It was Jaanipäev. Ten years after his first job and five years after he had become a commercial pilot. The sun was high in the West – even though it was nearly midnight. To Estonians the shortest night of the year was more important than Christmas. Christmas you spend with your family.
Jaanipäev you spend with a pretty girl in the forest, “searching for blooming fern” and making family…
Arvo’s hands stopped carving wood for a second to make a gesture that people understood across the world. Even without knowing Estonian language, Baltic traditions, or botany. (Fern does not bloom.)
Of course, as much as he valued tradition, the time of his active participation was long over. Years actually, not ever since Keiti…
Arvo stood up and nearly tore the window out of the old frame as he opened it. He needed air. His hands grabbed the windowsill. He looked at the sea and the sea looked back. Neither said anything.
Anyway, Jaanipäev. That was the day when he met Keiti. His friend Toivo invited Arvo to join his family, right here, in this house, in Kihnu. A weekend on a remote island, surrounded by complete strangers, who – even worse – all knew each other well. And with no way to escape because the ferry came only once per day. That sounded like “fun”.
“Ah, come on! I promise, I won’t leave your side”, said his friend. Obviously, Toivo disappeared in a crowd full of cheers and laughter as soon as they turned the corner into the beautiful, unkempt garden behind the old house. Arvo looked at him over his shoulder, while walking on trying to pretend that he didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.
His eyes turned forward just in time to stop him from walking right into the bonfire. Then he noticed the girl, flying across the fire. She slammed right into him. Her body felt slender and firm. He put his arm around her to stop them from falling over. She did the same. Her face was centimeters away, her eyes found his – and the whole world became a polaroid. Flash! – One perfect moment, forever conserved in time.