Wednesday, June 12, 2019

THIRD (tie) — Just Google It

 By Hana Pačesová

The story is about a boy that simply refuses the idea that his girlfriend would like to live in such a place as Brno.
 When she told me, she wanted to move to Europe, I thought she was kidding.
I think I said something like: „Yeah, right, babe.” The thing is I never called her babe.
She was quiet for some time.
„I know it must be a shock. Just think about it.”
She left the keys in the mailbox. I found it just lying there with some ads.
„How did this happen?” I asked her the night before, while she was packing her stuff.
She looked at me confused. „I told you million times I wanted a change. I wanted to travel and learn about world and...”
„OK, then travel!” I interrupted her briefly. „Go somewhere else and come back. You see, coming back is essential here. Just don´t stay in some shithole to prove that you are independent.”
„So that is what you think? That I need to prove something?...And it´s not a shithole, stop saying that.”
„Oh, please, no one has ever heard about that place.”
„Did you at least google it?”
„I´m not gonna google some shithole.”
„You google everything, you could at least give it a chance.”
„Please, come for a visit, I mean it. I love you, I just need to do that and I want you to do that with me.“
And then she was gone.
 Of course, I stalked her on the internet, God bless Mark Zuckerberg. She posted her first photo on Instagram posing in front of some weirdly shaped black statue with a small ball in her hand.
´Gotcha´, said the picture.
I guess it was a big deal because she had about ninety likes for this. Ninety-two exactly.
„What is she doing there?” asked my brother one afternoon, when I was scrolling down her Facebook page instead of focusing on the videogame we were playing.
She was standing on a square with a beer in her hand.
„She is studying. Doing her PhD. And drinking beer obviously, she has never done it here.”
„You know, Czechs are famous for their beer”, he responded.
I looked at him with curiosity. „What do YOU know about them?”
„Nothing”, he smiled. „I just like beer. A lot. And you like Pilsner too, you are just drinking it by the way.“
I looked at the can in my hand with a certain disgust.
„Oh man, I need to stop drinking that shit right now.“ With a little sadness in my heart to be honest I threw the can in a bin.
„And I googled the statue you showed me. You know, the one with the balls. It´s a clock!“ My brother kept talking to me with his face turned to the TV screen.
„A clock?!“ I laughed.
 "I don’t understand, why she had to move to some hillbilly country. Why didn´t she go to London for instance?" I was quite drunk. Our team was joined by a new member - a British girl with a great appetite for partying. She was throwing a party at least once per week. I liked this fact a lot, I just started bringing my own beer because she was a big fan of Pilsner.
She looked at me quite bored: „Just to be clear, London sucks. I think Prague is quite cool.”
„She didn´t go to Prague. I can´t even remember the name of the…village.” I avoided the term shithole this time, but I lied. Of course I remembered.
„Well I don´t know about that, but I experienced some awesome parties in Prague, Czechs are crazy.”
That concerned me quite a lot. These days she was taking a lot of pictures in various and ‘very cool’ bars with a bunch of young people. Did she move on so fast?
 And then it was Christmas. She was standing on a different square in front of a Christmas tree with a decorated cup in hand, big scarf, red nose, snow in the hair, smiling.
I was looking for some presents and found a small antique shop. It was empty, just an old couple and probably the owner, man in my age.
She loved old books. „They have their own stories, so you get one extra “, she used to wink at me when she found some of her favorites and bought them even if she already had other copies at home.
I was browsing through the shop when I saw a big map hanging on the wall in the back. There was picture of Europe with little red marks on various places. I came a little bit closer.
Helsinki, London, Krakow, Paris, Berlin, and……I sighed deeply and came so close to it that my nose was almost touching the map.
„Places I have been to,” the owner suddenly appeared behind my back.
I pointed a finger on one specific tiny bunch of letters. „You have actually been here?“
He put on glasses that were stuck in a pocket of his shirt (funny, at first I thought that was just a pose but even young people need glasses for reading) and looked at my finger.
„That is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent some awesome time there.“
 His face got brighter and he started talking.
He talked about how he travelled through Europe five years ago after his parents died in an accident. „I suddenly had no roots, nowhere to belong. I realized that I knew nothing about my parents. They both originally came from Germany and they always told me that when they were young, they travelled a lot through Europe and that it was the best experience they had. I had a real urge to do something like that. To honor them. I quit my job and got on the first flight that was available.“
How he didn´t have much money and slept in hotels, sometimes even on the streets. ‚I wanted to see as many as I could.‘
How he one night ended up in a small city and met a new girl in a bar.
„I fell in love with her immediately. She showed me the city and it was beautiful. I mean, she was of course but the city had its own charm. Even though my relationship with that girl didn’t last very long, my heart stayed there for sure. That´s where I decided to start my own shop with antique books. “
He looked around the empty shop. „Or at least give it a try.“
After a while he continued. „Many people know Prague but no so many know about this hidden gem. It´s right in the heart of Europe." He circled the shape of heart with his finger on the map.
„I know one particular person that would love your story,” I replied after a while. I bought some books just for him to make some profit and left the shop. I stood on the street deciding what to do next. Then I slowly took the phone out of my pocket, opened the browser, typed BRNO and pressed Search.

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