A strong boy – his beard barely ruffles his curly and thick hair under his sheep’s hat and some gentle, lying young eyes. When he left home to go to Bucharest for so many years in schools, his mother – a good woman! – he kissed him so many times, he adjusted his hair, smoothed his hat and kissed him again, and said:
– Niţă, mother, you are going beautiful and healthy: may God and the Mother of God help you to come back to me in the same way!
And as good as the old woman was, she could not control herself… she overcame her crying. He often let her go, and she kept him from stroking him. It burned him to go, and at least his mother was dear to him, as if he were now in trouble because she was too late to leave. He also wept, it is true, for her weeping; but while his eyes were sad, the imagination flew happily on the road that opened long and unknown to him before.
Three years of unwavering monotony… The same clocks… the same steps ani three whole years! The fourth, although it had been announced from the beginning to follow the same unshakable path, retained for later a novelty, a strange surprise.
Next to the seminary, an old aristocratic house… From the windows and from the porch behind it, you can see -8-over the wall in the school playground. Once, on a holiday, Niță walked alone in the yard with a book in his hand: he had stayed in school to prepare for the upcoming exams. It was a tangled dogma: he walked around the courtyard, repeating by heart with the book in his hand. It is difficult to remember such tortured phrases… Open the book again…
Passing by the wall, the seminarian shuddered: a ball of paper struck him on the hand, and sliding over the open book, he jumped as far as he could. Nothing stopped on the spot… Necessarily, and a joke from a comrade… a piece of bread dipped in ink… or who knows what.
He looked around… No one in the school yard… The blow had come from the houses next door… He looked up and saw the nearest window, which was open, the curtains moving as if someone were hiding behind… What -it might be?
Let’s see… The seminarian bent down and took the ball: it was something wrapped inside… He wanted to untie it… A sting… A needle with a lump! What a fool! ”Angrily, he dropped the ball and began to wipe his stabbed finger, at the top of which, after each squeeze, a large, red bead grew back.
The gem, struck with earthly trouble, unfolded… a flower between its folds!… With astonishment and more remembrance than the first time, he picked up the paper nicely… It was really a carnation – like the blood flowing from his finger – recently broken…
Then unpack better… Something written…
The young man’s body felt tingled from head to toe with a hot shiver… All the heat rose to his forehead… Hidden in his chest the paper and the flower, he searched around with his eyes not to see anyone from school what had happened, and he ran inside without daring to look up at the window where the curtains were moving.-9-
Sick… Colds and heartbeats, so you can’t stand up. The headmaster was convinced that the boy was ill, and sent him to rest. Niţă went up to the bedroom, threw herself on the bed, took the flower out of her breast and read the note again and again:
– You’re beautiful… If you wanted to, I’d love you so much.
… If he wanted to!…
Who to be? He is not a child; he’s been a young man for twenty-three years… Who?… A woman!
The patient jumps out of bed, leaves the bedroom and without notifying anyone, as required by the regulations, goes out the gate. In front of the neighboring houses, he calms down and crosses the road so that he can grab the whole façade in one fell swoop. The attic windows are all closed and the curtains left.
He knows he’s beautiful… His mother often told him, maybe more often the girls in the village, but of course, more than anything, Cuțiteiu’s sister, Sultana, who never told him… With mixed love and a little pride he smiles when his mother comes to mind.
It was getting late and the seminarian was still walking back and forth in front of the house where the woman who would love him most “if he wanted to” was.… The dinner bell rings at school. That wakes him up; he hurries and enters.
They are all at the table; he is not hungry… He goes and goes to bed, putting the note and the carnation under the pillow, after looking again for a long time at the icon of those words, which from now on he can never forget.
The noise of the other boys coming into the bedroom upsets him a lot. At their entrance, he quickly puts his hand under his head, grabs the hidden wealth and stands still… Some ask him something… he doesn’t understand what… he doesn’t breathe, pretending to be asleep.
Near midnight… Everyone is finally asleep. Niţă gets up slowly and leaves with the utmost caution; find-10-the door of the room is touched and goes down to the courtyard… At the light window… the windows open and the curtains left. He remains staring at it, wandering in another world, which he had dreamed of as if he had often, but he never hopes to see.
The young man swells his chest, stretching his arms, numb from the cold, until his wrists crack, when the curtains fall to one side and a woman puts her hand on the windows to close them. The seminarian freezes; he wants to shout, but he can’t, and until the effect of the blow passes, the window is closed, the curtains are left, and the light is off.
The day is approaching when the young man decides to return to the bedroom… He throws himself on the bed, rests his heart, in which he feels an indefinite grip, on his right hand, and on his left his forehead warm – he falls asleep and sleeps until the snack bell.
Three nights of ambush… four… five… and as many days harder than the nights: hours of classes and meditations… the noise of comrades, the inability to be alone with his imagination… and the cold… and the windows still closed… and the curtains forever left.