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At the corner of the old Dísz Square, up on the Castle Hill of Buda, where the little Bus 16 stops for a moment to take a breather before it turns to the serpentine leading down to  Krisztina-Town, there stands a house. Its frontage still holds the chalk sitting chamber of the first owner, a medieval merchant.

Not too long ago the shady flat on the groundfloor was resided by a young scientist, a deep-brown eyed one, soft-spoken and always tranquil like the soil in forest-depths. I liked that flat. Through many nights we were sitting there by the table, with wineglasses in hands, talking about Homer, Christ, the prose-rhythm of Antal Szerb, and Vivaldi's Venice. From the kitchen door we could see the medieval walls of the living room, still dreaming about old muezzin songs, and the piano in front of the bookshelves. "There is somebody in the room." I kept saying to him. "A woman, maybe middle-aged. She's standing there next to the piano musing somewhere. Not on us." The scientist smiled, just like one smiles at fairytales. Later, during a basement renovation, human bones were found under the cellar-ground."

She was middle-aged, buried here in the Ottoman times", said the archaeologists, and took her to some storeroom. Nobody stood by the piano since then.

On that last evening before I left for England, the scientist accompanied me to the bus. I will never forget his face as he was standing there when I got on. The driver waved urgently but he was just standing there, stepping from one foot to the other. "I'm sorry but I love you", he said at last simply and quietly. The bus set off before I could have formed my thoughts into words: "I've been unable to love for a long time." But he understood it. I felt miserable.

Months later, in the middle of a hopeless winter, I met a young scientist, an alabaster-eyed one, from Oxford. "No. Not scientist, I'm a researcher" - he would say now, with a protesting move of his aristocratic hand: "The one who thinks to know everything, is half dead already." We walked a lot and talked a lot about the Saturn's moons, about Kepler, the Big Bang theory, and Hesiod's Theogony. Wandering down the sleepy high street of St. Albans one day, I told him about the old legend of the town, about a little ghost girl who haunts that street and steals keyrings to hide them. He shook his prince-blond head with a smile but made a grab to his pocket immediately. Then waiting for the bus I could not stop staring at his soft-featured, almost girlish face with the alabaster-light in his eyes and thinking:  

"I'm sorry but I love you." He understood it without a word, and just stood there stepping from one foot to the other. "I wish I could help, but I can't. I've been unable to love for a long time," - he said finally. I felt miserable.

It was Easter. Half of the world celebrated the resurrection. I was sitting at the airport, on my way home, sipping tea mechanically without a thought, until I noticed a pair of green eyes: almond-shaped and cheerful, fixed at me. A boyish girl-face belonged to them, a grass-green dress, and ash-blonde curls.

"I fancy you", she said, freckled, Dutch Artemis, wearing even a bow on her shoulder, I thought. But it was a balalaika. She thrummed a bit to me on that, I told stories about the Castle Hill of Buda, about little ghost girls in St. Albans, and about scientists and researchers too. "Listen to me!", she smiled. "Listen to me, little darling" - she said with a laugh and embraced my shoulder. "This is when the girl in the movies puts on her prettiest dress, rings the bell of that flat in Buda, and they live happily ever after."

I took her advice. Two days later, dressed up into wine-red I ringed the bell of the medieval house, at the corner of the old Dísz Square, where the little castle-bus stops before it turns to the serpentine. But nobody opened the door any more.


1. Source of the photo: CJS*64 "Man with a camera" via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND 2.: Pixabay