(Illustration by Eric Asaris)
The ride got bumpy, which was unfortunate because the foam-padded cushion had been ripped right off his seat, the rivets which had held it in place sticking out. Georgi sat squashed against a window at the very back, watching the heads of the sleeping passengers bobble as the bus made the turns on the switch-backed mountain road. The image was comforting: angry workers reduced to slobbering toy-heads; it gave matters a comical spin, steering him away from a full-blown anxiety attack, a feat which was becoming harder to pull off with each kilometer closer to the city.
They passed a corroded sign claiming Plovna’s source was but a thirty minute walk off the main road. Up a dirt path, the arrow indicated, amid overlapping rows of pine and birch.
He shut his eyes. The spring of Plovna, pure, a blue brook trickling down the mountain, picking up speed and water and rushing headlong into the city carrying life to become--
The muddy river ran beneath the Bridge of Founders in his old battered quarter, where the air was suffused with the heavy smell of melting tarmac, truck exhaust, and a skyscraper diorama lay open in the distance, veiled in Plovna’s pastel mist; he was gripping the bridge rail, his two best friends on either side of him, the face of his dying mother drawn with a finger in the cloudscape, while she lay, blanketed by television light, in her living room--