Immortality  
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Father took ill suddenly. He was put in intensive care. The attending doctor refused to let Lida visit him, however she continued to insist, cried, pushed the money envelope. The day before her father's illness they had absurdly quarreled. Lida had planned to go and work abroad for three years, but her father objected: you leave the homeland, the family to go after fashion? What benefits can make up for the loneliness and the loss of one’s self?

On the eighth of March the control of hospital management weakened. Finally accepting the envelope, the doctor dressed Lida in the medical staff uniform, and led her to the her father’s cubicle. Walking down the corridor Lida imagined how he would be happy to know that she had postponed the trip. After all Lida was a good daughter: she blew off an opportunity to make a quick career so as not to disappoint her family.

In the unreally white space four were lying - three men and a woman. Their naked bodies under the sheets thrown over them, seemed almost sexless; bloodless faces with closed, inward-looking eyes looked deprived of age and detached from the Earth. «Cold marble statues», - Lida shivered.

- We have got through the inflammation of the lungs - the doctor said, leading her to the motionless body of her father. – Were it not for the state of his brain...

Lida took her father's hand and felt it shivering.

- Is father cold? - she asked.

- It is always very warm here, - the doctor looked at her, surprised.

The prepared words froze on her lips, not finding their way. Lida bent over her father and tried hard to smell, but couldn’t sense anything. Then she pressed her lips to his shaved thin cheek and couldn’t sense the flavour of human skin. She stroked his thinning hair - the sense of touch couldn’t recognize the living elasticity. Father did not belong to his daughter anymore, he was leaving. Lida cried soundlessly, venerated as to a shrine to his once powerful chest and whispered, «I’m an ordinary fool ... Forgive me!».

 

Not far from father’s grave there lived a little silver-gray squirrel, Lida always left nuts for her on the gravestone. Either owing to the squirrel’s tail cheerful flashing in the branches of birch trees, or with the the clean air, nontypical for the city, there came the strength somehow to breathe deeply and even enjoy the beauty of this sorrowful place. Formerly, Lida and her father used to hide from the bustle in the wood, where they made themselves comfortable under an oak, talked or kept silence...

What if? Lida imagined that her father was next to her and started telling him about the present day.

- Mom has high blood pressure, but she's okay, she gets by... Lenka graduated from the university, and now works in a respectable agency... I’ll probably get married soon... Dad, if you didn’t turn sick then I would have left... Did you do it on purpose, to stop me?..

A tailed fluffy little cloud flew down from a tree in a whirlwind and landed next to her feet. Astonished Lida took the nuts out, squatted down and held them out on her palm. The squirrel lingered, playing with her agile, mercury ball-like eyes and then buried it’s wet nose between the girls fingers, grabbed the nut, and the last she saw of it. The trace of the familiar gentle touch stayed in her hand. It was like her father sending love to Lida from afar: as usual, putting her little palm in his large one, and it felt so safe and easy…

Lida was watching the squirrel go and smiling, that moment she was sure: death does not exist…

 

 

Translated by Nadezda and Nikita Zayko

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