NOT TONIGHT, An excerpt from a work in progress

by Verginie Ovanesyan translated from the Bulgarian by Olga Nikolova

A text by the 2015 Sozopol Fiction Seminars fellow Verginie Ovanesyan

Tonight, there are no lovers walking down the park alleys. There are no kings in the castles, and the princesses die alone – they have no frogs or peas. Tonight, the inkpots are empty, and the words are uncountable. Tonight, all shouts are muffled by unbearable silence. Tonight, the barefoot do not find shoes, and the anthills are too few, too small, and too far away to save lost wanderers. Tonight, children sob softly, mothers behave unreasonably, and fathers – they remain unknown.

Tonight, all pictures are in pale green. The grass, the leaves, the ocean and the ship, and the people and their misfortunes, and the bottomless eyes of the woman waiting for someone’s return. All of them are pale green. Her hair, too, is pale green, and her hips, and the weariness of her hands, too, are pale green. When will the man she is waiting for arrive, will the pale green turn brighter?

Tonight, the rivers flow backwards and lure the fish (and people) into the well-known nets, which appear and reappear silently. The clocks turn back in one last attempt to flee, but all the battles have already been lost. And in this devastating muteness, under my window the steps of someone hurrying past resound. Someone who has, who loves and who knows how to win. He has escaped the net, but does not suspect that he has come too late, and there are no words left. And in fact, I don’t want to but I must cry out and tell him that there is no point, that everything has long finished, that the flags are lowered and the scars are hidden. And he would listen to me, he would go back and never want to hurry again, he would never see a reason to hurry.

Hoping to save him, in the last moment, I lean out of the window, and a second before crying out to stop him, I see that this passer-by, this hurrying person who has it, is actually me. The horizon suddenly turns upside down and in the distance appears the bright green shadow of a man returning home. Every ant finds its anthill, every king – his castle. The ink suffices for all the words, save those that are whispered. The nets have been broken, and there is no way, there is no one to prevent us from hurrying on… under the music of the young Chopin.

Tonight, Frédéric François Chopin is born in Żelazowa Wola, the world knows not the heights of his tragedy, the lyricism of his youthful aspirations and his iron will. And how I wish for Chopin to be, how I wish for Romanticism and for the hidden power of tragedy to be. But no. Not tonight.

Verginie Ovanesyan was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In 2012 she graduated from the High School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in Burgas, and a few months later moved to Bremen, Germany, where she pursued a Bachelor degree in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Jacobs University. Later the same year she became a laureate of the Bulgarian National Olympiad in Literature. In 2016 her fiction appeared in Granta Bulgaria 7. She is currently working on her first book and is going to continue her education this autumn with a Master’s degree in Quantitative Finance.


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