A small photocopying shop. A girl is standing beside a photocopying machine and copying a book. She picks up a sheet of paper that has come out of the machine. She looks at it, screws it up and throws it into the wastepaper basket. She copies the same page once again, but it also ends up in the basket. At that moment a young man comes in with a thick book in his hand.
YOUNG MAN: Hi!
GIRL: Hi! Can I help you?
YOUNG MAN: I’ve got something that needs copying.
GIRL: All right. Just wait while I finish this. (She copies the same two pages for the third time and for the third time screws up and throws away the paper that comes out of the machine. She puts the book to one side.) All right. Give me what you’ve got.
The young man hands her the book and a piece of paper.
GIRL: Gosh, what a big book!
YOUNG MAN: I don’t need the whole book, just a few pages. The pages are written on that piece of paper.
GIRL: Oh, that’s all right then. I’d go completely mad if I had to copy the whole lot. (The young man laughs.) Why are you laughing? I’m quite serious. I’d have a nervous breakdown. (The young man puts on a straight face and the girl turns to the machine.) So first it’s 120 and 121. (She opens the book at those pages, puts it on the machine and presses the copying button. When a copy comes out, she picks it up and looks at it.) That’s fine. Everything now seems to be all right. (She hands the copy to the young man and continues copying.) Now… From 244 to 251. (She arranges the book and copies the first two pages.) Why do you want it like this – just a few pages at a time? This is pointless. You can’t read it like this.
YOUNG MAN: I’ve already copied all the rest. They just left these pages out for some reason.
GIRL (continues copying as she talks): You copied all this? You could have bought a new book for that money.
YOUNG MAN: Well, perhaps not everything. I didn’t like some of the dramas in it.
GIRL: You could have bought a book and torn some of them out or something.
YOUNG MAN: No I couldn’t. I copied some more dramas from two other anthologies, and it was important that they were all in the same format. I want to bind them all and make an anthology just for me.
GIRL: As you like. It’s a good thing you didn’t copy the whole lot with me. (Gathers up the completed copies, checks them and hands them to the young man.) Now, 332 and 333. (She copies these two pages. The copy emerges with thin black lines along the edge.) Oh, look, it’s started again. (She hands the paper to the young man.) Look what it’s done.
YOUNG MAN: It doesn’t matter. The important thing is it’s readable.
GIRL: That’s all right then. I was beginning to think that I was going to have to do it all over again. And when I do it again, it turns out worse every time. All right. Just these left… From 550 to 555. (She copies the first two pages. The paper comes out with a very thick black line down the middle.) Oh dear, look what it’s getting up to now. Should I do it again?
YOUNG MAN (looks at the paper the girl has handed to him): Well… (Looks at the girl who is waiting for his opinion.) No, it’s not necessary.
GIRL: You’re great. (Prepares the next two pages.) I don’t know what the best thing to do is. All I can think of is to reduce the toner. (She presses a button on the machine several times and copies. The copy with hardly visible words emerges. She passes it to the young man.) Can you read this?
YOUNG MAN (quickly, without looking at it): Yes, I can. I can…
GIRL (puts the final two pages in place and copies): Just these left. (The paper does not come out.) What’s happened to it now? Perhaps the paper’s run out. (She checks.) No, it hasn’t. There’s plenty left. (She copies the same two pages again. The paper still does not come out. She looks at the opening where the paper should appear.) Incredible. Where could it have gone? (She opens the machine and looks inside.) Incredible. It’s nowhere to be seen. (She closes the machine and puts the last two pages in place again. She presses the copy button. Nothing happens. Driven out of her mind, she strikes the machine with the palm of her hand. The light flickers and goes out.) Look, now it’s broken down.
Pause. The girl looks at the machine and the young man at her.
YOUNG MAN: Excuse me… May I kiss you?
GIRL (continues to look at the machine): Well, I don’t know… Yes, you can.
The young man goes over to her and gives her a kiss. The girl absentmindedly returns the kiss and immediately continues to pay attention to the machine.
GIRL (presses various buttons on the machine): It quite simply won’t work.
The young man gives the machine a kick. The girl laughs and gives it a kick as well. This time she contributes fully to the hugs and kisses that follow.
GIRL (separating her lips from his): But what are we going to do with your anthology?
YOUNG MAN: Fuck the anthology!
Originally published in BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian) in Par grama drama (A Few Grams of Drama) in 2010. Translated by Timothy John Byford. Translation copyright by Kosta Tadic.