Do you remember me? I’m that insistent Italian from the plane to Cuba ?
You were the nicest person in the whole plane and I didn’t even take a picture of us together… I was about to kill myself after.
Still not sure… Did we really talk? Or was it just a dream?
How are you? How was the vacation?
I wouldn’t forget you even if I wanted: you were the only person I’ve talked to during those two days of travelling.
The holidays were wonderful and a bit crazy! I parascended… rose too high cause of my small weight and were hovering above the Caribbean sea! I was close to soil myself! I could never imagine landscape is so scenic if looking from the sky…”
She stopped for a moment. The reminiscences were still fresh.
A thin man fastens the belts on her waist, she thrusts her legs through the straps and a small rivet clicks. Two hooks are being joined to the parachute. Two tiny pegs. “What the fuck is that? They are not even soldered!”: a panic thought passes through her head… few metal things which she entrusted her life with.
“Go!”: shouts a lively Afro-American to the other and the cutter starts with a jerk. The cloth gets smoothed dramatically and next second her feet come off the board. The boat rushes again, up to the heaven the parachute soared. Higher and higher! Now the sea is far underneath. The flimsy construction is dangling in the air. The strap she is sitting on starts to shift. There is mere beauty around, but the girl sees nothing, but the hooks. Each of them is the same size as her little finger. They are the only things that attach her to the cloth. If one of them has a flaw, the girl will fall down, tumble against the water.
The steersman yells grinning: “Three hundred feet!”. Horror chilled her fragile body to the bone. She will plop down dead against the waters of the Caribbean sea, which’s been dreaming to see… She has always thought that death can be not only tragic, but also inimitable. For instance, if you have given the Q-sign because of liver inflammation after an unforgettable week in the capital of love Paris… Having visited the most fashionable restaurants and tried the best food, the famous pumpkin soup or scallops, and got pie-eyed with the best French vintage wine in Lido while enjoying international dances performed by absolutely beautiful women with resilient bare breasts and buttocks. This would be a perfect death, wouldn’t it?
She is trying to relax: “There is no sense in being shriveled with eyes screwed during the last minutes of my life. Since I’m here, I should open my shoulders out and revel in the moment”. The girl opens her eyes wide and looks into the distance. An imposing white castle reveals itself through the density of leafy trees and palms as if it were a prince’s palace. The endless sea changes its colour from turquoise by the shore to deep blue in the main sea.
The Afro-Americans release the blond down and seat her to the bench. Margot senses that her body is strongly trembling almost as if she was having an epileptic seizure. Her movements are nervous and inaccurate, but she is carrying it off, smiling. Two hours in a row.
Finding herself overland, with Shtirlez’s self-control she thanks the sailors and heads to the bar. The girl comes up to the boiler, hands shivering, hot water splashing over her legs. Mint tea doesn’t help.
– How’re you doin’, beautiful lady? – sings a merry afro-American guy in a deep voice.
– Can I have a shot of tequila and a piece of lime, please…
The man smiles broader, protruding his first finger in the sign of approval. They made a lot of use of the gestural language there, especially during the beautiful animation nights at the hotel bar: reggae, multinational audience, Caribbean breeze… On seeing you, the barman gives a signal. In a few minutes the same cocktail you’ve had last time is in front of you, on his clean-shaved brown head. The wind was oddly strong that evening. The refreshing breeze from the sea in heat was like a gulp of life. On coming back to Russia a week later, she learnt tsunami on Cuba had carried away about three hundred lives that night.
She’d made a cup of gentle Jamaican coffee and continued the letter.
“Besides, I flied the plane! Some Italian from the crew came up to me with the suggestion. I thought I had lost my reason after the eleven-hour flight. But the guy was so insistent…
An incredible feeling! I saw the Hawaii and the ocean! Waters by the islands are emerald green…
Another thing that struck me was the cheerful people’s spirits, unbroken by poverty. How can one smile so shiny living in such conditions, having the history like that… I admire them!
And, I guess, weed help ;)
How was your week on Cuba?
Oh, I’m so sorry: I haven’t hit on any marihuana field, so no photo for you”.
The Italian asked Margaret for the favour, while smacking the smell of an opened pack with few butts. After many hours without a single puff, all he could think of was tobacco, any kind of…
Now I know who to refer to if I’m in need of a pilot!
We had much fun and knocked about the island quite a bit: boundless beaches, cigars, seafood… For ten dollars any Cuban is ready to arrange a sumptuous feast for you in his own house! You are to choose the kind of fish, crab or whatever, and he catches it right away. His wife cooks the meal with spiceries and serve it to you with rum at the appointed hour. So at seven you are an honorable guest!”
“That kind of rambling around wouldn’t work if you’re a single young blond in the poor country populated with Afro-Americans”: she dropped her eyes.
“Buongiorno, amico mio!
Happy for your great vacation!
I know nothing about Italy, forgive me my ignorance. Would you mind educating me a bit? Do people live in blocks of flat or principally in detached houses? Where do you live?
Don’t worry – me too! You have to enlighten me about Russia.
I live close to Bologna, at the bottom of Apennines. It’s a quiet place, but “civilization” is close as well. Everything here is marked by history…
Now the answer to your question.
Depending on where you are: the north is more industrial than the south. Most people live in blocks of flats, but there is also a great deal of detached houses, especially in the suburbs. The situation is not the best: we are getting too many meanwhile the territory is rather small.
And now a surprise: I live under a bridge!”
Sipping fresh-ground coffee the girl was trying to fancy the place, but finally decided: “Seeing is believing! I will ask him to take a picture!” Curiosity engrossed Margaret for the following days of pending.
Her mail to him
“I like the surprise about the bridge, though that's not that unusual for people to live under bridges in my city too. The only thing would make me worry: aren't U afraid of floods?
And to live not far from a mountain range – seems a great deal exotic to me. Could you send me some photos?”
here are the pictures of the surroundings and the river not far from my house. The mountains are really close, I see them every morning driving to work.
Margo, I want to know more about you.
Do you have sisters or brothers, or are you an only child?”
Thanks for the beautiful photos! Wow! The Apennines are gorgeous!
Considering your question: there are no more kids in my family, only me. But I have a brother-in-law, my father’s son from the previous marriage. I hadn’t known about it for many years until I met him at a disco. We had a passionate attachment and then parents told us that we were brother and sister…
Everybody in my family had at least two marriages, and I’m not an exception ;) I have been married 3 times.
Do you have brothers or sisters?”
“I have a brother and numerous relatives, cousins and nephews… When all of them gather together at table on holidays it’s quite a crowd!
Sorry, I didn’t understand, may be because of my English… Have you been married or are you still married?”
Realizing that he was not indifferent to her, Greta grinned. That meant he was in the mood for serious relationship.
How is the weather there?
Wow, I’ve always dreamt of a huge family like yours! My great grandma had eleven children… We all used to gather together on Sundays, at a groaning board: all dishes piping hot. I loved her home-made bread the most! All the meals had a special taste ‘cause of being made in the furnace, stoked with wood.
When the great grandma died, everybody started quarrelling about inheritance and the family broke down.
No, I’m not married now”.
“But three times? When I saw you on the plane you seemed 23-25… Kids?
And the Pope?
Are you such a complicated girl?”
“Yes, though I’m so young, I’ve had much experience already.
It's not the same with marriage in Russia, as the Pope has no power here :)
No! I'm not complicated at all. I'm just stupid and a hopeless optimist. I blindly believe that every person rules his life and is really able to change it for the better, especially having enough support, no matter what kind of unpleasant things have happened to him. And I don't accept weakness of spirit. Of cause we all have chinks in our armours and let them be there until they don't ruin our lives.
For example, my first husband had midlife crisis(when he was only 30!And I was 18). I supported him in everything and things started going great with work, he became a politician and financial director of a large-scale construction firm and so on. But still couldn't give up drinking, smoking marihuana badly (he had started doing this stuff being depressed). I like to have fun too, but everything has it's borders. So, when he started running around the house with a long sabre catching green devils with long bushy tails…
It's my fault – I always consider people better than they really are. Besides I'm too kind and long to help people. I guess I should not, I have already tried to get rid of this pernicious quality, and have been cherishing that illusion, then I realized – that's next to impossible for me to become indifferent to people.
And my optimism makes me fight till the very end, never give up! I'm highly disappointed when people destroy their lives by their own hands, being immensely lazy to make a single effort to set things right. It's like a sniper shot right into my heart.
There is a fairy tale, you probably know, about 2 mice which got into a basket with milk. One of them sank because it didn't want to labor to save itself, didn't make a tiny movement by its paws. The other mouse, in the opposite, kept moving it's legs so fast, that the milk turned to sour cream and the mouse survived.
That all is a bit shocking for you, the fact is that I was obliged to leave home when I was 14, I had no choice. My adult life started early…
I hope I didn’t load you too much…”
She has never checked her mail so often before: ten times a day. Nothing from him. A month passed and no letters. She was getting sadder and sadder every day. «I’m too much for him… Too complicated… Men don’t like women with baggage of experience behind»: she was thinking pulling a huge suitcase into Moscow airport. She was going to PARIS! A capital of love! Everyone dreams to come there with someone he loves to feel the romanticism of the city. She will arrive in the illustrious city with the empty cindered heart from the previous marriage and frustration from the present affair that ended before getting started. But the girl chinned up: «Apart from work I’ll have as much fun as I can! Otherwise I’ll never forgive myself for sitting locked in the room because I hate all men and life in general, as my ex-husband is a lascivious jerk. Shivers went up and down her spine remembering his words…
She did have fun. First at duty free ”
A smiling Russian man, resembling more French than Russian in his manners and looks, was waiting for tourists by a small table, few minutes and they were going to the centre of Paris in a big comfy bus. Incredibly small streets astounded our girl: Margot was used to large wide spacious boulevards and streets in her own backyard, when you need eternity to cross the road dashing for the other side to feel safe and sound eventually!
The boutique hotel was small, but indisputably sumptuous. Her room was surprisingly huge and in red with gold coloures. The bathroom – rather large for one, with beautifully decorated with pictures of old Paris walls. After shower she looked into the mini-bar: orange press?e and vin de champagne looked tempting! «Why not? I’m in Paris!!! Besides, I’ve never tried a true Champaign, only those made in the terrible alcohol plants in Russia »: she thought opening the little bottle. Five minutes later she was standing in front of her boss smiling utterly happily, thinking: «God, how I worship my work! Thank you for that!!!», tears of happiness in the green today eyes, the champagne was working well.
The day was hard: apart from much interpreting there were quarrels with Chinese directors on the topic «which turn is correct and which is wrong», thus the investors were always late for the meetings, and thanks to their stubbornness, the working day finished later than expected – at ten in the evening. She rushed to the room, jumped in a shower, then put a brand new small black dress which opened nearly all of her back, and went downstairs. In the hall there were many photographers and film-stars: there was a week of Russian film those days. She enjoyed the view of fine dressed-up people and headed to the bar. It was crowded too: some French film was being shot there. Margo ordered some red wine and looking forward to tasting it, saw through the curtains a famous French actor who she had often seen in Hollywood films: a scene was being shot in the other posh-furnished room of the bar. Then she got involved into the wine, which was so fresh and fruity, that next five minutes the blonde was not aware what was happening around. On looking back she noticed that the filming had finished and the company of celebrated actors was sipping wine at the next table. Then the most handsome one stood up and headed towards our Margaret smiling:
– Good evening, – she answered coldly.
– Can I ask you a question? You look splendid… I concluded that you are Russian, am I right?”
– Spasibo, – she whispered as the barmen handed her another glass of wine.
The actor got madly excited hearing the word “po-russky” and was going to comment on it, but few fans approached with pictures and asked for his autograph.
–Can I ask you to join our company? Our work is finished for today and we’re relaxing… Everybody is impatient to get acquainted with you, – he said signing the pictures.
She looked at the table and a dark-haired beauty waved her smiling all over her face.
–No, thanks, – she stood up and disappeared before he could add anything else.
She rushed into her room and hid under a blanket, frustrated, with wet eyes: “Why can’t I socialize with a person, if he is a man?! And that was not supposed to be a date, just an invitation to a big company of outstanding individuals, where I could have much fun tonight… And I escaped as if a pervert was molesting me. The misfortune I had had with husbands seem to have affected me deeply… I was going to meet Luca… He would come all the way to Paris wishing to meet me and I would get frightened and escape next second like a horse hearing a gun shot! He’s not guilty of anything and doesn’t deserve a bad treat. I’m missing HIM so much. It’s incredible – to miss somebody, who I’ve seen only one time for few minutes on the plane. This must mean something. And he assures me he feels the same. But probably this Italian is just lying like everyone else. Like every man. He thinks: “I bet that could be an engrossing adventure!”, while I may fall in love… Or am I already there? No, I will not survive another derangement: my heart will not bear it. That arrhythmia was serious”. She remembered THAT DAY. Her heart stopped literally. It just gave up for few seconds, then three fast rapid beats and then a silence again. Few months like that. Exactly like her grandma’s brother had had, then’d died at the age of thirty one. “My emotions often brim over… This is no good. I treat men too serious… But what can I do to it? I’m a woman”.
Few days of meetings and luncheons at various restaurants with utterly delicious meals and snacks from boulangeries-p?tisseries , the whole group of colleagues realized you can’t possibly find a mediocre restaurant in France. Even a tiny caf? on the side-street would surprise you with a unique dainty.
Besides, the time before catholic Christmas Paris is peculiarly beautiful with its festive illumination and pretty silver fir trees at hotels.
At six in the morning nine men and Margot were standing at the railway station waiting for the train to Switzerland to arrive. Six hours later they were on the railway station platform in Geneva.
She saw internet caf? by the station and ran towards it.
–What are you doing, Margaret?!?! – her boss was mad.
At that point she saw stars, but managed the anger. This girl had been used to hold emotions since childhood, when it was a must in order to survive. Having paid the fee, she hurried to the computer in the far corner.
Eventually there was a mail from him!!!
«I start to be afraid of flood now… It’s been raining for 3 days already.
In spite of it the construction has still been proceeding and now a big part of the floor is finished!!
That's gripping what you said and I'm trying to imagine your expression when you’re thinking about these things…
In my opinion one is what he has lived, if it's clear what I mean, this is life and for what I’ve understood yours must have been quite advanced. Now I'm more curios than loaded so don't worry.
I meet a lot of people from all over the world for work, and I perceive sort of… "skin feeling". Most of the time that helps me a lot recognize who I have in front of me. On that plane I saw a very solar person that surprised me with her simplicity. For me the most important virtues are honesty and respect, rare things to find.
I've read your email more and more, and still thousands of questions may
appear but too many to be written or a multitude where just an expression
could answer better than hundreds of words. I’m really dreaming to meet you one day, a glass of good wine and a talk looking into your eyes. Do you think it could be possible?
I'm a very patient and quite person, not afraid to go ahead if I
really crave for something (I think the precise words are “as stubborn as a mule”?!?!?)
Normally, I do not have to ponder over it, it comes naturally: if
there is something that I do not like in a person, "distance" comes out
automatically. Considering how much I like talking with you (even if sometimes I will be
incomprehensible…) it shouldn't be your case…
Ps I’m quite old-fashioned and ask my friends to send me postcards from the countries where they travel. Could you do it too? »
The address was attached below.
She was reading it again and again, while the boss was standing behind the window waving impatiently his hand with a huge golden ring signing they had to hurry up. She nodded and went out. Boss asked something but the girl didn’t hear – her thoughts were too far. She bought a few postcards on the way, planning to ask a concierge to send them to Italy.
They went straight to the address where the first meeting was. Margot was destroyed from the trip, but three cups of coffee recharged the brain. Meetings were non-stop all day. The interpreter’s tongue seemed not hers anymore. But every business partner seeing the blonde tried to speak up more than necessary trying to socialize and spend some more time beside the beauty. She was going to burst, but didn’t, trying to remember how much she is paid and other bright sides of the job.
Geneva was beautiful: a huge lake in the middle and fine architecture with old buildings and monuments, a chain of restaurants on the shore, and a great deal of bazaar-shops and expensive jewelry stores with rings and necklaces of all possible kinds and coloures of brilliants and other valuable stones, shining under the sun beams.
Hanging around, she bought a red scarf and picked up the most fashionable restaurant: “I definitely deserve it!”.
Snowy-white tablecloth, Pinot Noir , an amazing view of the lake from the panoramic window, palatable food. “I love Switzerland!”: the blonde felt on top of the world, roaming about sun lighted streets in her favorite red leather jacket.