Galia

“Excuse me.” The man in the suit is handing her a glass of white wine. “Someone asked me to bring you this.”

“Oh. I — ” she’s lost the words — “no order.”

“No, miss,” the man says, putting the glass down before her. “Someone has ordered it for you. Please. Enjoy.”

Molya —” Galia starts, but the man has left. She wonders if there’s something she has misunderstood. She glances at the tables around her, tight clusters of two and three people hunched over tables. Aside from the woman on the dance floor and the singer in the band, there are no other women besides Galia. To her right is a table of thick, dark-skinned Bulgarians, smoking and looking around the room. The rest of the people look like foreign businessmen. They are mostly middle-aged and wear pastel sport shirts. Several booths down, three men are smiling at her.

Heat prickles Galia’s scalp. She does not know what to do. Maybe she should get up and return the glass to them. That would be best. She will tell them that she has a husband and cannot drink their wine, but thank you, it was very kind. Galia knows that this is the thing to do, and yet, no one has ever bought her a drink. And though she knows it’s wrong, and though she does not care to drink alcohol, she thinks that on this night — in this pocket of borrowed time — she should drink this glass of wine.

The stem of the glass feels fragile in her hand. Sipping the chilled wine, Galia feels delicate and fine, even pretty. There is only one other time Galia can recall feeling this way. It was when Dean hired a bus to take their class to an American library in Sofia. On the way there, he passed out a fill-in-the-blank worksheet and played a song called “Piano Man” over and over. When they had the words, they sang along with the tape. It was a good song, and they sang at the tops of their voices, and it was so nice that Galia was sorry when they reached the library. But then, getting off the bus, Dean had been standing there, and he took her hand and said, “Watch your step.” She knew it was nothing —he did it for all the girls — but she can remember how special she felt that moment when she held his hand.

Sipping the chilled wine, Galia feels delicate and fine, even pretty. There is only one other time Galia can recall feeling this way.

So aglow is Galia with this memory that when a man in a light green sport shirt sits down and asks her name, she answers “Galia” without a twinge of nervousness. He asks her where in Bulgaria she’s from, and she learns that he’s from Chicago. “Al Capone. Bang. Bang,” he says, and she smiles at his joke. It seems he’s been here for a while.

As much as Galia would prefer to be left alone, she cannot help but be flattered by the man’s attention. Aside from the red in his eyes, he is not bad looking, and his cologne is dusky and tempting. She feels the queasy excitement she had so often felt in Dean’s class, especially when he passed close by her desk. She has not experienced this feeling since he left. Not on the day he left — absolutely not then — but likely some days before his departure.

Dean’s car was gone. So were his faded jeans, his rucksack with the clips and buckles, the cherry pulp kaval he had bought from a player in Plovdiv. The music teacher had been trying to teach him the difficult instrument for nearly a year, and still when he brought it to class to demonstrate what he had learned, he could produce little more than a hoarse whisper at three tuneless pitches.

Page 11 of 14 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 View All

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

Permalink URL: http://www.cerisepress.com/01/01/galia

Page 11 of 14 was printed. Select View All pagination to print all pages.