Natalija Grgorinic & Ognjen Radjen
Every Time I Make You Cry

- From now on - and here I made a short but significant pause - each time I make you cry I’ll cut off one of my fingers.

She raised her head. Face red, cheeks wet and glistening with tears, locks of hair sticking to her forehead. She looked at me in disbelief, wondering do I really mean that, and I meant it, and I was thinking how beautiful she is… And my hands were shaking, for it was cold there where I was standing, and my mouth was so dry I was afraid my voice will let me down.

- So that when you leave me - I went on - I know exactly why you did it, there mustn’t be a shred of doubt in my sick hopeless mind what made you do that - and now my lips were twitching, but no, I thought, I won’t cry this time. It would be too simple. Cause she wants to forgive me. I can’t take notice of that choking feeling coming up my throat and the fact that she really wants to forgive me. And I can not let her touch me. It would be too soon and it wouldn’t hurt right.

I noticed she was wearing that shirt. My favourite. The blue one. And I genuinely wanted to suffer. But the shirt was soft and blue like never before. And I wanted to be in pain.

Her breasts kept swelling up the shirt with every breath she took. And I didn’t want to be in too much pain. I wanted my justly deserved punishment, and to suffer, that’s what I wanted. But I didn’t know how. And that’s why I have said it. And now I was silent, and she was watching me and she believed me, although she didn’t want to believe. Then she let me touch her and wipe off the tears with my palm, but she still kept quiet too. That’s how I knew I had really hurt her this time. And that’s why I meant what I have said.

There was a general commotion at the ER and I was glad they all forgot about me for a moment. I sat on a white bench in front of the examination room door and silently watched everyone moving there. Up and down, nurses in pairs and their laughter. You really have to learn that kind of laughter, because hospital are places of suffering and pain. And death, which is white. Up and down, nurses and doctors. And that laughter again, and lust. Sex at the workplace, that also something you have to learn, sex at the deathplace - why that’s almost an art. Or do they, poor sods, find it boring once they learn what everything is called. In Latin. And up and down they wheeled newly arrived patients, “cases” I think they call us, and each of those cases was screaming, or stinking, or both, and the girls dressed in white kept telling them everything will be all right, although their fake smile gave them up - no one here gets out intact. It’s like, for instance, you never know that the repairman didn’t help himself to some expensive part from your TV-set.

Next to me sat some old man in white coat and too big clogs. What’s left of his hair was trimmed short and neat, his beard as well, grey and thin. The old man was smoking. And that’s probably why I immediately thought he was a doctor, a surgeon on a break between two selfless and dedicated acts of high priced butchery. Only those doctor sons of bitches have the nerve to bluntly break the same rules they imposed. And that’s why I stuck out my hand, the reason I was there in the first place. Here, here’s your next assignment!

The kitchen towel around my fist was soaked with blood and I placed it on my knee for everyone to see. There was no way one could miss it. But the old man just sat there smoking, and he may not have been trying hard, but he got to me. And he didn’t even blink when I cursed all the hospitals in the world together with their belonging beds in which the doctors are shacking up with the rest of the medical staff using their rubber gloves instead of preservatives. Rubber-fucking-gloves! I repeated louder, but the man was unmoved. He was cool, dead cool. So I gave up.

- Is it always like this in here? - I thought out loud staring straight in front of me.

And suddenly:

- Don’t know, it’s my first time too - the old man spoke only to bend and fall over to the floor like a sack, the very next moment.

The examination room door opened with a bang and two giant hairy women went for the old guy, grabbed his broken down body by the limbs and dragged him through the crowd in one of the other rooms. Later I found out: a jumper. You know, guy takes of his clothes, folds them carefully next to the bridge fence and then takes a dive, just because his wife left him or the dog-food deal went bad. And then he ends up in a hospital, in somebody else’s clogs, and his blood is dripping all around, just because he missed the water.

This old man left only a single red drop on a white hospital bench. And on the floor, next to my feet, his half-smoked cigarette was smouldering. I stubbed it out with my foot which still had a slipper on. Then I noticed that the examination room door are still open and I looked up and saw her. The one that pushed me out of the house in my slippers. She was talking to the doctor. Occasionally, she would nod in my direction, and the doctor would, occasionally, look in that same direction. And I would smile a great big smile every time. To her. But since she wasn’t really looking at me I hoped the kind doctor would transmit at least a bit of my smile. And when I came to the conclusion they ignored me long enough, I started yelling across the hall:

- It’s not true! It’s not true what she says. I cut it off myself!

And the kind doctor heard me, and came towards me… to close the door.

- I’m sorry - I said to her while we sat in front of the examination room.

And I was sorry, after all it was my finger. But she said nothing. She just kept staring in front of herself. Like she was restraining herself. She’s mad, I thought. Just sitting there, staring. Motionless.

- I’m really sorry - I said it again and by that time I was genuinely sorry.

Ass hole, I thought, NOW you worry about your precious finger, but she was the one who remembered to put it in a bag of ice, wrapped in gauze so it wouldn’t get frostbite. So I was sorry for her. And I told her so.

- What are you thinking about? - I asked.

And I asked her that at least a dozen times before she finally spoke:

- I don’t know… can I cry? I mean, am I allowed to cry? Or are you going to cut off another finger? Cause if you are, then I suggest you flush it down the toilet, cause I sure feel like crying - and then she covered her face with her hands.

- I’m sorry, baby - was all I could say. And I scratched a stain of my own blood that already dried off on her shirt.

- Will this wash off?

She looked as if she could not recognise me, but then she snapped out of it and her face shone with a smile. Then and there a shadow between us fell down to the dust never to rise again.

- What?! Of course it’ll wash off.

- Are you sure?

- Yeah.

- Positive?

- A-ha.

- You’re not just telling that?

- No, crazy! - and then she took my head in her hands and put it to her breasts. And I was thinking, blue and soft, a dream like a fabric softener commercial…