Photo: Alexei Beliy
Zvenigorod. 65 KM away from Moscow. To go there on a Saturday evening was the spontaneous decision of two people with minds blurred by hangovers. After a highly anticipated meal with soup and coffee, which was supposed to bring us back to life, we went down to the river. This was the Moscow River or one of its tributaries. The shores were framed by thick forest strips. It was getting dark, and the whole landscape was becoming terrifyingly blue.
Alex wanted to smoke a cigarette but he left them in the car. So we just stood there, looking around.
From the restaurant that was located nearby, along the tiny path, two figures came towards us—a young blond woman and her daughter who looked about four years old. They came up to us, and the blond said:
“Young people, let me ask you for a favor. Help my daughter put this paper ship on the river—support her so she won’t slip.”
By smell and manner of speech, it was obvious that her evening had begun at least a bottle of wine back.
Alex helped the girl put the paper ship in the water. Blondie lit a cigarette.
–Imagine, today revealed that young people are not able to make paper ships anymore. An old man in a restaurant made this one. He was already about sixty. And the youth has changed. You, guys, for example, can you make paper ships?
—“Yes,” I answered.
—“Oh, sweetie, look, this lady also knows how to make paper ships. Ask her to teach you.”
The girl named Milena ran a couple meters away, raised a crude newspaper page from the ground and brought it to me. I made a ship, pronouncing aloud every action as if I believed the girl cared.
While I was enthusiastically creating a ship, blondie was asking Alex about different things. How old he is, what we were doing there, whether we wanted to go up with her to a restaurant and drink a glass of wine… Alex was trying hard to be very polite, he explained that we couldn’t drink any more, and that actually it was time to go.
“I’ll treat you to wine. Or lemonade.”—blondie didn’t appease—“I’m so bored together with my daughter–my husband is at work all the time. So, I don’t go to clubs—impossible when you have a kid… We just came here for dinner. Come on, let me treat you with a glass of wine.”—she was speaking slowly, trying to pronounce each syllable clearly. There had to be at least a bottle of wine inside her—definitely not less.
She really wanted to persuade Alex to stay, share a drink and a conversation… But the paper ship for her daughter was ready and it was time to say goodbye.
—It sprawled! Stinking son of a bitch!—exclaimed little Milena seeing how the paper ship lurched to one side and was really about to fall apart.
—Sweetie! What did you say!? Where did you learn such a bad word?!—the mother tries to look surprised.
The platinum blondie. Black mascara on her eyes. Wearing a dress, a light demi-season coat, body nylon stockings and bright (either pink, or purple) shoes with heels. In one hand she had an expensive bag and in the other—a thin cigarette. Her daughter nearby mutters to herself something unintelligible. Her husband is at work all the time. She is the average Russian citizen.