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V četrtek, 13. 2. 2020, je potekal v Pionirskem domu zaključek literarnega natečaja Bodi pisatelj/pisateljica. Na natečaju je ponovno sodelovala – že četrtič – Zoja Strmšek, učenka 8.a. Vsako leto ji je uspelo dobiti nagrado za prispevek. Zoja je bila letos nagrajena za oba literarna prispevka, v slovenščini in v angleščini in edina takšna nagrajenka, zato si zasluži še posebno pohvalo in čestitke.

Mentorica: Sabina Ozmec

Objem življenja

Zapeljem skozi rdečo luč, ki je zasvetila na semaforju. »Upsi, upam, da me nihče ni videl,« spregovorim na glas. Na svojo žalost zaslišim policijske sirene. Svoj mali rdeči avto, ki mu pravim Red Bull, parkiram ob robu ceste in skoraj zapeljem v jarek. Policist, ki ima na nosu sončna očala, v roki pa nosi na pol prežvečen krof, potrka na okence in mi z glavo pomigne, naj odprem okno. »Dober dan, gospod policist,« ga nekoliko plašno nagovorim. Policist reče: »Gospodična, kaj niste opazili rdeče luči na semaforju?« »Ojoj, oprostite gospod policaj. Sem barvno slepa in ne vidim razlike med rdečo in zeleno barvo«. Izrekla sem največjo laž, ki mi je padla na pamet. Voznica in barvno slepa? Policist me zmedeno gleda in prhne, da košček krofa iz njegovih ust prileti na moje lice. S studom si obrišem lice, policist pa se niti ne opraviči. Samo zmaje z glavo in reče: »Drugič pa bodite bolj previdni,« zamrmra in mi še nekoliko popljuva avto. Nato se zasuče na peti in gre nazaj v svoj avto.

Končno prispem do doma za ostarele. Ko odprem vrata, zaslišim čudne krike, ki prihajajo iz doma. Nekoliko nelagodno stopim v stavbo in zagledam, kako osebje hodi gor in dol po stopnicah z mokrimi brisačami. Zagledam babice in dedke, kako igrajo karte. Ena babica izgubi in se tako razjezi, da ji proteza pade iz ust. Njeni soigralci se smejijo, da jim zmanjkuje zraka in si roko držijo pred usti, da tudi njim proteza ne bi izletela nekam po hodniku. Komaj se zadržujem, da še jaz ne bi planila v smeh, zato hitro stečem po stopnicah in zagledam dedkovo sobo. Bila je na stežaj odprta, dedek pa je sedel na postelji in nemo opazoval, kako pomočnice klečijo na tleh in brišejo popackana tla. Stopim v sobo in začudeno rečem: »Kaj se je pa tu zgodilo?« Ena izmed pomočnic se obrne k meni in odgovori: »Tvoj dedek je pojedel preveč kosila in sedaj brišemo prebavljeno hrano.« S kislim nasmehom počisti še zadnje ostanke tekočine, ki spominjajo na nekoč okusen pire krompir. Dedek pogleda skozi okno in reče: »Oh, kaj imaš nov avto?« Zavzdihnem in dedku razložim, da imam ta avto že dve leti in da avto ni nov. Dedek me gleda in zdi se mi, da me ne posluša. Vstane in nič ne odgovori, zgrabi glavnik za lase in si začne česati dolge obrvi, ki segajo preko njegovih oči. Med česanjem se postavi pred okno in reče: »Čigav pa je ta rdeč avto zunaj?« Zavijem z očmi in dedku ponovno razložim, da je to moj avto. Dedek se pomakne k mizi, vzame svojo skodelico čaja in vanj nadrobi nekaj koščkov kruha. Nejevoljno ga gledam, ko z veseljem žveči premočen kruh in srka čaj tako glasno, da bi ga še Kitajci lahko slišali. Zgrabim škatlo Monopolija, ki jo ima dedek v nočni omarici. Dedek me gleda, ko delim denar in razporejam kartice različnih krajev Slovenije na mizo. Ko pripravim igro, čakam dedka, da počasi s palico pride k meni. Čakam. Pogledam na uro. Minilo je že nekaj časa in dedek še vedno počasi drsi proti meni in prežvekuje ostanke kruha. Ustavi se in reče: »Kaj si prišla peš ali s kolesom?« »Dedi, z mojim Red Bullom sem prišla,« nejevoljno odgovorim. Dedi stoji sredi sobe z odprtimi usti in razmišlja. Začne se smejati in med njegovim hrkanjem razločim vprašanje: »Kaj je Red Bull?« »Moj avto,« hitro odgovorim. »No, pridi že,« in hitro vstanem, da dedku pomagam hitreje priti do mize.

Nekaj časa igrava Monopoli. Nenadoma se odprejo vrata in v sobo pride zdravnik. Dedek se rahlo potuhne, ko ga zagleda. Zdravniku se kotički ust razpotegnejo v hiter nasmeh, nato naju resno pogleda. »Gospodična Novak, lahko govorim z vami na samem, prosim?« Pokimam in hitro vstanem. Dediju še pomaham, ko stopiva iz sobe. Zdravnik zapre vrata za menoj. Zazre se mi v oči in reče: »Kot ste verjetno že opazili, ima vaš dedek močno obliko demence.« Prikimam in vprašam: »Kako mu jaz lahko olajšam to bolezen?« Zdravnik odvrne: »Zdravil za to ni, priporočam samo, da se bo vaš dedek tukaj bolje počutil, da ga večkrat obiščete in se z njim ukvarjate. Tako kot sedaj lahko igrata različne igre in ga spravljate v boljšo voljo.« Celo pohvali me: »Lepo skrbite za svojega dedka, gospodična Novak,« in se nasmehne. Nato ga nekdo pokliče po telefonu in mora oditi. Olajšano in nekoliko zaskrbljeno se vrnem k dedku. Zagledam ga, kako narahlo poskakuje okoli mize in pleše nekakšen indijanski ples. Ko me zagleda, začne še tuliti. Hitro skočim do dedka in rečem: »Dedi, zbudil boš druge, ki že spijo!« Dedi se ne zmeni za to. Vidim, da je prižgana televizija. Nekdo telovadi. Ko ga končno umirim, se pretegne in se zvrne na posteljo Bojim se, da se bo sesedla. Še sama skočim na posteljo, da se dedijev trebušček zamaje. Leživa na postelji in skupaj gledava skozi majhno okence. Sonce je že skoraj zašlo in gledava barve, ki so naslikane na nebu. Zasvetlikajo se tudi prve zvezde. Dedek mežika in reče: »Glej, tam zgoraj je babica Zofka.« Rahlo se nasmehnem in rečem: »A nje pa še nisi pozabil?« Dedek me začudeno pogleda in reče: »Kako bi lahko pozabil takšno legendo? Vedno je gledala drugače na življenje. Hotela je izboljšati svet okoli sebe. To ji je tudi uspelo. Preden sem jo spoznal, sem mislil, da je smisel življenja samo delati in pridobiti denar za preživetje. Z njo sem ugotovil, da obstaja veliko več kot samo denar. Skupaj sva šla na Triglav, skupaj obiskala Postojnsko jamo, šla na morje. A to še ni vse. Dobila sva tvojo mamo. Ona nama je pomenila več kot najino življenje skupaj. Nato pa si prišla še ti in najino življenje se je do vrha napolnilo z veseljem.« Rahlo me je objel. Nekaj časa sva tiho, nato dedek ponovno spregovori: »Vem, da veliko stvari pozabim, ampak babice res ne morem pozabiti, saj vedno, ko gledam zvezde, vidim zvezdo, ki je najsvetlejša. To je babica. Ona je moja zvezda vodnica. Z njeno pomočjo vedno najdem pot.« Prikimam in si mislim: Nisem vedela, da zna dedek tako globoko razmišljati. Nato še jaz spregovorim: »Dedi, poglej. Če vzameš zadnji dve zvezdi Velikega voza in slediš daljici med njima še za dve dolžini proti desni, naletiš na zvezdo Severnico, ki sploh ni tako svetla, kot večina ljudi misli. Brez te pomoči bi jo bilo kar težko najti.« Iz žepa sem potegnila telefon, zavzdihnila, ga odložila v supergo in se spet ozrla gor v temo. »In ko imaš enkrat to severnico naciljamo, veš, kam je treba, če moraš proti severu. Razen na samem severnem tečaju, če si slučajno tam, kjer jo imaš navpično nad glavo in ti nič ne pomaga, ampak tam ti ni treba vedeti, kje je sever, ker si tako ali tako že tam. Hm, ali obstaja kaj bolj severno od severa?« vprašam dedka in se obrnem proti njemu. Dedek nič ne odvrne, samo zaslišim glasno smrčanje. Vstanem, pograbim telefon in ga stlačim v žep. Pospravim Monopoli in dedku nastavim nekaj banan in jagod za zajtrk.

Ko se peljem domov v svojem Red Bullu razmišljam o babici, kako jo je imel dedek rad in kako se mu je življenje spremenilo, ko se je nekega dne spremenila v zvezdni prah. A ni obupal, saj ima nas, ki bomo vedno skrbeli zanj. Dobro vem, da nas babica ni zapustila. Če je že ne morem objeti, jo lahko vsak večer vidim na nebu kot najsvetlejšo zvezdo. Dedka pa vidim kot luno, ki  vsaki večer pleše okrog našega sveta. Zvezdni prah bo pristal na luni, luna pa ga bo objela in ga večno zadržala v svojem objemu. Ko se bo to zgodilo, bo luna žarela najsvetleje.

Does the outside really matter?

When I was born, I was a cute little baby. My mom was pretty excited when she saw me but she was also scared. You know, when a baby is born around here his or her mum is always scared what her baby’s grade is going to be. The beauty commission always rates the baby from his or her outside looks. They grade the baby from zero – the ugliest beauty to ten – the most beautiful beauty. For the beauty commission the personality and inner beauty is not important. What is important is your outside look!!! When they give you your grade, they permanently write it on your forehead. So everyone can immediately see your grade.

It’s year 2578. My name is Z-13 and my grade is a 10. I have beautiful green eyes and long brown hair, and I am the Katherine. All the people in our capsule are called the Katherines because the name of our  present is Katherine. I have a best friend S-17. She, on the other hand, is not a 10, she is a 0. But I love her personality. She is funny, kind, always makes funny jokes… But me … I am a shy person who cannot make friends so easily. Therefore, S-17 is very important to me. I, on the other hand, have to get up three hours before school starts to do my makeup and to get dressed. For breakfast, I eat some pills like usually. One is filled with a vitamin C and the other one with the vitamin E to make my skin look healthy. Usually outside is quiet because everyone is still asleep. I remember that my mom once said to me: when she was  young, her grand grand grandmother had told her about how beautiful the singing birds were. Hmmm, I can’t imagine how our life with animals would be because they are all dead now.

But today it is quite noisy outside. I can see people running around our living capsule. It looks like a giant hotel with tiny capsules, which are people’s homes. I have put on my oxygen mask, which covers my nose,  because there is no oxygen left for us. I have walked out of my tiny capsule and looked through the giant glass window, which is the border between the outside landscape and the giant capsule we are living in. While I am staring through the window, observing the destroyed world, I can see plastic flying everywhere. Then, my attention focuses on our president Katherine’s talking. A lot of people are standing around her and listening to what she has to say. I wanted to see what is going on. I even saw my best friend S-17 standing there. Curiously, I stepped towards her and the president said: “It is a very special day today. From now on all zeros are going to be killed.“ My heart stopped. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared to look at my best friend. Slowly we looked at each other. Our eyes met. I saw tears in S-es eyes. The president continued: “Every month the beauty commission is going to choose 3 zeros till we kill them all. If anyone is against this rule, we are going to kill him and his family. So I warmly warn you to be quiet. Right now we are going to choose the first three zeros.” My friend nervously stood there. I watched her eyes water up while our present introduced the beauty commission. I could see kids crying when they saw the beauty commission and their parents being very nervous. One of the zeros even tried to escape but the military took him immediately and vanished, and we never saw him again.

The president had a giant box of papers with different names of zeros in them. Her long nails grabbed the first folded paper. She saw the name and read it aloud: “B-15 come to the stage please!” The teenager approached the stage and with his white face went into the special room. The next name was G-10. A young girl went on the stage. She had smokey grey eyes and short frizzy hair. She was directed to go into the special room. “The last zero,” shouted the president: “is … Z-13!” My eyes almost popped out and my heart fell into my pants. “Ma’am, this must be a mistake. I’m not a zero, I’m a ten”. The president looked confused. “But why are you in this section then?”, she added. “I don’t know, Ma’am. But I’m definitely not a zero!” The president was quiet. Then she said: “Well, you ARE too pretty for a zero. So, please, darling, leave!” I thanked her and headed towards my capsule when I heard a familiar name: “S-17, come to the stage!” In my head I heard a voice: No, I’m dreaming, this can’t be true!!! With my left eye, I could see my best friend walking towards the special room. In her eyes, I could see horror but also anger.

I was thinking. OMG! I saved my life but now my friend was going to die because of me… I wanted to turn around and safe her but the military hands grabbed me and pulled me back. I started shouting and screaming but it was too late. My oxygen mask fell off and I inhaled all the chemicals in the air. The last thing I saw was Katherine’s cold look. Then, I passed out.

It’s been three months since my best friend died … because I was so determent to safe my ass and not hers. While I was in my depression, I met this guy K-19. He is a nine on the beauty scale. He is very handsome from the outside. But more I talked to him more I realized that his inner personality is not as high as his beauty grade. He always talks about himself, about his achievements, how gorgeous he is but he never comments on my outer look or my personality or anyone else’s but his.

Do you ever wonder whether people would like you more or less, if they could see inside you? I mean, I’ve always felt like the Katherines dump me right when they start to see what I look like from the inside – well, except K-19. But I always wonder about that. If people could see me the way I see myself – if they could live in my memories – would anyone, anyone love me?

Would the Katherines like me if they knew that I am a murderer? Would they stop judging me if they knew that I tried to safe my best friend? Would K-19 be with me if he knew my secret? Will he ever stop talking about himself and talk about me? Well, I don’t know if that’s possible. He’s probably with me just because of my grade. But if I am honest so am I …

The next day I have decided to tell him that. I stood next to him when he was looking himself in the mirror. “K…” I started. ”Can you ever stop looking at yourself and listen to me?” Then I said it directly: “Do you ever care about my personality and not my grade?” He looked shocked. He did not answer my question. He just said: “Why are you asking me this?”

I answered: “You are too full of yourself and you need to listen to me more often. You should care about me as well, and not so much about your look.” When I told that to him he was furious. He started shouting: “You’re not even that pretty for being a ten. I don’t know if the beauty commission was blind when they gave you a 10. You deserve to be a zero. And, by the way, you wear too much make up. I have never seen your real face.”

I was quiet. I did not know what to say. I did not expect his reaction to be like this. I took my hand and put it on my forehead. I touched my grade. I touched a 10. But then something clicked in my head. I touched the number 1 in the 10 and rubbed it off. K-19 looked shocked when he saw my real grade – a 0.