By Izabela Ilowska
Once certain words are spoken, you can’t take them back. But you can translate them into another language. Ungrateful, stubborn, controlling, self-absorbed, cold. This is just a list of adjectives. They seem abstract, they don’t hurt me. Their Polish equivalents, on the other hand, are more problematic, burdened with personal associations. I see Damian as he puts his jacket on and leaves the flat, slamming the door behind him. A few hours later my telephone starts to ring. Damian says that it’s over and that he won’t come back. Sometimes he threatens to swallow pills or to slash his wrists and hangs up before I have a chance to ask where he is. When he calls again, he keeps his voice calm, impersonal. He tells me about a woman he met some time ago. They have been seeing each other regularly ever since. He says that she is younger than me and cooks very well. He wants to know if I’m jealous of her. When I don’t respond, he gets angry at me. We begin to insult each other with the same cruel words. I feel exhausted when he finally hangs up. Ungrateful, stubborn, controlling, self-absorbed, cold. The list goes on and on. I write down some of the adjectives on a piece of paper and then I translate them into English. My heartbeat slows down, my breathing becomes easier, my hands stop trembling.
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Izabela Ilowska holds a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. Her flash fiction has appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, The Bangor Literary Journal, and Free Flash Fiction.