she lived in a wing of the castle. the castle in the small town where I lived until the age of eighteen. and I remember her concentrated on sweeping the three steps that led to the small door of her house. I also remember that it was easy to see her come out of the corridor that ran beside the tobacconist’s and led to a street on the back of the square. a dark corridor. the tobacco shop was dark too. her outreach covered about 50 metres. that was the distance between the door of her house and the tobacconist’s. you never met her farther. neither in the near park. nor at the coop supermarket less than a kilometre away. her hair was always in a flutter. but motionless. as if rising up in a scream of anger. a mute. steady scream. anger was a constant with her. I have never seen her smile. not even once. when we were within her reach. my little brother sticked to our mother. holding onto her dress. and looked around. on his guard. waiting to see her appear at any moment. and when he caught sight of her from the distance. he sneaked between our mother’s legs and tried to hide in any possible way. my mother used to laugh about it. and so did her friend who had coffee with her in the square every morning. every time they wondered why he was so afraid of her. and yet they never bothered to find an answer. I never asked anything to my brother either. and I must admit it. I have never thought it to be a general attitude of children when they are out of the band. until the other night. I talked about it with a friend from the town. who told me that all the children used to make fun of her. and that is why she was so aggressive. and not only did they make fun of her. they competed to touch her hump. what hump? I asked her. I have never seen her hump. yet she insisted. she had a hump. it was very small but she had one. and you know that it’s good luck to touch humps. then I asked my friend if she knew whether she was still alive. she is dead. she said. all dwarfs die young. you know. are you sure? I asked her. I didn’t know that they die young. yes. she answered. there is something wrong with their heart. then I checked the internet. after childhood is over. dwarfs live as long as anyone else. only people affected by a particular kind of dwarfism die in their thirties. but she was not one of them. she was a standard dwarf. but her face was not particularly recognisable. she didn’t have the typical features of a dwarf. she only had short and bow legs. her arms were strong and short too. she had a big head. but with such hair… who could tell precisely how the head beneath it looked like? I look at myself in the mirror. my hair often looks like hers. done by the wind and my mood. she had a child. right? I asked for confirmation. yes. she answered. a dwarf himself. and who was the father? I have never seen any husband. as far as I remember. actually she didn’t have one. she was alone. she lived alone with her son. what if I start looking for her? she is dead. believe me. and if she wasn’t. she wouldn’t live there anymore. the castle has been entirely renovated. if she is still alive. she has most probably been sent to a nursing home. but she is dead. she phones her mother who still lives in the small town. and calls me again. she is dead. both of them are. you see. it is not true that dwarfs die young. I tell her. yes it is true. it is written on the internet. only a kind of dwarfs dies young. this means that she was one of that kind. she says. I don’t insist. no. she goes on. even my mother doesn’t know her name. she doesn’t remember it. and she doesn’t even know who she had her son with. why don’t you call my mother yourself and ask her all these questions? you’ve got her phone number. haven’t you? it’s still the same. well… maybe you can ask the baker… she is a bit out of her head too. I have no idea who could know her.
right. everybody knew her as the dwarf. It occurs to me that nobody was interested in knowing her name. she was simply the dwarf. we saw her everyday and none of us really knew her. Now I feel urged to know. only now. after more than twenty years. how did she perceive the world? what did she think about it? I cannot tell why I want to know. I have always wondered about that. but it’s like I always thought that she was immortal. like my memories. and that sooner or later I would know. sometimes I am reminded of her. as she looked like the last time I saw her. wearing her grey or blue sleeveless dress. that kind of dress that the ladies of the town used to wear to do the housework. over the polo neck that was dark too. her hair had turned pure white. snow white. but her face hadn’t aged. she was the same woman except for the white hair. she held the broom in her hand. in front of the short flight of three steps that led to her door. she wasn’t angry that day. but she didn’t smile either. she looked the same as ever. but she was half-smiling. just a half-smile which was not particularly reassuring. I remember her with the sun. and the wind. and to her I dedicate this issue. and if any of you knew her. you are welcome to write me and tell me her story. or some fragments of it. or the story of another dwarf.