Drop. Drop. Drop.
The little droplets slowly fall onto the windshield. Passing by the Balkan, the giant gray clouds swirl around in a graceful waltz. We fly by small gardens of trees and uncut herbs. There isn’t a car in sight.
We pass little villages, the little chimneys smoking as we pass by. It is quiet. We’ve passed the bigger cities: Vratza, Mezdra, and nature is starting to take over. We cross a bridge. The river below is the longest river in Bulgaria – the Iskar river – but although it’s big, it’s barely moving. Peacefully, its waters flow, the surface untouched by the slight Eastern wind. I open the window to hear the river’s song. The air whooshing through is strong, loud, but warm and pleasant. I can barely hear the lazy river’s sounds. Through the window enters a fly. It makes a little circle and stops on my lap. It rubs its tiny feet one against the other, then makes a couple of steps. We are traveling fast. I hear the river no more as we pass from the riverbank towards the mountain. The fly buzzes back into the air. It gets closer and closer to the open window. Soundlessly, it gets sucked into the world outside.
A droplet of rain lands onto my nose. It is slowly stopping. The clouds have started to rip away, torn apart by the spring winds. The sky is turning a grotesque shade of pink. Dusk is approaching.
Parting from the main road, we drive towards my great grandfather’s house. Five minutes worth of time into the fields on the third class road, a small horse is happily munching on some fresh grass. Alone the horse stands, far from people, far from houses and cars, and other horses. Farther along the old road, a dog chases a flock of birds. They swiftly fly off, but land again. The game continues. The stray jumps. The birds flap their wings. Annoyed, they decide not to come back. The flock lands on a high wire over the dog. We speed up along the new road, leaving the scene.
All of a sudden, the road comes to an end. An old dirt track continues into the field, leading to a small gate, made of chopped wooden sticks and rusty wire. We walk towards it in silence. I carefully pull the old gate open. We pass through, into the giant field that is the forgotten cottage’s yard. I close the gate after my sister.
We talk for a half an hour and leave the old man to rest, as it’s almost dark. The last rays of the sun are barely visible over the old Balkan. The clouds are darkening, but they remain in the distance, too afraid to turn back towards the desolated road. We enter the car. The click of the locks is a deafening sound after the deathly silence of the fields. We start the engine, which is surprisingly quiet. We go. Along the road, the dog I saw earlier is happily munching on a pigeon’s corpse. The horse is nowhere to be seen. We reach the main road again and continue our way home. In the skirts of the mountains is the small village of Lyuti Dol. On the one and only road of the village, a few people are walking, huddled together. Their chatter is barely audible through the glass of the windows. We exit the village and speed up again.
The sky is still darkening. My eyes adapt quickly to the low-light environment. On a small hill by the road, I see a pile of white dots. Slowly focusing onto them, I make out the clear image of a graveyard. It is silent, barely visible, illuminated by the light of the road down below. A dog is barking somewhere.
A fox runs across the road. We are getting nearer and nearer to the highway, from where it’s a fast trip home. We have finally caught up to the clouds, which are blocking out the stars. The sky is dark. I lean against the window and start to think. I always think while traveling, it relaxes me. Staring into the sky, I see the light of a single star that managed to pierce the rainclouds. I point it out to my sister. Opening the sunroof, I show it to her.
The rain is getting stronger, so I close the roof of the car. We have almost reached the city of Botevgrad, from where not much of our journey will be left. I see the city in the distance, illuminating the dark clouds above. I sink into thought again. I think of times to come, of exams, of school and friends and theater. I think, I think, I think… The Gypsy Kings’ greatest hits are running on the CD player. I am swallowed by thought. We have finally reached the highway. The car speeds up. I think… I wonder. I hesitate. My eyes slowly close. The only thing I can hear is the rain getting stronger. Hitting the windshield of the car, it starts a melody. The journey continues. I am asleep.
Drop. Drop. Drop.
PS: Happy Easter to all my Orthodox comrades!
PPS: Valar morghulis.