TUBE, DRAFT 1, CHAPTER 49 (EXCERPT)
“So, what language is that?” Asked Nessy. Now that they were done climbing up the rocky path and the worst seemed to be behind them, the going was much easier and her curiosity returned.
“Russian,” said Mitya. “We are from Russia.”
“Russia? Where from in Russia?”
“Moscow,” added Olesya proudly. “Ballet dancers.” She stretched out a leg in her next step, pointing it as if she was about to perform a graceful leap. “Bolshoi theater. Serenade. US tour.”
“Bolshoi! On tour. I see.” Nessy’s face lit up, then slid back to a furrowed concern. “The legendary citadel of Russian ballet, to suffer such a loss. What a tragedy, what a terrible tragedy. I’m very sorry you had to endure this. So much pain, so much suffering.” She wanted to say something else and couldn’t come up with appropriate words. It all tumbled in her head, and for some reason she felt foolish, like a child that encountered a crying friend with bloodied knees and stood stunned, not knowing what to do. To run up and help? To offer a hand? To wrap an arm around? To say something soothing? What does one do in an ordeal like this one?
Some writer I am. Nessy shook her head and sighed.
They walked across the slope to the dark edge of the woods where the cabin’s windows gleamed in two yellow dots. The snow stopped falling and it was very quiet, peaceful and still. Their steps crunched in the snow, and occasionally Vita would utter a low impatient whine, eager to get home as fast as possible.
I forgot to turn off the lights, thought Nessy. I rushed out so fast, I forgot to turn off the lights. At least it will give us direction. She glanced about uneasily.
The dusk thickened into irregular purplish shadows that made everything look sinister.
They were halfway there when Vita barked once and tore off. She stopped over a dark clump and nuzzled at it, rooting with her paws.
“Vita!” Nessy turned to Mitya. “Can you hold her up alone?”
Mitya understood by the urgency of her tone what she meant. “Yes.” He said, and added, “Go.”
“What is it?” Asked Olesya. She drifted in and out of delirium, moving her legs automatically, and had to squint to see.
Nessy was heaving something up from the snow.
Olesya’s eyes widened. “It’s Egor. Mitya, it’s Egor!”
By the time they waddled up to him, Nessy has produced a ring with keys and foisted it into Mitya’s hand. “Go,” she waved with her had toward the cabin that stood maybe about another quarter of a mile away. “Get your friend inside and come back to help me. He’s suffering from hypothermia,” her voice trembled, “last stages of it. There is not much we can do, I’m afraid.”
“What is she saying?” Asked Olesya, alternating glances at Mitya and Nessy. “What is she saying?”
“She’s saying...” began Mitya, and his hold of Olesya weakened. They kneeled to Egor. He was undressed, wearing only his red tights. The leotard, his jacket, and even shoes lay scattered in the snow. It appeared that he has stopped breathing. His handsome face was blue, his lips white and frosted.
Image by Kota Ezawa.