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Chapter One, in which the kids play in the garden

In the sun-parched grass by the old villa, a tiny boy, who had just learned to walk, toddled about merrily. He kept peeking into a picnic basket with dishes, hoping to wolf down a piece of strudel left over from the afternoon snack. His sister was running around, chasing a huge white dog. With every sharp turn, the dog left behind a fluffy tuft of hair. These memories of their wild play then spread over the garden, continuing their existence. The little girl, wearing a floral dress, could have been about five years old. She had her hair woven into two golden braids from which messy curls escaped, framing her big red cheeks. Stopping her rollicks with the dog, she decided to climb an old apple tree. Her little brother stood at the trunk, watching his sister inquisitively, then bit into an unripe apple. In the meantime, the white dog lady placed her front paws on the lower branches of the apple tree.

“It’ll take quite some time before you can climb up here with me,” the girl called to the boy. “But I can do it,” she continued immediately in the whistle-high voice she always used when imitating her brother.

The little boy joined in her chirping and for a while they carried on together, making meaningless sounds, which was their favorite pastime.

From afar, the voices of the parents echoed, the mother sounding angry.
The little sister climbed down and hugged her brother firmly; accidentally, she scraped his forehead against the bark of the tree, but he didn’t complain. He tilted his head backwards, waving his hands and making the happy sounds only small children can make.

Suddenly, the mood in the garden shifted. The wind arose and scattered the remaining dead leaves. Everything went silent and the sky darkened.

In the midst of hot summer, snowflakes came falling down on the cheeks of the children and other inhabitants of the garden.

Written by Sova Hůová.

English translation edited by Martina Šímová.

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