television was silenced. Grandpa came to the window. Their hands, pressed against the window, began to touch each other and their fingers started to draw hearts on the misty glass. They immediately embraced, but the window remained between them. It was the only safe feeling of closeness they could experience these days.

Note from the author: I originally wrote this story in Russian as part of my assignment. However, when developing the plot, it became more than just an assignment. Having combined the weirdness and the solitude of the times we currently live in with my own personal childhood memories, this story became a piece of writing that I want to cherish. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and who knows, maybe you even find a bit of yourself in it. And that is what we are all looking for in art, isn’t it? Something we can relate to.

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