I am chopping wood into a big pile. My mother comes out and sits down on one of the chopping blocks. Grey. She is wearing a silly little cap on her grey hair. And her skin is grey, her eyes, even her coat. But her boots are red. Where on earth did she find such an ugly pair of boots? She sits and draws patterns in the fresh snow. Butterflies. Then all of a sudden she tells me to kill her. I should, she says, make it seem as if the axe-head had come loose and hit her right on the head. It would look like an accident and I wouldn´t be punished.
I hit the log in front of me so hard that the chopping block splits and the axe-handle breaks. It was a fine Spanish tool: four hundred and fifty forints. "That´s buggered it". My mother laughs. Then she coughs.
I gather the wood into a basket. My mother coughs. Then she stops coughing, lights a cigarette, and begins to speak. She tells me that she has put forty boxes of sleeping pills on top of the cupboard in the larder. Perhaps I would be so kind as to dissolve them in her coffee? In the morning or in the afternoon, it doesn´t matter. But I shouldn´t tell her when. Because she´s afraid.
I pretend not to hear what she´s saying. "You promised". I don´t look at her. "You promised!" She isn´t shouting. She speaks in a low, rasping voice. I had indeed promised.
A hen flies onto the top of the coop, then straight down into the snow among the scattered bits of wood. It scratches and pecks greedily. My mother and I look at it. "Don´t harm it!" she says softly. I kick the hen so hard that it smashes into the wall of the coop. It doesn´t make a sound. Its legs jerk briefly, then it dies. The breeze ruffles its feathers. I can see its skin.
"You´ ve always been wicked. And a coward". My mother gets up from the block, picks up the corpse, and sits down again. I can tell that she´s about to cry. Just like the time when she held the robin that my younger brother had killed. "You promised!" Then through her tears she says: "I´d do it for you".
"But how the fuck am I supposed to dissolve so much poison in a cup of coffee?"
Translated by HIDEG János and Rachel HIDEG