The building is large and empty. You can see that it has been here like this for a while now; the grinding teeth of time have started to chew into it as well. The doors are old and worn out. Ragged sheets of cloth flutter from the upstairs windows.

But you can also see a raised roof, an added floor, and a new wing on the right. The area is cluttered with farm machinery. Against the wall, old chairs. Remnants of building materials. A rusting pile of scrap metal. Garbage.

There used to be a school here, built by the community through social action. Today, it is owned by Wojtek. He is driving his tractor onto the field. The cows are watching him from across the grass. Their grazing not interrupted by anything.

Wojtek bought the school on OLX. It had been closed for years—there were no children; my parents and their whole culture of schoolwork were gone. There were prospects for a better life: the money from the sale of the building was to go for asphalt in the village. People argued about it. Some preferred the asphalt, some preferred the school.

Then the building fell into disrepair. Wojtek felt sorry for the school—his dad had built it together with others; it was the pride of the whole village. That's why Wojtek took out a loan to buy the school. And now it’s 7 years later and Marzena, Wojtek's wife, is milking 60 cows twice a day to make enough for the installments even though she doesn't like cows anymore.

I also felt sorry for the school. I knew it was being neglected. In an earlier era, it would have been unthinkable. My father had no more important matter in life. And the most regrettable thing was the trees. Huge poplars grew by the playground. The backbones of my childhood.

When they were cut down, I said, “I will never go there again”. But here I am, 20 years later, back to Chlebiotki. I wanted to find traces of that life.

I found much more: Marzena, Wojtek, Adam, Kamila, Przemek, Marta, Ula, Slawek and Krzysiek. The whole, current world. That's what this story is about.

Iga Łapińska

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