The little hospital on the outskirts of the village is shrouded by a young pine wood as if to keep it from the prying eyes of healthy folks. It’s been a long time since this place housed the ailing or resounded with the dull moans and sudden shrieks of some poor soul having his sore tooth yanked out by a merciless medic with a pair of iron forceps.
Now the door, painted a playful green, is locked up tight with a big, clunky padlock that’s hanging upside-down, and a gentle breeze is ruffling the sheet of notebook paper that gives the times when the district medic will be by to see patients. The ink on the paper has smeared, the tack holding it to the door has rusted.
With their backs to the sun-warmed clinic wall, the gals sit, their Chinese padded jackets unbuttoned, showing the colorful sweaters knitted from sheep’s wool they wear underneath. The benches lost their legs a long while ago, but they’ve been pushed up against an earth mound to keep them upright. There’s not a lick of space on the benches, by reason of the gals being so chunky in the stern. Plus, they’re bookended by old geezers, two of them. One, scrawny and hoary-headed, is smoking, and the other, hefty and short-winded, is blowing his nose into a woman’s kerchief and breathing heavy.
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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Montpelier VT 05601-0567