TUBE, DRAFT 1, CHAPTER 18 (EXCERPT)
Olesya’s skin prickled. She placed the phone to her ear and listened to the faint signal, half-expecting to hear her father’s dead voice. Instead it was her mother, talking slowly, obviously making a tremendous effort to sound calm and composed.
“Olesya, it’s mama.” She began. Paused. Took a breath. “The question you asked, about red color...I should’ve told you this long ago, but we agreed with your papa to never mention it. He was going to tell you himself, but that day has never arrived, and I kept putting it off, thinking, another year, let her grow up, let her mature. Maybe next year would be a good time. And then you were out of the house and, well, here we are.” Another pause, longer this time. “Maybe this is for the better, so say it over the phone, without seeing your face.” A beat. “It’s still hard for me. So many years have passed. I tried to forget. I buried it. I thought I did. But of course, I didn’t. It’s still in me. How can I...?” A stifled sob.
Olesya gripped the phone so hard, her knuckles turned white.
“You had an older sister.”
“She died before you were born. Your father thought it was his fault, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t.” A sob racked her voice, and she stopped. Blew her nose. Continued. “I’m sorry, it’s hard for me to talk about this. We agreed to never mention it. It was a mistake, I think, to hide it from you. Please forgive me. Forgive us. She...” A heavy sigh. “She was hit by a train.”
Olesya’s legs folded and she slowly slid to the floor.
“There were train tracks running by our old house. You’ve never been there. We moved after it happened. She was five. She wore...” A sharp intake of air. “She wore a red dress,” her mother was crying now. “Your grandmother crocheted it for her fifth birthday. It had little cap sleeves and a full skirt. She loved it. Oh, she loved it very much. They set out for a walk, with your papa, to go explore. You know how he was, showing off what he knew about trains to everyone. And—”
(Photo by Lara-Z)