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Early morning. Cold air was sliding through the cracks of the window frame. I realized yesterday that today is my last day of life. It all started 2 years ago, when suffocating thoughts about my existence tormented me. «That’s all», — I thought. For me death has always been something bigger, purely intimate and great. That should have been the beginning of my end. I have never been afraid to open the door to the parallel of souls. I have never looked in advance for the reasons why I should say goodbye to this life. I just wanted eternity, without any motivation. Slowly getting out of bed, I reluctantly put on a long burgundy wrap and slowly went downstairs. Looking into the living room, I recollected yesterday’s tea party with my beloved. The empty service seemed so faded against the background of black velvet curtains. I knew that she was still sound asleep, and hurried to say goodbye to our house. I went to the veranda. The air instantly filled my lungs with the invigorating freshness of the morning. Ahead was a road stretching through the forest. I looked around our cozy nest for the last time and hurriedly disappeared into the shade of forest density. The path led to the river, and soon I was at the head of the river flow. I began to timidly enter the pond and felt like I was being pricked by its ice fetters. Having stopped, I frantically looked ahead. The whole body convulsively cramped and was pricked with fierce ruthlessness. There was too much of «me» inside me. Endless thoughts tormented my tired body and restless soul. I did not know how to cure myself of the crazy streams of words, conversations between me and my contradictory «me». Unconscious was everything that was the part of consciousness itself. All this was an absolutely unnecessary conversation with myself. No matter how hard I tried to resist it though, it overtook me with even greater force. I hastily tried to surrender to higher powers and not to think that the pain which I had experienced for many years could not be dulled even by the end of my life. Deliberate actions only encouraged me to leave forever. I was not afraid. And yet in my chest everything contracted. I was being consumed from within by a sense of shameful misconduct in front of my beloved. I imagined for a moment how hard she would take the loss, and it would be too difficult for her to cope with the painful state of grief. My beloved, do not blame yourself in guessing; my life has always belonged only to me, and you will forever remain the most important part of my lost existence. I ask you, I beg you, forgive me for these minutes of unbearable despair. I failed to find myself here. I could not understand the meaning of life in general. Though I realized one thing, that I experienced the deepest feelings only with you. I am still very attached to you: so much that I gasp from the pangs of jealousy and fear everything that surrounds us. I still breathe the sweet air of your love and endless numerous kisses. Eagerly absorbing you every minute spent together with you, I burnt, thrashed about in the agony of wild passion and shook in chill from your touch. Forgive me, my dear. Sorry for the fact that you have to experience the most difficult harmful torment, for your endless tears, your unanswered questions into the void. I cannot do otherwise. I have to… I went deeper into the river and, taking my last breath of life, went into the darkness forever.

Chapter one

One February winter evening I was going to take a walk before bedtime. It was surprisingly warm outside. Falling slowly the snowflakes melted, breaking on the coat. It was crowded and noisy in the street that led along the main road up. Someone was standing near the cinema in a hurry to catch the next blockbuster. Someone was hurrying to the nearest departing bus, and some people in a hurry were closing their own shop. Here an elderly couple, embracing, made their way into a cozy restaurant around the corner. Watching all this, I was filled with increasing sadness from the fact that they knew how to enjoy the instants, moments, things that surrounded them. They seemed to have such an eventful life that it made me even sadder. It’s a shame that I have been deprived of this ability to rejoice from birth. I realized that I have never had enough brightness in life. Childhood spent under the Christmas tree seemed very boring. Elderly neighbors came, my mother’s two half-sisters and an older brother who later died of skin cancer. We gathered at the festive table, eating too roasted calf meat, which always turned me off: in the future I completely gave up eating meat. We listened to tiresome classics, to the sounds of which guests sometimes told a couple of some hackneyed jokes of the last century or made hateful conversations about work, religion and economics. I remember how after any attempt to play with the local guys my parents gave me a lot of reasons that I shouldn’t even want to go out to them. «I will tell you what awaits you outside the damn perimeter of this house!» — once my father said loudly, as if setting an example to everyone else who was in the room, and that was my mother and my older worthless brother. — Behind these fucking doors is a real hell, where selfishness, cruelty, laziness and filth flourish. Your slobbering acquaintances, who strive to become your friends, simply «cheat» you with friendliness, and you will remember until the end of your days how they could so cleverly wash your still «unripe» brains and derive only their own benefit. And also, dear Victoria, they will erase all pure intentions in you and show the wrong side of this shitty world and its society, because they don’t understand the Bible.» Then mom engaged into conversation with her truthful remark: «Jesus will not leave us. He will protect our home and our family from this degrading humanity. It will protect us from evil, violence and filth.» I looked at my father and realized that perhaps everything that he was trying to convey to me was the real truth: after all, I am his daughter, his kindred blood, his child, who he carefully tries to protect from the bad. I did not correspond to the typical notions of a normal child, and subsequently a teenager, gradually turning into an adult girl. I was a very sentimental, unsociable, reserved girl who was never invited anywhere. Any party, school holidays, birthdays and dates passed me by: I was like an outcast of society. Frankly speaking, I did not have a feeling of regret. It always seemed to me that it was much more interesting to me to be alone, in all the plans of my meager existence. That’s how my life, unlike the rest, stopped already in early childhood. Mom always told me that I was special, not like everyone else. I took her words for a true compliment, for pleasant truth — as if Mother Teresa herself blessed me, and I felt special. And it began to manifest, but not with that imagination, not with those praises that my mother gave me so beautifully. I remember I was 14 … I clearly heard someone talking to me. Sometimes, too many whispers merged together, thereby scaring me even more. I frantically covered my ears with my hands and, swaying for a long time, reassured myself that this was a temporary phenomenon. Everything passes, and it will pass sooner or later. Most likely, I am temporarily ill with something, and recovery will follow, as is the case with almost everyone. A similar method of self-hypnosis brought me positive results, and something from the outside, not clear to my young logic, retreated, losing. Over time, this condition did not leave me, and I got used to it, coming at peace with the fact that it does not affect the general condition of the body, only at the psychological level. Yes, these are just memories brought to me by unpleasant bits from my past existence. Lost in my thoughts, I did not notice how I walked a whole mile and was very far away. I turned around to get back, but in a shorter way — to go through the central park. It became cooler, I felt a slight trembling and, cringing, hurried home. I loved my spacious apartment, which was located above the bakery.

In the morning in the air there was always a pleasant tasty aroma of a crispy freshly baked baguette. Sometimes I allowed myself a couple of croissants with Italian cheese, very rarely, say, once a month, because I was not a fan of food in general. Giving up heavy food allowed me to stay in great shape for many years. I remember my mother told me that I looked like a bony fish. At that moment, my father always laughed out loud and patted his ugly beer belly as a sign that «this» is the wealth of the growing body mass. Memory is like dust: some moments pass away from life, while others settle down to torment us. My parents were gone when I got a first job after graduating from university. I remember everything… There was a heavy shower; many people whom I had seen earlier and those whom I saw for the first time came to the funeral. A car accident took away two lives in a few seconds. Two lives of people whom I loved and hated. Since that time, even more emptiness has formed in me. I lost contact with people for many years. Rarely going out into the street, I indulged in reading and sleeping, sleeping and reading. An endless depression ensued, and without antidepressants I no longer imagined normal existence. My life was mostly wasted. I loved to do nothing and, dreaming, to plunge into such a trans — relaxed state of euphoria. Sometimes crazy ideas came to mind, and I began to transfer them to paper for drawing. Everything was too predictable. Black-and-white intricate drawings reflected my inner devastation and insanity. Books, perhaps, played a greater role in my life than my own existence. Classics did not inspire me and made the heart sick to death. I could never understand people who literally devour this same type fiction of the last century. Modern literature sometimes even made me angry. It happened that when I saw a too frank description between the lines, I became hardened against the author, seriously cursing him for the nudity presented to the reader in a vulgar way. Maybe my conservatism prevailed over me and didn’t want to accept the world in a different interpretation or I was too shy in such judgments and because of an awkward state I felt cornered in embarrassment, desperately resisting erotic openness.

* * *

Yes, I read modern books, but of a completely different format. Almost everything except those that go beyond the permissibility.

So, I inherited my 40 square meters from my parents. Taking it for granted, I took this living space, desperate to find myself and change my life at least here. There is so much interesting going on in this small town, the mere thought of saving myself in it made me wildly excited. I was an artist. My works were often bought in the street, and so I existed with my modest daily income from sales. Once, closer to spring, I met the half-sister of my dead mother in the street. Seeing me, she smiled, as if we were old friends or even more — like sisters. For some reason, I was absolutely not happy about this. A completely unfamiliar woman of old age came closer to hug, and said she was glad to see me after so many years of silence. After all, the last time I saw her was almost 20 years ago. How did she recognize me so easily? It even offended me: because with age I want to seem only older and, naturally, change for the better in appearance. But the childish naive face remained almost as untouched by time, only the corners of the eyes were slightly enveloped by a cobweb of barely emerging wrinkles. We got into a conversation and she invited me for dinner to her place. Without much hesitation, I agreed — why not? After all, I still suffer from complete everyday loneliness. Saying goodbye, I promised that I would be at the right time. It was a nice bonus to the end of the day. I had not felt such a surge of energy for quite some time.

And now I’m standing on the threshold of her house. Yes, her house. Mom’s half-sister named Beatrice once successfully married a general and grabbed a rather lion share of his money. Many years have passed since she became a widow, and now Beatrice lives for her pleasure. At least that was my first impression when I entered the house. A large living room, a kitchen with a helper and a second floor with 3 bedrooms reminded me of an old dream of my childhood. I always wanted to live in a big house with huge windows overlooking the garden, and have a couple of servants to fully confirm my status. My thoughts were cut short when I heard the doorbell. The maid opened the door and invited the guest into the house. It was a young girl of about twenty-three. She hurriedly crossed the threshold of the house and began to unfasten her puffer jacket. I sat down at the table, and Beatrice, greeting the stranger, invited her to join us.

The day was late in the evening. The helper lit beautiful nightlights, and everything around was flooded with a pleasant golden light. The fireplace, next to which a table stood, flared hotter and did not let us all freeze on this cold winter evening. The maid brought cream champignon soup and a light vegetable salad with a special cheese sauce. The helper also filled our glasses with red wine from the home cellar, where alcoholic drinks of successful brands were stored, which had a long aging time and fabulous prices. Beatrice introduced me to the guest. Her name was Clea. She cast a dazzling glance at me, and in return I modestly greeted her, saying my name. When we all raised our glasses for a good reception at Beatrice, I, having sipped a little of sweet drink, began to look more closely at a beautiful guest. I was seized by a fiery heat, and a shadow of embarrassment began to envelop me from head to toe when I saw a white T-shirt closely fit her small breasts and her brown hair fell straight onto her broad shoulder, barely touching the tips of a swollen nipple. The bends of her breasts, rising smoothly, loomed in outlines of elasticity and volume. She was wearing green jeans and a leather belt that went well with her coarse white boots. Her style was like a tomboy — a girl in a boy or vice versa. It looked very alluring and damn sexy. While evaluating reasoning about this stranger floated through my head, I suddenly caught her eye. She looked at me with deep green eyes like a swamp mud, which drowned my soul in embarrassment completely. I awkwardly began to eat salad and look at the paintings hanging in this wonderful house. Beatrice unexpectedly distracted me from the meal, switching from a lively conversation with Clea to my person. I chewed on the remnants of food and lowered my hands to my knees under the table so that it was not noticeable, that even without it I was already not at ease.

I got slightly frozen and felt goosebumps running faster and faster through open areas of my body from the enveloping cold. I knew how to instantly move away from situations like the one that happened in Beatrice’s house. For me this woman still remained an old mysterious, peculiar personality, absolutely nothing connected us. And even that small thread somewhere in the distant past, called kinship, did not awaken in me those tender family feelings that were to be expected. Just think how hard hearted I am… Or maybe I just belong to the type of people who are not going to agree with such «strange» ties and do not want to develop this chain of fake, made-up relationship further? After all, in fact, these people are strangers. It’s just that someone once decided that outside matchmaking or intercourse between two completely different people would lead to the proper prioritization, foundations of life and complete agreement of both parts, and cultivate the soil of other people who originally existed in these unrelated families. And, having initially agreed upon the firm foundations of this peculiar system, it will lead to the emergence of some new, not appropriate, but such a welcome cooperation between the two sides. Here my thoughts switched to Clea.

For some reason, today’s guest rose my interest, although I had no idea why she was wandering in my head. She was a very beautiful girl. It seems to me that she has a bunch of friends, good friends and guys going crazy with her charm. I think the girls enviously admire her and want to be like her. There is definitely something in her: Lord God himself or the Evil One endowed her with incredible charisma intertwined with brutal sexuality. I did not understand where the desire to become at least a little closer to a girl like her was born in me. After all, I have not yet known men and especially women. Being in love or fornication with someone of this gender or having obscene relationships was a crime, but for some reason I was drawn just to her…

Heavy snow flakes showered, interspersed with rain, and I began to slowly get wet in last year’s light coat and five-year-old boots. Puddles covered the road at an incredible speed and turned into a slush that seeped through a thin layer of shoes, and my boots gradually began to make squelching sounds. Although my apartment was not far away, I realized that I would frostbite all my fingers, before I could get to my warm corner.

— Wait a minute, Victoria, — I heard somewhere behind me, but for some reason I thought that the rising evening wind was already beginning to drive me crazy from the frozen, chilled state. — Victoria, wait a minute…

And then I felt like I tripped out. Suddenly stopping, I turned back to make sure that I had not completely lost my sanity. Although my oddities had a bad tendency to appear not where they should, and not at that time at all. A pile of my black wet hair blocked my eyes. Through a half-open dry mouth I eagerly absorbed the February air. Squinting through the winter rain, I saw Clea. For some reason, I immediately wanted to call her that, I thought that a long name somehow obscures her. Her real Clea. She, being out of breath, splashed out of herself: «Hello!» — and offered to get into her car. She explained that Beatrice was very worried when she saw that the weather had deteriorated badly and that I was not wearing nice, warm clothes that were appropriate for such weather. I did not expect such generosity from a stranger, I mean manifestation of such manners, and gladly accepted the invitation of Clea: after all, at that moment I was already vaguely thinking, turning into a small cold piece of ice, which melted and again froze from the stream of howling wind. Clea opened the door of her car and further, following all the noble rules of etiquette, bypassing the car on the other side, hurriedly got into an old pickup truck. She began briskly rubbing her palms against each other, thereby sending a stream of heat to her hands.

— Are you cold? I’ll turn on the heater now, however, it will spin up no earlier than in half an hour. Well, I have such an old clunker.

I smiled back and put my hands closer to the car heater. Hands felt a slight chill which became warmer and warmer with every minute.

— Where should I take you, Vika? Can I just call you Vi? I think it’s time for us to get to know each other better. What do you think about this? Sorry that I didn’t enter into a conversation with you at once, I just had no idea how to attract a girl like you from the beginning.

And she took a cigarette out of her pocket and lit it. Smoke abruptly filled the room of the leather interior, and I began to cough uncontrollably.

— Oh, sorry! I did not know that you do not smoke. It’s just that now many girls do… Okay, let’s not talk about that. Just sorry.

Clea actively began to twist the handle which was responsible for the window opening system. Emboldened, I said with curiosity:

— What kind of girl am I? It seems to me that there is nothing so remarkable in me that it would be so difficult to win me over.

Waiting for an early reply, I looked at her intently. When our eyes crossed, the cigarette in her teeth was emitting much fumes. Clea, calmly examining all of me, raised her hand and put a cigarette between her fingers. Then, after a little reflection, she slowly said:

— I just liked you very much… I like mysterious girls with mysterious life circumstances and insanely pleasant facial features. Sometimes I start to get lost and cannot show full interest in a person due to uncertainty.

Biting her lip for a moment, Clea brought the cigarette back to her mouth. Her gaze stupefied and painfully intoxicated me. My body and mind refused to resist this vicious person. I knew that this was a kind of trap where a huge, thirsty for blood and meat spider weaves webs to lure such pure and uninformed shy people like me. Eagerly enjoying and reveling in filth and lust, he leaves them alone beating in convulsions of voluptuous torment.

— You asked where I live… My house is in Stanford Street, next to the bakery at the corner. Do you know where it is?

Clea shook her head, put out the cigarette and turned the ignition key. The car rattled and, swaying, gently set off. After driving a couple of meters, the engine died. Clea tried to start the car again, but the car, barely starting up, died irrevocably. She got out of the pickup and opened the hood. After a few minutes of inspection my new acquaintance sat next to me again and made a new attempt to start the engine of this damn bucket.

— It seems that the car has got slightly frozen at such a low temperature, I think it’s worth waiting for a little bit.

The heater, unfortunately, also ceased to function, and I began to tremble frantically and warm my fingers.

— Maybe we’ll stop by the cafe for a while and have some coffee, since it all happened so? At least we’ll get a little warmer and go home already warmed?

I nodded in agreement. We got out of the car and headed across the road to a place called «Kings». Warm lighting immediately pleased our eyes, and the aroma of fresh pastries sweetly struck in the nose. We sat on the right at a table near the window and began to examine the menu. The waitress came up as soon as we closed the book of dishes and accepted an order for coffee and caramel cheesecake.

I nodded in agreement. We got out of the car and headed across the road to a place called «Kings». Warm lighting immediately pleased our eyes, and the aroma of fresh pastries sweetly struck in the nose. We sat on the right at a table near the window and began to examine the menu. The waitress came up as soon as we closed the book of dishes and accepted an order for coffee and caramel cheesecake.

— Your lips even turned blue, — Clea smiled and traced her lips in the air with her index finger. — Now you look like a snow queen, only completely kind, not the same as in a fairy tale.

I laughed embarrassedly, but asked quite boldly:

— How old are you?

— You asked because you think how come it is: a big girl but talking about fairy tales?

— Not at all. I asked because I am very curious to know your age.

— Why so suddenly? And how old am I, in your opinion, Vi?

— I suppose, due to the fact that you drive a car, your sixteenth year is pretty far away from now.

Then we burst out laughing uncontrollably.

— How attentive you are! And most importantly, you notice everything correctly. You are probably one of these… how are they called… psychics?

— Well, if you look at the whole, then I swear you are not even twenty-two.

— Stop, a miss! And here I already began to believe without a doubt that you are clairvoyant. Alas, you guessed wrong.

I bit my lower lip and began to stare at Clea, speculating about her age and my loss in senseless guesses about it. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked her at all… We weren’t good friends, but we somehow became closer than there, at Beatrice’s dining table.

— Well… I see you are confused. Never mind, you’re not a man to be embarrassed by such questions. I’m twenty-three.

I really somehow felt awkward about my stupid question and decided to change the subject, but she asked me in revenge.

— Vi, how old are you? I think I know for sure…

Сlea frowned, looked closely at my face, smoothly shifting her gaze from me to my clothes, then at something else. And then I clearly and intelligibly heard her say my cherished numbers.

— Thirty-three.

I felt strangely sorry for myself from what I heard. This always happens when I want to seem younger or older than my age, but for some reason it’s not always my age.

— You’re right. You’d rather be a fortune teller, but not me. I am not more discriminating in this matter than you. Can I ask why you gave me my right age?

— Because it suits you very much.

Such an answer completely paralyzed me. I was shocked that there was no better answer to come up with. Bravo!

— What kind of paintings do you draw, Vi?

I did not have time to answer her question, as the waitress again approached our table with the «Tina» badge, carefully put the tray on the table and started pouring coffee into golden cups. After doing her job, she brought the bill and put it under a freshly ordered dessert.

— I have always been fascinated by faces, hands, people in movements… But, unfortunately, I’m good at drawing only landscapes and mountain rivers with waterfalls.

— And I really like nature. Especially in early autumn, when the trees understand that the life period of summer heat has passed and the endless languor of colds is approaching. Trees, dying, are trying to preserve at least a little of what was there before: their power which is the power of the trunk and numerous intertwined branches.

— I’ve loved hiking since childhood, — Clea shared, — fishing trips with my father, hiking in the forest, and the like. My dream is to live where there’s a river and the endless density of trees. Surely your works are very much in demand, although, as far as I remember, you said underpaid. But I am sure that they will inspire any person and provide great food for thought.

— Thank you! I am not aware of inspiration, but some customers are quite satisfied with my sketches and sometimes ask for two or three pictures in advance.

I took a sip of hot coffee and relaxed in a spacious armchair. Clea began to stare at me again. Her long hair with white colored tips played in the artificial light of a cafe that sheltered us. The powerful reliefs of her body reminded me of athletes -swimmers from the distant seventies.

— Clea, can I ask you something? Are you fond of sports or your body is like a passed value in your lineage?

Clea smiled sweetly and said that she is involved in football in her free time and even has a certain coaching diploma. I was shocked that the young girl had already achieved so much and was so unlike those empty people who are mainly engaged in shopping, chatting with friends and bragging about the numerous victories with this or that young man whom they, having wound up, abandoned, even without feeling guilty.

— I think it’s time for us to go.

Clea paid the bill and hurriedly got ready to go, glancing at her wristwatch. I got up from the table and thanked her for the coffee. We went outside. Snow and rain had already subsided, and it began to get dark. Gray twilight showed that the day flowed smoothly into late evening. We headed to her car. Clea opened the door for me and I sat in the front right seat. A minute later, she flopped behind the wheel to my left and started the engine. The car started, and we headed towards my house.

— Stanford Street, right? — Clea asked me again, afraid to mistake the address.

— That’s right. There’s that bakery, — and I pointed my finger at the small window of the place, where the light was still on.

We slowed down near my house and began to say goodbye.

— I think we had a nice talk today, right?

— Yes, this evening was cozy. This has not happened to me for a long time. I rarely go anywhere. Say, even very, very rarely, — I said quieter and quieter in awkwardness. — See you!

— I think we’ll see each other again, beautiful Victoria. I do not live so far and visit these places often. My friends live in that street over there, next to the market, — Clea pointed to the gray houses that went into the distance, where there were often problems with electricity.

Most likely, this area was considered prestigious, although, to say it, mine also eventually rolled to this, but still it was an order of magnitude greater: hot water and electricity worked at full capacity. On the other hand, it increased the score, and I could barely make ends meet.

— Of course. I hope this meeting is not the last.

Full of enthusiasm and warm pleasant emotions, I got out of the car and headed for the house. Quickly going up the stairs and opening the door with the same lightning-like speed, I ran to the window and looked after the leaving car. The bakery ended its working day, and the light went out smoothly in their shop. I felt sad and headed for my room. Quickly changing clothes, weak, tired and frozen to the bones, I went to the bathroom and began to take a shower. Hot currents flowed between my hips and drops burned my big chest. I went into an unreal trance from what was happening. Everything spun around and flew like sweet bliss. I imagined Clea, how her hands caress my excited body and I shyly moan with unearthly pleasure. With her lips, Clea barely touches my neck, and reality begins to slip away from under my feet…

Morning. After drinking a coffee pod and putting a green sweater on over a black velvet dress, I put on my coat as I walked and left the house. The weather was fine. Surprisingly, outside it was not crowded but suspiciously calm. The park nearby looked completely empty. Through sparse bare trees a few faces and vacant benches for rest were seen. Today was Saturday. People were leaving the city, a kind of weekend getaway for a picnic in the mountains or flying away to rest in warm countries.

I came to the nearest market and went in to buy something for dinner. The saleswoman nodded in greeting and further began to automatically sort out cans of tomatoes in the next shop display. I slipped deep into the store and approached the shelf with milk. Due to my short height I did not have time to catch the bag, and with incredible speed it fell out of my hands, the milk flowed in its entirety on the not quite clean floor of the room. «Damn!» — I cursed so loudly that those visitors who were standing near the meat department looked at me with discontent, and an expression of disapproval appeared on their faces. I began to collect the remnants of the milk bag to throw them in the trash. My hands became sticky and wet, and I cursed again, but quieter. Getting up I took what I needed and went to the cash desk. But around the corner after the alcohol department, I saw… Clea. She stood with two fair-haired girls who laughed out loud, the atmosphere of their conversation was quite lively. I paused for a moment, turned around and wanted to go through another department, so as not to interfere with their cheerful company, but Clea called me. I turned around and, puzzled, smiled in bewilderment with all my inherent timidity.

— Hello! I did not hope to see you so soon… These are my friends.

The two tall blondes Clea introduced playfully smiled, nudging each other and chewing gum. Their sarcastic and pretended smile seemed so repulsive to me that I did not dare, and did not want to speak with them.

— Hello. Yes… I decided to go out for a walk… buy something for dinner…

Falling silent, I stared at Clea in anticipation of further action on her part. Today she looked very masculine: she was wearing a green jacket, ripped jeans and fashionable gray sneakers. Her smile was so bright and open that it seemed that my cheeks began to glow slightly from thoughts of her image. I looked right into her eyes. Clea looked confusedly at her friends, instantly returning to my gaze. I was drawn to her. Lured… And then she suggested:

— Hmm… We’re going to a party tonight, not far from here, in the pub. Would you like to join us? I think more girls will come, you know, my bosom sports mates. I will introduce you to everyone. What do you think about this, Vi?

— I don’t mind. I’ll really try, what time should I be there? And what is the address of your pub?

— Walker Street, 23/11, at the corner outside the park. We will go at nine in the evening.

— Deal, see you!

I smiled at the euphoria that arose in me. I felt how the warmth of my body began to get hot, and it seemed I should have time to cool. Winking, Clea said goodbye, and I, saying goodbye in response, went to the cash desk. Having paid for my goods, I easily flew out into the street with a soft gait. Taking a deep breath, I released the accumulated tension and went home along my street.

Evening, the clock said eight o’clock. I hurriedly got ready throwing away a dress after dress from the closet. My hands went cold with excitement, and my heart furiously accelerated my heartbeat from the realization that the evening time was coming. The contents of my wardrobe were purely simple: red, black, green. I threw out everything that was inside, even the summer shoes and, loosing temper, put on a black tight-fitting dress. It favorably emphasized the advantages of my figure, especially the magnificent breasts. After admiring my reflection in the mirror, I licked my lips. I also applied some lip gloss, with the help of mascara opened my eyes, highlighted their expressiveness. As a final touch I wrapped my body in perfume and went out into the hallway. My coat seemed unfashionable and very cold, so I put on an old coat which I’d just found and left the house.

I briefly glanced at the watch, they showed that it had been almost an hour, — the hand was approaching nine. Gaining considerable speed, I immediately ran to the park, the snow creaked loudly under my low heels. Swallowing tons of icy air, I practically did not feel the cold. I felt, as it seemed to me, super emotions: the heat was burning in my body even more than before, and I felt an approaching swoon. Finally, I ran the remaining few meters to the pub doors and knocked nervously: for some reason this place was closed. My doubts about «why» were dispelled immediately as soon as they let me inside the underground bar. In the large hall there was a long bar counter, behind which was a girl in a men’s suit. At the tables and on the dance floor only girls and a few guys danced with each other. I was impressed.

Sitting down at a vacant table, I excitedly began to look out for Clea and her company. A girl came up to me and asked if it was possible to sit down at my table and chat. I got surprised and refused by saying that I was expecting a girlfriend and did not know what I was doing here. The girl left apologizing. And I asked myself in my thoughts: «Who am I? What do I want? Don’t men interest me? Do I want what is happening here?»

There was no answer. Just like there was no word «no.» Beautiful smooth music began to play, and I saw Clea on the dance floor! How could I not notice them?! How absent-minded I was… Although a girl with long dark hair in the same masculine form as the lady behind the counter was pulling her onto the dance floor to this music: ridiculous pants and a T-shirt, over which a knitted jacket was neatly put on. They were laughing, and Clea was desperate to hide from the spotlights. After several minutes of flirting and laughing they nevertheless neatly put their hands on each other’s waists and delved into the dance sphere of romance. My chest was squeezed from loneliness, and I went to the bar, where I ordered myself the famous drink of the Ecstasy bar — not bad to leave everything behind. I took a couple of sips, and then more and more… And I realized that I was already asking for the second portion of the burning potion. And since I didn’t drink at all, everything around me instantly got spinning, the atmosphere suddenly became so light and fun. After a couple of minutes, the bartender was already wondering: where I — so funny — was from? And what was my name? «And why are they all interested in this?» — a thought crept into my mind. I felt so funny, I felt more relaxed and at ease and, it seems that I laid out all the information about myself, my parents and the nonexistent cat.

— Vikaaaa!!! — a loud voice came from behind me. — You’ve come!

Turning halfway around, I saw Clea surprised and joyful.

— Have you been here long? Wow, you’ve already drunk, and seem to have gone crazy about a VIP drink? — Clea laughed, highlighting with her attractive voice the selectivity of my choice.

— Be careful, it can terribly invigorate and carry you all the way to the stars, — continuing to speak, she pointed to my half-empty glass.

— Yes, I came not so long ago. I decided to cheer myself up. You are so cool. How pretty you are! — I was not myself.

I was both surprised and not, that I boldly said what I would not say soberly. I am absolutely sure that I would be shy and would run away as soon as possible from embarrassment and shame. And here in the pub I vaguely started talking about how I saw her with the girl and how they animatedly indulged in dance. There was so much selfishness and jealousy in my words that I instantly emptied the whole glass to the end. Having risen, I realized that I was not feeling well, and went to the toilet. Clea followed me, pointing me to the right direction. I closed in a booth, and the remnants of the morning meal spilled out along with alcoholic liquid. I probably spent countless hours with my head down over the toilet. Recovering a little, I leaned my head against the wall and began to sink into the swirling stream of semi-real sleep. Clea called to me:

— Vick, are you all right? I brought you water and napkins.

I opened the door and, having used all this, asked Clea to take me home. I think I slept forever. I remember how we left the bar. I felt Clea carefully making me sit in her car, but then I fell asleep. Clea affectionately began to wake me up in the car and say that we came to my place. Unconscious I made my way out of the car. Clea’s strong hands grabbed me, she helped me up to the apartment. I plopped down on the bed and drowned in a dream that was sucking me in — a deep, heavy, alcoholic dream. I hadn’t had this before, for the first time I became some other kind.

In the morning I woke up from a wild hunger. Opening my eyes, I found myself in my underwear and lying next to… Clea. She was sleeping peacefully under the warmth of our common blanket. I tried to remember what happened yesterday. But the mind vehemently rejected all attempts to recall last night in memory. I quietly got out of bed and headed for the shower. In my memory the moments of last night shone like camera flashes. A slight trembling of the hands indicated fatigue and intoxication of the body. I realized that my strength was not restored, and after twenty minutes of a cool shower, wrapped in a bathrobe, I headed back to bed. Embarrassment, shame and dizziness overcame me when I still felt Clea’s sleepy breathing. My tired eyelids instantly became heavy, and again I fell into sleep.


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