I Love You, Nikita
A.M. Reitlinger“I love you, Nikita,” Mama says and I nod. She’s been saying it to me over the last days so often that I merely nod now. She knows I love her too, I am sure.
The sun is burning down while we are walking through the bushes and, once more, I wonder where the magic land is hidden.
Mama said there would be a magic land with lush fields, houses as high as the sky and nice people who were always friendly. I cannot see any lush fields so far, only dusty dirt tracks, dried out bushes and the bright sun burning down our necks. We’ve been walking for hours and I am starting to think this trip isn’t really fun. I remember the trips we did before and we never walked this far and Mama wasn’t so quickly annoyed with me. She’s holding my hand, almost yanking me, dragging my tired feet through the sand. Trips used to be to the park or the woods even – or to Nana – but this one is weird. Sometimes we have to crawl through the dust and even though I thought it was fun in the beginning, I don’t like the taste of dust anymore. It itches my throat and we are out of water. Sometimes we have to hide behind the bushes – especially when cars come – and Mama said it was like hide-and-seek, but no one ever finds us, so I don’t get the point of the game. My feet also hurt and Mama said she would carry me, but I am too big. I disagree, Papa always carried me on his shoulders.
I miss Papa. I asked Mama if he would be in the magic land, but she said even the houses as high as the sky couldn’t reach the place Papa had gone.
We’re not alone on this trip, which is odd. Other people are walking alongside us and I don’t know any of them. Mama doesn’t seem to like them either, but we are still always staying together. I don’t get it.
I wake from the screaming. Confused, I sit up and feel Mama’s arms around me. “I am here, Nikita, I am here”, she mumbles and presses me to her chest. I am confused, so I start to cry. There are bright lights blinding me and then a man steps up to us. Mama flinches when he touches her arm. He is clad in green and it is difficult to make out his whole body in the dark, but we follow him into a big building which is brightly lit, so I have to squint my eyes and shield them for a while because I am still a little tired.
Mama still presses me to her chest which is completely wet, I am not sure if it’s her or my tears. Mine have dried because nothing really bad can happen when Mama is with me. More men in green await at the centre of the weird house which has dirty walls and very high ceilings. I almost cannot see them, but it is probably better so because ugly pipes run them up and down and I wonder why it cannot be like in our little house. You didn’t see pipes there.
Another man approaches us and Mama presses me harder to her. I cannot really breathe anymore, but I don’t want to talk in front of the green men, so I rest my head on Mama’s shoulder. She smells of dust and sweat but underneath I can smell Mama and I doze off a little.
Mama puts me down on the floor and I take a deep breath. She grabs me by the shoulders and looks into my eyes intensively.
“Listen, Nikita,” she says. “Stay here, I will be back, I won’t be gone long.” Her voice wavers and I cling to her because I don’t want her to go.
“It will be alright,” she says and kisses me. Mama-kisses. I kiss her back and want to pull myself up when I hug her, but she puts my arms down again.
“I will be back in a minute,” she says and then she vanishes into one of the many doors and I am left alone with one of the green men.
The man takes me by the arm and gestures to sit down. I am rather scared now and I don’t know when Mama will be back, so I do as I am told. When I look into the green man’s face, I see that he is very white actually. His skin is almost translucent and I can see blue veins puckering underneath his throat. With his extremely white teeth, he flashes me a smile and I try to smile too, but my eyes dart around, looking for Mama. I cannot see her in the crowd.
“Mama?” I say to the man and he answers with weird sounds I don’t understand. Probably he is sick or something. Mama said some people are “special” or “disabled” and not so good at things other people can easily do. I feel sorry for him, it must be hard not to be understood.
“Mama?” I say again, a bit more clearly now. His smile falters the tiniest bit and he sighs. Once more he makes these sounds and I decide not to speak to him.
Probably he is embarrassed.
He talks to me in his weird sounds but I don’t listen. I just want my Mama. I forgot which door she went through, so I keep checking all of them to make sure she doesn’t leave without me. I also need to pee, but Mama has to take me to the toilet. I cannot go on my own yet, which is sometimes embarrassing because Maria already can, but then she is three quarters of a year older than me.
I realise I had fallen asleep when I wake up. Quickly, I look around but Mama is still not there, neither is the green man. I am in a bed now, it smells like the bed I had to sleep in when Mama took me to the hospital when I had my tonsils removed. I don’t like it. I want Mama.
I start crying her name and when the door opens, I am so relieved. Only that the woman coming in is not Mama, it is a strange woman. Like the man, she is very white and her blue eyes pierce right through me.
“Everything is OK now,” she says and I am happy that she can speak normally, but I still don’t believe her.
“Mama,” I repeat again and the woman sits down next to me, stroking my hair.
“You are safe now,” she whispers with a smile, but I disagree. Mama is not here and so I cry anew.
The white woman comforts me, but I don’t like her. Again and again, I scream for Mama, but either she doesn’t hear me, or she doesn’t care about me anymore. Probably it was because I hadn’t told her enough that I loved her, probably I should have crawled better or ducked deeper under the bushes. I don’t know what I did wrong for Mama not wanting to see me anymore, but I wish she would take me away from this place. I hate it here. I want to go home and so I wait on my bed, watching the door, waiting for Mama to come back.
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