The dessert on the plate
Saulius Levickis, aged 15
In the usual area of blocks of flats, between the houses of Wind street there was an old wooden bench painted maybe about seven times in various different colours.
Oh! How much it has seen… As five years ago, a girl and a boy were standing beside it and got acquainted and nowadays they come here together with their little daughter and sit down when they are tired of walking along the paths of the yard. As a pair of the elderly people from the third floor spend their afternoons here on the bench in the shade because the sun on the summer days becomes too hot. Once the old bench has suffered some damage – one evening some boys were playing nearby and got onto the bench – but the old oak boards were no longer strong enough so they broke down. Yet, the manager of the area fixed them quickly – as everybody knew that without the bench this yard of Wind street would look quite sad.
This time, waiting anxiously for the first summer days there were two young men spending the evening on the bench. One of them was tall with curly dark hair and craggy face. They called him Chris in the yard, though his full name was Christopher. And there was Gabriel sitting beside him, the best friend of Chris. They have been friends for such a long time that they cannot remember how they have become them. Even their appearance was similar: Gabriel was a bit higher than his friend, also with dark hair, only he liked doing sports less than Chris.
This evening the guys were relaxed and the topics of their chat were changing one another.
“You came running into that sand box in such speed that I didn’t have time to realize what my bridge was guilty of! You started kicking, beating everything with your full strength and soon there was nothing left from my childish labour of three hours in the sand box…”
Christopher was laughing while listening to his playmate who was telling an old story from their childhood. Gabriel went on speaking:
“At that time I had been going around my construction for hours – I was molding that bridge from clay pieces which I had found in the sand, I had brought a bowl of water to moisten the imaginary building materials and to strengthen my bridge. And you came flying and shouting: “You won’t become a bridge engineer !” and ruined everything in a second.”
“Oh, yes, I remember! But I was so angry because you took down my forester’s hut which I had built under our linden”, Christopher started to remember the details of the story little by little.
Both guys, sitting on the bench in the same yard which was the center of their chat that evening, made a deep sigh. It seems, that a hundred of years have passed since that time, but they both knew in their minds that even now their dreams have remained the same.
“So, what have you decided, Chris?” Gabriel returned quickly to the reality and to its distressing issues. “What are you going to study after finishing school?”
“You should know that I don’t have a choice. I won’t oppose to my parents. I have already resigned myself that all the rest of my life I will have to cut some guts, do operations of appendicitis or simply make gastric lavage for a teenager who will be intoxicated with alcohol.”
There was no the least sign of hope in Christopher’s face, only the disappointment of a young man. So, Gabriel was trying to comfort him:
“Well, but the profession of a doctor is very honourable. Just imagine, how many people will be grateful to you: old ladies will bring some apples from their garden, some richer people will bring boxes of sweets and children will smile after the recovery from illnesses…”
“So what, Gabriel?” interrupted Chris. “I don’t want it at all. We chose our dreams when we were little. Do you remember when in the second grade I tried to climb into our linden? I imagined that it was a forester’s tower from where I was able to see the whole forest, where on the top of the trees you can wave to a woodpecker or meet a squirrel…”
“Yes, and after that you appeared at the hospital reception with a broken leg”, Gabriel added some details to the story.
“It doesn’t matter! I was lying on the fifth floor in hospital, by the window next to which there was a pine and I could see birds landing on it…”
Suddenly, there was a thunder in the sky and the boys understood that there was rain coming. They had to stand up from the bench, shake hands for farewell and go home. Tomorrow will be a big day – all the school-leavers will be filling in the forms for entering the chosen university and the speciality.
Strangely enough, but both guys weren’t able to fall asleep for a long time that night. And even much stranger was the fact that both of them on that special night, when the morning was coming and important steps in the life were getting closer, remembered exactly the same moment of their life.
Christopher had a very wise grandfather named Jacob. The old man has seen the sea and love, war and peace. He knew a lot of people. He could tell a story about some old friends for every moment of life. But when Chris and Gabriel once were visiting him and all of them were drinking cocoa in the porch, the old man was not talking about any person, he was just expressing his ideas:
“How to be sure that you really want something? And to be so sure that all the rest around you would know that this is really what YOU need.”
“Well, if you really want it very much, if you tell everyone about it, then everybody will know that it is YOU who really needs it…”, Christopher tried to answer the old man’s considerations. The guy still didn’t quite understand what his grandfather was speaking about.
“But when people yet don’t know what they want, they wish to have what is important for others. For example, you wouldn’t have asked your parents to buy these trainers if the TV commercials hadn’t announced that every smart boy should have them”, this was a concrete explanation of the grandfather.
“Well, yesss”, replied both Christopher and Gabriel listening to the old man more carefully while Jacob continued speaking:
“If you really try to achieve that thing which is necessary for you, then you will see that that thing you need isn’t necessary for anybody else in the world. You simply won’t have any competitor. Your “plate with a dessert” will be put on the top shelf in the fridge only for you to be able to reach it. This way, you won’t have to hurry anywhere or to outrun anyone to get it. Of course, if that plate is YOURS but not your friend’s or mother’s who told you to eat exactly this dessert… “
Both friends thought about those words over and over again when they were lying in beds in the evening. Just their situations were quite different. Gabriel knew that he doesn’t want to do anything else but only to build bridges in the whole world ! That profession seemed so attractive for him and such a great job – he always liked to analyze how the bridges of various forms and constructions are able to stand for years when their foundations are washed by a swift river and cars one after another go along them.
Christopher’s dreams sounded completely differently. To be more accurate, they were mixed with his parents’ dreams. When his mother and father were making their greatest efforts for their son to be included into the ranks of the most prestigious doctors, Christopher himself was silently dreaming to have a forest hut, every morning to be able to greet hares and roes and to be a real host of a forest…
The manager announced the news for the house residents: “The storm partly destroyed the area of Wind street, in the yards there are trees lying on the ground, a strong wind brought a lot of rubbish, the benches are also broken. As the cleaners will not be able to tidy quickly and to eliminate the effects of the storm, all the neighbours are invited to cooperate and to contribute to the restoration of the cleanliness and order of the yards.”
Christopher and Gabriel haven’t seen each other for nine years and now they both met by the same bench near one of the houses of Wind street. Christopher’s parents who still have been living in the same place where Christopher grew up called him and asked to come and help because it was already difficult for them to work as there was really much work to do there. Gabriel as well accidentally came to visit his parents so when the friends saw each other after so many years, they smiled widely and greeted each other in a very friendly way.
“So many years, buddy!” Gabriel was surprised. “You must be an acknowledged surgeon, having married a beautiful lady and having put around your villa a fence of two meters high hiding your family life from any paparazzi because over the last years it was easier to win a million in a lottery than to get in touch with you. Tell me how you live…”
“Well, as far as I know, there were your photos, not mine, on the first pages of newspapers”, said Christopher smiling friendly but having an inquiring glance at the same time.
“When you are able to build a bridge in the place where nobody could have imagined it could stand, the press pays attention to it despite you want it or not”, Gabriel accepted the fact.
Christopher brought a tool box from the car, threw a hammer to Gabriel and they both went towards the bench of their old yard as the storm had really been severe. The friends started working.
“This place is somehow special”, Chris made a deep sigh. “When sitting on this bench I always knew what my “dessert” looks like and on what plate it is served. Do you remember and understand what I’m speaking about?”
“Very well, Chris”, was Gabriel’s quick answer when he continued pulling out the nails from the broken bench.
“Anyway, I’m here again and I have to admit that I have eaten not my own “dessert”, it was the one of my parents…”
Saulius Levickis, aged 15