A story of one (История одного)
It seems to you that you’re wrong because something hasn’t been done in the right way, or you always blame yourself for everything. Sure, you heap all responsibility on your shoulders and don’t spare yourself – in the long run, you will get sick and tired of everything, and it’s very dangerous.
You become lost like you’re a stranger to this place and you try hard to find a way. No doubt that everyone has come across this sort of problem that seems impossible to solve. It happens that you listen to someone and follow their advice making your way to where you’ve been pointed. Huh, then, it occurs to you that you shouldn’t have done this. Why not? Because you should use your own intuition, which gives you a helping hand very often when you’re within the labyrinth of life. Isn’t it curious that all this can lead you to unexpected events and revelations: bad and good, strong and weak, black and white. No matter what, the point is you seek, find and learn the most about yourself, as you are a great creature by nature.
All this concerned Floe. As a 25-year-old, nice woman, Floe is quite a mature person with her own frame of mind. Although, she’s not an old, life-worn woman, she’s gone through “sum” things and has gained experience. Sometimes, Floe has been such a fool. She has certainly erred and, oddly enough, she keeps making mistakes as if she is taking grapes blindly from the tree. Erare humanum est. – It’s as clear as a day.
But more or less, Floe is well aware of the way to treat people. She had experienced being a victim, a queen, a slave, a friend, an enemy, a player, an actress, a bitch, an angel, a child, a lover, a wife, and, finally, herself. She was frightened, humiliated, loved and hated, praised and betrayed, taken care and left behind. She’s put up with most of these things, but she’s
also learnt how to give somebody a peg or two, show people their places, be kind and generous, brilliant and furious. At first, she thought that somehow she was a born actress and that’s why those roles came easy to her. But it wasn’t so. Far from it, in fact. She was just born to be that Floe, though, it may sound false. She is a quick-studied girl, there is no denying that.
Still, she’s not bothered about her hurt feelings…she still has some wounds. She realizes that if she pays too much attention to everything around her, she’ll vanish into thin air. She’s got used to taking everything with rough and smooth, but not giving up the fight or losing a chance to speak out. Every now and then, she faces a situation when she is in two minds: “Should I give into life or go on living, crying, laughing, falling and standing up again?” she asks herself. No, it’s not a trait of a weak character, it’s the proof that Floe is alive and is not going to be blown away like a candle.
That time, on the 7th of May, Floe was walking towards the amusement park as she enjoys refreshing her memories from her sweet childhood. On her way, she was turning this and that in her head over and over again… Then, she bought a ticket to the Ferris wheel (it’s her favorite one) and took her seat. The machine began working and soon Floe would reach the top of the wheel.
At last, she got there and became really enchanted. She was above all that was going on in the city. She felt high and could feel power in her soul. Her heart was beating painfully but she was delighted. Floe caught sight of a far-away horizon, and understood how little she knew about her existence in the world. She was so impressed that she became interested inthe prospect of her future. How could she hold the whole world, if she didn’t give her all to it? Floe had a connection with her surroundings, as she was able to love and forgive. And it meant a lot. But she was determined to find a new person within herself, not for herself, but for the world she lived in. She thought about what had happened to her before, and she suspected that it had been nothing in comparison with what was waiting for her heart in future hours. She was ready to start her life afresh. Floe suddenly felt that she loved herself as never before. At the bottom of her heart she considered herself a gift, a unique one. She was full of joy and even let herself smile and say “I’ll do it”. Apparently, everybody heard it and turned to Floe, thinking she was crazy and, suspecting she would jump off. If only they knew! Floe couldn’t but radiate the light of happiness. In fact, she neither cared at all nor took notice of other person. She figured out that she had learnt to be firm and self-reliant; even self-confident. She appreciated her inner state and wasn’t willing to lose it. In that state, she had a craving for creating a miracle even if it cost her dearly.
* * *
In the evening…(Вечером…)
Floe looked round, then at the sky; she closed her eyes, took a deep breath and fixed her scarf. It was of a greenish colour – she liked this colour.
– Indeed, Floe was a good-looking girl with a slim figure. She wore brunette shoulder-length hair and pretty bangs. Usually, her hair was loose or in a pony tail. That day, she was dressed in a knee-length coat and high-heeled boots till her knees as well. Her white boots went well with the peach coat. The green scarf added a significant touch to her clothes and matched her magically green eyes. Then, the white cute bag and brownish gloves made her so attractive that almost each man couldn’t but glance at her for a while. Floe had a secret: she didn’t usemuch in the way of cosmetics and her make-up always emphasized her natural beauty and youth. No one could take it from her, it should be admitted. –
She stepped off the wheel and started walking straight, then turned left and walked a little further. San-Francisco was full of different advertisement lights on the shop windows; lines “Casino”, “Bar” or “Hotel”, or simple monitor commercials on the walls of buildings. These comb red with the street lights created a fabulous picture show. It was 9 p. m. Floe tried to find places to walk where few people were – she wasn’t eager to be face to face with her friends now at all. Walking with a smile and holding her hands in her coat pockets she met an old couple and remembered her parents. They were far away from San-Francisco, and she hadn’t visited them so far. Sorrow and regret overwhelmed her. Last time they met didn’t bring anybody a world of good, and she had the intention to change something…
Suddenly, Floe noticed apretty cafe where she could probably warm herself with a cup of coffee (if only there was something to warm her soul). She, self-assured and self-satisfied, entered the cafe walking gracefully. She put an eye on a table at the end of the cafe, near the window and took a place. No sooner had she started reading the menu, when she heard somebody making determined steps towards her. Then, there was a tap on her shoulder. Floe worried that it could be her ex-boyfriend, but from this man’s voice she figured out and sighed quietly with relief, that it was someone quite unknown to her.
– I asked them to fix a special dinner to amaze me, but I didn’t expect them to be so broad-minded and creative. It’s beyond all praise. Good evening, miss. I’m sorry to disturb, but you are at my table. Don’t get up, stay seated, please. – Upon hearing these words, Floe felt a little bit awkward and embarrassment seized her. In spite of that, she didn’t stand up. Floe was the type who wouldn’t have obeyed if hehad said just the opposite.
– Take a seat, I don’t mind. – said she with a notion of impudence. – I beg your pardon, I
can leave. – But she really didn’t want to.
– Adrian Ross. My name is Adrian Ross. – he gave her his hand to shake. – Don’t go away. It’s not your fault that the waiter hadn’t put out a “RESERVED” card. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to dine with you. You’ll join me, won’t you? – he was sure to articulate each word; thus Floe didn’t trust him.
– What if I sat down even if there was a card? Would you be so polite? By the way, I’ve always thought that tables are reserved for two at least. Aren’t you waiting for…?
– …for nobody. I don’t consider cases of “what if”. I like you. Please, tell me your name? – Adrian was stubborn speaking in a mild voice.
– Well, my name is Floe. – She said it, as if she gave him her life to guard.
– I’m very glad, but I’ve never met you here before, do you stop in often? – Adrian supported the conversation.
– Actually, it’s my first visit. I’ve never thought that there is such a nice place in our city. And I hardly ever appear in this part. And you – are you an old patron here? – Floe decided to say a few words, though sarcastically.
– You’ve hit it. The cook and I are old friends, and I like having a good dinner on Fridays around 9 after a hard working week. And I always remind Ralph that “Friday is mine!” – said Adrian.
– Ah, so you are a thrifty workaholic, who puts money by and avoids luxurious restaurants? – Floe knew for sure that he was well-to-do, because of his clothes. And many other details made her think so, his watch for instance. She sincerely believed that he wasn’t a master of his own life with possibilities to get everything and everyone. He was obviously full of levity while talking to her. Then she thought: “Why should I care about his mood? No, he’s not a cynic.”
– You’re very remarkable; I’m involved in my work and do well. I can spend money in the case that the opportunity is reasonable and important. Restaurants are all pathetic, it irritates me. – Then, he said to himself: “From now on, this cafe is my “home”, as I’ve seen this girl at my table.” Then he continued with a smile. – There is nothing like my friend’s cafe.
– Here is the waiter: Mr. Ross, are you still planning to dine? – She asked him looking at the waiter, and the said, – I’d like a cup of coffee and a cheesecake, please.
– Is that all for you? Maybe anything else? – Floe shoke her head and Adrian didn’t insist. – I will have my usual, and say “hello” to Ralph. Thanks, boy.
The evening passed by quickly. It was a pleasant night for the two who found a common language. They had similar interests, creating a good exchange. Both of them were quite unordinary and so similar to each other that some energetic wave between them was noticeable.
Guiding the conversation in a different direction, Adrian threw in some words about his passion for climbing. When Floe heard how climbing gave him a sense of power and liberation, her eyes said: “What the hell, take me to that place, I’m dying!”
At that moment everything was simple for Floe, as Adrian could read her mind like an open book, he said:
– What would you say if I asked you to come with me and exercise your power tomorrow?
Floe was ready to set off that very moment, as she had always been into adventures, especially of that sort: “Despite I’ve known you for a bit longer than an hour, I eagerly accept with alacrity.” – She said calmly with a smile, but only God knew what powers kept her from laughing and jumping.
* * *
The Prehistory of Two (Предыстория двух)
The following morning, a long three-hours way, and Floe faced anew obstacle in her life. She felt nervous, but tried to hide it. She felt a sparkling vitality in her body. She breathed in the fresh mountain air and got ready to learn the instructions. She only remembered: “Don’t look down and everything will go well. I’m here and ready to save your life.” – “Very funny, you’re professional unlike me.”
Well, soon there were the first steps to the top. Floe moved slowly and accurately. She was in a state of absolute concentration and didn’t pay attention to the slight, skillful movements of Adrian Ross. She just took her time. It wasn’t the race, in fact. She went her own way with the aim not to step off. From time to time, she thought about looking down for her incredible curiosity. However, she understood that her head would spin and she would lose balance. She would fall back. But she nearly brought herself to do that whatever the consequence, as it was the part of the way behind her back and she had all rights to see that. Floe murmured: “I will see with an eye, I won’t find myself at the bottom again, I will hold stronger and go on, and so little is left.” And she did it. Floe saw every inch that she had gone. She was very glad that she could hold on the same level and continued climbing.
Naturally, Adrian was waiting for the moment when Floe would reach the top. And, when she was almost there, he asked her to stop, close her eyes and stretch out her hand. Floe didn’t like the idea, but agreed with herself to rely on Adrian under the pretext that there was nothing to lose. Adrian took her hand and another one, and moved her up. She kept closing her eyes till Adrian allowed her to open them. He set her standing behind and said:
– Now, open your eyes to the world, like you’ve never seen, never known it before. From this moment onward you’re part of it.
Floe plowed up her eyes and felt the earth move out and away from under her. She remembered the day she was on the Ferris wheel, but it was no comparison to this. Now, it was thousand times better, undoubtedly better. Floe turned round to her guide and spoke:
– Of course, you knew from the very beginning the way to get all of me. You knew that this experience would catch my soul. You were sure I would be doomed to feel like this. Well, you can rejoice in your success. Then Adrian interrupted:
– Are you laughing at me? I haven’t done anything special or fantastic. I’m a simple travel maker. – He smiled crafty, but Floe wasn’t a plain fool.
– Oh, yes. I’m talking nonsense! Don’t tell me anything, you can’t lie. I see you’re as pleased as punch.
– Not more than you, – he held himself closer to Floe and kissed her on the cheek, then whispered, – How do you feel about surprises?
– I love them! I’m already looking forward!
– I’m asking you to lunch with me surrounded entirely by nature. Only nature will accompany us – agood idea, isn’t it?
– Certainly, let’s go.
While making their way, Floe kept on talking about her climbing. She was extremely sociable and behaved in an emotional manner, like a baby-boy who had stood beside a real enormous plane in the airdrome and then, told his father that he was eager to become a pilot just like his father. They went on some distance and reached the place, where the tent was set up. There was nothing to do, but let reality drift away.
* * *
What If…(А что, если…)
It was a dream; another world, where you feel yourself absolutely differently. With every moment, Floe felt a strange attraction linking her to Adrian. In his hands were peace and safety. By the night, they had made a nice fire and prepared themselves to enjoy the twilight. Both of them almost always kept silent, but Adrian broke it finally, when they were sitting near the fire.
– Floe, what areyou thinking about? – He asked. – In general.
Floe gave a light kind smile and said: “You are a
– I know it, – that was predictable of Adrian, – but I don’t believe this is all that’s on your mind. Come on, tell me everything.
– Yeah, this is half of what I’m thinking of. – She stopped, looking at the sky with languishing eyes, and there was no end to her thoughts. – Do you see these two leaves? One of them is dry and brown – it is not bad to throw it into the fire because it has lived its life. Its history is already written. But this other one is green and young. It should be on the tree. We do not know, whether it was torn off by the wind or by somebody’s hand. The reason can’t be excused. The fact is that this leaf must be in its place – the tree. And our past is like these two leaves. We have got the choice how to act with the past years: we can easily squeeze the dry leaf in our hand and spread it into the wind like ashes…but its spirit can stay. But the green leaf….this case is more complicated, more painful. We can leave this leaf to die, or can take it home and put it into a frame because it is ours and we are not likely to tear it from us. Probably, every time we pass near the frame, and look at it, it’ll arouse heart-rending episodes in our minds. It is not so simple. On the one hand, we should always remember what we’ve had and save it in our heart. But on the other hand, we can’t live always looking backwards and thinking about how much insult we have received. It’s useless to waste our time on it; life’s too short. It will be only heavier, day by day, for us to carry. And eventually, this load will destroy us. We can either turn the handle and open the door to the future, or stay in front of it with a trembling hand and sad eyes. But the longer we wait, the harder it will be to raise our hand. – she stopped and then asked Adrian, – Why are you silent? Say something…
– What if thehandle is broken, the key lock doesn’t work, and the key is lost?
– “I don’t consider “what if”, as you said yesterday. Don’t make fun of me, please. Don’t you care about this?
– Sorry, I do care. Now…I really care…for you; earlier I used to be a simple guy with interests and aims concerning exceptionally me. Today, that damned life seems to me a hollow basket. My single life ambition was an ambition, which would lead me to nowhere. I have a great urge to cut myself off from my old life. I want to mean something to somebody, to make this person feel safe and forget about loneliness… You know, some time ago, I saw a scene that I still hold in my memory. It happened when I was waiting for a bus at the bus-stop. I noticed two little kids – boys. They were walking together. I don’t know why, but I understood they were the closest people to each other. In a matter of a moment, one of them disappeared (he was searching for something) and the other one…I saw fear in his eyes. He was about to cry, because of feeling lost. Loneliness for him was just as horrible as death… But, as soon as the boy found his friend or brother, he was relieved. Life went on. Then, (I know I talk too much), when
I turned my head not to miss the bus, I saw a more desperate creature, desperate because of being left. A poor dog, chilled to the bones. It had pale with asking eyes, was crossing the road to and fro. It was running up to each car with the hope to find his master. I don’t know, whether it just got lost or it was turned out of someone’s home (what brutal people!). At that moment, no one could feel what I felt, think what I thought. But, I wasn’t angry with those passing by: “Don’t bother, mind your own business… but now you’re losing a lot… anyway, you don’t even suspect that.”
– I got on the bus with a dull heart-ache. People are able to care about themselves, but dogs – they, unfortunately, depend on us.
Floe pretended to beasleep, yet she heard everything. She also could read between those lines. She had already encoded what he was driving at. A sparkling vitality came over Floe…but then, suddenly everything inside her was seized painfully. Those damned thoughts, as it had been, all that came back again.
“Some strangers are running away from their happiness. They are afraid of love and hide…or they just know for sure, that they can’t give what is wanted. No, they are able to gift themselves, but, later, can’t control anything…, is it good? It is far not, I know. That is because they feel too deeply, too strongly, sacrificing themselves. And they can’t… What if they can’t feel another way and be always exciting, but simple? Floence, why did you appear when I’ve settled down? Now I’m hollow. Why? For what sake? Am I doomed to have you every time when there is a light? What are you trying to say? To say that it isn’t that light, it isn’t for me. Well, I’ve had enough of you… Beat me off at last, bruise me todeath and the game’s over. Listen to me! Do you hear me? Even the devil needs a little bit of light to compare his dark bottom and understand that his world is a million times closer to him. How can I gain mine? What if mine has never existed? “What if?” – Then this stupid question makes you a foolish one, a crazy one…ha, just a sour bubble.
Stop it! Get away, die. You take life for granted – you’ll lose the game! – A tear was gliding down her cheek. – Please, let me live my own life. I’ve never tried it. What does it feel like? Allow me to wake up tomorrow morning without you, bring me freedom for a while. If it isn’t for me, I’ll put up with it and you’ll come around, you know it… The beginning was, and it was nice. I’d like to continue the story… They say, a circle doesn’t have an end. We’ll see, whether I’ll give in or destroy you. Is the fight coming? It’s my turn to watch out, I bet. – Then, she opened her eyes to Floence, – My single mistake was when I openedup to you and now you know me inside out. You are the only one whom I turn the other cheek while the humiliation is beyond, my flesh and blood belong to you.” – Her quiet cry became roaring now.
* * *
Both he and she were on the steep of the mountain, or destiny if you let me say that. He had the last hope to create, and she was about to save herself. He did not taste her yet, and she did not want to poison him. They both were waiting for Tomorrow. Though, Tomorrow will come, but it can die as well; Happens, that one person starts the story unsuccessfully, then, the other one teams up with him… Happens, that nothing comes out of it – a total loss. What if their story is not to be written by them? Their moaning hearts will decide.