and for adults, who were once children
© Copyright 2001, 2002, and 2003 by Lidia FisherThese stories happened to me when I was a child, except the fifth
one that happened to my friend. Her story shocked me, since I am a mother myself. We all love our children and want the best for them.
The Little Gypsy
(New June 2003)
|It happened many years ago and left
a deep vestige in
my soul, as a shooting star flashing across a moonless
summer night sky.
I was living in a small country town
on the edge of a woodland, and next to a wide open prairie, stretching
We had a big house with a huge backyard,
Once, when the early summer morning called me out, I ran outside, swimming in tender hot streams of sunshine, and I saw something that made me still with wonder.
Next to the town I saw colorful tents, horses and a crowd of people. At first I thought it was a festival, but there hadn't been any announcement? I guessed it was just a camp of wandering gypsies.
In our town people did not like strangers, and didn't trust them. Especially gypsies. Our pastor called them lazy bums, and even children of the Devil. So, for me there was no chance to get permission to visit the camp. But I wanted to so much!
In the evening my wish became a desire. I heard songs, I saw people bustling around tents and fires. New, unknown children and men were mounting horses, and jigged with women.
My nanny forced me home, and warned me again: "They steal horses and kids, stay away from them!"
What could I do?
Next morning I was sitting near the fence, keeping my eyes on the camp and I saw a small figure slowly moving from a tent towards me.
Then he drew close, I saw it was a gypsy boy, and I waved to him. He neared, and stopped, hesitatingly.
Now I was able to look him over. He was a little bit older than me, barefoot, and he was wearing tattered, however very colorful clothes. But his eyes struck me to the bottom to my soul. I had never seen such big and beautiful eyes.
For a few minutes we looked at each other without saying a word. Finally I asked: "Are you from the camp?"
"What is your name?"
"Andrew," he answered.
He gazed at me with his wonderful eyes, and pushed aside a lock of his thick hair.
We laughed at once, and felt as if we had known each other for a long time.
"Let's play hide-and-seek!" I suggested.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
But I already opened the low gate and invited him in, "Hide! You're first!"
Not arguing, he darted in, and vanished in bushes.
In vain I tried to find him, and I loudly admitted my loss.
Unexpectedly Andrew appeared in front of me, like a jack-from-the box.
Now it was my turn, but in the very same moment my nanny came out of the house. When she saw my new friend, she uttered such a scream, that Andrew jumped over the gate, and ran to the camp, not looking back.
My nanny led me away, damning all the gypsies, and telling me stories one more horrible than the next one.
I didn't listen. I feel so sorry for my new friend.
"He'll never be back," I thought with bitterness.
The whole night I could not sleep, thinking about gypsies. What if I ran away? Wandering with them around the country, singing, mounting horses. I loved all these things!
But I thought about my mom, how she would be upset!
"No, I shouldn't even think about it!" I said to myself, wiping the tears from my face.
In the early morning I came out of the house. The thick fog hid the world around me and I could not even see my desirable camp.
I opened the gate, walked to a small pound next to our yard, and sat on the brink, thinking, about how unhappy I was.
I was close to tears, when somebody touched my shoulder.
It was him - my little gypsy boy!
"Hi!" he said, giving me a toy. It was a figure of a horse, carved from a piece of wood.
"I made it myself!" he said smiling. "I have my own stallion at the camp. My father gave it to me. His name is Eagllie. I love riding horses!"
"Me too!" I exclaimed. "I love horses so much!"
"Wanna go with me to the camp?" he asked. "I'll show you my Eagllie. Nobody will harm you."
"I can't" I exhaled painfully. "I'm not allowed."
And I cried violently. Andrew touched my shoulder again.
"Don't cry! Want me to come here every day? If you want?"
"Gosh! Of course I do!" I screamed, however glancing back, to make sure my nanny is not around to hear it.
They were wonderful days! The weather was great, it was neither cold nor hot, and the warm still air was suffused with aromas of blooming flowers and grass. Every day my new friend climbed over the gate and we played selflessly, forgetting everything.
He never came with empty hands. All the time he brought something for me.
He was so kind and gentle! He told me real stories, about the real gypsy life, about their wanderings, animals and their difficult but interesting life!
"Doesn't your older sister tell you she visits our camp?" he asked me once. "Every evening. She has a wonderful voice. Our people like her songs and they even gave her a guitar as a prize."
I was so surprised! She didn't say a word to me! Now that I know her "secret" I decided to ask, even beg her to take me to the camp. Together it would be okay.
I was ready to tell Andrew, but suddenly my nanny appeared near us, screaming and shaking her fists at the boy.
He fled, but half way to the camp, he looked back and shouted: "I love you, Lydia! I'll marry you!"
"What did he say?" yelled my nanny, throwing up her arms. "Why does our sheriff do nothing about these bandits!"
She was not alone in her hatred of the gypsies. The townsfolk demanded the gypsies leave, and I had no chance to even say goodbye to Andrew...
This friendship left a sorrow itching
my soul. Thenceforth I love everything about gypsies. My sister gave me
her guitar, and while playing, I was still thinking and dreaming about
my unforgettable darling little gypsy boy.
One Day In The Childhood Of A Country Girl
The soft and tender beam of the summer sunshine touches me gently and wakes me, as would a careful mother.
I open my eyes, and, stretching, think, "O God! What a wonderful day!"
But my next thought is about my new pet, Philip, the hedgehog.
I got him just yesterday, when he came to our garden.
It happens that many hedgehogs came to our garden during the summer and autumn, but only that hedgehog was not afraid of me and even took the cookie that I offered him. Of course, he curved himself into a ball when I took him into my hands, but I knew how to handle these needled animals, and I carried him to my cabana and placed in a box.
Soon the hedgehog calmed down, and started to explore his new home...
...I spring up from the bed to run into the garden, but at the same time my older sister, Barbara, comes into my room. We love each other very much, but I always think she abuses my love and patience.
Hugging me, she whispers some tender names; she kisses me and helps me to get dressed. (Like I'm a baby!) She makes me brush my teeth, and get breakfast, and only after all this she allows me to go outside.
Brimming with expectation, I run into the cabana and look into the box.
O goodness! The left board has been slightly moved to reveal a chink, and, of course, the hedgehog is gone...
Deeply upset, I go back to my sister. She tries to make me feel better, promising to buy me a rabbit. It does work; I cheer up.
"How about a pony?" I ask with hope.
"Maybe later," she answers uncertainly.
I have been dreaming about a pony of my own to ride as if it were a wild mustang. I've read a lot of westerns. But my parents have no horses...
(When you are a child, your dreams are like an ocean; you are swimming and surfing, you dive deep and reality and fantasy exchange places in your mind.)
"Here is your milk!"
The voice of my sister brings me back. Grrrrr! All the time!
My parents have no horse, but they keep a cow, named Saddled because of the big black spot on her back. She is a nice and kind animal; I am allowed to ride her.
I remember it clearly.
Now my sister and I are sitting on the porch of the barn, waiting for our cow.
It is a lovely evening, twilight, and the sun had just hid behind the magic line where earth meets sky. The darkened overhead space bestows enchanting warmth upon us.
And here comes our beauty!
Saddled nears us and dips her head, showing her sharp horns. My sister gives her a treat, and seats me on the rugged but warm cow's back.
I'm riding! I'm a Chief of Indians, or Amazon, or even Headless Horseman (depending on my present mood).
But we have already reached the stall, and my sister returns me to Earth.
...The day is over, the glass of milk is finished - my supper.
"Brush your teeth! Wash your feet. Did you walk barefoot again?"
Of course I did! How it possible to walk with shoes into warm puddles or velvety piles of dust or sand?
But finally all unpleasant cleaning procedures are complete, I'm in my cozy lukewarm bed, and my sister has finished cherishing me. Now I can dream without being disturbing until I fall asleep. And I'm flying, mounted on a wild mustang, or caressing my very own sweet pony...
I could not admire it enough, and started begging my dad to go and play with me right now.
"I'm very tired, honey," my dad answered apologetically.
But then, he looked through the window, saw some of my friends playing nearby, and understood my feelings.
"Okay," he smiled. "You can go and play outside. Show off your toboggan." He gave me a wink. "Just don't go far away from home. Deal?"
"I love you, daddy!" Happy, I rushed to put my winter clothes on....
Outside, I took a deep breath, pretending to not do anything special, and slowly moved toward my friends. They noticed me when I came close, and they saw the toboggan.
I could not hide my smile, seeing how my friends were impressed. They looked all over the toboggan, touching and stroking the decoration. They gasped with delight.
"Let's check how fast it can go!" someone finally suggested. We ran to the driveway between the blocks of houses. The toboggan was not big, and so only one kid at time could sit on it, but it was not important to us. We were good friends, and decided to take turns. The first girl sat on the toboggan; we all took the rope and ran.
When we reached the end, the next child sat on it, but a car came through, and we had to wait.
We had just started running again when we saw another car. We moved aside, making way for the vehicle. Our high spirits started to leave us.
"Boring!" said someone. "Let's ride somewhere else!"
"I can't," I objected. "My dad told me to stay here."
"Let's go to the river!" suggested another girl. "It's not that far away. If we toboggan on ice no car will bother us."
Everybody liked this idea. I hesitated, but the river was really not far away, and I did not want to miss being the center of attention of my friends.
We reached the river and started tobogganing. I was probably the youngest one, and I got tired first. Besides, I realized that everybody had already had a ride except me, and I told my friends about this. The children did not argue, and seated me on the toboggan.
They took the rope, and ran.
I clutched the handles. They were very short, and my mittens were very thick, I could not hold on well. The speed that my friends had reached scared me. The toboggan jumped on the rough patches of the ice, and I felt as if I was riding on a wild mustang.
Suddenly the toboggan jumped so high that the landing catapulted me off. I fell, rolled head over heels, and finally struggled to sit up.
I looked at my friends, they were still running; they did not look back, and I got offended. Then I went to the bushes and hid. I was whispering, preparing sharp words that I would say to my friends when they come back for me.
Sitting on the snow, I did not look at the river, but a loud scream got my attention, and I poked my head out of the bushes.
At first I did not understand what was going on. In the middle of the river, contrasting with the white ice, a big dark patch of water appeared. The children were floundering in there. It looked so awful that I was frozen with horror.
I saw a man running on the other side of the river. He stepped on the ice, but in just a few strides, he sank up to his waist. He struggled out and crawled on the surface of the ice towards my friends.
I saw other people. Some of them carried ladders and big pieces of plywood and veneer. They passed them forward, putting them on the ice, and another man crawled towards children as well.
The first man reached the water, and lying on a ladder, he started to pull kids up. He passed them to another man, and he passed them to the next, who just stood in the waist deep water, and he moved the child to the people on the bank of the river.
I watched them until the last child had been taken away. All my friends were safe now, but I realized they lost my toboggan, and I cried. I got to my feet and went home. I entered through the kitchen door. I did not take my clothes off, and I hid myself in the closet.
Sobbing, I sat in the corner. I thought that I was a bad child. I caused so much trouble. I did not listen to my dad. My friends got wet. But the worst thoughts were about the toboggan. I felt sorry about the lost gift. It was so beautiful! I was imagining how my father would be upset and angry, how he would scold me.
"Probably he will never buy me anything nice anymore," I thought, tears spreading over my face. I do not remember how I fell asleep.
When I awoke, and looked outside, I realized it was already the middle of the night. I heard someone in the kitchen, and I wanted to run away. But my clothes were still wet, I was awfully hungry, and the darkness scared me. I went out and walked to the kitchen.
To my surprise, I saw my mom and dad sitting at the table. Usually they went to bed very early, and I wondered why they were not asleep. When I entered, they looked at me, and I was shocked. My parents gazed at me as if I was a stranger, or a ghost.
Suddenly my mom uttered an awful howl that made my hair stand on end.
She flung herself at me, and I thought she was going to kill me. She grabbed me, she sobbed, and laughed, she kissed me, and she hugged me. I saw tears in the eyes of my father; I was scared to death.
"I'm sorry!" I cried out. "I lost my toboggan... Please, forgive me... I'm very sorry! I lost it. It's gone... It's gone..."
Without a word my father got up. He walked twice around the kitchen. It seemed as if he could not decide what to do. Keeping silent, he crouched down, picked something up and put a toboggan on the table.
I gasped. It was the same, it was my toboggan!
"But if the toboggan is here why do you cry?" I wondered.
"You're alive!" my mother mumbled, still squeezing me. Perplexed, I looked at my father. He took a deep breath.
"Nobody knew you weren't on the toboggan," he explained very calmly. "We thought you had drowned."
I was just six. But I understood
I quickly got in, and sat on the floor. I hid myself under those papers. I planned to start mewing, when the class would begin. I was imagining how funny it would be. But I was tired after the physical education class, and I did not realize that I was falling asleep.
I awoke, and first could not understand where I was. I felt awfully uncomfortable; my back and legs hurt. Posters were piled up on top of me. I struggled out those papers, and tried to get out.
The door was locked. I looked outside through the gap between the door and the edge of the locker, and realized at once that the school day was over, and everybody had gone home except me. I got scared and knocked on the door. Nobody answer. I started to panic, and began to scream. I pounded the door.
I heard somebody enter the classroom, and I looked through the gap. It was the school janitor.
"Who's where?" he asked.
"It's me," I answered plaintively. "I'm locked in, let me free, please!"
"How did you get here?"
"Oh, please, let me out! I'm so scared!"
The janitor came close, took out his keys, and tried to open the locker. He could not do it.
"Strange," he said surprised. "I'll call your teacher. She has a key."
"Don't leave me!" I cried.
"I'll be right back, don't worry!" and he quickly went away. I was waiting, stiff with fear. I was thinking it just a bad dream.
"In the locker?" I heard someone say, and looked through the gap. I saw the janitor enter the classroom, but some police officer was next to him, and I froze with terror.
The policeman knocked on the door. I was so scared I could not reply.
"Nobody's here," the officer shrugged her shoulder.
I thought they were going to leave and I cried out: "I'm here!"
"Why are you there?" wondered the policeman. I did not know that to say. I wished to disappear. I dreamed of how they would open the door, and would not find me there. They would ask me after, was I in the locker? "No, it wasn't me," I would answer.
"What's going on out here?" familiar voice said, and I saw our principal. My desire to vanish flew up to the sky.
The janitor explained: "I could not reach the teacher, but I left a message..."
"Who dared to lock up my child?" somebody interrupted him, and I saw my father. I liked my teacher, and did not want any trouble for her.
"Dad!" I called out. "It was an accident. I'm sorry!"
"Honey," my father asked with worry. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine! Please, let me go!"
The janitor tried to unlock the locker again.
"Break the door!" ordered the principal. All the men combined their efforts. The locker was shaking. Some papers from the highest shelf fell on my head. I clung to the vibrating walls and wept. I was afraid the door would not be open, and I would remain locked up in here forever.
They threw the door wide open. I just stood still, and the adults took me away.
"How did you get in?" they all asked me at once. "Why were you there? Why are you so quiet?"
I kept silent. When I hid,
all that I wanted to say was: "Mew!" But now it lost all meaning, and I
did not know what to answer.
The parents of Vera were not poor, but they called themselves "practical".
Vera's first memory was of a birthday present given to her by her mother. A plastic teddy-bear. It was ugly and scary, hard and had a disgusting smell, but her mother smiled and told her father: "Look, what a practical toy! She can chew it, or drop it in a puddle! No matter! It will still be good!"
All the following toys were the same. Very, very practical. So, Vera started to steal nice toys from other kids. Her parents caught her, and her father gave her such a belting that the girl could not sit for almost a week.
It did not change Vera's mind. She was just more careful. She never brought stolen toys home anymore, Vera hid them and played when she had time.
Her hobby became her job when she met Adam. They had been dating about two year; Vera was just fifteen, but her boyfriend got a fake ID for her, and the girl left her home, she was ready to do anything for Adam.
Adam did not limit their "work" to burglaries. Vera loved him very much, and never refused, when he asked her to deliver "stuff" for his clients, and usually she was doing that without any problems. Miniature, Vera was not ugly, yet so plain that even for the police it was a difficult task to remember her face.
But this day their luck ran out.
While the police chased her Vera had dumped the bags with the powder. Then the policemen arrested her, and searched her carefully, they found nothing, and had to let her go.
Mad, Vera went back to her boyfriend, and she did not notice she had been shadowed.
Vera was humiliated; she was trembling after such stress, and she needed support, but Adam started shouting at her. He got angry that she had failed the "operation", and they lost a lot of money. He talked to her the same way as her parents had and that made Vera insane.
When she took his gun Adam did not turn a hair. He knew how Vera loved him.
It was an automatic pistol, and Vera kept firing until the police burst into the apartment and shot her down.
The small houses of our village were comfortably placed among cozy gardens and austere forests along the riverside, and the water ran freely between the wide and high banks.
It was only the day before that I celebrated my thirteenth birthday, the magical, desirable stage of life when you are not a kid anymore and can proudly call yourself a "teenager."
I had a dream... Well, of course I had many, but the one I cherished and which also looked pretty easy to achieve was to paddle a canoe.
My parents had one, but it was always locked in the garden shed and they did not allow me to even think about taking it on the river.
"Why?" I had asked a million times.
"We don't want you to drown." Was the answer every time.
I did not understand their worries; I could swim very well, and besides, I planned to go with my friend, Rick. He was two years older than me, and was a great swimmer, very athletic and strong. He was brave and honest and I trusted him. I was sure he would help her in any situation.
This sunny day was great. Fall had taken her first steps in this part of the country; it was still very warm, but not hot anymore. Rick visited me and together we walked slowly along the farm fences. Passing the garden shed we cast glances at the tempting door, and both came to a standstill as we noticed that it was not locked. It was slightly ajar and revealed a chink.
The darkness from inside hypnotized us. At once we jumped over the fence, ran to the door, and pulled it open. Our eyes took in the sight of the canoe hanging on the wall, and not hesitating even for a second, we took it down and hurriedly carried it to the river. we planned aloud to return it before my parents found out about our escapade.
Once on the river, the fast current caught the canoe's keel and we flew to adventure. How we rejoiced! We laughed, and imagined ourselves pirates, pilgrims, and even space voyagers on an extraterrestrial sea!
But despite our excited mood, we understood that it was time to go back. We began to paddle, struggling against the current.
Soon our high spirits ebbed. We paddled and paddled, using all our strength. We become awfully tired, and were still very far from home.
"What are we going to do?" I thought, panicking. "We'll never get home this way!"
A big cargo ship passed the canoe. It was moving in the direction that we needed to go, and Rick and I both thought how wonderful it would be if they could catch this boat somehow.
Suddenly, as if in answer to their thoughts, I noticed a line hanging from the stern of the vessel. Not hesitating, not losing a second, I grabbed it. It was not a rope, but a thin metallic cord with a noose on the end. I could not hold it well, so I threaded my hand through the loop, and the ship dragged the featherweight canoe.
We laughed with joy. We could not hear each other because of the noises of the boat engines, but everything looked great.
"We'll be home in no time!" I screamed cheerfully.
A motorboat swept by, and the wake overturned the canoe. We were both in the water now, and I heard Rick shout: "Drop that damned rope!"
I wished I could! The noose held me hand like a wolf trap holds a paw. The vessel moved too fast for me to get close enough to loosen the cord. Struggling desperately, I started choking. The waves flowed over my head. The water beat my face like a merciless boxer. In vain I tried to take in a breath of air.
"Oh God! Make this ship stop!" I thought, but in the next second I realized that if my prayer was answered I would be dragged into the blades of the boat engine and be ripped to shreds. I thought that I was doomed in any case. I imagined how, after I drowned, my dead body would follow the vessel for a long time until it stopped, and then it would be found minced. Only my ill-luck hand would remain whole.
I did not see Rick, but it did not matter to me anymore. I saw the sunshine, so soft, so tender and warm, even through the cold water. That was the last thing of which I was aware.
Seeing that something was definitely wrong Rick did not try to catch up with the boat anymore; instead he rushed to the river-bank, and, breathing raspy and labored, he ran to the closest boat station. The officials sent a rescue motorboat and radioed the captain of the cargo ship to drop speed, but not to stop.
The first thing I saw when I finally opened her eyes was the pale face of my father.
"My God!" he cried. "She's alive!"
"Where am I?" I barely could ask.
I looked around, saw people, a landing pier, and I recalled everything.
My grandmother, Lidia Fisher, lives in Moscow, Russia. She sent to me a tape with some stories from her life. I hope that some day these stories will be published as a book. We even have a subtitle: "True stories for children, who will become adults one day, and for adults, who were once children." I translated these stories from Russian, and slightly corrected them, so they would be readable for the people around the world.
My grandmother has no access to
Internet, and she does not speak English, however she can read a simple
text in English, and she'll be glad if someone would like to write to her.
Her address is:
Contact Lidia through her grandaughter, Lily
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