Noble birds

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Christina Zaldivar Ericson

About car racing and love,

which is stronger than death

Copyright © Christina Zaldivar Erickson

Sweden, 2021

Bathroom. The terry robe falls from my shoulders to the floor. I looked in the mirror. Who is that girl? Blond hair casually tucked up, blue eyes, thin body, delicate white skin… How old is she? eighteen? nineteen?

Brrrrr, the cold air immediately leaves me covered in goosebumps. I’m waiting for the ice water to change to warm, then hot. Okay. Pleasantly. The hand slides over the body. Is it really me? … I continue to study the image in the mirror… Bruises, deep abrasions… I tried to bend down, but immediately screamed. Again I looked at the girl in the mirror.

Oh, my dear, that awful restrictive collar around the neck… The bygone is not for sale, not for buy. It doesn’t change.

December twenty-seventh… Night. Explosion. Flame. Death.

Only a few days have passed since the tragedy and I still have no future. Only the past… To live on, I have to forget it. Forget. A treacherous memory … — Forget everything, — I dictate to myself and close my eyes. Warm water relaxes me. The girl in the mirror is barely visible. Is the steam hiding her from me or is she already far away? Far away… My whole life is far away…

Our father, a military officer, died when I was fifteen. Mom got married a second time and left for Canada. The family was destroyed once and for all.

I didn’t want to go. Nowhere. Relatives were forced to compromise, leaving me temporarily in Germany. In a sports boarding school. For half a year.

My older brother, Sebastian, decided to move to an empty estate in the Frisian Islands of the North Sea, which historically belonged to our family. Soon he left military service and took me to his place. Our grandmother, who often came from Sweden, helped us.

My youth was relatively normal. There were few children in the school. All the girls in my class have been looking at boys for a long time. I didn’t like anyone, but I noticed new desires in my body.

My birthday… December 13th. I am sixteen. Our grandmother Anneli is late. She called and said that she was arriving a little later — there was a strong storm at sea. Parents congratulate over the phone and send a bank transfer. My brother gives me a nice big box with jeans, a sweater and fine linen. Okay. I can be happy.

It’s cold outside the windows. Although, it is not so cold as cloudy and windy. Firewood crackles in the fireplace. On the table are champagne, meat with oranges and ice cream with chocolate. The TV is on. Cozy. After the first glass of champagne, Sebastian holds out his hand to me, and I see a small velvet box in his palm. I take it and open it with impatience.

— Ah, Sebby! This diamond is worth it, no doubt, a fortune!

He laughs and puts a ring on my finger

— For my princess, — he gallantly kisses my hand.

— Thank you! Thank you! How I love you!

I hug my brother.

— I love you too!

After champagne, already at half past ten, I want to sleep.

— Yes, yes, of course,» Sebastian says. — Go, do not worry, I can handle it alone.

It’s pretty cold in my room, but I’m hot after drinking wine. I undress and lay down on the bed over the tartan wool blanket.

— Liz! It’s cold here, so you’ll catch a cold, — the brother says reproachfully.

Yes, the merciless cold is rapidly enveloping me from all sides. But I’m almost asleep and don’t want to move. Sebastian takes me in his arms, trying to shove me under the feather bed. But this time, my fifty-odd kilos turned out to be too heavy for him, and he landed on the bed with me.

— Excuse me. Sorry, Liz. It seems we drank too much. Or?

But I don’t listen to him, I only feel his heavy hand on my chest. I must be crazy because I drew my brother to me. Yes, yes, now I understand why I didn’t like anyone. Bastian! His image took over all my consciousness. Absolutely. He is strong, brave, handsome, and smart. He’s the best! He’s just gorgeous!

For a moment, we lose control. I see a man, not a brother! I kiss his lips, he caresses me. I touch his belly, my hands slide down. My heart is beating hard, the blood rushes to the head. Now…

Suddenly I feel a piercing pain deep inside me. I don’t understand anything and I scream… I think I’m dying of pain…

Sebastian jumps up. For a moment he stands in a daze, not understanding what is happening. Suddenly he yelled:

— Oh my God! What am I doing?! Lord! It can’t be! Can not!

He rushes about the room, clasping his head, and I… I, too, have not yet regained consciousness from pain and fright.

— Sebby, I beg you, calm down! Please, please, Sebby…

I sat on my knees and cried softly. Quite naked, shivering from the cold. Sebastian finally notices me.

— I’m out of my mind! — He shook his head, grabbed his shirt impulsively and draped it over my shoulders.

— Lord, forgive me, I really lost my mind, — Bastian groaned.

I found myself first.

— Don’t be silly, please.

— What do you say? Liz, do you understand what happened?

— And what actually happened? — I said clearly. — Life is full of decisions. Would it be better for you if I did IT with our stupid neighbor Dieter for the first time? He loves me very much.

— Oh, Lizhen, I beg you! I probably would have killed him then, I don’t know… What are you talking about? But I! I shouldn’t have done this!

Just don’t start again, please. You know: we belong to each other… and… and this has been for a long time…

— Eliza, — he wrapped me in a blanket and, hugging me, sat me on his lap. — Elise, you should know: my heart… beats only for you. You are my angel.

I hugged his neck and kissed him.

After a pause, the brother continued:

— You just turned sixteen, you receive documents. Tell me, can you put one more name on your passport?

— What’s the name, Sebby? What are you talking about?

— I would like you to have one more name. Angel… burning angel… Angelica. Will you do it for me?

— Well, yes, if you want, why not? But what will the parents say?

— Parents? Do you think they have not forgotten that they have two more children besides Frederick?

— I don’t know. He is our brother. Why are you jealous?

— Yes, you are probably right. However, what our parents say, I don’t care anyway. I respect them, but in this case, I really don’t give a damn. As in many others.

— Do you know what, it’s better for both of us to calm down. Shall we have some more champagne and coffee?

— Okay. Smart girl!

Sebastian handed me jeans and a bikini. He pulled a sweater over a plaid shirt. Then he hugged me, kissed the head and we returned to the hall, to the fireplace. Sebastian took a glass of champagne and sat down at the piano. I also needed to calm down. I lit candles and, sitting comfortably in an armchair under a blanket, listened to Schubert. The evening serenade sounded completely new.

The dream was over, and I wanted this night to never end. We drank more champagne. Then coffee. I unrolled a bar of Swiss chocolate and, breaking it, stuffed a piece into Bastian’s mouth. I kissed him. He pulled his right hand off the keyboard and pulled me to him. He closed his eyes and buried his face in my chest. I stroked his hair and sat down deftly to lead the right-hand playing.

— Look, Sebby, I accidentally found a picture of our father in our basement. He is 10 years old there. Do you want to take a look?

— Show it.

I brought the photo. My brother looks at the photo for a long time and then for no reason asks:

— Why did our mother marry him? She is 19 years younger. A big difference. Or what?

— I think he was smart and fearless, cute and sweet. Cool officer. And besides, it’s so romantic to marry a German aristocrat.

— Yes, and besides, a financial condition!

— Sebby, please don’t be so cynical. In Sweden, our mother also has something. We would not need it financially even if we did not inherit anything from our father.

— Yes, Eliza, regarding finance…

— What else is it?

— No, no, actually nothing special. I didn’t mean to bother you before. Thought you were still a child.

— And …? — I say impatiently.

— You know, I thought it’s time to start a business. Our bank account moves in the negative direction. Only! This cannot be for long.

— Okay, but let me take part in the Prague motocross first. This is my first big cross. I’m nervous. Please give me time. Not all at once.

— Don’t worry, sister! We are rich, noble and free, like birds! We are gods! Everything is allowed to us!

Sebastian held me in his arms and circled the room.


It took more than one year before we managed to do business. I started doing motocross seriously.

First in the class of 125 cc, then 250 cc. Sebastian not only coached me, but also went in for motor sports, constantly participating in the rally.

— Tell me, Liz, will you go with me to the rally in Volen?

— You ask! Of course!

However, Bastian was unable to take part in the Swiss motor racing. During preparatory training, my brother broke his right arm.

— What happens with our unfulfilled desires and shattered dreams? — He was very upset.

— Sebby, we must change the chief mechanic. And as I see it, you need to finish racing on Mitsubishi. What is wrong with BMW? Stable car. What?

— Costs, my dear! The cost. But, actually, I have already agreed with the team of Sven Nielsen. They prepared a Ford. The question is what to do with the races in Volen. Before the Greek rallies, I wanted to test this Ford in Switzerland. Still, a new car.

— Sebby, what do you say if I race instead of you?

— I say: it is absolutely impossible!

— But why? What, am I a bad pilot?

— No, that’s not the point. You just don’t know these cars.

— Well, should I start sometime? Sebby!

— But this is very dangerous.

— Ha! Do you remember how many times I’ve run motocross? Forgot? Isn’t it dangerous?

— Yeah, and you hurt your spine! I don’t talk to you about other minor injuries that every racing pilot cannot avoid. No, I can’t let you, don’t be offended. Understand, I have a double responsibility. Firstly, I am eight years older than you, and secondly, … secondly, my conscience haunts me because of… yes, … and… Damn it! I love you!

— You are unbearable! As I understand, you don’t want to upset your contract with Nielsen. Then — what to do? Tell me, can you really drive with a plaster cast?

— You’re right — it’s rubbish! — Sebastian slumped into a chair and took a cigarette. He was desperate. To give my brother time to collect his thoughts, I went to make coffee. I returned with two hamburgers from a nearby cafe, plastic cups of chocolate dessert from McDrive, lemon and aromatic coffee and gave my brother a frowning kiss. I rolled the serving table closer to the chair where he was sitting. Then I threw some wood into the fireplace, brought a blanket and poured two glasses of Greek cognac.

— Well, okay, let’s say… let’s say. — He said in thought and mechanically took a bite of the hamburger.

— Fu, where does this muck come from, Liz?! If I don’t have the opportunity to take care of the kitchen right now, are we going to eat dead cats?

— If you’re a good boy, I’ll fry some fresh fish. Dieter brought it.

— Dieter? Sounds suspicious.

— Sebby, are we going to Switzerland or what? Get down to business.

— Actually, you know everything. You just need to get acquainted with the details. Volen is a small Swiss town with a rally track. You need to study the rally map. Fifteen pilots start on this track at the same time. Everyone wants to have the best time. So, baby, this session is not for the faint of heart.

You have to complete thirty circles. Cars often have automatic transmission, but there are also gearboxes. Our new one will come with a gearcase. It’s better for you, because you don’t like automatic ones, and you’ll start in the leaders. Once again, we will analyze the entire technical part of the car with you, — he draws me diagrams and explains the details.

— Speed, tactics and strategy need to be analyzed in practice. Well ...and?

— What «and»?

— What do you say?

— Nothing, — I shrug. — I have to try. But, give me a chance, please!

— Okay. We’ll start tomorrow.

I’ve never driven such a shitty car. But what is promised should not be violated. And I started to train. I almost enjoyed it.

At the races in Volen I came in eighth. I received a fabulously beautiful cup as the «youngest competitor» and as a «girl pilot». After daily bloody training, the eighth place was almost a tragedy for me. But my brother was very pleased and joked all the time that the prize, in fact, should be called «the most beautiful pilot».

Bastian was surprised and fascinated by the audacity of my driving. He said that he discovered a racing driver in me, and a coach in himself. Now I have to study a lot. And I studied diligently with Sebastian. My brother put his whole soul into me, torn between training, competitions and the automotive business, which we already had in the east of Europe.

Reality is elastic. The most important things in life happen by chance, and the temporary often becomes permanent. So it happened with my career as a race car driver.


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