Ирина Литвиненко

Прожорливый книжный червь и завсегдатай всевозможных сборищ, именуемых мастер-классами. В 2014 году окончила заочно Литературный институт им. А.М. Горького в Москве, где получила бесценный опыт в области литературного мастерства, критики и формирования творческого мышления, а также прочтения «Братьев Карамазовых» за одну ночь. Сценарист, актер и режиссер аматорской театральной группы «The Kyiv Players». Лауреат конкурса «Русский Stil 2012». Автор сборника рассказов и этюдов «Чудеса трансформаций» (под псевдонимом Всеслов Хитрый). Печатаюсь в ИД Максима Бурдина с 2015 года. На конкурсе представлена моя первая работа на английском языке.

Отрывок из произведения «Ice Cream and Sand Castles»

‘So, what are you building here, little Hercules?’ The voice bellowed over his head as if someone had shaken a bag full of sawn rusty rails.

Addi craned his neck and blinked. His straw hat, adorned with a studded brim, fell into the sand. The stranger was as tall as a poplar, standing high and obscuring the yellow coin of the sun, which, nevertheless, did the coin still dazzled like magic. It was the stranger whom the cast-iron voice belonged to, and he stuck out his tongue and winked slyly. Addi stuck his tongue out in revenge. But then he had to bashfully spit out the sand for quite a long time. The man came closer, still keeping his observant crow-like eyes on the boy.

‘You’re a big boy, still building all the sand castles, eh? It’s high time you should learn the ABC, and turn over the pages of picture books, I suppose.’

Addi spat indignantly. The spit hung on his lower lip, but not for long as it fell down wetting the chin. The boy reached the hairy knees of the stranger and gave the best push ever. And he tried to catch sight of his mother, just in case. She was dancing on the waves like a sea star in a turquoise swimming suit. There was something fishy about the stranger. This guy better not try and take Addi’s spade, for then he would see what little Addi is made of. At the same time, Addi felt that this strange man didn’t need his spade. Because of the way the man was looking at him, the boy wanted to get as small as a ladybird and hide in one of the sand castle’s towers. As if reading the boy’s big dark blue eyes, the stranger’s smile got bigger as he hunkered down, becoming the same height as him.

‘And where’s your mum, kid? Though you’re grown up enough not to expect your mother to mop your spits and wail when seeing a grazed knee. She must have gone to buy an ice cream. Do you like ice cream, kid?’

Addi swallowed involuntarily when hearing the magic words “ice cream”. What else could be more desirable on a hot sunny day? His mouth became filled with sweetness, just like in a machine making cotton candy. Addi shifted his glance to the turquoise water edge. His mum seldom bought him ice cream. She didn’t indulge him with books and toys, clamping down any attempt to whimper for such a sad reason.

Addi made do with things he readily had at hand. Such as shells, butterflies, rind, coloured chalks borrowed from his airhead sandpit mate, sand and a set of spades in a neat plastic bucket given as a present by distant relatives for his fourth birthday. Luckily, he was not short of imagination. The stranger interpreted Addi’s perplexity in the right way.

‘And do you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream?’ the man clinked his pocket coins and ostentatiously poured them into his hand. ‘Let’s go and choose one, shall we?’

Addi’s aggression turned into friendliness and his usual suspiciousness – into a slight fellow feeling. Though his mother told him, persuading and admonishing. ‘Never talk to strangers.’ So what? Where was she now? Not that many strangers approached Addi with an offer of ice cream. No one, actually. This fact must have meant something, right? His mum may not want Addi to be happy. Or perhaps she is jealous of Addi’s attention to strangers. After all, he is the only man in the whole world for her. Though the whole world didn’t include this very beach, as Addi himself felt forsaken and lonely as never before. Other children kept away from him as he was sitting too far from the water. Hard as his mother tried to fill him with disgust towards strangers, Addi was afraid of water more than of the stranger offering ice cream. But he couldn’t leave the castle unattended. Hurryingly Addi made sand little men at the edge of the towers and foisted them tooth picks found in the sand as spears.

It’s a pity his mum refused to buy him a dog. Wouldn’t it be great to leave a huge as white as the July heat Great Dane at the castle, and no trespasser would dare break into the sacred chambers of the Kings of the Nibelungs. Heigh-ho, JoJo-Mojo, Hunter-Tucker, Obbie-Ollie! If only you knew to what extent your might-have-been master misses your flea-ridden fur bodies!

Addi didn’t give his hand to the stranger, though it was pretty hard to walk. The sand turned out to be painfully hot as it licked his bare feet. Thoughts of ice cream forced out those about shoes and self-pity, for the miserable sand castle builder who did not even have a dog. The white sweet ice cream balls, like clods of snow, were in his face. If only snow was that tasty! It could be secretly stuffed in winter despite mother’s bans.

An ice cream stand was left far behind. Addi worryingly turned his head in search of his mum. There were so many turquoise swimming suits! He craned his neck gazing into faces, but soon felt a pain in his neck. And the stranger could break still weak spinal bones with two fingers. But the man looked as if he had forgotten about the boy. He was walking steadily and smoothly cutting through the place full of holidaymakers just like a stag-beetle makes it through the crowd of worker ants. Addi was able to see the man’s pointed chin and the dark holes of his nostrils. He smelled of tangerines, and the sun enveloped his fair skin in a tangerine golden brown. The stranger was warmly greeting passers-by, paying special attention to the ladies. Addi couldn’t help admitting that he liked that smiling sunburn face with dark eyes resembling barberries.

‘The stand we passed was closed. But I know where there is another one. The ice cream there is every bit as good, there are even fruit ices and frozen juice. Do you like wild strawberry, kid? I mean, the berries growing in the forest deep in the grass looking like small tourmalines edged with emeralds? But how would you, a child of the city, know what the forest is…’

Addi didn’t know what those “tourmalines” and “emeralds” mean, but he spent every weekend in the forest with his mum. They picked wild strawberries, hazelnuts, raspberries and the tasty black berries whose name his mum always forgot saying they were very beneficial even though they are slightly sour. They also could quench your thirst when there was no water at hand. Perhaps it was worth telling this stranger all these facts? But Addi didn’t like talking to strangers. They seemed to be able to nail down his words and draw out his insides through every letter. Addi was afraid of letters more than of strangers. When seeing paper powdered with black hooks he felt like breaking into tears. Addi started thinking about his sand castle. Were there enough guards left? Was there enough water in the ditch around the castle to protect it well? And what if the castle no longer existed? Was trampled down, buried, bombed to dust, pulled apart by grains of sand? He definitely should have waited for his mum.

‘Two wild strawberry ices, please.’ the stranger rapped out. Addi raised his eyes in surprise. The saleslady welcomingly smiled at the boy. The miraculous machine resembling a mushroom with a sparkling lever started buzzing as it filled the cake cone.

‘So handsome. Just like his father. Here you are, kid,’ the lady said, stretching out the cone containing a pink substance. With his hands trembling, Addi grasped the fragile thing and dipped his tongue into the sweet cold.


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