Heart of the Sunrise Ch. 05byAdrian Leverkuhn©
The twins came two years later, deep in the night of the seventh day of the seventh month. The midwife spoke softly of how gently the first had come, and how harshly the second; all Anna Podgolskiv could think about was her husband, and what had taken him from this moment. What was love that it could be so easily sundered?
A bureaucrat from the city, some man named Karnivicious, had -- they were told by a friendly neighbor -- been asking questions about Tomas -- where had he come from, what had he done during the war? Tomas simply left the next day. Three men in a worn black ZIS sedan came by and he left with them. No word of explanation, no threats or packed bags, just here one minute and gone the next.
Her first impulse had been to withdraw inside herself -- as she had in Buchenwald -- but there hadn't been anything sinister about the men at all; they had in fact seemed outwardly friendly to Tomas, indeed, almost protective of him. The helpful neighbor returned a few days later and told her that Tomas had gone with a man named Sasha, and that he was safe.
Safe from what?
She received a letter from Tomas in late July, from where she did not know and he would not say, and while he said only that he was working his words were hollow, almost meaningless except in their capacity to hurt and confuse. Neighbors, meanwhile, helped with the harvest, helped with the boys, and slowly Anna began to reorder her life around the two little boys. Slowly she began reorder her life as a single parent...
...When one day in October she received a letter from Tomas telling her people would be coming from Leningrad to bring her and the boys north to a new home.
The next day she met Sasha Levine for the first time, and her life would never be the same.
Waves lapped against the hull, a cool breeze whistled through the rigging, and Leonard Berensen stepped down into his Zodiac and started the little outboard motor. He checked the fuel in the little red tank out of habit then cast off the line and pushed the inflatable off before he slipped the transmission into forward and twisted the throttle; even though the village was little more than a few hundred yards away he hated rowing with a passion and almost always used the little motor. Today he was dressed a little more formally than usual, which meant he had put on khaki trousers instead of his habitual khaki shorts, and it just wouldn't do to arrive at the hotel in a sweaty mess. It was a bit of walk as it was, and a steep one at that.
He could make out the 1300 hydrofoil coming in, but its speed seemed a little fast, then he saw an ambulance waiting on the quay and the first flutters of an uneasy afternoon settled in his gut.
Had something happened to Misha?
He rolled on more throttle and the little grey bow lifted as the Zodiac lifted up on a gentle plane. The wind in his face picked up, a wave slapped under the bow and a fine wash of spray rose and settled on his shoulders, and the feeling of injury grew overpowering with each new thought.
The hydrofoil drew up alongside and Berensen could see people clustered on the aft deck, some kneeling, some pointing and shaking their head, but he couldn't make out anyone directly. Carabinieri were walking impatiently along the pier, medics in orange jackets stood beside the men who would handle lines as the boat docked. There was an air of professional detachment about the men milling around up there that told Berensen someone was in serious trouble, and they studiously ignored him while he maneuvered around the quay and tied off to a barnacle encrusted pier. When the hydrofoil docked medics ran onboard and Berensen climbed out of the Zodiac and walked down the old stone quay. He saw Misha first, Misha and two women who looked like zombies from a bad 50s B-movie.
He stood back from the crush until medics walked off with a covered body on an old rolling gurney; subdued passengers followed under a wan afternoon sun and walked over to hotel vans and scooters like a small herd of cattle being ushered into a slaughterhouse. Death had come stalking and everyone apparently felt anxious relief at having been spared on this day. Berensen felt his own brand of relief as he watched his brother trundle down the gangplank and clumsily look after the body on the gurney.
"Misha! Here!" Lev Podgolskiv called to his brother, and the Zombies and two others turned toward his voice when Misha mouthed his usual insecure greeting. The group walked his way, and he could see sadness in his brother's eyes.
'How little things change,' Lev said to himself -- but his eyes were immediately drawn to the women by his brother's side.
'The eyes,' he said inwardly, 'there's something in the eyes...'
He watched as they came closer, then a shadow passed through his body as a cloud might when passing in front of the sun.
"This can not be," Lev Podgolskiv said.
"But it is," his brother said. "Unmistakable, isn't it?"
And indeed it was.
Lev looked into the women's eyes, from one to the other and back again.
At first he thought he was looking into the eyes of Valentina and Sara Lenova, then it was as if the very earth sighed - and he found he was looking into what he thought was his mother's until he recognized those familiar, adoring eyes. He turned and looked at the gurney again.
"Oh God, no. God, no." He turned to look at Misha, hate searching in his soul.
"Lev, we must go. We have to talk."
He looked at the other two people standing beside Misha -- at two impossibly young kids, one with a stethoscope dangling from a pocket inside his jacket, the other with eyes so full of questions he wanted to comfort her, to hold and protect her. He saw her looking at one of the zombie-women, then at Misha. Then she turned and looked at him, and something in the way she looked at him told him that everything was going to work out as it should.
He smiled at her, and she smiled back, her eyes full of understanding.