the short story project


How I did not see a UFO

In ’76, Powers That Be made it easier for repatriates from the Soviet Union to let apartments in Kyron. (Several years before – it was repatriates from South America, go back a couple of decades – from Iraq and Yemen). So: three houses, three stairwells each, each stairwell opens into 8 apartments – 72 families of returnees – mostly from all possible (and impossible) parts of the Soviet bloc. Nice enough area – less than ten minutes to the closest bus station, the closest group of stores also about ten minutes or so, less if you cut through un-built areas. 

And ten years later, nothing had changed much, except the bus routes- now we have several stations only about two minutes away… Loud noises in the middle of the night are still nothing exceptional: people are working very long hours and nights are when you can borrow a car to move a newly loaned piece of furniture or use borrowed instruments for some home improvements. So upon hearing something metallic going down several flights of stairs, the first thought was maybe somebody needs a first aid or, god forbid, something more serious. Rushing outside – but the brightly lit stairs are empty. Hearing several other doors opening & closing, returning home and locking the door for the night… 
Waking up the next day and my eyes hurt – just like after that school tour to Golan Heights, where I was the only one without sunshades and I have not made that mistake since, though I *did* manage to forget my sunshades at home a couple of very unpleasant times. So, as I already said – even a weak 06:00 AM light hurts my eyes, but sunshades help and off to work I go, keeping them mostly on, even inside. Returning home, I had to press the stair-light button – the windows are tiny and I still had my sunshades on. Only there was no light, because two days ago the neighbor from the third floor, dragging his new fridge up almost pulled out one of the sockets and the house electric would be able to repair it only during the weekend. The brightly lit stairs from the night before were, probably, only a dream. 
The neighbor from the second floor, the electric, passed me while I was fumbling with the lock. “It’s impossible” – he called out – “do you mind to hold for me a flashlight while I am sorting this out?” I gladly agreed and half an hour later I was holding the flashlight, while he reconnected the cables. Both of us had the sunshades on. 

I know everything, that’s wrong here: The introduction – it’s longer than the telling of what happened. The tenses – present is flowing into past. The worst of all – nothing really happens and having a very serious lack of imagination, I can tell you only the truth, as I know it, with an omission or two – like not mentioning, that the electric did not work for free – the neighbor, that caused the problem, took his turn 4 at washing the stairs (two turns, in fact), or a slight change – the repair was done only the next day (but still, it was I who held the flashlight and we both had the sunshades on). Did I mention sentences that go on forever? So that’s it – the list of problems. Same list of a problem that suits each and every one of my not-stories. Only after all is said, I firmly believe: if you’d be able to locate my neighbors from then, it’s possible that they’d remember the night, when a borrowed metallic bed was dropped down the stairs. It was, probably, too long in storage – somebody would tell you – because there was something in the air that hurt the eyes… On the other hand, maybe not the bed itself was to blame, but a strange green lantern, that the person who moved the bed used – after all, the stairs-light was broken that night. Strangely, though, nobody remembers seeing neither the bed not the source of the light. 
Yes, I asked.

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