Escrita por: ~borgo
The old city lights started to go on timidly once the sky started to dusk, and the weather was not being merciful to the poor that day. The cold heavy air had no shame to penetrate the lounges of the ones who didn't had the money to buy fur coats or a fireplace. Winter came uninvited by the people of Yekaterinburg that year, no one was prepared after the ruble crisis and certainly not happy about it. Rage was something that the Russians knew too well, after all they suffered the cold started to feel less devastating and more conforming along the decades.
There were no children delighting themselves on the snow, hopping and singing old songs, putting smiles on the face of strangers. There was no smiling for that matters. The pavements were sadly paralyzed in time, waiting for a breath of life to awake from a profound and endless bad dream. Hope was gone.
Yet, somewhere in between Gurzufskaya and Moskovskaya, young Nikolai Blatov was heading joyfully to his home after a monotonous day at the library.
Differently from the rest of the city, he liked the cold air, and because he happened to get out of work at night, the quietude and lonesomeness of the streets made him feel pleasant and comfy.
Nik didn't liked to work, but the pressure of a crisis and the lack of a father made him quite mature in a very little time. The bookstore was the most proper job he could find, and it suited him extremely well. He would spend hours alone, traveling to the most unreal and fantastic places one book at a time. Not many customers would pass by the shop, people had things to worry about other then read, and that gave Nik plenty of space to search for all different kinds of information. He was absolutely stunned by local history, and got accepted into college very honorably for a boy his age.
The Romanov family was his favorite subject. "More like an obsession" would say his Babushka*, but he loved to read about Czars and princesses, dancing on splendid wide parties with beautiful golden gowns embedded with precious stones.
He would sit on the old dusty brown chair near to the fantasy session and soak on the most incredible stories about the Fabergé eggs, or Alexandra Feodorovna beautiful bright eyes.
His mother once said that he inherited his thirst for knowledge all the way from his father, and that was perhaps the truth. His mother hated to read. "It is a waste of time to rummage the past like this boy" she would say.
Only that without books, he would feel the Russian cold on a very different way. Lonely.
He noticed that his boots were completely wet once he took them off in order to come inside his small wooden house. The door opened on a glance creaking and moaning like an old poltergeist. A marvelous heat invaded his pores and the sudden smell of Okroshka* made his stomach vibrate with hunger.
He putted his heavy coat made of deer fur at the couch, and smiled to his Babushka who was watching television, at the same place she were when he left early in the morning. "Dobroy Nochi* my love" said the boy, kissing his old Babushka at her wrinkled forehead.
"Nikolai, dear. What took you so long?"
"I was stuck at work, big delivery of newspapers"
He approach to his mother, Lara, at the kitchen, and gave her a long luscious kiss on the cheek. "Zdraustvuyte Mamochka*, how was the interview today?"
"Not very well son, this crisis is killing every chance that I have to be promoted somewhere. But I'll keep on, life is kind for those who are good"
His mother was at her early 50's, and life has never being kind to her, not even once. But she was one of those people with impressive inside power and gratitude, he took her as an role model for every single matter.
Nik rushed himself up to his room stepping strongly on the grumpy stair made of oak. He threw his bag on the side corner of the bedroom and dove into his tiny bed hoping to never go up again. His feet were out of it, cause he was a very tall young man for a very small bed.
He stared at the rooftop for about thirty minutes and feel asleep right away, taken to the extensive land of the subconscious, where he dreamed about a lovely girl with very big eyes, laughing beautifully and holding his hand.
Life would be perhaps much easier if Nikolai was not always late. He went on the library gasping and breathing heavily as the manager Anushka looked at him with disapproving eyes. He knew right away his punishment for missing his time: cleaning up the toilets. But it was not that unpleasant, hardly no one would go into the library anyway.
The morning went by in a flash while he set at the balcony stacking some books in long pile and discarding the damaged ones on other. On a blink, it was time for his lunch break.
That was his favorite time of the day, he would walk about twenty minutes and seat on a concrete bench surrounded by olive trees nearby the church of all saints, eat his sandwich calmly while reading a book, go back to the library for a while and then prepare to go to college by night.
He decided to eat during his journey towards the trees, walking vividly at the grey bypass made out of worn out bricks and smiling tenderly to the few people along the way.
Eating with one hand and holding "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen on the other, he hummed by the church and got in his special place at last. The midday sun was broken by the long bushy brunches of the olive trees, and although Nik genuinely liked them, they seemed a little slaughtered because of the cold.
When he was little, his father used to sing the same song to him every night. It was an really old ditty about a tree with a soul, and Nik was absolutely fascinated by it. That was the place where we felt connected to his father, and even thought he didn't felt good on remembering the past, it was where he felt most comfortable other then his home.
The lunch was over as rapidly as it started, and the languid boy had to return to work in a hurry. It is ironic how time seemed to pass on so quickly, because Nik felt the days longer and tiring, like the world was spinning slowly on purpose. All he did was read, and sometimes even that get boring.
He stood in the library for a couple more hours until it was time to leave to college. He grabbed his shabby bag and prepared mentally to go out on the world. It was not easy for him. Nik emerged so deeply into fictional books, stories and romances that surviving to flesh and bone coexistence was simply absurd.
The glass door opened on a burst and the freezing air drastically involved Nik's slim body. He walked in transe over the bus stop and felt an enormous relive to see that it was empty. On the way to school he read a little bit more, trying desperately to force the book into absorbing his essence, but the public University was unfortunately near to the public library. He crawled out of the bus and fought into the main entrance, I t was a nice place, although Nik hated it. He would much rather read his books on his own, and graduate all by himself at the very comfort of his bedroom. Usually late, he didn't had time to pass by the toilet and went straight to class number twelve, where Professor Danshov taught modern history.
The room was warm, so he had to practically undress himself. He set on the corner by the wall and took all of his history books out of his bag, hoping to withdraw something interesting from Danshov class while the grumpy old man would gasp about the Cold War and how the country is sinking on debts.
No one usually payed attention to modern history. It was the class where everyone just set back and laughed about how cocaine isn't the real deal anymore. For Nik it was the time were he could totally emerge on his research about the Romanov's, and honestly he was fine about not participating of the current important less although very interesting debate about drugs.
He extracted all information he could from his wonderful and friendly books and got out earlier then usual, he had nothing to do there any longer.
On the way back home, the snow was starting to cover the sidewalks and the cold was about to get unbearable. He wore a black Ushanka* on his head and walked with certain difficulty among the blizzard.
On a dark alley he saw a blue glance, as sharp as fire. A cat, dark as the night, moving mysteriously towards him. The greedy animal looked straight at him, almost as if crying for help, and started to lurk and purr in between Nik's legs.
"Aren't you a cute little thing?" Said him to the cat, while grabbing the clever pussy into the protection of his arms. While caressing his little new friends soft fur, the two lonely creatures walked into the dawn, disappearing on the snow.
Only after begging to his Mother for hours, he and the stranger went to his room without supper. Nik gave the cat some milk and they both laid on the bed. He never had a cat of his own, and while petting the animal he discovered that it wouldn't be this time either, for it had a gold medallion attached to its neck by a black piece of ribbon. The front of the big golden coin said "Alexei" which was probably the pussy's name, and the back of it said "Sasha Safinova, Amundsena number 347"
"It has to be returned" thought the boy, while slowly falling asleep.
Dobroy Nochi: Good night
Okroshka: Russian soup made out of raw vegetables
Ushanka: Russian tradicional cap made out of fur, usually.