Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thea's promise, by Lukáš Šikel

Thea's promise

Brief synopsis: Sometimes shadow of yesterday is taking over and we require to change something about our lives. Thea didn’t know much about Brno but she decided start again there.

“You really made up your mind?“ Asked Hannah with fear in her voice.

“It won’t change anything between us,“ replied Thea and sipped from a cup of her favourite cocoa in Moss. The bistro they sat in was unusually silent. Only the sound of waves hitting the coast was disturbing the silent moment Thea had with Hannah. The smell of the ocean with smell of cocoa was the think Thea was going to miss the most.

„It's a new adventure, isn't it?“ smiled Thea and looked into Hannah's eyes kindly. But Hannah did not smile back.

Last week she was explaining Hannah that she made a final decision and she is going to apply for Erasmus in Brno. She told her that the reason why she decided to do that was a break up with Peter.

“You are the one who broke up with him, why isn't he moving?” said Hannah angrily.

“I just… All the things around remind me things I want to forget, I need to start from a new chapter, even though the chapter is going to be communist horror story,” chuckled Thea.

 She really wanted to make her best friend laugh. She did not have anything better to say and it was a true. Or at least a part of it. The city reminded her bad memories. Thea felt quite a relief after she broke up with Peter. He was insisting on having sex and he was oddly persistent in it. But one of the reasons why her leaving was going to be hard was her best friend, who she met on theology classes while she was only seven. And of course her family, little brother Max and her beloved father.


Finally, Thea found a mug, which suited her needs. She bought it during a weekend market that took place in Moss every week. On the mug there was a sign “IBrno”.

„What is Brno?“ asked Max few weeks ago.  

„It's a city in the Czech Republic.“ replied Thea. 

„So you have been there? Does it look nice?“ 

Max, Thea's younger brother was fifteen but his curiosity seemed to never fade away. It was quite surprising when all of his schoolmates were experiencing the worst period of puberty. But he really loved his big sister and he never missed an opportunity to ask Thea something about her studying, or just casual staff. She was like a second mother for him.

“I was just in Prague, that is the capital,” said Thea.

“So why did you buy this cup?” 

Thea knew there are more reasons why she bought it. The answer could be that the mug is just as big as she needs for her morning routines. All other cups were too small and she had to fill them twice during her breakfast. The mug was also heavy and thick, so the coffee stayed warm the whole time she was drinking it during reading morning newspapers, which her father brought every morning with a bread for breakfast from a family bakery. But there was other answer she had for her little brother.

“I like how it sounds. Brno,” smiled Thea and repeated the word Brno.

Max was just looking at her and tried to say “Brno” few times. He smiled.


“Students have the opportunity to participate in Erasmus programme, which allows them to travel abroad, experience some other environment and culture,” said leaflet which one of Thea's classmates handed her in the corridor of her university.

After Thea got home she was going to write the essay for history of religion class. In her backpack there was a crumpled leaflet.

“For one year of studying abroad you have to apply till 6th May,” stood on the last line.

On the website of the programme there were many opportunities for studying abroad, but there was only one she was interested in.

“Are you sure you want to go there? You can study religion wherever in the world and you decide to go for some small Czech city? With your grades you could go to London, Paris, or at least Prague, you loved it” said Hannah.

“You know I don't like big cities, Prague was amazing for visiting but not for living. I just hate people hurrying, so I think Brno is going to be the right choice for me.”

“Does your father know you are applying?” asked Hannah.

“Not yet. It is not sure I will get in there,” said Thea with noticeable sad tone of her voice.


The week Thea was about to receive the letter from her school with results of her application was so much stressful. The postman was coming between 7 and 8 a.m. and she did not want her father and brother to know that she is thinking about going hundreds miles away from home to study in Brno for a year. At least a year.

Every morning she had been standing behind the door waiting for the postman.

“What you are doing here, Thea?” asked Max the first day she was standing there

“Nothing, just thinking about school stuff,” she replied and did not even look him into his eyes so he doesn't know she is lying. She was a bad liar.

Her brother just looked at her as she was crazy and went to the kitchen for breakfast.

The third day of awaiting she saw a postman coming to her door. She just opened the door, said hello, took the letter and got back home.

She run the way upstairs to her room. She was preparing herself for this moment for such a long time. She was trying to convince herself that it will be all right if they refuse her application.

At that moment when she was opening the letter she would swear her heart was beating loudly.

“Dear Ms. Thea Dahl, it is our pleasure to inform you that you were accepted to Erasmus programme.”

Thea could not even breathe at that moment, she just could not continue reading, she felt such a joy but she was always afraid about reaction of her father and brother. She started to cry.


Thea stood in the hall of the Oslo airport with her luggage looking at the sad faces of her father and brother. She never realised she is going to miss them that much, but it was a price she had to pay if she wanted to get a fresh start. But she also knew they are going to be all right, the time when her little brother needed her are away and she knew they will both take care after each other.

“If you need more money, let me know, we will figure out somehow,” said Thea's father with a worrying tone in his voice.

“I am all right, I will cook and bake so I won't need much money for food,” said Thea while hugging him.

“You can bake your roommates the famous chocolate cake,” he replied.

“Yes dad, I know, food is an excellent ice breaker,” chuckled Thea.

And there she was, holding a travel guide about Brno in her hand while having a seat in the half empty airplane which flew to Brno. She was just trying to think of her future and believing in Got again but she could not stop thinking about the chocolate cake.


Thea was four when aunt Elena moved into their house. It was few weeks after her mother died while giving birth to her baby brother. Thea was told that her mother is in heaven with angels now, but she thought, that she is coming back even though her father told her that is not true. The day aunt Elena moved in was the day, when Thea realised, that her mother is not going back and she is replaced by her. She had seen her only twice in her life, because she was living in Switzerland so she was basically a strange person. Thea cried so much, but her father's sister was the only one who could help her father with raising a new born baby born Max and Thea and not losing their bakery.

“Sweetheart, don't you want to help your aunt to bake a chocolate cake?” asked Elena after she tried to play with Thea, but she boycotted all the games.

“Okay,” smiled Thea at her and showed the gap between her teeth after she lost front teeth while eating snack at pre-school.

“I love chocolate!” yelled Thea enthusiastically and run into the kitchen. Baking was something she used to help her mother. She loved baking Christmas sweets with her.

“So, I will learn you how to bake it and when you are older you can make your own chocolate cake! This cake is a God's gift!” smiled aunt back.

Finally, it seemed for Elena to get under skin of Thea, she could not bear the view of a little princess with her eyes full of tears.

“Honey we should make sure that the t-shirt is not going to get dirty, don't you want to take It down?” asked Elena.

Thea just loved the T-shirt she was wearing. There was a picture of ponies from My Little Pony.

“You can scramble the eggs, I will show you how to do it,” said aunt Elena.

Aunt led Theas hand to scramble the eggs properly. After a while, Thea realised that aunt is smelling her hair. Her mother also did but not that way. She was moving her head back and forth and breathed right into Thea's ear.

“Now you can try without helping,” said aunt Elena.

Thea was trying to scramble eggs as fast as with help of her aunt's hand. Thea noticed, that the hand is now on her chest and fingers are slowly stroking it.

            “Don't worry Thea, scramble it more so the cake is fluffy,” she whispered into Thea's ear. And she did.


Thea didn't know there was something wrong about her aunt playing with her and her Barbies naked.  At first, she quite liked it but Elena explained to her, that they can be playing like this only when they are home alone and that it is their secret.

“You know you have to keep secrets, right? God sees you and he would be really angry if you reveal our secret to anyone, even your daddy,” threatened Elena.

“Lips sealed,” smiled Thea.

“Do you promise?” answered Elena.

“I do!”


When Thea was seven, she realised there is something wrong. But when she tried to refuse playing with aunt she never got a success. As aunt replaced her mother, she also planned her doctor visits and signed her for theology class. And she always picked her up. After her brother got bigger she signed him to football, and it started the same time when theology class ended, so they had always time to spend together alone at home.

As Thea got older, she realised she should have said somebody, but she promised her aunt that she is not going to tell anyone so many times. She knew aunt Elena was the only one who could take care of them, she liked her, at least a bit, and there was nobody else to take care of her and her brother as soon as their grandparents were old and lived in Oslo.

In the age of 14, her aunt was diagnosed cancer. Thea can precisely remember the day, when father and aunt told her and Max. The moment, when she felt such a grief for her father feeling so exhausted and helpless but also a relief. The pronouncement was a year when Thea made her father sure, that she can take care of household, of her brother and at first for her aunt. And not get worse grades at school. The day aunt Elena died was such a sad day for her, even though she hurt her. Her death was supposed to change Thea's life. But it changed just for a while. All the memories came back and it became heavier to handle. During that time, Hannah was the one who distracted Thea with all the ordinary talks about boys and school. But Thea was sure, that she will need a big change in her life soon.

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