One night, twenty years and a dozen days ago, Jan got out of bed with difficulty and went to the toilet. He wasn’t really sober yet, but he hadn’t really been sober at all for a long time, so he didn’t pay much attention to the dizziness and the slight headache. He reached the toilet, on wobbly feet, and before he managed to take that last effort, he took a deep breath and looked through the window. Perhaps. In addition to the headache and the pain in the leg, he then felt something else that he did pay attention to. A moment, not as easy to bear, like any other in a long while, suddenly became a moment much different from any of those he remembered. It became clearly and distinctly relevant. Jan felt some sort of excitement. For a moment he could not decide whether this excitement was positive or quite the opposite. Perhaps. The spruce outside the window stood in its place, and a little further away, the riverside park was visible. Nothing warranted this different feeling, everything seemed to be as stagnant as ever. And suddenly, perhaps, a wave of absolute terror mixed with great relief flooded him. Perhaps he realised that one of his last moments is now happening and that he would be gone in one of the next moments. Perhaps he felt like shouting, calling for help, though probably not; perhaps he made a sound, or perhaps he only slumped soundlessly and lay between the bowl and the washing machine. Perhaps he was still conscious for a moment and saw – through the window – the grey, low clouds lit faintly from below by a street lamp.


Having survived the next two years and a dozen days in good health and even better spirits, one afternoon Wanda set about eating dumplings with fruit, given to her by her daughter. She was recovering from a recent hip operation (unlike Jan, she did not shy away from doctors, quite the opposite). Before she had the time to swallow the first dumpling, she felt very dizzy. She dropped her fork and fell down into her chair. For a moment, she tried to fight the numbness trying to overwhelm her, to say something, but she failed. Perhaps she felt at peace, in any case – she was smiling. She lost consciousness after a short while. She remained in hospital for several days and some of her vital functions were supported by machines. She may have realised, in some form or another, that I sat there by her side for a long moment, staring at her motionless face and slowly drying hands, unable to decide whether I was just looking at a dead body, or not just yet.


Many more things went into the box. Found, received, stolen. Certainty about their origins is gradually fading. Someday, in some time, someone will throw them all away.


The end.


(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)