Earthquake-3

kirkomstrom2

When I came back to lathe, I saw inspector with measure gadget there probing my patterns. He declared high percentage of deficiency and recommended to sharpen the drill. It was smoke break in instrumental store, and a group of middle-aged workers gathered around the table. Black plate of old radio was on the wall.
While uncle Vanya was sharpening my drill, I listened to the radio and to small talk of oldies.
There were no victims and no buildings destruction in republic after night earthquake, except of few clay huts collapse in province.

One old turner told how he witnessed strong earthquake many years ago in mountains area, when canyon suddenly appeared within a few meters from him, devoured people and cattle, and then formed new, smooth plateau. Then there were rumors about replacement in power structures. It was not 1937, but 1977, but people still talked by euphemisms. The chief editor of town newspaper was fired. His typesetter in print shop missed one letter in composition, what came out unnoticed. Newspaper was issued as usual by 100.000 copies circulation with words: traitor Brezhnev- instead of -chairman Brezhnev- printed in bold shrift at the first page.

Getting the drill, I still didn’t work, as hand crane was out of order and could not transport me new supply of pieces. I decided to climb up 30-meters staircase and check what was going wrong.
The shop with green quadrates of machines and tiny figures of turners looked like table game from above. Staircase was adjoined to rickety ladder winding around perimeter of ventilation tubes. One of the cables collapsed and blocked movement of crane wheel.
I could do nothing till repairman arrival, but my feeling fixed me to the place. I felt paralyzing fear of height. My hands clasped railing frantically. I stood at one meter wide beamer of the roof and could not make step forward. When looking down I felt dread of fall and did not separate it from reality of being safe above. Fist seconds of horror when you only start slipping down already seized me. Every beat of my heart recreated anguish in its killing force again and again. One could finish with this and also with all dreads of life by stepping aside. I felt extreme power of gravitation and impossibility to resist it.
At this moment of dizziness, one bright object came in my viewpoint. Object was red and moved by zigzags.
It saved me, I took deep breath and retreated back to the ladder. Then I realized that uncle Vanya signaled me from below holding red plastic bag in hand. My dismount was slow due to weakness and only partial revival of vestibular sufficiency.
Uncle Vanya looked softened, maybe by means of masculinity elixir he consumed during dinner break. He brought me product order with pork, concentrated milk and chocolates, which one could never get in common store.
Chocolates had marvelous taste and heavenly melted in the mouth.
When I came home, I found in postbox big manila envelope with local newspaper stamp on it.
I could not dare to read the letter.
I switched on radio, TV, gas oven and lights everywhere and opened tubs in bathroom.
Then looking at waterfall, I extracted sheet of paper from envelope.
Editor of local newspaper wrote, that short story Magic tablet, which I send him, was approved and accepted for publication.
It was my first! I felt very happy. All night in my dreams I ran trough gardens of joy.
You can perish, but if you survive, canyon transforms in new plateau.

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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