Chapter 041

In the middle of the week, a car arrived from another city, brought the goods, and was loaded with ours. The three of us were sitting in the office when there was a knock at the door around four o’clock in the evening.

“Yes!” Sergey shouted from behind the desk, and the door opened.

“Hello, I’ve loaded up, the guy in the warehouse said the documents were in the office!” A big man walked confidently into the room, bringing with him the smell of diesel and tobacco.

I sat by the door with my legs crossed like Sergey. He sat relaxed in the chair. The appearance of the driver didn’t move any of us. Only Vera jumped up, grabbed the prepared waybills and began to look through them.

“Seryozha, you must stamp and sign!” she said, handing the documents to her husband. He reluctantly leaned forward, put his elbows on the table, took the stamp, sluggishly tapped it twice on the papers, and handed the documents to the driver.

“No signature,” I mentally noted for some reason. “I wonder if he hasn’t signed papers before. I think he has… Or not always…?”

“And put your signature on it,” the driver said in an unquestioning tone.

“Well done, this driver,” I remarked again, grinning to myself, and fixed my gaze on Sergey’s face. It immediately changed to one of displeasure and… and something else, barely perceptible, intertwined with the displeasure in his features. Without changing my posture, I continued to watch the events unfold. Sergey returned the waybills with a nervous movement of his hand, signed them with an ostentatiously careless stroke, and irritably pushed the waybills across the table toward the driver.

“Now that’s more like it!” the man said, looked at Sergey, said goodbye and left.

I replayed the scene in my mind. The doubts were almost completely gone – I gave 99.9% that the driver had the length of Sergey’s foot. About what? What my brain had unconsciously suspected my partner of doing, and what I had just realized – Sergey didn’t want to sign those waybills on purpose. Hmm? I wondered. Why? I realized that this barter transaction was bypassing the tax office – it turned out that my partner didn’t want to expose himself with his signature. It looked unconvincing. “After all, the company won’t get away with its tricks in a tax audit anyway. Strange.” I thought and searched my memory for similar cases.


On November 9, Sergey returned to the office at two o’clock in the afternoon.

“Roman, have you already paid for the apartment or not?” he asked, catching his breath and finishing dictating to his wife the amounts he had received from a few wholesalers.

I said there were only seven meters left. Sergey offered to split the available cash and I agreed. We paid ourselves another “bonus” and left work at five o’clock. Half an hour later I was in the office of the construction company and paid the last amount for the apartment. The accountant issued the most important document – the deed of full payment for the apartment. I did not walk home, but floated. The feeling that some inexplicable miracle was still happening to me never left me. Like a blind kitten, relying only on my intuition and listening to it in every possible way, I took a risk – I put all my father’s and my six years’ earnings into the joint construction, and the risk turned out to be a huge success. I ran home and immediately told my father the news. He mumbled, “Well, good,” and went out on the balcony to smoke. My mother, hearing the sounds of my appearance, slipped out of her room and appeared in the kitchen. I was sitting at the table eating dinner. It was shameful and frightening to look at my mother. Her appearance was very deteriorated, as if she had aged ten years and looked sixty. Being in a constant state of aggression and depression was doing its job – my mother was fading by the minute. Her half-gray hair had grown below her shoulders and looked weird compared to her usual short haircut. Her skin had become flabby and pale from lack of sunlight. Deep lines had formed on her cheeks, accentuating the pasty laxity of her skin. My mother was dressed carelessly, letting herself go, as happens to people who have lost touch with the world around them. Her eyes told the same story, empty, lifeless, full of pain. They were getting glassier and dimmer every day. More and more often, I chased away the bad thoughts that entered my mind. “My mother won’t last long,” I thought, shuddering at the realization. And that’s why I couldn’t look into those eyes – I felt helpless. All my tentative attempts to contact my mother were met with a barrage of aggression and profanity. Every curse imaginable in the context of our family was heaped on my head – in my mother’s eyes, I was my father’s lackey, a daddy’s boy who had joined a stronger parent for his own good, and a coward who had left my mother to die. My compassion for my mother and my desire to help her were swept away by her aggression, making room for counter-anger and hatred. It was an absolute dead end. After several attempts to get along with my mother and somehow bring her back to normal, I realized one thing: I should leave her alone and hope for the best. In the few hours I would spend at home, my father would also take the brunt of it. My mother would call him a bastard, a miser, an asshole, and a coward. My father would tolerate the attacks in silence, sometimes smiling back at her, which would drive my mother into a frenzy in no time. Sometimes my father could not stand it and would respond verbally, as if to add fuel to the fire of my mother’s anger, which would immediately flare up and the verbal abuse would pour down on my father’s head with even greater fury. Anyone in their right mind could see that my mother had mental problems.

“So that’s it, huh? You paid for your apartment?” my mother said aggressively as she walked in.

“Yes, that’s it, paid in full…” I said, waiting for the attacks to start.

“Now you’re finally going to move into your apartment and live there,” my mother said, pouring a spoonful of coffee into a cup that hadn’t been washed in a few weeks and was therefore covered in sticky coffee stains.

“I’m going to live there,” I said in a deliberately neutral tone, knowing from experience how sensitive my mother was to any other tone.

“Good for you, you don’t want to be a burden on your parents! Move in, get married, just leave me alone!” she said with a familiar emotion that usually followed a breakdown into screaming and hysteria.

“I’m not really bothering you…” I said carefully.

“Of course not…” My mother poured boiling water into the cup and began to stir the drink with a spoon. “Neither you nor your father! It’s a good thing you two are against mother, huh!?”

The hysterical tirade had begun. I prepared myself to endure it.

“No one is doing anything against you, Mom,” I said, trying not to meet my mother’s sizzling glare of anger.

“Of course you’re not! You’re just waiting… you and your favorite daddy for me to die! Take that!! You see that??” My mother flipped me the middle finger. “Like hell I’m dropping dead!! Got it, you!?”

I was silent. After standing like that for a few seconds, rocking from side to side, whether from tension or weakness, my mother turned and wandered into her room. My appetite was gone. I picked at my plate with my fork and thought that if there was a hell on earth, it was in our apartment. And somewhere in the distance, a year for me, flickered a little spark of light – my apartment. “Wait a year and that’s it,” I thought, “get the apartment, make repairs, move in and forget everything. And then, you’ll see, everything will be better.” And I thought that my mother and father would no longer get along, that they should separate, all of us should separate, and then life itself would decide how the family would continue. As if to save my peace of mind, I drew a happy picture of the future in my head – me and Natasha, living happily in my apartment, and only good things ahead. I looked at my watch – it was time to meet her after work. I put on my jacket and left the house.

At half past nine I entered the pavilion. When Natasha saw me, she smiled at me, and I immediately felt that the problems in our relationship had returned to my soul.

“That’s it, today I gave the last money for the apartment,” I shared my joy.

“Really?? That’s it?? Now the apartment is yours??” Natasha smiled her gorgeous smile enthusiastically and when I nodded affirmatively, she clapped her hands. “Yay!”

We hugged. I smiled, but an alarm went off inside me – I looked into Natasha’s eyes and she kept hiding them from me. I sat down on a chair and was glad for the moment of respite – Natasha had to get ready for closing and she was back to work. I sank into my thoughts, occasionally exchanging short sentences with the girl.

“I think our relationship is a bit stagnant,” Natasha said, standing next to me and resting her knee on a nearby chair. I snapped out of my reverie.

“You think so?” I looked at her and realized that I thought so, too.

“Yes, we’ve been seeing less of each other lately…” Natasha added in a calm tone and immediately got distracted by something at work. I was left alone on a chair in the corner of the pavilion. I had a lot to think about. Our relationship was indeed stuck at the point of indifference. I chased the most obvious thought away, but it kept sticking in my brain – we’d both grown cold to each other, never to be rekindled.

“You know, I was thinking…” I began, clinging to the relationship. “I know it’s a long wait for the apartment to be ready, another year, then renovations… Anyway… I thought we could rent an apartment and start living together. We could live in a rented apartment for a year and then move into mine…”

I said the sentence with some difficulty, but firmly, because I had made up my mind.

“No, I don’t think that would solve anything,” Natasha said calmly, shaking her head and starting to wrinkle the back of the chair with her fingers.

It was like a cold snap. I realized that Natasha and I had chosen diametrically different ways to overcome the stagnation in our relationship. And I was immediately relieved. It was as if something imposed and written down in the important had suddenly fallen away for simple uselessness.

“Well… if you think so, then let it be as it is…” I forced myself to say, looked at Natasha and smiled. “I’ll wait for you outside… get some air…”

The girl nodded sullenly and hurried back to her work. I stepped outside. The cool air blew across my face, making me shiver and shove my hands into my jeans pockets. I tucked my head into my collar and began to measure my steps on the crooked sidewalk tiles. “Maybe it’s for the best,” I thought, “it didn’t work out again… the relationship has withered… and strangely enough, I don’t want to fight for it… besides, what’s the point of fighting alone? It’s time to end this idiocy… strange… but what’s strange? Neither I nor she loved each other in the first place… I don’t know what I was expecting…”

The door to the pavilion swung open. Natasha and another girl stepped out and closed the pavilion. The shutters of the door crept down. Natasha stood under them and looked at me, I at her. The buzzing stopped, Natasha turned the key, took it out, said goodbye to her colleague, walked over to me and said: “I’m done.”

“Good,” I smiled. “Are you working tomorrow?”

“Yes, I’m working tomorrow too,” she said, shivering from the fall chill.

“And the next day, Saturday?” I said, realizing that we just needed to formalize the outcome of the relationship somehow, like an honest conversation. I didn’t want to do it like that… at the bus stop.

“Saturday is a day off…”

“So I’ll see you Saturday night? I’ll call you after lunch…” I said, grinning and carefully lifting Natasha’s coat collar.

“Okay, call me…”

The bus arrived on time, so we did not have to think of unnecessary words. We said goodbye, Natasha got on the bus, and I, raising my collar and putting my hands in my jeans, walked around the back of the bus and crossed to the other side of the street without looking back. At home I opened my day planner and wrote: “09.11.06 111.720 7m2 60.89m2“. I underlined all the lines and wrote “Total: 885284”. I closed the planner, went to bed and started thinking about the day when the idea of buying an apartment came to my mind. I remembered my feelings and, already sinking into sleep, came to the answer – something inside me, strong and significant, made this decision for me, and I, only blindly and trustingly obeying this impulse, did not fail. I carefully remembered the feelings of that moment, so as not to miss them again, and fell asleep.


On Saturday, I met Natasha at the center around six in the evening. The darkness of the night was quickly extinguishing the fading daylight. Natasha’s guilty look spoke for itself; I didn’t want to know the details.

“What are we going to do now?” I asked, sitting at a table across from Natasha in a cafe. “Our relationship is really stuck… and… it seems to me… we are both okay with it…”

Natasha was silent, occasionally sipping a milkshake through a straw. I took two, one for me and one for her; I drank mine almost immediately, automatically stirring the rest with the straw just to keep my hands busy and fill Natasha’s silence. At first it seemed to me that she was being stubborn and hostile, but after the first quiet “yes,” I realized that she was confused and depressed.

“Yes? Yes what?” I asked quietly.

“We’re okay with it,” Natasha said, staring down at her feet and only shyly looking up at me.

“What are we going to do about it?” I said calmly.

“I don’t know…” she said quietly.

“Then who knows?” I said. “You don’t want to live together… I suggested. I don’t know any other way to improve our relationship. You work hard and until late, we live in different parts of the city, and this way we’ll live together, I think it’s better than the way it is now…”

“Yes…” Natasha said softly again.

“Yes what?”


“But you don’t want to…” I said without the slightest accusation in my voice.

“I don’t want to…”

“My point exactly…” I exhaled. It was clear. I didn’t want to suck the life out of the girl or myself. It was time to say the right thing and end it.

“So… are we done?” I looked at Natasha.

“Yes…” she said quietly and cried.

Please, no woman’s tears! I immediately felt guilty of all mortal sins. I imagined the picture from the outside – a big guy, almost one hundred kilograms, almost one meter ninety tall, with a stern expression on his face, and a fragile, delicate blonde, just over one meter sixty… crying softly. Who’s the asshole here?

“Natasha, why are you crying?” I said, the words caught in my throat, the sentence crumpled.

“I don’t know…” she whispered.

“Don’t cry…” I said, sighing heavily. “It’s going to be okay… It didn’t work out… it happens…”

Natasha wiped away her tears, reached into her purse and pulled out a cardboard box, handed it to me and said: “This is for you… Happy Birthday…”

I took it, opened it – a cheap brown wallet.

“About 300 rubles, bought on the run in a subway crossing,” flashed in my head.

“I didn’t congratulate you then, I didn’t give you a present…” Natasha shed another tear.

I was confused. A gift six months later? For what?

“Thank you, Natasha, I’m pleased…” I forced myself to say.

“Uh-huh…” She nodded, wiping away her tears.

I gathered all my undeveloped cynicism and pressed those crumbs into pity, preventing it from doing the stupid thing of prolonging a dying relationship. I’d made that mistake more than once, and only now did I have the willpower and intelligence not to make it again. It was the lack of love that saved me. “It’s better for both of us,” I decided.

Natasha stopped crying. We finished our cocktails and said goodbye in the cafe. No negativity, we parted quietly. I knew we’d meet again. I was the first to leave, and I walked briskly, wanting the physical distance between us to match the mental one. Like a year ago, I walked down the avenue on a similarly chilly late fall evening. At one point I came to the “Clear Skies” sign and stopped. I looked at the front door of the club across the street and thought that it was at this very spot a year ago that Natasha had walked by like a glimpse and I had given myself a chance at another try at a relationship. I suddenly laughed, the thought seemed like a subtle joke of life – a year ago I had hopelessly thought that I would never have a relationship with such a gorgeous girl, and they had started right away. And ironically, I was the one who ended it.

At home, I took the gift out of my jacket pocket, twirled it in my hands, went into my room, opened the drawer of my desk and froze. In the drawer was the black wallet, a gift from Rita. “Also bought on the run,” I thought. I was hurt. Rita, Natasha – that kind of “on the run” relationship. I threw the brown wallet in with the black one and went to bed.


The stupidest time in our area has arrived – late fall before the first snow. It’s a terribly depressing time. I found an effective remedy against the snowless darkness of November – exercise. I continued to go to the gym – three times a week I carried barbells and dumbbells, which affected my health and appearance. Sergey squinted at my bearish movements, and my jeans jacket became tight. Within a year, I had gone from being a boozer, a smoker, and a clubber to a well-fed, rosy-cheeked big guy who weighed almost a hundred kilos.

Vovka had been in paternal joy and care for a month – Lera had given birth to Romka in October. I was really happy for my friend. It was nice that Vovka had finally found his hearth after so many struggles. I began to think philosophically about relationships with women – the lack of one is compensated by another. And so it was – our business took off. Every month the profits were put into our pockets with “bonuses”. My future looked simple and pleasant – earn money in a year to renovate the apartment, do it, buy a car and drive to the new apartment in a new car. Wonderful! But I was more and more possessed by another thought – the same thought that had appeared in my consciousness with hundreds of visions during that painful night. And this thought was crushing the rudiments of material thought. I felt more and more strongly that what was happening to me was not the activity or the place where I would put down roots and begin to develop peace and family comfort. Something was pushing me forward from within. At night, when I fell asleep, I replayed these flashes over and over in my memory, trying to understand their meaning, trying to build a complete structure out of the fragments, but I was only partially successful. I realized that the meaning was in them, but I couldn’t grasp it yet. I trusted my intuition again. And all my thoughts began to flow in one direction. I felt that I wanted to grow as a person without wasting my energy in the comfort that was coming. And so I began to think about Moscow. The idea of moving was in my head. I turned it around in every possible way. “If I finish the apartment and sell it without repairs, I could buy a one-room apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. Shit… There’s still some of my father’s money there… Well, I’ll make a deal with him, the company will work, the income will be there… I’ll pay him off, that’s all… and when I move out, my father and Sergey will stay and continue to work – everything will be fine, everyone will be busy… I’ll put my share in my father’s name. I don’t think Seryoga will mind… After all, we started together… He doesn’t care whether it’s me or my father… Well, it’s just for future reference…”


On the afternoon of Saturday, November 25, I was sitting on the couch in my room, thinking, when my father appeared in the doorway. He stopped dead in his tracks, his shoulder resting on the doorjamb, his hands in the pockets of his sweatpants, staring at me.

“You know what I think?” I said, deciding to share my thoughts with my father.

“I don’t know…” He came into the room and sat down on a chair. “Tell me…”

“I was thinking, if I sell my apartment… now or when it’s finished in a year, I can buy a one-room apartment in Moscow on the outskirts or just outside the Moscow Ring Road… it’s about the same money… well, maybe I’ll have to add a little more! But just a little…” I said, getting more and more excited at the thought of moving.

My father was silent. His face seemed frozen, and not a muscle moved. My father sat still with his elbows on the arm of the chair next to me, staring at me unblinkingly, and finally said: “But my share of the money is in there…”

“Yeah, well, it’s not going anywhere… I’ll earn it and pay you back, that’s all…”

“How much are you going to pay me back?” my father had his eyes fixed on me.

“I don’t know…” I was confused and spread my hands helplessly. “Well… there are three hundred of yours… but the price has gone up… I don’t know how to determine the right amount…”

The delicate subject that Sergey had mentioned earlier had arrived – the moment of determining the amount of my debt to my father. For my brain, the situation was a stalemate. If I consider that my father lent me the money, then I had to pay him back only the original amount. If I consider that he bought a part of the apartment with his money, having invested it, then my debt had to be calculated according to the current cost of a square meter, then the amount of the debt became more than five hundred and fifty thousand rubles. In the first case I was stealing from my father, and in the second case I was putting the yoke of increased debt on myself. Since I could not find a solution, my morality was shimmering with tension. I realized that I should not harm my father’s interests. I was left with the second, financially worse option – to repay the debt at its current value. My sense of justice cried out – unfair! After all, my father and I did not negotiate the terms of his money – I simply offered to buy an apartment, and he agreed. But if I had to choose between causing damage to my father and burdening myself financially, I was beginning to lean toward the latter. I saw the damage to my father as using him. I don’t use people as a matter of principle. Especially my father, the closest person to me besides my mother. On the other hand, I realized that with the income from the company, I could pay off the almost doubled debt in a year. Or even faster. Everything became more or less clear in my head, I realized that I had no choice and I accepted it.

“But the apartment has gone up in price…” my father said insinuatingly.

“Yes, it has…” I nodded.

“So my share has gone up as well, right?” my father took the next step.

“Well… yes…” I said and tensed – my father’s tone hurt. I knew that unhurried, insinuating intonation well. It was the way you would drive a crook into a corner, cutting him off in his attempt to fool you.

“And if that’s the case, then give me back my share, and then sell the apartment and go wherever you want…” my father said, clenching his teeth so that his cheeks began to move, and his eyes became cold. That’s how you look at your enemy. I was hit by a wave of anger and negativity from my father.

“Wait a minute… are you saying that you think I can sell the apartment and go to Moscow with your money???” I grew wary and stared at my father.

“Well…” without looking away, he avoided a direct answer. “Just give me the money back, that’s all.”

“No, wait…” my suspicions grew stronger. “Let’s get to the bottom of this.”

My father didn’t say anything, so I started digging into the source of his words.

“I’m just sitting here thinking out loud in front of you and that’s all…” I smiled, a shiver running down my spine from the bad guesses. “Do you really think I can sell the apartment and steal your money?”

My father was silent, but he didn’t look at me as confidently as before – the hardness in his eyes turned to confusion. I pushed my father against the wall.

“If I wanted to do this, I wouldn’t be telling you this right now in front of you… I’d just do it. Do you realize that?” I continued to push, seething.

“I do,” my father replied dryly, still rigid. His eyes glowed with cold. I suddenly felt my father’s deep, hidden hatred. And it hit me. It had been there for a long time, and it came out clumsily and suddenly.

“Then why would you say something like that to me?” I swallowed, worried and feeling myself start to shake. “Why do you make it sound like I’m trying to trick you? Do you really think I’m capable of that? Take your money and run?”

My father was silent, but his features quivered with hesitation. I was more angry that my father thought I was dishonorable, and I decided to find out the truth of the matter once and for all.

“Do you really think I’m capable of deceiving you!?” I said louder.

My father was silent. He hesitated at a point that only he knew.

“I’m asking you – do you think I’m capable of THIS???” I pressed.

“Yes! I do!” my father retorted stiffly, coughing to hide his excitement.

Something inside me snapped. I froze, stunned. My brain was trying to adjust to a new reality in which my father suspected his son of being a potential thief.

“How could you do that!?” I almost shouted in bewilderment. “I didn’t do anything! How can you suspect a person of something he hasn’t done, and hasn’t even tried to do!? What makes you think that??? Have I ever stolen anything from anyone??? Have I ever stolen anything from you???”

My father remained silent, just stubbornly staring at me with a confused, unblinking stare.

“I’m asking you, have I ever stolen anything from you???” I began to shake harder. “Anything??? Even a penny???”

“No,” my father swallowed loudly.

“And if I haven’t, what makes you think I will!? What makes you think that!? Tell me! Where did you get that idea???” I was shaking.

My father was silent. I felt emotionally drained all at once, and I felt a rapidly growing emptiness, indifference, and frustration. These feelings were accompanied by abhorrence. I felt that something nasty and unpleasant had happened, something really bad. I was shaking and everything inside me was falling apart.

“How could you think such a thing?” I said tiredly, staring into my father’s vacant eyes with growing disgust. His gaze was lifeless.

“Here’s the thing…” I gathered my thoughts and exhaled heavily. “Since you think so much of me, I’ll pay you back at the current apartment prices… I won’t be able to pay it all at once, I’ll gradually pay you as much as I can until I pay you back completely. And that’s it! We’ll have nothing more to do with each other! If you think I’m such a shit that I’m capable of stealing from my father, that’s your right! But I’m not. I’m telling you right now with my hand on my heart, I’ve never planned anything like this, and I’ve never even thought about it. It hurts me to hear my father say that. I had no idea that you could think that of me. I’ll pay you back and we’ll go our separate ways, deal?”

“Deal,” my father said dryly.

I stared at his face for a second, hoping for a flicker of regret or shame, an unspoken desire to turn around and take back what he’d said. No. Nothing. My father’s face remained lifeless and rigid. I realized that he didn’t regret his accusation against me. My father didn’t believe me.

“Deal,” my father slammed his palm down on the arm of the chair and stood up to his full height. “Well, I guess I misunderstood you.”

“Well, I guess I spat at you for nothing,” that’s how I heard the words of my father, without apology, remorse, or regret. I turned to the window. My father walked out.

My father’s accusation and the conversation was the turning point that changed our relationship forever. The fissure that had appeared only grew with time and affected it in the most fundamental way. In the days that followed, I thought about my father’s words almost around the clock – everything inside me was seething and resentful. I burned out within a month and only calmed down more or less by the end of the year. My work saved me; outside thoughts during working hours took a back seat and gave rest to my self-chastisement. I went over my behavior toward my father from every angle, as if under a microscope, trying to see any signs or actions that might have caused my father to have such an opinion of me. I found nothing. Nowhere and never had I given him any reason to doubt my honesty. Yes, we often argued and even fought about things. But there was never a single disagreement between us about money. Before I bought the apartment, my father was in charge of all the money, I kept my half in my father’s bank account, and I didn’t even think it was in danger. Why would my father think that his money was in danger? If he was so worried about it, he could have registered his share of the apartment. It was possible. Why didn’t my father do it? We would have avoided such a terrible fight. There was nothing to do now. It was all nonsense – searching for answers to obscure questions, self-chastisement and self-abuse. Ask anyone – would your father call you a future thief, without any fact of your past, just on speculation? Many will not even like the question. The bond between father and son, son and mother, are the two pillars on which the future of the entire lineage rests. My father, with his usual rigor, cut down one of them. The other one was destroyed by the mother.

I spent the last days of November brooding. The jumble of thoughts and nervousness caused stomach pains again, and the pains made me even more nervous. The vicious circle was restored, which I tried to loosen with alcohol by visiting “Clear Skies”. There was nothing to do there, so I left the club an hour before midnight and went to the hotel. In the first shared taxi I sat down on the only free seat at the door with my back to the driver and went home. Red light, stop. Green light, go. We went through a big intersection and then slowed down in front of a bus stop. It was occupied – the shared taxis and buses ahead had not yet left. We waited. There was a lot of space between the sidewalk and the “GAZelle” I was riding in – another one could easily fit, and it pulled up, trying to get to the stop first. Both “GAZelles”, standing almost level, mine a little ahead by one meter, froze, waiting for a free space. I turned my head to the left and took a look through the open window of the door in the direction of the competing taxi. My glance through the same open window penetrated into its cabin and fell on the two seats closest to the window. Natasha was sitting there with a young man. The girl was holding the guy’s hand, her face was happy. Natasha squeezed his hand the way you do when you like a guy – with affection. Our eyes met. I felt almost no prick of ego, I just nodded to Natasha, who nodded to me, confused. My “GAZelle” immediately darted forward, breaking our eye contact. My brain immediately registered the number of the shared taxi in the rear. “They go to my neighborhood too, so he lives near her store, probably went there to deposit money or buy something small… a lot of people go through there in a day… that’s where they met… she liked him and he started coming regularly…” I figured it out and didn’t develop the thought further, it was as clear as daylight. I smiled at the realization that everything in life is much simpler than you think. And once again, but already consciously, I confirmed the idea that whatever happens, happens for the best.

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