‘An Orange Lemon’ by Alla Pyatibratova


Number 5, Mark Rothko, 1950

From Words Without Borders:

Her day was not going well. Her cap had fallen in the dirt, and there was a gaping hole in the sleeve of her T-shirt. She hadn’t even felt it snag on anything. And there was an angry bruise just above her elbow. Where had that come from? Not noticing a torn sleeve was one thing, but to have hurt her arm and not even feel it? It gave you pause for thought.

Maria sat in the grass by herself and thought listlessly to herself. There was nothing else to do. Everyone had scattered in search of shade, leaving the square empty.  It was quiet. There was no one yelling or looking over her shoulder. But soon it would be feeding time, which would bring this sweet inactivity to an end.

“Oh, no, not that,” Maria groaned in irritation. A bearded man who was passing by turned sharply and walked up to her. Maria didn’t know his name and had no desire to learn it. She referred to him as the Commandant, or sometimes as the son-of-a-bitch.

“What are you doing sitting, bitch,” he shouted from a distance. “You need a personal invitation? Soup’s on.”

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