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LJ Idol IX - 31. The Future Outwits All Our Certitudes - Home Game

Once upon a time, there was a man and a wife, Eugene and Valentina.

Fresh out of college, she applied for a position on his programming team. Deciding to meet somewhere and talk in an unofficial interview, he asked how he would recognize her. Valentina answered, "I am a redhead, and before you object, I am such a redhead you will not miss me." She then continued, "And how am I going to recognize you?" "In this case," he laughed, "I am a blond. And I am such a blond you would not miss me."

They met, and she started working with him, and gradually they fell in love like people do, and wed because they were having a child. In time, a son was born, and one day as Eugene was on his way to meet his family in the maternity hospital, an old lady asked him, "What are you doing playing hooky, boy?" for that was how he was, thin, tall and willowy with a not-all-there look in his eyes. And Valentina, she was fire and earth, a self-assured tomb-girl who knew what she wanted. She was also a woman given to reflection and growing wise fast.

Soon after the birth, the husband and wife's families moved into the same apartment building through a series of family exchanges, and when playing with her son in the yard, Valentina met an older neighbour and her two children, a boy her son's age and a girl a year older. The two ladies became mommy friends first and good friends soon after, neither being each other's bestie for both were sociable and often had a house full of visiting friends.

Time passed, Eugene and Valentina had a second child, a girl, built a country house, survived the difficult 1990s, changed many jobs together, him being a master code-writer and her, a designer and his PR, made more friends and lost others, and remained fast with that neighbouring family with the two children with whom they spent a month every summer on different hiking trips, sometimes boating adventures, but most often long stationary camp-outs in one of the relatively untouched corners within a day's journey from Moscow and half a day's from their country house in case one of the kids took ill.


It was at one of the camp-outs during which the two families were often joined by others, that everything changed for Eugene and Valentina. A younger woman, Katherine, and her young daughter were staying with the group that year, and sparks flew between her and Eugene.

Intent on her college studies, the neighbour–friend's girl took years to notice the mounting tension between the older neighbours. For her, Katherine was but one of the many strangers regularly going in and out of her mother's friends' lives, and Katherine's little girl, a playmate and an occasional student during their shared holidays. Reassured by her own parents' steady marriage, the neighbour–girl believed the other set of parents to be quite like her own with their ups and downs but a common path forward written in the stars.

And for a while it seemed that it was indeed so. Yet a couple of years later, the tension between Eugene and Valentina led to separation, divorce, Eugene's remarriage to Katherine and a long and heavy depression for Valentina. Of the depression, the neighbour–girl noticed nothing and learned about it years later. Her mother though was not oblivious to her friend's suffering and took her on holiday to a faraway village where her best friend and the girl's godmother lived in the summers. They spent a fortnight there, but deep in her misery, Valentina, usually a positive if not easy person to be around, impressed the godmother as very unpleasant and no longer quite welcome.

At the same time, Katherine's own little girl was growing up, but Eugene and Valentina both having been her mother's friends first for years before everything changed, she chose to pretend for a while that she was younger in understanding that was truly the case, that she did not understand the change between Eugene and Katherine, and that Eugene was nothing but the cool honorary uncle who had been tutoring her in mathematics.


Slowly and painfully, the situation became ordinary, more stable and tolerable for all involved, and in a final twist, Valentina and Katherine managed to keep a good enough relationship so that when Valentina finally resurfaced from the depths of her mind and found a lover, Katherine let her use her late mother's empty apartment to build a love nest in, for Valentina did not wish to do so in the one she was sharing with her student son and high-school senior daughter.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2014 06:30 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

This is a true story, of sorts. Names have been changed, facts may have been fudged a little, the interpretation of everyone's actions is mine. Most of the different glances at the situation come from talks with the persons involved.

You may have recognized me in the neighbour's daughter. My mother's best friend is not really my godmother, but she would be if I needed one.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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