Иногда учусь, немножко работаю, умеренно перевожу.
An excerpt from The Divensky Garden
He found himself in Divensky Garden; he was almost fully spread out on the bench, with his head hanging down off its edge, thinking about how charmingly good this vodka of yours is, but you have to drink it in one go, just like that, swill it down on an empty stomach, into a hollow ravenous abyss. Vodka turned his brains inside out, softened him with its strong colorless fingers: his thoughts flowed lightly, free of any spite. All the spite was gone, the pain was gone too, everybody is forgiven, he is forgiven.Such a pity there were no stars, they wouldn’t appear on Saint-Petersburg’s sky, though,that’s just the way it is. His sight would likely bump into a shallow sky, pink from lights and adverts, and wouldn’t go any further, a grey mushy cul-de-sac. However, an old maple growing behind the bench scattered its barren branches above him, lead against opal. Their subtle visuals are transcending the sky, an avenue is humming nearby; rushing right through him, from toes to head, piercing his heart: the darkness. Reverberating around him,a moist wind inside his head.
–Let’s take a seat, Kiryusha, we have to rest. – A squeaky voice above his ear.
Six empty benches standing in a semicircle. Six!It’s November, nobody is around, why did they cling to his bench? Let a man ease off for once. He reluctantly raised his head and sat up. They were old, vintage, almost. Kiryusha was wearing a long karakul, he had a coat on, both very feeble: her head was bobbing around, his state wasn’t much better – crooked like a vulture’s neck.
–Are we being a bother? Excuse us if you may. Plodding along to see a doctor… Can’tquite reach him yet.
The man gave them a barely visible nod: it’s fine.
They took a sit, tried to makethemselves comfortable for a long while, groaning of old age. The old man pointed his cunning eye.
–Sorry if we’re pestering, but, perhaps, any advice on our matter…
Sure enough, he didn’t need any advice – just wanted to chatter. They are heading to the eye clinic, right there onKrestyanskaya lane. Kiryusha can’t at all see with her right eye, fibrous degeneration. All the doctors turned them around, but in this clinic the people are so kind, helped Kiryusha very much. It turned out that she has a swelling, was struck by a hemorrhage, followed by an eye stroke. They gave her an injection, no, two, actually. Fifty thousand roubles per each. No improvements yet, because they need six injections, but could only afford two.
The money was saved in case of an untimely death, two hundred thousand for the two of them; no one left to do the burying, the only daughter died of cancer two years ago; they have a cat, but it won’t do them the honors, so they’ve spent half the money for the injections. They laughed that they can’t pass away together, one has to hold on. And today the doctor gave them a call: four more of those injections are in order if they want to seal the deal, if they want Kiryusha to see anything. And they’ve got a good discount now. The doctor said: “Consider it, old fella, we need to save the granny, you shouldn’t economize when it comes to your wife’s health”.
–What kind of medicine is this, anyway? The price is through the roof. – He said, unexpectedly for himself.
He frowned when he saw the old man take all his papers out of the bag.Began to object, but the old man was laying out the documents on his lap with such pleasure that the only thing left for him was to sigh. A hanging lamp danced in a gust of wind above the children’s slide, the air jittered with icy particles.
The old man read the name of the drug syllable by syllable, moving his shriveled finger across the paper.
How can he apply this knowledge? The internet was still smoldering in his smartphone: he paid for the month. For some reason, he decided to read to them about the drug. The old man was nodding happily, Kiryusharocked around silently.
–…prescribed in case of wet macular degeneration.
–Nah, Kiryusha has a dry form. – The old man smiled. – What’s more, it’s so rare that the doctor should be that caring. Went to two clinics before that. Knowledgeable bunch, can’t deny that, however to call us at home and lay it out like this… Need to save the eye. A special offer.
His was struck by a heart-wrenching feeling: lonely, abandoned by everyone, even their own daughter, wading towards the inevitable, hand in hand, a blind old woman, a crooked old man. His chest started to ache: not much time left for them to wade, a bone-chilling horror of a loss touched his face, as if he himself was one of them. Into the blinding light one of them will fall forever, and the other one will kneel alongside, unable to walk any further.
His legs were bound by bitter cold, a yellow lantern swayed in the evening haze, the old woman swayed too. A sound was emanating from her, as if she was singing, chanting something. “Perhaps she came to take me with her?” – a momentary thought went through his head.
–Did you get diagnosed with swelling and stroke everywhere? Or just in the last clinic?
–Just the last one. The other ones must’ve missed it somehow. Or maybe it’s recent… Took a hundred thousand, our death fund. Where to find the remaining eighty, though?..Took silver spoons and daughter’s gold to a pawn shop past noon. Our neighbor added the rest, a kind soul, God save her from any sickness. We’re worrying how to pay her back…
Got it, — said the man, standing up from the bench. – I have to go. Besides, the granny is all cold. But I’m afraid, father, that you shouldn’t give them the money – it’s a scam.
–Kiryusha!–the old man suddenly yelled. – Are you unwell, Kiryusha?
He rushed to her, trying to lean her body against the back of the bench, to lay her somehow.
–How the hell do you call an ambulance? What number do you usually call? – he attacked the old man with questions.
The old man had scattered all across her erratically: supporting her head with one hand, he was fumbling through his coat looking for pills with the other one.He breathed with a distinct whistle.
All of a sudden, she felt better. Started breathing properly, opened her eyes towards the black branches against a milky gray sky – the air pricked with invisible snow – smiled faintly: came around. Afterwards, even managed to propel her body from the back of the bench, tried to sit straight, hummed with a fading voice:
–Let’s go,darling. The doctor is waiting. At seven. What time is it now?
An ever-so-visible chin,neatly parted grey hair hanging from a slipped down shawl, spiked boots from Medtehnika, snowflakes on her mittens. He was afraid to look her in the eye: as if he could see that damn dry dysthrophy. Gasped to himself: children, sheer children. Not that long ago they were adults, now turned children again, hobbling by, heading somewhere, pure angels.
The sobbing old man fixed her shawl with stiff fingers. She stroked him with her mittens and spoke pensively:
–That’s how God shall take us, right in the freezing street. Calm down, darling, not yet, not yet…
They parted extensively, thanked him for something. For what? Then started walking carefully, holding on to one another. The old man had ice-walking boots with a rubber sole, much like hers. Though all bent in the spine, he was taller than her, gently guided his mistress.
He didn’t look back. The wind was making his eyes tear.
Somebody has it worse than him, somebody has it worse. And they don’t even realize it. Their vulnerability, the lies fed to them, like a bulldozer, threatening to run them down, exposed the thin ice of his soul, broke through his almost fatal remoteness. He turned around and ran.
– Wait, wait up! – He shouted after them. – Please, wait! I’m with you, I’m with youuuuu..!
Ran, grew warm from the pursuit.