Right to Live (story) · 6/4/2012

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Velko was slowly walking down the dark street. He looked tired as if he had not slept for days. He had lost lots of weight and was not in good shape. He heard steps behind him. He was slightly curious who could walk on this empty street at such a late hour, but despite his curiosity, he did not want to turn back, he had no strength left. He was feeling tired and weak, and the pain in his muscles was so sharp and unbearable as if he was going to drop dead on the ground any moment.
The moment he thought about this, he felt a strong pain in his back. The stranger behind him had hit him. Velko fell on the ground struck by an unbearable pain. His entire back was burning, the man was writhing with pain. He hardly managed to open his eyes and take a look at the stranger. He saw the black figure striding down the street. Velko took some breath and shouted hoarsely:
‘Why did you do it?’
The stranger turned back and replied cheerfully, ‘Because I want to.’
Velko was perplexed, ‘This is the first time I was hit for no reason,’ he said.
‘There’s always a first time.’
‘Still, why did you hit me?’ Velko repeated his question with an impatient, yet somehow humble tone.
‘Because it is my right,’ the boy said and disappeared in the darkness.
Velko felt faint and in a few moments passed out.
He woke up by the rising sun and felt a dull pain in his muscles, thirst, and sharp hunger pains in his stomach. He got up and slowly headed home.
In about five minutes he saw the boy from yesterday. He was unable to figure out how a man with so many successes on the ring was now helpless before a street vandal. He was sure that the boy would hit him again; he did it once, why not repeat? They were just about to walk past each other when the stranger clenched his fist and hit him in the nose. It started bleeding, it was broken. Velko was not surprised, he had expected it.
‘Why did you do it?’
The boy looked away with bored eyes.
‘I wanted to do it because I have the right to,’ and went down the street.
Velko was totally confused. This boy had no right to hit him at all! Folding up with pain, his nose bleeding, he got home. Starving, he attacked the last-week leftovers in his refrigerator, took a shower, took some painkillers, and fell asleep.
He woke up at noon the next day. He was feeling well enough to start training. He wanted to regain his shape.
In about a week of untroubled training and persistency, his muscles were massive and scary again.
One morning, he decided to go for a walk. He saw the assailant standing on one of the high rocks with a bow in his hand. He approached. He carefully watched the boy pull the strings and shoot, but was not successful for a ninth time in a row.
‘In good hands, every bow shoots,’ said Velko authoritatively.
The boy got startled and turned around quickly.
He asked, ‘What do you want?’
“I don’t want anything from you.’
‘What are you doing here then?’
‘You’re being rude. If you want to be smart, learn to listen closely, reply briefly, and not to talk when you have nothing to say.
‘You’re reproaching me? You fool! Get lost!’ hissed the boy viciously, but in a few seconds slipped on the edge of the rock and hanged on his hand. He was proud, too proud to ask Velko for help, and he was just a kid. He stared at his hand, praying that it would hold on a little bit more, as if it could pull him out of his stupidity. He looked down and got scared. His hand slipped on the rock and he was just about to let go, when he saw a strong hand catching his. Velko pulled him up. The boy looked surprised; he didn’t know what to say having hit Velko twice for no reason. Eventually, he asked:
‘Why did you help me?’
‘Because it is my right!’ said Velko and quietly headed deep in the forest.

Stanislava Dobreva


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