January 01, 2004

May the Earth Be As Soft As Feathers

My neighbor Yevdokia Balakhonova, known by her patronymic Trofimovna, died on November 9. But no one noticed that day. A blizzard, the first of winter, raged over the village of Chukhrai. Three days later, my husband Igor passed her house and noticed that no smoke was coming from the chimney. Trofimovna always stoked up the stove in the early morning, just before dawn.

Igor knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He peered in the window. The overstuffed bed with overstuffed pillows where she usually slept was empty, the covers pulled back.

Silence loomed. Suddenly a cat appeared in the window and began to scratch feverishly, trying to get out. Igor bent back the nails holding in one of the small panes, and the cat shot out. That’s when Igor told me Trofimovna was dead.

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