A Scent of Sarsaparilla. Рассказ Рэя Брэдбери

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1958


Mr. William Finch stood quietly in the dark and blowing attic all morning and afternoon for three days. For three days in late November, he stood alone, feeling the soft white flakes of Time falling out of the infinite cold steel sky, silently, softly, feathering the roof and powdering the eaves. He stood, eyes shut. The attic, wallowed in seas of wind in the long sunless days, creaked every bone and shook down ancient dusts from its beams and warped timbers and lathings. It was a mass of sighs and torments that ached all about him where he stood sniffing its elegant dry perfumes and feeling of its ancient heritages. Ah. Ah.

Listening, downstairs, his wife Cora could not hear him walk or shift pr twitch. She imagined she could only hear him breathe, slowly out and in, like a dusty bellows, alone up there in the attic, high in the windy house.

"Ridiculous," she muttered.

When he hurried down for lunch the third afternoon, he smiled at the bleak walls, the chipped plates, the scratched silverware, and even at his wife!

"What's all the excitement?" she demanded.

"Good spirits is all. Wonderful spirits!" he laughed. He seemed almost hysterical with joy. He was seething in a great warm ferment which, obviously, he had trouble concealing. His wife frowned.

"What's that smell?"

"Smell, smell, smell?" He jerked his greying head back and forth.

"Sarsaparilla." She sniffed suspiciously. "That's what it is!"

"Oh, it couldn't be!" His hysterical happiness stopped as quickly as if she'd switched him off. He seemed stunned, ill at ease, and suddenly very careful.

"Where did you go this morning?" she asked.

"You know I was cleaning the attic."

"Mooning over a lot of trash. I didn't hear a sound. Thought maybe you weren't in the attic at all. What's that?" She pointed.

"Well, now how did those get there?" he asked the world.

He peered down at the pair of black spring-metal bicycle clips that bound his thin pants to his bony ankles.

"Found them in the attic," he answered himself. "Remember when we got out on the gravel road in the early morning on our tandem bike, Cora, forty years ago, everything fresh and new?"

"If you don't finish that attic today, I'll come up and toss everything out myself."

"Oh, no," he cried. "I have everything the way I want it!"

She looked at him coldly.

"Cora," he said, eating his lunch, relaxing, beginning to enthuse again, "you know what attics are? They're Time Machines, in which old, dim-witted men like me can travel back forty years to a time when it was summer all year round and children raided ice-wagons. Remember how it tasted? You held the ice in your handkerchief. It was like sucking the flavour of linen and snow at the same time."

Cora fidgeted.

It's not impossible, he thought, half closing his eyes, trying to see it and build it. Consider an attic. Its very atmosphere is Time. It deals in other years, the cocoons and chrysalises of another age. All the bureau drawers are little coffins where a thousand yesterdays lie in state. Oh, the attic's a dark, friendly place, full of Time, and if you stand in the very centre of it, straight and tall, squinting your eyes, and thinking and thinking, and smelling the Past, and putting out your hands to feel of Long Ago, why, it.

He stopped, realizing he had spoken some of this aloud. Cora was eating rapidly.

"Well, wouldn't it be interesting," he asked the parting in her hair, "if Time Travel could occur? And what more logical, proper place for it to happen than in an attic like ours, eh?"

"It's not always summer back in the old days," she said. "It's just your crazy memory. You remember all the good things and forget the bad. It wasn't always summer."

"Figuratively speaking, Cora, it was."

"Wasn't."

"What I mean is this," he said, whispering excitedly, bending forward to see the image he was tracing on the blank dining-room wall. "If you rode your unicycle carefully between the years, balancing, hands out, careful, careful, if you rode from year to year, spent a week in 1909, a day in 1900, a month or a fortnight somewhere else, 1905, 1898, you could stay with summer the rest of your life."

"Unicycle?"

"You know, one of those tall chromium one-wheeled bikes, single-seater, the performers ride in vaudeville shows, juggling. Balance, true balance, it takes, not to fall off, to keep the bright objects flying in the air, beautiful, up and up, a light, a flash, a sparkle, a bomb of brilliant colours, red, yellow, blue, green, white, gold; all the Junes and Julys and Augusts that ever were, in the air, about you, at once, hardly touching your hands, flying, suspended, and you, smiling, among them. Balance, Cora, balance."

"Blah," she said, "blah, blah." And added, "blah!"

He climbed the long cold stairs to the attic, shivering.

There were nights in winter when he woke with porcelain in his bones, with cool chimes blowing in his ears, with frost piercing his nerves in a raw illumination like white cold fireworks exploding and showering down in flaming snows upon a silent land deep in his subconscious. He was cold, cold, cold, and it would take a score of endless summers, with their green torches and bronze suns to thaw him free of his wintry sheath. He was a great tasteless chunk of brittle ice, a snowman put to bed each night, full of confetti dreams, tumbles of crystal and flurry. And there lay winter outside for ever, a great leaden winepress smashing down its colourless lid of sky, squashing them all like so many grapes, mashing colour and sense and being from everyone, save the children who fled on skis and toboggans down mirrored hills which reflected the crushing iron shield that hung lower above town each day and every eternal night.

Mr. Finch lifted the attic trapdoor. But here, here. A dust of summer sprang up about him. The attic dust simmered with heat left over from other seasons. Quietly, he shut the trapdoor down.

He began to smile.


The attic was quiet as a thundercloud before a storm. On occasion, Cora Finch heard her husband murmuring, murmuring, high up there.

At five in the afternoon, singing My Isle of Golden Dreams, Mr. Finch flipped a crisp new straw hat in the kitchen door. "Boo!"

"Did you sleep all afternoon?" snapped his wife. "I called up at you four times and no answer."

"Sleep?" He considered this and laughed, then put his hand quickly over his mouth. "Well, I guess I did."

Suddenly she saw him. "My God!" she cried, "where'd you get that coat?"

He wore a red candy-striped coat, a high white, choking collar, and ice-cream pants. You could smell the straw hat like a handful of fresh hay fanned in the air.

"Found 'em in an old trunk."

She sniffed. "Don't smell of mothballs. Look brand-new."

"Oh, no!" he said hastily. He looked stiff and uncomfortable as she eyed his costume.

"This isn't a summer stock company," she said.

"Can't a fellow have a little fun?"

"That's all you've ever had," she slammed the oven door. "While I've stayed home and knitted. Lord knows, you've been down at the store helping ladies' elbows in and out doors."

He refused to be bothered. "Cora." He looked deep into the crackling straw hat. "Wouldn't it be nice to take a Sunday walk the way we used to do, with your silk parasol and your long dress whishing along, and sit on those wire-legged chairs at the soda parlour and smell the drug store the way they used to smell? Why don't drug stores smell that way any more? And order two sarsaparillas for us, Cora, and then ride out in our 1910 Ford to Hannahan's Pier for a box-supper and listen to the brass band. How about it?"

"Supper's ready. Take that dreadful uniform off."

"If you could make a wish and take a ride on those oaklaned country roads like they had before cars started rushing, would you do it?" he insisted, watching her.

"Those old roads were dirty. We came home looking like Africans. Anyway," she picked up a sugar-jar and shook it, "this morning I had forty dollars here. Now it's gone! Don't tell me you ordered those clothes from a costume house. They're brand-new, they didn't come from any trunk!"

"I'm - "he said.

She raved for half an hour, but he could not bring himself to say anything. The November wind shook the house and as she talked, the snows of winter began to fall again in the cold steel sky.

"Answer me!" she cried. "Are you crazy, spending our money that way, on clothes you can't wear?"

"The attic," he started to say.

She walked off and sat in the living-room.

The snow was falling fast now and it was a cold dark November evening. She heard him climb up the step ladder, slowly, into the attic, into that dusty place of other years, into that black place of costumes and props and Time, into a world separate from this world below.


He closed the trap door down. The flashlight, snapped on, was company enough. Yes, here was all of Time compressed in a Japanese paper flower. At the touch of memory, everything would unfold into the clear water of the mind, in beautiful blooms, in spring breezes, larger than life. Each of the bureau drawers, slid forth, might contain aunts and cousins and grandmamas, ermined in dust. Yes, Time was here. You could feel it breathing, an atmospheric instead of a mechanical clock.

Now the house below was as remote as another day in the past. He half-shut his eyes and looked and looked on every side of the waiting attic.

Here, in prismed chandelier, were rainbows and momings and noons as bright as new rivers flowing endlessly back through time. His flashlight caught and flickered them alive, the rainbows leapt up to curve the shadows back with colours, with colours like plums and raspberries and Concord grapes, with colours like cut lemons and the sky where the clouds drew off after storming and the blue was there. And the dust of the attic was incense burning and all of time burning, and all you need do was peer into the flames. It was indeed a great machine of Time, this attic, he knew, he felt, he was sure, and if you touched prisms here, doorknobs there, plucked tassels, chimed crystals, swirled dust, punched trunk-hasps, and gusted the vox humana of the old hearth-bellows until it puffed the soot of a thousand ancient fires into your eyes, if, indeed, you played this instrument, this warm machine of parts, if you fondled all of its bits and pieces, its levers and changers and movers, then, then, then!

He thrust out his hands to orchestrate, to conduct, to Hourish. There was music in his head, in his mouth shut tight, and he played the great machine, the thunderously silent organ, bass, tenor, soprano, low, high, and at last, at last, a chord that shuddered him so that he had to shut his eyes.


About nine o'clock that night she heard him calling, "Cora!" She went upstairs. His head peered down at her from above, smiling at her. He waved his hat. "Good-bye, Cora."

"What do you mean?" she cried.

"I've thought it over for three days and I'm saying good-bye."

"Come down out of there, you fool!"

"I drew five hundred dollars from the bank yesterday. I've been thinking about this. And then when it happened, well... Cora..." He shoved his eager hand down. "For the last time, will you come along with me?"

"In the attic? Hand down that step-ladder, William Finch. I'll climb up there and run you out of that filthy place!"

"I'm going to Hannahan's Pier for a bowl of Clam Chowder," he said. "And I'm requesting the brass band to play Moonlight Bay. Oh, come on, Cora...." He motioned his extended hand.

She simply stared at his gentle, questioning face.

"Good-bye," he said.

He waved gently, gently. Then his face was gone, the straw hat was gone.

"William!" she screamed.

The attic was dark and silent.

Shrieking, she ran and got a chair and used it to groan her way up into the musty darkness. She flourished a flashlight. "William! William!"

The dark spaces were empty. A winter wind shook the house.

Then she saw the far west attic window, ajar.

She fumbled over to it. She hesitated, held her breath. Then, slowly, she opened it. The ladder was placed outside the window, leading down on to a porch roof.

She pulled back from the window.

Outside the opened frame the apple trees were lush green, it was twilight of a summer day in July. Faintly, she heard explosions, firecrackers going off. She heard laughter and distant voices. Rockets burst in the warm air, softly, red, white, and blue, fading.

She slammed the window and stood reeling. "William!"

Wintry November light glowed up through the trap in the attic floor behind her. Bent to it, she saw the snow whispering against the cold clear panes down in that November world where she would spend the next thirty years.

She did not go near the window again. She sat alone in the black attic, smelling the one smell that did not seem to fade. It lingered like a gentle sigh of satisfaction, on the air. She took a deep, long breath.

The old, the familiar, the unforgettable scent of drugstore sarsaparilla.

Комментарии

наталья, 23 февраля 2018

вот чем меня поражает почти каждый рассказ, так это то, как обыденное начало преображается в фантасмагорию. Бредбери берет будничную ситуацию и развивает, домысливает ее, докручивает, доводит до абсурда, наделяет волшебством. Жила была пожилая пара, быт поглотил их и муж находит себе отдушину на чердаке, перебирая старые вещи. В нашем привычном мире сидел бы он и сидел так еще много лет, предаваясь грезам об ушедшей юности. Когда и трава была зеленее, и деревья выше. А у Бредбери он находит окно в “реальное” прошлое и уходит в него

Ventum, 24 октября 2017

А ведь он вышагнул в то окно...

Алекс, 18 октября 2017

Женщина обрезает мужчине крылья, всячески тянет его вниз. Молодец, что сбежал от такой женушки.

Агата, 14 ноября 2015

В данном рассказе , как и во многих непредсказуемая концовка, если так ее можно назвать. И как раз это, и впечатлило меня..Здесь по моему мнению завуалированный смысл того, что говоря эти слова " Я отправляюсь на Хэннеегенскую набережную есть рыбную солянку, и закажу оркестр.." Уильям шел на смерть. И это в стиле Брэдбери .. дать немного усомниться читателю , и возможность поразмышлять.. Рэй, учит нас выходить за пределы разумного

Андрей, 2 июля 2015

Просто кто-то умеет мечтать, а кто-то не умеет. Кто-то боится пробовать, а кто-то нет.

Martian, 18 февраля 2015

Соглашусь с Анной.
Прекрасно, искрится магией и трогает душу.
Но разве обязательно - в прошлое? Непременно? Ддя покоя, для красоты? Для любви и свежести?

Анна, 5 сентября 2013

Рассказ отрясающий, как собственно и все. А мне обидно за жену. Зачем возвращаться в прошлое если есть настоящее и какое оно зависит и от мужа и от жены. Получается он не захотел сделать прекрасным их настоящее, проще было уйти одному в прекрасное прошлое.
А вообще рассказы Брэдбери тем и хороши, что можно очень много думать...

ирина, 23 мая 2013

все с возрастом путешествуют в прошлое мысленно. Там юность, беспечность, здоровье,любовь. Но думаю, что если на самом деле была бы возможность туда вернуться, не многие бы этим воспользовались Настоящее крепко держит - обязанности, заботы о близких. В этом рассказе жене может тоже хотелось бы снова окунуться в прошлое, но чувство долга у женщин развито больше чем у мужчин.

ГостьЯ , 8 апреля 2013

Никому нельзя уходить в прошлое

константин, 4 сентября 2012

это великолепно.хоть его жена и была втянутой в настоящие,он всеравно не здался.

sam, 18 июня 2012

если у меня была такая возможность, то я бы путешествовал туда где имел радость быть самим собой. Где была чистота самовыражения без ролей бытовухи, рутины, самокопания и прочих благ цивилизации. Радость доставляет не купленная вещь а как ею пользоваться, мне кажется.. Получается мне некуда то и отправиться по большому счету. :-) Но ничего я поработаю над этим.. Честность - это свобода от подхалимства, Открытость - это свобода от страха, Любовь - это лекарство от жадности..

Ирина, 4 января 2012

Я, кстати, тоже почему-то подумала, что он умер

W.F., 14 августа 2011

Замечательный рассказ. А что до нежелания жены идти за мужем...
Мне в его уходе в лето своей жизни видит уход окончательный, т.е. смерть.

Иринка, 24 апреля 2011

Чудесный рассказ...Жаль,что она не осмелилась (а вернее - не пожелала) последовать за ним...Слишком разные стали.

Труп Невесты, 16 января 2011

рассказ очень понравился.Со страниц так и веет запахом чердака и воспоминаний...Мне нравится один момент в рассказах РБ:в некоторых из них,где он изображает стариков(или просто семейную пару) жена-сварливая брюзга,слишком приземленная,а муж-этакий чудак,живущий какими-то мечтами и фантазиями(вспомнить к примеру "Время уходить").И несмотря на их различия подобный образ семейной пары согревает душу)))))Такие милые)А что касательно этого -"Аноним
жене стоило бы идти за мужем, но что-то есть в её выборе, что-то светло печальное",то не стоило ей за ним идти.Точнее по логике,то,несомненно,да,она была должна последовать за мужем,такой шанс выпадает один раз в жизни.Но именно то,что она осталась является контрастом-"глупые мечты" стали явью,а реализм и приземленность побеждены.Ей просто нет места в светлом и,отчасти,волшебном мире,действительность-вот ее место

, 14 июля 2010

жене стоило бы идти за мужем, но что-то есть в её выборе, что-то светло печальное

Зинаида, 22 августа 2009

Нельзя пренебрегать предоставившейся счастливой возможностью вернуться в юность.
Нельзя цепляться за настоящее,упуская новые возможности...

катрин, 13 августа 2009

прочла на одном дыхании..все на полутонах))здорово))

Vasilina, 13 августа 2009

сразу хочется отречься от назойливой мысли, что прошлое не вернуть и, так же, как и герой этого рассказа, окунутся в незабываемые воспоминания с головой...путешествовать во времени...по своей заурядной, но всё же неповторимой жизни...
Жаль, что у меня нет такого чердака!))Великолепный рассказ.

Alexey, 6 августа 2009

Если поверить во что-то, то мысли станут явью, мистер Бредбери плагиатчик библейских истин, но такого рода плагиат я готов читать и перчитывать раз-за-разом.

Павел, 3 августа 2009

А ещё немножко напоминает "Все тенали бороговы" Каттнера-Мур. Только чуть лиричней и не так жутко.

Виталий, 5 июля 2009

Великолепно

Shelter , 14 мая 2008

Очень поэтичная вещь! Мне даже кажется, что она как-то пересекается со "Смертью и Девой". Прекрасно отражена мечта каждого вернуться в лето своего самого "урожайного" года.
А к этому еще добавлена тема семейных взаимоотношений. Две правды: герой пытался вернуть романтику в семью, доброту. А она настолько утомилась бытом, что все ей уже не в радость.
Но самое классное, что РБ здесь дает этой женщине выбор - она может бросить рутину и вместе с мужем реально вырваться из ненастья и навсегда остаться в погожем дне. Но она не решилась на это. А может и отважится все-таки, ведь окошко-то не затворилось.

Александр Наговицын, 27 января 2008

вспоминать прошлое это хорошо, думать о будущем это отлично, ну а жить настоящим это искусство!

Екатерина, 31 октября 2007

Многим хочется вернуться в прошлое...
Но на самом деле, все и вправду было не так хорошо там, как нам помнится.
И лучше жить в настоящем, создавая и в нем множество прекрасных моментов ;-)

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