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مجموعه: کتاب های خیلی ساده / کتاب 38

کتاب های خیلی ساده

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It happened half a year ago. Ray got a good job offer. Abi and Ray moved to Vancouver from England. Now Abu is studying at Film school. She is going to be a writer. After watching an interesting film in a screenwriting class she got a task. She has to write a story consisting of fifteen hundred words. Abi immediately saw a breath-taking thriller in her imagination. But her teacher warned her she couldn't include any dead bodies in the story. Abi should write about relationship between two people. What can be more boring? She is a good writer, who notices much in some ordinary things. Abi can create something interesting. Still, sometimes perceptive people cannot understand their closest surrounding. Soon Abi will write her own story based on the real events.

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‘Remember,’ her teacher, Kit, said. ‘Remember what you saw tonight from a true Japanese master. Self-control. Holding back emotion. Now, homework. Write a story that shows the relationship between two people. Fifteen hundred words. Be delicate. No drama. And you,’ she said, looking at Abi, and smiling, ‘no dead bodies, please.’

Abi left the Vancouver Film School and walked quickly past the guys begging for change on Hastings Street. Her whole body felt light with excitement. She smiled when she thought about Kit’s words. Yes, Abi thought, she could write thrillers. Dead bodies were no problem; now it was time to develop some new skills.

She turned onto Dunsmuir Street and went towards the sky train station, thinking about the film they’d watched in her screenwriting class that evening. It was Tokyo Story by the Japanese director, Ozu, made in 1953. It had always been one of Abi’s favourite films, and it was wonderful to see it again. The acting was outstanding, she thought, feelings were indicated powerfully by just a look or a turn of the head, a handkerchief held in a hand. It was all very Japanese. As you watched it you felt that it had a kind of universal truth. Yes, very Japanese. She had studied Japanese back in London and a word came to her from the depths of her memory. Enryo. It meant calmness and self-control, or holding back. Yes, Tokyo Story showed Enryo all right. Nothing much seemed to happen, but by the end of the film you felt you really knew the characters and cared deeply about them. Such a change from typical Hollywood films, thought Abi, as she ran up the steps to the sky train station at Stadium.

Abi stood and waited for the sky train to Broadway. A bitter December wind blew down off the coastal mountains and through Stadium station. She shivered and closed her warm winter jacket around her. She looked at her watch; it was nine thirty-five. Ray would be on the sky train and they would go home together to their apartment on Commercial Drive. They had decided not to use their four-wheel drive car in the city; it was hard to park and the public transport system was good. Just two stops on the sky train and then the number twenty bus to their apartment. They always met up on the sky train on Wednesday evenings and went home together. Abi went to her class and Ray stayed at work late. He was a commercial lawyer and his office was downtown.

Abi looked at the mountains that surrounded the city. The snow sparkled in the moonlight and here and there she could see the lights of the ski runs. Sometimes she just couldn’t believe her luck, living in Vancouver. It was simply beautiful. It had these fantastic mountains and an incredible coastline. At weekends, when Ray didn’t have work to do, they could go skiing at Grouse Mountain or Whistler. But it wasn’t just skiing and the outdoor lifestyle. It was also that Vancouver had so many opportunities for writers. They called it Hollywood North; the city was full of directors, producers, actors and writers. Abi had known for some time that it was the right place to work on her screenwriting career, so when Ray’s firm had wanted to transfer him to Vancouver six months ago, it had been a great opportunity.

The clean white sky train arrived at the station. Abi got on and looked around for Ray. She found him right at the end of the train. He looked so English in his dark suit, so out of place somehow. He smiled thinly at her. He looked grey and tired. Now she thought about it, he always looked tired these days. Well, it was true that he had to work long hours at the office. She kissed him lightly on the cheek. ‘Good day?’

‘Oh, it was all right, I suppose,’ he said, staring blankly ahead. ‘Just too much work. The boss has just signed another contract. And I’ve got to go to Toronto next week.’ Ray’s boss was always sending Ray to Toronto or Montreal on business.

‘Oh really?’ said Abi. ‘Toronto…’ The excitement of her film class still burned inside her.

There was a silence for a few moments.

‘Main Street, Science World,’ came the automated voice. The train slowed down as it approached the station.

‘We saw a fantastic film tonight,’ said Abi, as the train moved out of the station.

‘Oh yeah? God, I’m hungry.’

‘Japanese. Tokyo Story.’

‘Didn’t have time for lunch today.’

‘It’s really exciting,’ said Abi. ‘I mean, what you can do with film.’

‘Starving.’

‘I mean, I know that Shakespeare said action is eloquence; that it speaks for itself, and it’s true because action is important, but it doesn’t have to be extreme action. I mean, if you think about it’

‘Broadway, Commercial Drive’ said the automated voice.

Abi and Ray stood up automatically. They walked along the platform and down the steps to the bus stop.

‘I hate this bus. It’s always late,’ Ray said as they waited for bus twenty in the cold. He always complained about the bus. The corner of Commercial and Broadway, where they had to wait for it, was one of the coldest, windiest places in the city. Then the bus itself was always full of, well, interesting people. Someone was always shouting out, starting an argument or talking nonsense to you. This was the darker side of Vancouver. It wasn’t that it was a bad city. It was just that Vancouver was full of people who were a little ‘different’. Especially on public transport. Abi loved it. As a writer, she found the bus endlessly exciting. It was full of stories and completely unpredictable. But Ray couldn’t see its charm, and never stopped complaining about it.

After a cold ten-minute wait, the bus arrived and they found a seat well inside.

‘Got a toonie for a cup of coffee, miss?’

The bearded man in the seat in front had turned round and was looking at Abi. ‘Toonie’ was the Canadian word for a two-dollar piece. She looked at the man carefully. He looked sick. He was thin and grey, and his clothes and beard were dirty. She had seen the bus driver let him on the bus for free. The kindest drivers sometimes did that.

Abi started to reach into her pocket for a two-dollar piece.

‘Forget it,’ said Ray to the man.

‘But the lady…’

‘Forget the lady,’ said Ray firmly. ‘Abi, don’t.’

Abi looked at Ray. His cheeks were suddenly red.

The man with the beard leaned towards Abi. His breath smelt bad.

‘Listen,’ said Ray, losing his temper. ‘Leave us alone.’

The man ignored him and just carried on moving his face towards Abi.

‘Let me give him something,’ said Abi softly, trying to calm the situation down.

But Ray was not to be calmed. He jumped out of his seat.

‘Ray, don’t…’

But Ray had now gone beyond words. He picked the man up by his dirty collar and pushed him to the floor of the bus. The man landed heavily.

‘Leave us alone!’ Ray shouted again.

By now the whole bus was shouting. Some of the passengers were moving towards the man on the floor. One man asked the driver to stop the bus. A woman helped the bearded man to his feet.

‘Come on,’ said Ray. ‘Let’s get off this awful bus!’

‘No, let’s…’

‘Get off the bus!’ Ray’s face was white with anger.

‘No,’ said Abi. ‘Let’s just go home.’

Ray looked at her and shook his head. ‘Let me get off!’ he shouted to the driver, who immediately opened the doors.

The bus moved off, leaving Ray walking down Commercial Drive, past the fast food places and shops, staring hard at the pavement.

On the bus, the passengers calmed down quickly. It had been a fairly normal scene for bus twenty. The bearded man sat down again.

As the bus approached her stop, Abi got up. She took a toonie out of her pocket and gave it to the bearded man.

‘Why, thank you, miss,’ he said, smiling through his broken teeth. ‘That’s really kind of you.’

Abi nodded and stood waiting for the automatic doors to open.

‘Take my advice, darling’,’ continued the man. ‘Leave him. He just ain’t your type. Ain’t your type at all…’

Abi turned and looked at the man. She stepped from the bus onto the sidewalk, and her face broke into a smile.

As she walked the two hundred meters to the apartment, Abi thought about Ray and reflected that the end is not always a big event. It can be slow and insistent, like waves on a rock. Until one day the rock is no longer there.

Well, she thought, at least Kit would be pleased. Not too much drama. Certainly no dead bodies. Just fifteen hundred words. Exactly.

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