|Story One, Part 2:
Sveta Rychkova, a Russian nurse
There was a bottle of vodka behind the two volumes of Lenin on the bookshelf, beside the flowers was another and a third was beneath the toilet paper in the bathroom. Sveta was sure that there were more in the bedroom but she never dared look. Her mother had a problem with alcohol and her memories were filled with phone calls from her father saying he would not be home that night.
Sveta would come home from school, the same school her alcoholic mother taught at, and prepare dinner for Margarita, her younger sister. At some point, their mother would fall through the front door and sit in the small sitting room watching television. When her father would not come home, her mother would remove one of the bottles from its secret hiding place and begin to search for the bottom.
Their mother would walk on them in the kitchen some nights, while Sveta helped her sister with her homework, “Mother, Sveta is so good at mathematics,” beamed Margarita, but her mother’s palm would strike her face before she could finish her sentence. Her fingers would catch the side of the ear and the long nails scratched the young skin. “No, mother, she didn’t do anything!” Sveta would cry running across the room.
She was fast; she had learnt to be fast when protecting her sister. Her mother had removed the thin brown leather belt from her trousers and was raising her arm in the air, but Sveta had managed to cover her sister and took the punishment from their incensed mother. The belt whipped her neck and bit her back; strangely, there was never any pain during the actual beating, although it certainly came later.
Sveta gingerly touched her neck clearly remembering the pain from her childhood and felt the tears in her eyes. She dug in her coat pocket for a tissue when she suddenly felt a small object within the depths of her pocket. She had finally found it, she pulled the pill out and dry swallowed it, something that she had learnt after a few years of practice and necessity. One moment nine-year-old Margarita was crying and then she was gone, replaced by rain and a man in a brown coat some thirty metres in front of her standing at the bus stop.
She slowed down; she didn’t him to feel as though he was being followed when she noticed a dark blue taxi approach from the other side of the street. Something about the taxi was out of place, perhaps it was because it was blue and not yellow like in all the movies, but then she saw the taxi driver was dark skinned. At first, she thought the windows were tinted, but the driver was definitely black.
Back home in Leningrad, she could never think of it as Saint Petersburg, there were some students from Nigeria and Uganda but she rarely met them. They were usually around the library and the Nevsky Prospect, plus a few of the cafes where the students hung out. She was ashamed to admit it but she was scared, even terrified, of black men ever since she was convinced that a black man would kill her one day. She had seen her killer’s face clearly in a dream one night, the details in his face, his lips, his facial hair and even the lines under his eyes.
The taxi was moving closer and closer to her, she could feel her heart thumping in her chest and a chill spread across her body. What was she doing? Why would this black taxi driver want to kill her? She was going insane; the exhaustion of a full night of patients acting like children, screaming, wetting the bed and another always trying to put his hand up her skirt was taking its toll. She didn’t know why she had agreed to the director’s request. The man in the brown coat was not even his patient any more and she didn’t owe the doctor any favours, why didn’t she just go home?
She stood a few metres away from Mr. Brown Coat at the bus stop at nervously played with the strap of her handbag. The driver was definitely looking at her, it could be him, but from this distance and in the rain she could not be sure. Her fingers were moving towards the blister pack of tablets in her bag, but she knew she had to ration them until she could restock on tonight’s shift. How could the pill be wearing off already?
Through the car’s front windshield, she could see his eyes calculating how he was going to kill her. Maybe the taxi would suddenly speed up in the last metres and hit her. He would then throw the car into reverse and go over her once more, until nobody would recognize her body or her Russian round face. She would have to think quickly to outsmart the man who was now smiling at her with his thick killer lips.
At that moment, the bus to the city centre growled round the corner and stopped. Mr Brown Coat climbed on board and Sveta realised this was her chance to escape her killer. She rationed that it was better to take the wrong bus than be killed, so she followed the man on board and took a seat opposite him. After her near-death experience, she permitted herself another tablet. She closed her eyes and began to relax; it was only a twenty-minute ride to the centre.
Read the other chapters
<--Previous 1 2 3 4 5 Next-->