The Black Widow's Husband

The Black Widow's Husband

A Story by Veronica Shermann
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A battle between love for one's nation and love for just one in the mountains of the northern Caucasus.

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The Black Widow’s Husband 

Every Tuesday, he thinks as he glances impatiently at the grand staircase, every Tuesday at eight for the past five years and yet she’s still late. He begins to pace the length of the ornate rug, unconsciously striking his cane on the third red square of the intricate design. Next Tuesday, yes, next Tuesday I will not stand for such tardiness. Next Tuesday I will just have to leave without her, there’s no sense in both of us always missing the first librettos. And, like every Tuesday before, and every Tuesday to come, his thoughts of tardiness and impatience vanish at the first hint of her bergamot perfume.

 

No matter where he went, or what he did, or how often he bathed, it was always there. He would be buying leather gloves at the department store just up the road, waking up on the couch to the radio static, just stepping out from the steam-filled bathroom, and it would be there. It was always there. That smell, that scent that burned his nostrils, disintegrating his skin slowly and washing it away with fiery tears. Burning flesh, warm blood on cold skin, potent smoke of innocence and self-sacrifice fatally intertwined. He could not, or would not, escape it. Perhaps a terse relief of spring rain or of rotting garbage would pass over his pointed nose, tempting and teasing it with the impossibilities of reality. But it would always return more pungent than before, as if he had betrayed the memory by trying to forget. Forget? He could never forget.

 

The sun pierced through the chilled air across the dusty curtains and onto his nightstand, illuminating the clock. 5:53 am. Too early to be awake, and yet, inches away from the perfectly spaced digital numbers two eyes, wide opened, peered through the covers. He wasn’t quite sure why he was up that early, hiding his face underneath the sheets from the unwelcomed light. Eventually he would have to get up, embrace the cold air of the cinder block room and shed these baggy clothes onto the bare wooden floor. But not yet. Perhaps in a half hour he would get up and begin the ritual of getting ready, but for now the warmth of the blankets and softness of the pillow seemed sincerely more inviting than the reality beyond his bed. Slowly, he pushes his lazy body from the white bedspread and onto the bitterly icy floor. For November it was too cold, even for the mountains of Russia. He lifted his shirt off unconsciously and cringed at the coldness that hugged his nude body. He quickly changed into his usual jeans and shirt. Around fifteen minutes later he locked up, buttoned up and began down the all too familiar path of his daily life.

 

Twenty minutes later he escapes the whipping winds of the streets littered with painful memories. It was at that light post that he first stole her kiss, and beneath that bus stop in the pouring rain that he fell in love. Turning away from the memories, from the past, from the pain he embraces the café he has grown to despise almost as much as the eternal stench. He slumps his heavy mass onto an old wooden stool, the waitress placing his dark cup down before he even releases his heavy sigh.  He sits alone, as he has done for the past three years, never raising his watery gaze above the tattered rug with the faded red squares. Some days are better than others, filled with happier thoughts and a slight crinkle of a smile upon his leathery cheeks. Other days are far worse, with that smell nearly suffocating him with invisible, bloody hands as the customers continue unaware of the murder occurring before their very eyes.

 

He is a large man, robust in his build with sharp features, which, at times, may seem unwelcoming to the passerby. His surroundings at the café don’t quite fit his physique: they are too warm or too harsh depending on the day. And yet, he frequents the small table in the back quite regularly to ponder things as invisible to the other costumers as the bloody hands. From time to time, there is a small child that sits by his side on the bar stools. He is no more than ten years old, with a face as brilliant and youthful as his counterparts is worn and wearisome. The boy must get terribly bored amongst the cups and chairs, but he never seems to complain: he never seems to say anything. He just silently sits and beams at the man, but the man never returns the favor. Instead, he bestows a look of melancholy and sorrow onto the boy’s cherubic features.

 

“Will you be wanting a second cup today?”

The man raises his hand in a motion that the waitress has learned well over the years and obediently turns to brew a new pot, extra strong. As she briskly walks towards the uneven countertop the man’s stare watches the ends of her skirt billow in the nonexistent wind. She has grown thinner, he worries, and the bruises on her neck seem darker. He has watched the young girl for as long as he has watched the cup in front of him be filled and refilled. She was shy and her soft cheeks blushed far too often; she always made his coffee too weak and the clinking of her high heels permanently disrupted the stillness of 39 Rustaveli Ave. And yet, the man enjoyed watching her ruffling skirt and longed for her warm hand to accidently slip onto his as she hastily placed his coffee on the table. Tonight at the meeting, he thought, he would talk to her too old husband about the bruises and the thinness.

 

“Did you want anything else? Sugar, milk? Maybe something to eat?”

“No, thanks. Will Sergei be at the meeting tonight?”

“I think so, he had said something this morning about a special announcement, but you know how Serg is with these sort of things, never wants to say much of anything outside of that dreadful little building. Anyway, yeah he’ll be there I’m sure of it.”

 

Picking up his empty glass she left him at the back among empty chairs. Pausing midway across the room she threw her head back so her long black hair caught what little light the dark sky afforded this part of the continent.

 

“You know, I’ll be there too tonight. I hope you don’t mind seeing me twice in one day.”

 

“You promised you would be on time tonight Anastasia. Should your word me nothing to me?”

“Of course it should darling! I would have been on time, but my lipstick had escaped from its place on my vanity; it had taken to hiding behind the bottles of oils. Now how on earth do you expect me to go out without my lipstick on? I just had to search every centimeter of my room until I found the little devil.”

“Always an excuse. I sometimes wonder if you keep a book of them handy for times like this,” he smirked at her from across the taxi. She returned the mocking smile with a roll of her eyes and a turned head. Though the car was only lit every few minutes by a dim streetlamp he could see every detail of his wife. Her petite toes poked out of her heels, her perfect skin hidden from view thereafter until the curves of her back erupted from the dip in her black dress like some long forgotten Ingres painting. Her hair cascaded effortlessly down her neck elegantly dotted with black pearls to match her sleek gown. She was wearing the necklace he had bought her for their last anniversary, and the red lipstick that had nearly took flight. Suddenly, she turned to face him.

“What?”

“What?”

“Why are you staring at me?”

“Because you’re beautiful.” Again she rolls her eyes and tilts her head but he catches her first. His hands caress her bare back and pull her body closer to his. He closes his eyes and lets his senses be seduced by her perfection.

“I love you Anastasia.” His lips find hers and, at first, brush over them. Then, they press long and hard upon her mouth, never wanting to break away.

“That’s 15 Rs,” the driver shouts at the couple. Clearly he pays no heed on the endearing moment until they pay him. Startled, the two part. The man delves into his long coat and pulls out the money.

“I love you too,” the woman whispers as he hastily opens the door. Smiling, he embraces the night air.

 

The opera house is by far the largest building on the square, and the most grandiose. It shrinks in comparison to that of Paris, or even Moscow, but for the couple it is just as brilliant. The magnificent façade of marble columns and melodic swirls reach far into the starry scene above. The stairs, bathed in the warm glow from within, are alive with the audience of what promised to be an incredible performance. The cobblestone streets that surround it once bustled with grand carriages pulled by even grander horses, and though the lines in the stones still speak of time gone by the carriages have long been replaced by taxis and limousines. The couple ascending into the entrance hall, however, is much more intriguing than the centuries old setting that enfolds them.

 

The man, though in his late thirties, is youthful in his step and fit in his physique. His eyes tell of a darker time, but those memories are buried deep within. Tonight, and for more than a fornight before, they have been covered by the happiness inspired by the muse to his left. She too seems to have a radiant youthfulness to her aura as she glides along the marble stairs. The lightless in her feet hint at her flirtation with ballet, but she too carries eyes that have seen too much. Together, they illuminate the darkness with their love.

 

“Good evening Mr._____ and to you Mrs. ________, I daresay you look even more ravenously beautiful than the last time I saw you.” The man takes Mr. ___’s hand in a hearty handshake, and then kisses his wife’s gently.

“Good evening to you too Mr. _____. How are things at the butchers these days? My wife tells me you always save the best cuts for her, but I always wonder if its your cuts or her talents that make my suppers so wonderful.”

“Her talents no doubt, though you should take her word that I do save the best cuts for my best customer. Things are good, the same cows to slaughter the same beef to smoke as my father would say. And yourself? You took a holiday recently, no?”

“Down south to the coast of the Black Sea. We only got back last night. The waters are still too cold to swim but the Georgian beaches are beautiful any time of year, and ____ bought me these wonderful pearls for the occasion. ______ absolutely loved the town. He spent the entire time exploring old passageways and ancient churches.” She smiled a smile that could warm the coldest of nights as she spoke of their journey south. Her husband, obviously too taken by the memories of their recent travels, nodded fondly of her account.

“Its so nice to be able to get away from the cold of our mountains. Hopefully Anya will recover soon so we too can do a bit of traveling before the snow sets in. My father was from Georgia you know. Wonderful people, very hospitable… most of them anyway. Great food, but their cows aren’t as good as ours. Best cows in the world.” He chuckled to himself as he uttered the last remark. “Well, shall we?”

“Yes of course, we wouldn’t want to be late for opening night.” Kissing Anastasia’s cheek softly ____ took her arm and led her into the lively hall. Holding him close, the two followed their elderly companion into the light.

 

“You’re late again Gorgi. That’s the third time this month, don’t let it happen again you hear?” An aged voice echoed from the back of the shop, responding to the sharp gust of wind that filled the room. The man grunted, perhaps out of frustration, perhaps apologetically, as he shut the door behind him. Green’s butcher shop was the best, and only, butcher shop in town. Situated on the main road, travels were lulled into the small room by the intoxicating aromas of brisket being broiled or chicken being roasted. There were only two employees in Green’s, the old man himself who slaughtered the cows on his farm early in the morning, and Gorgi who worked the cutting out back and the freezers within. The two rarely got along, but when they did rumor has it that their fleshy creations were heavenly.  

 

“I said I won’t stand for this again boy. Now go on and get slicing. That meat ain’t gonna cut itself back there.” The old man, visibly angry, came limping around the counter corner. Mr. Green is short and stout, like most of the stock in his small mountain village; he has battle wounds from some war long forgotten by the rest of the world, and his limp has gotten much worse in his old age. Perhaps in some time gone by he was a pleasant man, but lost love and too many battles had robbed him of both his civility and contentment years ago. The atmosphere in Green’s butcher shop is like any other: assorted meats hanging from the window, a cold countertop with an even colder metal slicer, the smell of salt and flesh overpowering any other sent that wondered into this hole in the wall. Well, almost any smell.

“What’s your excuse this time boy? Got caught in the snow? Met some girl who you just couldn’t look away from? Lost track of time at that good for nothing café of yours? Come on now speak up.” Mr. Green had taken to wiping down the juicy tabletop; he firmly believed in idle hands make good for the devil.

 

Grumbling some inaudible excuse, the man heaved off his heavy skin coat into the corner and began to gather wood to feed the fire. It always bothered him how cold the old man would keep it in the shop; it was cold enough working in the freezer all day, he at least hoped for some reprieve entering into the hustle and bustle of what lay beyond the frozen filets and chops. Throwing the logs into the coals he watched as they violently caught fire, sizzling with a passion he so longed to feel. Taking in its warmth, the man stretched his broad shoulders and draped the heavy apron around his tired neck.

 

But, despite the stench of the meats, despite the cold that numbed his toes, despite the old man and his snarls the man liked his time locked behind the metal door. It gave him time to remember, or time to forget, depending on the day. Today was a day for forgetting. He took the first carcass down from its hook and wiped the blade of his encrusted knife against the skirt of his stained apron.  As the first strips of fat fell to the floor he thought again of the young girl from the café. He thought of her slender legs, the maroon skirt that she wore on Thursdays, how that one piece of hair never quite stayed in the right place but still fell so gracefully upon her bruised neck. Her bruised neck, those perfectly painted letters of the graffiti that told of how hard she tried. Once he had tried to question her about the rubies that dripped from her left cheek; the response was always the same, “Oh, you know Serg, always drinking too much” she would say with a forced smile. He thought about what he would say to Sergi tonight, what he would do to him if it wasn’t for the order, or, perhaps if it wasn’t for his own inability to act on his emotions.

 

At half past seven, the butcher packed up for the day and headed back up the dirt road and out of sight into the mountains. His younger counterpart headed down the dirt road, always hoping to disappear out of sight but never quite did. Usually, he just headed back to his apartment above the tobacco store and sat in his cinderblock prison practicing the age-old art of clock watching.  Tonight, still hunting for just a few moments more to forget he turned right at the corner and ducked under the lowly swinging bar sign.  The dim lights swung in the smoke filled air as patrons gathered in good company to share a drink they called loneliness among the crowded wooden tables that are as rough as the men they cradled. Giorgi rarely takes part in social drinking, and passes the men and their laughter in favor of a stool at the far end of the bar.

 

“What can I get for you?”

“Vodka….”

“Haven’t seen you here abouts, and we don’t get many new comers this time of year. Visiting someone in town?” The man behind the bar calls as he pours the clear liquid.

“No, just don’t get out often.”

“And yet here you are sitting at my bar. Must have been one hell of a day.”

“No different than any other really, ran out at home.”

“No one runs out at home if you’re from Chechnya, you and I both know that.”

“So then what am I doing here?”

“You tell me, I just make the drinks.”

 

 “Three please,” Geogi chimed in among the crowded bar. Pushing to escape the furs and top haps without spilling, he managed to reach the end of the stairs with a sigh of relief.

“Over here darling. Mr. Green just ran into some of the others and hurried off before I could convince him otherwise.”

“That’s alright, more for us. Shall we?” He asked as he motioned to the rosy doors leading out onto the balcony.

“But it’s freezing outside, why not just stay inside until the curtain rises?” She begged, clearly not about to embrace the frost without a proper fight.

“But I can’t kiss you in here,” he grins. “Besides, I can keep you warmer than the air in here, I can promise you that.” Grudgingly, she buttons back up her coat in hopes of capturing some of the warm air from within and pushes the doors open.

 

The view from the balcony, as always, is spectacular. From the edge you can see every light of the town as it dots the snowy landscape and ascents up into the Caucasus. The ground is only slightly dusted, and the winds have died down in the minutes that the couple retreated inside. Holding her close, and keeping to his promise, the woman shivers from the sudden change of temperature. He pulls closer, hoping that her chattering will stop soon.

 

“Do you remember the day we met?” The woman asks, not looking up from her huddled position.

“How could I forget? The weather was terrible, I lost my mother’s money, and I had just kicked a chair in frustration only to have it return the favor when I caught you chuckling at me from a distance.”

“Well, you were a funny site. That was so long ago now.”

“I remember it like it was yesterday.” Silence blanketed the starry sky as the two strove to remember every last detail of that fateful night. Finally, still not looking up, the woman broke it.

“Do you still love me?”

“Of course I love you. How could you even ask a question like that?”

“It’s been years since that night. I have lines upon my cheek, I take longer than I use to before I choose to speak. Things are so different now. We’re so different now. How can feelings hold so true after what we’ve been through?” She motioned to hide the scar on her face, but he caught her wrist and delicately placed it instead on his heart.

“Look at me Anastasia. I will always love you, no matter what. You are everything to me, and nothing past or future is going to change that. You are the most beautiful woman in the world, and no amount of lines or scars can make me see differently. Do you understand that?”

“Lets leave this place Geogi. Please, lets run away and never turn back. There is nothing left for us here except the ruins of what we lost. Everywhere I look I see sunken faces of what we’ve done, of what we haven’t done. It’s suffocating.” Even through his thick coat he can feel the tears.

“It’s ok. It’s going to be ok. We don’t have to stay here, in this town, in this country. You don’t have to be afraid of the past. It can’t hurt us anymore. Nothing can hurt you while I’m here.”

“But how? How can you promise such things when you don’t know what the future holds?”

“We can leave this life behind, this world behind. This end can be our start. We pack tonight and will board a train by the end of the week. We will go to Paris. There the lights will keep the shadows at bay.”

“Paris?” For the first time Anastasia looked up, her eyes dry but the water on her cheeks betrayed her façade.

“Oui Paris!” The man exclaimed with new excitement leaning over the baroque wrought iron banister.  “We will drink wine and eat baguettes. We will go to the grander Paris opera and waste the nights away on romanticism.” Taking her hands he looked deeply into her eyes and at once everything else melted away. “Paris, Anastasia, Paris.”

“And we will leave by the end of the week?

“We will leave tomorrow if we can. Just think of it, a new life beside the Serine. We could even change names- I’ll be Francois and you can be Sophie.” For the first time her laugher pierced through the heavy atmosphere of despair. It tumbled out of her seductively painted lips and trickled onto the icy pavement, spilling off the balcony and unto the heads of the unsuspecting patron below. Viciously contagious, the man too began to laugh, his mighty tones echoing off the transparent barriers between the couple and the rest of the world. Again he pulled her close, this time catching her lips rather than her wrist, finally fulfilling his promise to keep her warm.

“I think it’s about time we find our seats Monsieur Francois,” Anastasia says as she opens the door. Blissful laughter and bubbling conversations soon join her chuckles; lingering for a moment to stare once more into her lover’s eyes, she disappears back into the crowd of billowing gowns and shiny shoes. The man, left out in the cold, lights his cigarette and smiles to himself. He thinks of Anastasia’s laughter, of her warm skin caressing his, of the future nights wasted on expensive wine, of Paris.

 

“Do you believe in love at first sight?” The man took the first, long sip of many to come.

“Only if my drinks are involved.” The bartender replied as he eyed the man wiping away the foam from his beard.

“I believe in love at first sight. I don’t think anyone can believe until it happens to them though.” The man didn’t know why he was telling his story now, to this man. He had never seen him before, or this bar, or his drinks. And yet, there he was, betraying his reason by throwing up his pain.

“***story of love at first sight****”

 

The man pulled out a tattered piece of newspaper from his jacket pocket. The edges told of previous threats to its existence made by matches and the blurred ink corresponded to the seemingly permanent blackness on the man’s hands from longingly fingering the paper nightly.  The cut out square, folded, was no larger than his fist when he laid it painfully onto the counter; cautiously, the man began to unfold his long kept treasure, careful not to rip the flimsy creases. After undoing the four corners, the man pulled back his hearty hands and masked his face behind them, but the unfolding did not stop. The layers grew with each enchanted movement of the inanimate clipping, first stretching the length of the bar, then the stools, the floor, the walls, the ceiling until the entire room and its patrons had become a labyrinth of type and faded pictures. The bartender, in shock, stood still among the rustle of paper consumption. Without warning, the lines of words began to march together to some inaudible beat of a typewriter. They were catapulted from one wall to the next, slipped from one beer mug to another, disassembled as they fell off the table’s edge and reassembled at the floor’s embrace. The bartender, now mimicking his counterpart’s skinned mask from fear, finally lifted his veil of fingers. Before him stood two hollow outlines constructed of words. Silently, the pair walked towards a newspaper table, sat, and clasped the letters of their fingers together. Out of the corner of the man’s eye, a T tumbled to the floor.

 

--

 

Staring unbelievably at the spectacle before him, the bartender drew himself closer to the couple’s table, stopping just short of taking the empty chair. In reality, the two would have turned in anger at his infringement of their privacy, but here in this world of paper and ink neither paid any heed to the fleshy intruder. The four, the two outlines, the curious barman, and Yuri, still hunched at the bar, stood composed in complete stillness. After some time, the woman figure was the first to break the silence.   

“It is an honor that I have been chosen for this mission, and I will complete it with dignity.” Each word that escaped her mouth was formed from the letters of her body. They took flight from her toes, ran elegantly through invisible veins, and fled from her almost human lips. The alphabet of her story floated through the room, carried on some nonexistent breeze, towards an empty wall, where it waited hungrily for the rest of its troop.

“But Anastasia, it doesn’t have to be like this. They can find another. There are plenty of others for the job. If we tell them about you and me, about us, they will let you go.”

“You know as well as I do that they would never let us go if they knew. We would be punished for what we have done.”

“What we have done is not wrong! They make you think these crazy things, that you are guilty for unimaginably evil crimes, but we aren’t! The only sin that you, that I am guilty of is love. Love Anastasia. How can you think that is wrong?”

“You know that we cannot be, that what we do in private is that way for a reason. I am widowed to him, I am untouchable to you and yet,” her voice trails off as his inky hand caressed hers from across the table. He moved his paper chair closer to hers and held her tightly.

“Please, Anastasia, I love you. I can’t go on living without you. You doing this will kill me.”

“It will only kill one of us. You will find another, a better wife than I would have ever been. Soon you’ll forget all about me.”

The man, angry at the ignorance of her last remark, grabbed her wrist violently and turned her outline towards his. “I will die without you. Die Anastasia. I exist through our love, nothing else. I could never forget, never love anyone but you.” Pulling her closer to him, speaking softer, he continued. “We could go to Paris.”

“Paris?” For the first time she lifted her gaze from his disappearing torso.

“Paris. We could board a train and go to Paris. Eat bread and drink wine, we could forget this life. We could leave tonight, after sunset.”  

“But what about the mission?”

“The mission? There will always be another girl ready to sacrifice herself for the cause. There will always be another g-d damn mission to go through with. One more bomb to explode. One more front to fight. But we don’t have to be part of it. We could escape all of the smoke and the bombs and the missions. No one would find us in Paris.”

“They will always find us Yuri, there is nowhere to hide.”

“Please,” the man said with hopeful despair. The flow of his verbal words was now intermixed with teary letters, both swirling in the air towards their destination. “I can’t lose you. Not like this.”

 

Putting her hand on her stomach, the woman turned away. Suddenly, the bartender saw a faint movement through her transparent skin. A few, grey letter were moving where her stomach should have been. Lost in thought, the woman was jolted back to the conversation by a kick from the tiny infant cradled in a hammock of newspaper headings.

“I volunteered.”

“What?”

“I volunteered for the mission. I wanted to do it, no one is forcing me. I told you, it is an honor and I will complete it with dignity. This, any of this, is not about me or you Yuri. It is about something so much bigger. Look out the window. We are oppressed. We are not free. I was to fight for a land where my baby will be free.”

“Your baby will be dead because of your sacrifice for its freedom!” the man yelled, rising from the table in an emotional rage. She responded with equal fervor.

“I fight for all those unborn!  I am not some selfish bystander! I didn’t make this decision for me, I made it for all of us!” 

Collapsing into the chair, the figure clasped his face. Only his hands and head remained intact. “But I love you.”

The woman took his hand as the last words of the pair were lifted into the air. “I will always love you.”

 

The bartender watched as the last few Ds and Xs plummeted into the current and crashed onto the wall. Completed at last, the letter swelled together to create a new scene for their audience. It was a busy street intersection. Cars were rushing swiftly around the corners as people wove in and out of cafes and store fronts. Though black and white, the barman could sense the warm glow of the sun painting the scene in a buttery yellow and could smell the fresh flowers that were carried into the city from a distant countryside breeze. Amidst the bustle, he spotted the woman from the table reassembled. She was wearing a beautiful sundress and carried a purse that gleamed in the midday sun. From behind a distant wall, he could also see the man who had accompanied the woman at his bar table. Though he could not explain it, the barman knew that Yuri was not supposed to be there, and that the woman was unaware of his presence. Waiting in line to board the local bus, she turned unexpectedly towards her love. The two locked eyes for what seemed an eternity. Then, smiling towards him with her hand still rested on her stomach, she mouthed her last words. With a nudge from behind, she boarded the bus and disappeared from view.

 

With its last passenger on board, the engine roared into life and slowly made its way down the street. Though Yuri’s tears blurred his vision from the wall he hid behind, the bartender had a clear view of the detonation.

 

The image of words exploded silently into the room. The letters poetically billowed into clouds of smoke and lines of fire engulfed the tables and chairs. Outlined figures opened their mouths with no sound to cry their pain, and others ran off the wall to seek shelter from the overwhelming smolder. Any yet, as if choreographed by a well trained maestro, the chaos all flowed towards the crumpled newspaper article still on the bar. Slowly, the paper lifted its hold of the patrons, the walls, and the floor and receded back towards its origin. With a silent ‘wow,’ the barman slouched back into a stool. To his right, Yuri waited for the last late arriving Gs to make their way into the clipping before folding it up and replacing it in his pocket.

 

The other customers continued to eat and make merry as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, but the bartender kept looking around anxiously, as if the paper theatre would suddenly reappear if he were to let his guard down. Catching his breath, he turned towards his strange patron. Comparing the two mentally, the bartender guessed that this Yuri was the outlined figure’s senior by at least a decade, if not more. The sadness of the newspaper headlines weighed his shoulders down and carved too many lines into his skin. His hair was starting to lose color, but not from old age. His mind had aged him well beyond that of the physical world.

 

Struggling to remember the words that formed the momentary apparition, the bartender closed his eyes. He remembered some of the headlines and faded pictures from his own memory. He thought back to those years years ago when a darkness had gripped the countryside and their little town; the darkness had come in suits and ties with briefcases of secret plans and passionate speeches. They had set up in a small building with only a dim lamp and a crooked, wooden table and began to take down people’s names. Soon the darkness spread and nearly every man and women’s name in town was penned in that room and it wasn’t long before the newspaper headings emerged. At first, it was only a few local incidents, but it grew. The war had ravaged cities and villages alike, and finally when that little one room building seemed abandoned, one could see dark figures again in the windows. And the news that followed was one of a different type of war, not of tanks and armies but of bloody streets and black widows. Finally understanding, he gets up and backs away from Yuri with horror.  He tries to think of something to say, but the epiphany of what he just witnessed was too much to bear. Taking another long sip and wiping away the foam again, Yuri looks up at the bartender with a saddened smile.

 

“I thought my love could save her. I thought that maybe, just maybe, it would change her mind. That her passion for me would outlast her passion for her cause. But somewhere deep down, buried far below my love and my tears, I always knew that I wasn’t the one she loved first. I would always come second in her mind. I was only human, only one man you know? How could she possible love just one man in comparison to our nation?” The tears now fell freely from his weathered face.

 

“She told me that she was selfless by taking the mission. She took the mission for the betterment of my life and our families, and we were all awarded for it greatly. The mission was a huge success. The media, the politicians, the victims. It all went perfectly according to the plan,” his voice cracked with emotion. He opened his mouth but could not seem to find the power to speak. His next few words, though broken, were tainted with anger. “But she wasn’t selfless when she left me. Or worse, when she told me that she wanted to…. That she was happy to...” not being able to bring himself to utter the words, he pounded his fist against the dusty wood.

 

“I loved her, and she left me to die! She took the easy way out. Press a button and that’s the end. But me? I have to go on year after year dying slowly. I die every time I smell her still warm blood covering my arms as I searched for her body in the wreck. I die every time I pass where we use to sneak away at night to hold each other. I die every time I see the disgusting masks of the people who corrupted her. And I die with this brat following me wherever I go,” He scowered with angry tears at the still bright eyed, forever silent boy that sits next to him. “I can’t leave him. He’s the only thing that I’ve got left of her here. He’s the one thing that makes her still alive. But every damned day he looks up at me with her bright eyes I die.”

 

Frightened, the bar tender looks over to where Yuri is pointing. Unsure what to say, he closes his eyes and looks again, thinking perhaps that the boy is like the worded outlines. Opening them with an uneasy sigh, he turns back to his companion, still unsure, but with a stern face.

 

“Yuri, there is no boy there. We’re alone.”

© 2011 Veronica Shermann


Author's Note

Veronica Shermann
Please ignore names- I don't keep them constistant in this draft. Like the other short story posted, this is incomplete. Just looking for any help I can get before finishing it up.

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This was a joy to read. The one word at the top where the first is needs to be worked. I'll give you a hint (has) needs to be (as). One other thing I think it needs is more breaks between paragraphs. Again. Awesome work.

Posted 7 Years Ago



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Added on September 2, 2011
Last Updated on September 2, 2011
Tags: Chechnya, Russia, Terrorism, Black Widow, Love

Author

Veronica Shermann
Veronica Shermann

About
At the crossroads of life, struggling to make the best of the paths before me. more..

Writing