…The previous night Baluyev felt he was getting ill. It seemed influenza or something like that. His head became heavy, he did not feel like wanting to do anything, he had already a tickling in his throat, cough appeared, his temperature was rising quickly. Having forced himself to take a bath, he went to bed earlier hoping it would help somehow. He did not like to be ill. It had always trenched upon his time not giving him a possibility to work… Contrary to his expectations he had not managed to get asleep for a long time. The cursory gulf-dream which came at last, did not facilitate his condition. Baluyev would often wake up, toss about, perspire, fall in nowhere again burying his head in the hot pillow. It had been lasting till the very morning. At half past nine being worn up he had already been about to get up but invisibly he drifted into a certain monotonous drowsiness balancing on the edge of vigil and dormition.

…Everybody in the city was in festive mood. Every here and there people even not knowing each other, were talking heatedly discussing the latest events. War news had already appeared in the press. Baluyev was strolling the street full of summer sun. Chestnuts were putting forth on both sides. Pals were laughing and waving their hands from the open roundel. The waiter from the vitreous shop near the road was smiling and noddling to him through turbid window-pane. Several tables with empty plastic glasses for serviettes stood on the street. On one of them there were a half-litre bottle with water, a mousseline full of vodka, a bottle in tap and a plate with pickles cut thin. A man with a big moustache who was passing through, was about fifty and looked like a conscientious fitter who had worked all his life at the same big plant. There was a trite brown small case with him. He looked around the table and gave the waiter a questioning look. The latter began to smile and wagged his shining bald pate. Having put his case and twiddled his smoky moustache in two sides the fitter buzzed his cup cherishingly and after a while started munching the cucumber. Screwing up his eyes gladfully he gave the waiter and Baluyev a wink, and passed on. Baluyev was going to go to the front, too. The next day. The sun was playing through green leaves. Fountains were making din. Music was brattling in parks. Boulevards with toddling people were sloping gently with white staircases to the sea. Trams were pinging on rails. Joyous newsmen were peering through round bookstalls.
…She appeared. Being all clothed in smiles, dressed in a light-coloured rig-out without shoulder-straps. Her dress was fluffy, with certain flowery pattern. She came up quite close. The sun was laughing in her eyes. «I'll be waiting for you»,– she was smiling to him. That her smile held the whole world for Baluyev. It got quite peaceful. Only somewhere in the very deepness there was something dragging extremely quietly. «I'll ring you up… hope so»,– he said.

… Baluyev woke up. The clock showed 9:37. Still, in his eyes there were her happy smile and all honey-sweet details of her face. There wormed sweetly a pinching feeling of a loss. Baluyev did not know who that «she» had been. He was happy.

Igor Savchenko
Villa Waldberta, Feldafing (Munich)
Àpril, 2000

Russian-English translation: Andrey Bursau, Minsk