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The Snow Traveller

Ayfer Tunç | from: Turkish

Translated by : Stephanie Ates

Introduction by Our Editors

The enchanting tranquility and infinite white terrains stand in stark contrast to the violence with which Ayfer Tunic’s beautiful story is imbued. Engulfed in utter silence, the loneliness creates deadly games and false promises. In the white, dead-end wilderness, arises the opportunity for a gentle and sensitive relationship between two castaways. But the author continues to deceive the readers, and we soon find out, the characters are not at all who we thought they were. This elusiveness stands at the heart of the story, which moves between softness and hardship; tenderness and compassion, and dangerous, selfish brutality; a shelter and a cozy home and mountains of frost and wild animals, rendering man alone in the battle for his destiny.

 

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Day had broken long ago. The mountains on whose peaks black clouds settled sparkled under a cold blue as though reporting that the pause given during the night by the snow that had snowed thus for days was about to end. A pencil of feeble sunlight getting ready to warm up other parts of the world shone coldly on the railway track that seemed to come from time immemorial and go on to eternity, and was disrupting and shattering this innocuous virginity of nature.

One or two trains that passed during the night had crushed the snow on the railway tracks and turned them into ice. The light reflected from the rails filled the windows of Eşber’s desolate, gloomy, two roomed lodgings situated a little way from the small town forgotten among the mountains; and the signal box about a hundred paces from the tin-roofed house stood in the shadow of a massive, leaden cloud that would a little later cover the whole sky.

Eşber threw a thick log of oak into the cooking stove that rendered this gloomy room really mournful and closed the doors of the stove tightly. On top he put the large metal jug that he had filled with ice-cold water. The embers inside the cooking stove would enable the log to smoulder, the water in the jug would heat up and in the evening, Eşber, would return home, following the foot prints covered by the snow as if they still existed, and wash his face and hands with hot water and sit leaning his back against the wall-hanging that depicted a deer drinking water; he would take his cigarette packet, his glue and his matches burnt at the end, spend the night with his mind on the sounds of the wolves, and the following day he would begin another day just like the previous one.

Without considering that the railway that passed through deep valleys and came winding along the banks of wild rivers, extended to completely different lives, he would continue to live in his own troubled, narrow circle as though the whole world consisted of the belongings and unrefined crude feelings that determined his life; as though there was nothing after these steep mountains that enclosed his horizon.

Before putting on his leather jacket, his headgear and gloves, he tore off a leaf of the calendar and read the times of the call to prayer, one of the prophet’s hadiths on sedition, names for children to be born, the meal for the day, and a short summary of the battle of Uhud, and did not commit a single line to memory. This paper that he held in his hand was not just an ordinary leaf from a calendar, but a document that sustained him by showing how many days were left until spring and reminding him that time was passing. Spring was not a dream. This piece of paper, besides telling him that to reach spring there were too many days to be counted in haste, also proved the existence of spring.

Here on the leaf of the calendar that he held in his hand, the existence of a long, hard winter was recorded; a winter that would not pass by getting up and going to bed, cooking lentil soup, collecting burnt matches and making houses out of them; sitting in the signal box and making telephone calls about delayed trains, waving green-red flags at the trains that in all their glory spoilt the whiteness stretching to eternity, exchanging greetings with the engine drivers; asking them for newspapers, ordering salt, sugar and matches; falling asleep at night in front of a television whose picture was always snowy; placing a huge bowl in the middle of the room and washing in it; taking his mirror and razor outside and shaving when the rays of the sun suddenly filtered through the clouds bringing snow; brewing tea and drinking it, growing potatoes and cabbage in the garden, feeding chickens, shovelling snow; walking to the small town on market days and buying cheese and village bread; speaking only three or four words a day. These exhausting winters that he had lived through for years likened his life to a grave illness, to wavering on the edge of death.

He shut the door that he did not feel the need to lock, because there was no one nearby, and went out. He smiled when he saw the paw marks of the wolves that he heard wandering around his house during the night. The snow that had begun again at daybreak had stopped towards morning; it had not yet covered the paw marks of the wolves that clawed the door going crazy as they smelt the three hens that he kept in one of the rooms he used as a storeroom in the two-roomed house.

Thank goodness there were wolves in his life. The struggle between him and the wolves, in whose eyes he saw savage gleams, the blood trickling from their healthy, white teeth when they hunted, had gradually become a reason for living; it had become a weird game that would certainly have a bloody end. He felt for his rifle and remembered the brutality in their shining eyes.

The greatest consolation of this deadly loneliness that ate into his soul like a malignant tumour and turned his face, once young and clear, into a rusty yellow, the thing that transformed life into a game, was this relationship with the wolves. Loneliness gave him unbearable headaches. For this reason he used to take opium when he could find it and at times like these, like a tightrope walker walking on a tightrope over a chasm, he would allow the wolves to get close to him; he enjoyed them surrounding his house and threatening his life to which, since he started spending them in a signal box, he could ascribe no meaning. Frightened by the howling, that rent the nights, of the madly hungry wolves coming down from the mountains, the hens clucked frantically; the pitiful sounds of the hens drove the wolves even crazier, and Eşber took great pleasure in opening his window and firing his rifle at the gleaming eye of a wolf that had come within claw range of him. In the mornings of such nights he would find the bloody paw prints of wolves in the snow. For a very long time of the year, nature had bestowed on him just one colour: White. This was something like blindness. Yet the bloody tracks left by a wolf shot in the eye, and their howls that rent and shattered the silence reminded him of his existence. If it were not for the wolves, he would think he did not exist in this silent whiteness.

As he walked over to the signal box, thinking of the wolves, he suddenly saw the dark blue getting ready to be lost in the snow. This blue did not look anything like the blueness that dominated the sky on spring mornings or on summer evenings after the sun’s redness had disappeared. It could be said perhaps to resemble the blue of matches when they first burst into flame. He could not believe his eyes. This blueness he saw in the distance between the forgotten mountains was like the present he had never had in his life. He went to the blue that the snow that had begun gently was gradually causing to fade, took it tenderly in his arms as though taking a budgerigar in the palm of his hand and while walking not to the signal box but towards his home, the dark blue material flapping against his legs filled him with an indescribable delight.

Night fell, advanced. Darkness enveloped the surroundings like a mirror showing the sad faces of those living in pitiful states in small towns and in distant villages among the mountains. Fidan, whom Eşber had taken in his arms and brought home that morning, was lost in an untroubled and tranquil sleep, covered with a woollen blanket, saved from freezing. He watched over her without caring at all about the passing trains. Far away the howls of the wolves could be heard. However Eşber did not hear them; he who had never seen a woman’s face so beautiful and pure, was waiting for her to wake up.

Fidan suddenly awoke. A mortal fear passed over her face. Then she quickly glanced at the room with a feeling that was a mixture of terror and bewilderment. She saw the wall-hanging depicting a deer, the steam rising from the lentil soup boiling on the cooking stove, the murmuring television, the house of burnt matches on top of it, and Eşber who sat at the end of her bed smiling at her.

There was nothing in this smile to awake a feeling of alarm, running away and escaping. Quite the contrary, it was innocent, sad and rather bashful. She did not consider it likely that this smile would take her from one hell to another; she felt a strange relief and began to cry.

Eşber, not knowing that fear had been pursuing this woman for months, waited for her crying, that seemed to choke her, to cease, and then said in a whisper, “Don’t be afraid, miss. You have nothing to fear from me”. These words calmed Fidan down; she stretched out her right hand to the wall-hanging and touched the deer. Crying, she pondered on the morning that was the finale of the dark months she had spent.

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She was still afraid when she got on the train that carried her to this strange house among the mountains. But she imagined that the music of the train that began slowly, and gradually sped up was the melody of her salvation. The existence of the family who had filled the compartment in which she sat with their baskets and their plastic bags stuffed with bundles had given her confidence. They wore defeated and offended expressions on their faces, but also carried some kind of inner peace. She would go far away, very far. At the other side of this large country covered with snow, a safe loving home would enfold her and the fear that had hounded her for months would melt away like a piece of ice falling into the stove that heated everything in that house.

She had accumulated a dirty past at a young age, and the fear of death had confronted her at the end of the blind alley she had entered in order to attain a wonderful, grand life quickly. All night long, half asleep and half awake, she had thought about what she had lived through; sometimes she had awoken in terror, sometimes she had seen in between bouts of sleep that she was saved and that she had taken a step towards a secure life. However, despite all this nodding off, she still had not noticed that the large family filling the compartment had got off. Therefore in the morning, when she found herself completely alone in the very stuffy compartment, she was terrified. She was defenceless and frightened to death.

Unlike this infinite whiteness that the train passed as it advanced, the men who were after her were dark and real. Their ways were dark. They were determined to make her pay the heavy price of having attempted to bite off more than she could chew. She had wandered about the train all night with the hope of finding a family like the one that had given her security with their presence and taking refuge with them, to feel a little safer. However there was no one else on the train except a crowd of men twisting their oily moustaches with their thick stubby fingers and in whose shining eyes naked lust could be read.

There were a lot of them. She had understood that on this intrepid train, making a courageous journey to the country’s forgotten lands, she would not be able to find the safe haven she sought, and she had panicked. She decided to go and sit in the most crowded compartment, with the men she believed would protect her by their presence, even though they looked at her with lust, and were frightening and overwhelming.

And so whatever happened, happened then.

She did not know the man the gleam of whose weapon dazzled her; she had never seen him before but it did not take her long to realize that one of those pursuing her had sent him and he had been assigned to ambush her. This man who closed in on her step by step in a short space of time, who wore a camel coat over his shoulders, and whose black eyebrows that appeared like long, thick strokes on his narrow projecting forehead immediately caught the eye, was one of them. This man with his bearing, his style, his unhurried and arrogantly springy walk, and most important of all, his eyes that seemed to bare no expression, but in which as he got closer one read a lust for brutality, could only be on this train in pursuit of her.

The man pulled the trigger and she opened the door and threw herself out at the same time. As she rolled in the soft snow, she had heard the sound of another shot mingling with the music of the train and had closed her eyes in peace. Even if she died it was no longer important. She hadn’t fallen into ‘their’ hands. If she had died at that moment this could have been described as a very quiet and peaceful departure to death.

Now in this strange room where she felt her body, that for days had been absolutely rigid, was completely relaxed, and where she felt virtually like jelly, she was crying with relief; she could not believe that she had returned from the brink of death. She could not stop her tears as she drank the bowl of soup that Eşber held out to her.

“Thanks”, she said. “You saved my life.”

Eşber did not answer. He looked with a gentle shy smile contrasting with the savageness surrounding this house, a mixture of breezeblocks and stone, wattle and daub. In his world, life was something that was frequently saved. In every game with the wolves he saved his own life yet again. For this reason it was not worth thanking. Fidan drank her soup, wiped her eyes and looked at the white teeth imparting cheer of this sallow faced man who had saved her life. She was now sure that she was safe. Eşber brewed some tea, sat crossed legged on the same chair and looked at her face with an expression that asked her what she was doing near the railway line. The small town was at quite a distance and not near the railway line and even if it had been, trains would not stop at this tiny little town that quietly lived its own life among the mountains. How could the blue-coated woman have set off on a road that led to his gloomy, mournful house?

Fidan felt that she had to speak, to tell him something, and made up a little story. She told him that she was a lawyer and that the brothers of a man she had had thrown into prison were after her, and just as they were about to kill her she had thrown herself from the train.

Eşber believed this at once. As far as he understood from the television, he had to make do with listening to the sound because the screen was always snowy, there was a large and complex world outside. There, there were crowds of people. A merciless battle, like his war with the wolves, prevailed. The traces of fear on the face of the slim, beautiful woman who said her name was Fidan were proof of this too. He asked masses of questions about the world behind the mountains. He was trying to understand a different kind of savagery. Fidan answered him in a soft voice that caressed his spirit, and she told him a lot of things about crowded cities strengthening her dark story. That night the good quality cigarettes that were in Fidan’s bag finished, she smoked Eşber’s bad quality cigarettes and got used to them quickly.

Late at night she heard the sound of the wolves. The addicts of this deadly game arrived one by one and surrounded the house and the hens clucked in fear. Eşber kept completely calm while the wolves were howling. He told Fidan that there was nothing to be frightened of and he did not enter into the game that the wolves awaited with longing. Then he left Fidan in the warm, cosy room with the roaring stove and rolled out a bed for himself. He went to sleep in the room where the hens were.

Eşber believed that night he had attained a divine gift and slept in peace. As for Fidan, she made calculations all night long. She had informed on the men pursuing her. She could live for a long time in this strange house until they had been caught and until they also believed that she was dead; she could wipe out traces of her being alive and after this she could think about what she needed to do when she returned to the city where she lived. And thus she lay pressing her hand against the wall-hanging of a deer and fixing her eyes on the darkness. She felt petrified with the fear of the times she had lived, constantly changing places and confronting death at any moment. The terrifying sounds of the wolves at that moment were like an innocent song compared with the feeling of brutality she had experienced in the city.

When she awoke in the morning she found Eşber filling up the stove. The sallow faced man had been up for a long time and had made the tea. With movements that were as quiet as possible, he was waiting for his guest to wake up. They had breakfast of village bread and village cheese. Then Eşber showed her the signal box from the window. He would be over there. There was nothing to be frightened of. He wanted her to tell him if there was anything she wanted. He could order it from the engine drivers.

Fidan passed the day in pleasure. For the first time in a long period she experienced peace. She slept all day on the couch and whenever she woke up she could not believe she was alive.

On the following days it kept snowing intermittently. It was snowing more than it didn’t. Sometimes it turned Eşber, going to sit in the two square-metered signal box to wave a flag at the passing trains, into a snowman before he had even taken two paces, and sometimes it became mixed with the sunrays and it seemed as if the mountaintops had been besprinkled with golden dust. Fidan never left the house; she threw wood onto the stove that Eşber filled to the brim and lit every morning, and looking at the wall-hanging of deer she thought about herself and her future; even if she were bored just sitting there, she made herself believe that this hiding was essential in order for her to live. While making herself believe this she lit Eşber’s matches and blew them out one by one.

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The long conversations they held every evening had gradually driven the yellow hue from Eşber’s face. A curious joy had filled him and he had forgotten the wolves. He felt an unfamiliar attachment to life. He no longer needed the wolves in order to exist. A woman talking, smiling, eating every evening had been filling his house, life and head. He had begun to take an interest in his wages. Now he talked more with the engine drivers of the trains that slowed down completely as they approached the signal box, and asked them to bring newspapers, books, good quality tea and cigarettes. He had changed. He went to his house to which he always used to go dragging his feet as though going to a fatal loneliness, overflowing with the desire to live. In his hut, while waiting for a train that was to change points, he would look at the house seen from the window and he would remember that a woman was sitting there, and this feeling would stir him to excitement.

He would think about Fidan’s hair that scattered sunny lights, the dimple that appeared only in one cheek when she smiled and her hands being as white as snow; he would feel emptiness in his breast, an emptiness that he thought would fill only if he pressed her sweet smelling hair to it. This emptiness within him was the reason that drove him to the overflowing joy that the train drivers noticed, and it was the reason he felt a deep ache, for he could not press the warm blond head.

Sometimes no one knowing that a woman was living in his house drove him to an incomprehensible exuberance. He got excited as though this fact was a terrific secret concerning the whole world, and not to shout this woman’s existence to the mountains and not to tell anyone this incredible thing was like a heavy weight under which he was crushed. Sometimes he had the impression that the merry voice of a woman filling his nights and the white, slim fingers that burnt his skin when they touched it by accident as though it had been touched by fire, were not real; and that all this was a fabrication of his mind that was slowly dying in the face of the blinding whiteness. To constantly test this reality he would go running to the house from the hut and when he arrived there breathless he would be confronted with Fidan’s eyes asking why he had come. He would then just stand at the door, bewildered and without an answer, like a sleepwalker who had awoken from a deep sleep.

His mood constantly changed. He didn’t wait for spring, though spring was soon to arrive. This winter, spring has already come to his house in an unexpected form. He did not know how he could make this unexpected spring happy; he was too shy to ask her what she wanted and all night long he followed her every movement with the hope of understanding what it was that she desired.

This heart that was used to being silent, that was trapped as if shut in a box, opened up and spoke without stopping. Eşber’s speech did not follow a sequence but jumped from one subject to another. He passed from the daughter of his sister living in a distant but warm small town who could not say her r’s, to the noise made by the snow as it melted, and while talking about the habits of the engine drivers, the lack of wages – although not much money was needed here – the tastiness of the sheep’s cheese of a nearby village, he would suddenly jump to the flocks of birds descending on the mountains, the sounds dispersing the silence and the spirit of the mountains; this leaping about and these weird descriptions scared Fidan.

It was not just this that scared her. She had begun to see passion in Eşber’s eyes. She saw that while she spoke, Eşber did not listen to her but was engrossed in her eyes, her hands and her body; that Eşber was wrapped in a weird state, that whenever she swallowed a bite it was as if Eşber was swallowing a bite, and whenever she took a puff of a cigarette it was as if Eşber was taking one, and the fear that she had forgotten took on a different aspect and slowly seeped inside her.

One night she asked the whereabouts of the small town. Eşber pointed with his hand in a vague direction and said, “Behind those mountains…” In the tone of his voice there was the morbid superiority of having described a mountain that would never be reached. The expression dominating his face was so strange and scary that Fidan did not ask again this question that she had asked innocently and to which she received no answer, and did not learn behind which mountain the small town lay.

Many long nights and days passed with more sound and words than this dismal house had ever heard.

Fidan decided that now it was time to go. This constant whiteness, the snow that fell without stopping, so that she thought it would swallow the house, the wolves that wandered around every night and in whose sounds she had begun to sense a call for blood, Eşber’s obsession that was gradually taking on a morbid aspect, and the days that passed exactly the same had begun to frighten her almost as much as the sinister men following her. She sensed that Eşber would not be content with looking at her with passionate eyes, but that he would want her to share his life. This was living another’s life; it was wearing a dress that did not belong to her. The last night she just thought about this and could not sleep, and because of this she noticed that the sounds of the wolves were more savage that she had imagined.

The next morning, when Eşber came into the room to brew the tea, he saw that Fidan was carrying on her shoulder her bag that rolled a few paces away when she threw herself from the train. She had put on the blue coat that, as it flapped against his knees while he was carrying her, had filled him with an indescribable joy. Suddenly he became as white as a sheet.

“What’s the matter?” he asked “Why have you got dressed?”

“I should go now”, said Fidan. Trying to put as much sweetness in her voice as possible, “I’m so grateful to you for everything. But I’ve stayed long enough. My mother and father will be looking for me. They are worried about me. Could you put me on the train?”

“Impossible”, said Eşber. “Impossible, it’s just not possible, you can’t go.”

“Why not?”

Eşber reached out, pulled Fidan’s bag and hurled it onto the couch.

“You came to me…” he said looking as though he could not believe what was happening.

He really could not believe it. Fidan was a spring sent to him, a thing belonging to him, appearing in front of him in a divine way to eliminate his pathetic loneliness, to fill his silent hours, his empty days. It was not possible for him to endure her going blatantly like this and putting her on the train with his own hands. With a bewildered face and a voice that was as mild as could be He asked, “aren’t you comfortable here?”

There was an expression like the look of a well-intentioned master on his face, one who reserves all rights of disposal to his slave: pleasant, harmless but equally merciless.

Fidan realized at that moment that a tremendous battle was going to begin between them and that this battle would only end with the death of one of them. She felt weak at the knees, her body that had stood erect while the horror men were pursuing her, resisting, rushing from house to house, street to street, spending each night under a different roof and for days enduring this relentless race, dissolved in an instant when confronted with this mild, calm question, and collapsed to the ground.

The first thing she did was to remain silent. She sensed that it was impossible to persuade this man by talking and for that reason she could not say anything. His mind had virtually been sucked by the mountains and snow and then left to his own devices as a piece belonging to them. She was frightened that a word sticking in his mind like a needle could drive this man, a dervish of a strange world, crazy. She had fallen into his hands; the lord of this eternal whiteness was Eşber. That night, the following night and the nights after, she remained silent. Eşber talked. This man who had long since finished talking about himself and whose face had gradually become sallow again since the day Fidan had said she wanted to leave, related one by one all that he remembered from the leaves of the calendar, everything the railway employees from large crowded cities had told him and everything he had heard from the television and enabled his dreams to open up to distant places, but whatever he did he could not get Fidan to laugh or the dimple on her cheek, that he wanted to touch or even kiss, to appear, and this ate his heart out.

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The next day Fidan came out of the house and just stood under the snow. It was as though she had fallen into a white labyrinth with no signs on it. Where was east? In which direction was west and how could one get to the town? She could not find the answers to these questions and realized that she was a real prisoner. She surrendered her whole self to nature, in hope to find a way out, sniffing the air with her nose. Eşber was watching her through the window of the signal box steamed up with his breath and a sickly smile heightened the pitiful expression on his face. From now on he made it his life purpose to protect this spring that had come to him unseasonably and hang onto it forever. He did not take his eyes off the door of the house and if Fidan were to leave he suddenly appeared beside her; he ordered presents and fresh fruit for her and even though he could get nothing in return he was happy with his life carrying on like this.

Fidan realized that the trains that passed during the day would be of no use to her, but a train that passed at night attracted her attention. Just before  midnight this unassuming train would come quietly and unobtrusively, it’s growling quietly infiltrating the house, and the lights of the passenger carriages were reflected in the form of fast moving images in the house’s windows that were covered in darkness. Because there was no other train passing during the night Eşber used to make way for it in the evening and come home; the train that went up a slight slope to the plain covered with snow would slow down completely as it passed Eşber’s house. Fidan felt that her salvation was in this train but she just couldn’t find the way to board it and leave.

It was a hard wintery night, although spring was already near. The cooking stove was licking the logs of wood and swallowing them. The windows were covered with a thin sheet of ice. A silence had fallen on Eşber. He was finely cutting the peel of the oranges that he had ordered from the engine drivers; it was as if he was threatening Fidan with this behaviour and his silence. He had the air of a master coming to the end of his tether. Fidan started to be afraid of this state of mind of his.

While waiting for the sound of the train that came silently and unobtrusively passing through the mountains and went on to crowded, lighted, safe towns, she heard the howls of the wolves. Again they were coming down from the mountains. Fidan thought for a moment that they were free. If they wanted they could run for hours after a train and if they wanted they could die. She sighed. Eşber, however, had begun to feel an annoyance towards this never-ending silence. When he heard the howling of the wolves he got up and opened the window in a way that amazed Fidan. It was as though air full of broken pieces of ice had filled the room. Fidan shivered from the cold and this savage howling. Eşber took down from the wall his rifle that he carried with him every day when he went to the signal box, and waited for the wolves to surround the house and approach him. The hens again began clucking frantically with fear of the approaching danger. Eşber was leaning out of the window and shouting at the wolves, attracting their attention and preparing for the game that he had not played since Fidan had arrived and that he very much missed. The wolves gathered at a place near the front of the window. Their sound was unnerving. Fidan was trembling from head to foot. She was terrified to death and did not know what to do. Eşber raised his rifle and took aim at the eye of a wolf, and just as he was about to fire, Fidan cried, “Don’t” and threw herself at Eşber. The rifle went off and a very thin spark trailed skywards. The wolves scattered.

This word that issued from Fidan’s mouth for the first time in days stunned Eşber. He felt a stab of pain, as though Fidan had hurt him, and he threw down the rifle and looked at her with a distraught face. He was in an unusual state that he could not comprehend. He sank to the ground and began to look at Fidan without taking his eyes off her. He seemed to be waiting for an order from her. He seemed strange and pathetic.

Fidan shut her eyes and two pictures appeared in her mind. In one of them were wolves: wolves with eyes gleaming like steel, their powerful jaws and sharp claws, with their howls that sent shudders down her spine, and in the other Eşber. This was such a daunting picture; he was looking steadily at her from the window of the signal box and the tick in his right cheekbone made his sickly smile even more terrifying.

Between the subsiding howls of the wolves she heard the sound of the train climbing the slope. She thought about the passengers in a compartment in that train wrapping their foul-smelling cheese in their thin flat bread and eating it, their vacant looks fixed on a distant point, smoking cigarettes slowly and seeing their own sad faces in the windows of the train. In the morning they would be getting off the train in a bright crowded city, and shouldering their loads, they would scatter into the city’s arteries that were covered in mud and mingle with the crowds to take their places on the stages that life had prepared for them. In that life even if there were wicked-faced men, a hope of escape could always be found. This was to walk freely even to the danger of death that awaited her. All this crossed her mind in a very short space of time and she opened her eyes and looked at Eşber. Eşber was sitting as though mesmerised.

Sensing that this mesmerised moment was not going to last long she suddenly jumped up. She had on a thin jumper and socks on her feet. With tremendous courage and strength she opened the door and threw herself outside. Snow that would a little later turn to a blizzard was falling; the train that would save her life was coyly advancing. She began to run with difficulty through the snow. She heard the sounds of the wolves but in a strange way she was not frightened of them. It was as though the wolf she had saved a little earlier would protect her from all danger.

She saw that the train was passing along the track in front of the house. She was running to reach this miraculous means of transportation that scattered sparks from its wheels, to this iron heap emitting growls, but the snow in which she sank to her knees was obstructing her. She heard Eşber’s voice echoing in the dark of the night. It was not a voice but a bloodcurdling wail. He was saying, “Don’t go!” He was calling her.

She had come as far as the door of the train and she succeeded in reaching up and opening it but she just could not get on. She was running alongside the train. She felt that Eşber had got very close to her, she could almost feel his breath, but she was too frightened to look behind her. Then she felt a hand was holding onto her jumper and was pulling her down. It was the pull of death. Fidan sensed that if she did not board the train she would die. While Eşber’s powerful hands were pulling at her jumper she managed to board the train and with all the strength in her frozen hands she clasped the steel handle of the train’s door. Snow was filling her eyes and an icy wind generated by the train was overpowering her.

She heard the crazily increasing sounds of the wolves. A little later the force pulling her from behind disappeared. When Fidan looked behind her she saw that the wolves had surrounded Eşber.

She did not want to consider who had won this game that she had witnessed for the first time.

 

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