“He wanted desperately to seize the tantalizing essence: why? The rustle and smell of the essence were somewhere here, but he knew it would not yield itself up…” – A SIMPLE SOUL
“So, what’s up? How are you?” she asked with a yawn. “Come on, speak up fast. I’m a little busy here.” In the background some smooth jazz was playing, and men’s voices could be heard. Frank felt his heart would rip out of his chest and fly into the abyss.
“Olga,” he uttered, “please, will you marry me?”
She was silent a long time, then mumbled, “Hang on,” and yelled in frustration at someone close by, “Bug off, will you! This doesn’t concern you!” Then she sighed and said tenderly and warmly, “Frankie, you’re still such a child. Go home. It’s better for you there – much, much better, trust me.”
“I don’t know what cry she shouted at the sky over the frost-covered Taiga; whether she wished her father’s death, where she is now, or what became of her…” – SEMMANT
Once I finished off the next automatic trader, I cut the project short and declared I was leaving. Lucco was inconsolable and promised me the moon, but my interest in him had already dissipated. To his credit, he gave me a solid bonus and very nearly shed a tear when we parted ways at the airport.
I explained my departure with personal reasons – and quite by happenstance, one of the twins, whom I had forgotten to think about, appeared out of nowhere to announce she could not live without me. I was cold and somewhat rude, having not forgiven her for the Marseille saga, but she endured it and spent a few months with me – as far as I know, she didn’t cheat on me even once. We probably would have kept living together – and then everything might have turned out differently – but her cruel Siberian father tracked us down on the seacoast of Spain, and simply took her by force while I was playing tennis two steps from the house.
“And right then I felt that universal chaos was neither an abstraction nor a joke. It emphatically, impudently had just interfered in my life…” – SEMMANT
Later, I wandered to the taxi stand through a veil of poisonous smoke in a city that had long been sinking into its own detritus. It felt as though something really terrible had happened that morning. I was crushed, downtrodden – and it was not just me. The work I had done was openly ridiculed. They had proven that the world did not need me – not one bit!
For the first time, I felt utter hopelessness. I was unprepared for the misery that enshrouded me. The burning sun was nearly at its zenith, scoured by haze, but knowing no mercy. I then understood: this must be what a cosmic disaster looks like. It’s as if we are falling into our star, losing our orbit, unable to resist the gravitational pull. Or the star itself, contrary to calculations, just now decided to spit out its last thermonuclear blast from the remaining hydrogen. One way or another, we’re out of time – as we always were, to tell the truth. All the efforts, all the attempts are in vain and will not be needed – ever, by anyone.
“When she danced in the arena I knew her heart pounded there, under the circus floor, under the heels and the ponies’ hooves, under all the sets and sawdust shavings. Nobody wanted to see her wings, but I could make out their transparent shadow…” – SEMMANT
There was only one person who understood me well: a girl four years my senior, an exotic performer in a traveling circus we met up with near Miskolc after we had to flee Budapest in a hurry. She had a large mouth and a searching glance that belied her childish features. She could curl her ears up and straighten them out on command, and the only friend she had until I came along was a toy frog that blew soap bubbles.
Her smile taught me to dream, and her hands taught me something too, though she was completely innocent – just desperately and endlessly kind. When she danced in the arena I knew her heart pounded there, under the circus floor, under the heels and the ponies’ hooves, under all the sets and sawdust shavings. Nobody wanted to see her wings, but I could make out their transparent shadow. I could even hear them flutter – and I felt sorry for her, and she came to me in full-color dreams. Later, we crossed paths more than once: the circus headed north like we had, making its way toward Warsaw, but it lingered for a long while near Tatry and then returned there again and again, as if enchanted by the beauty of the place and the scent of mountain pines on the air.
“She recognized her emerging impulses, unchecked and capable of surprising anyone, but she needed help to awaken them and set them free…” – A SIMPLE SOUL
Elizaveta Bestuzheva knew her own world quite well. It was mainly an internal rather than external matter, an easy subject for analysis, though she did her best not to indulge too much in self-contemplation. Things were occasionally confused in her mind, but the important stuff was undeniably clear: she knew she held an entire universe inside her, replete with heavenly bodies. Some of her planets were inhabited, and she could hear the voices of all the countless creatures who lived there. Sometimes, the voices tortured her; sometimes, they made her irrationally happy. They resonated in her heart with joy and anxiety, and in her body with its unique physiology, as well. To Elizaveta, hers was the best of all possible worlds.