February 10, 2024



Grandpa Vitka Samokhin always trusted the television. There was no one to talk to in the village, but in the television there lived pleasant, respectful – though sometimes high-strung – people he could chat with. Vitka stayed up to date on the map that showed how the military operation was going, though the flags on it never had to be rearranged. The front line was at a standstill.

He would peer through the window at the snow lying on the house roofs and covering the barns and even the post office, and feel blue. He imagined the front from the tales told by his pa, Pyotr Samokhin, who had been caught up in the dreadful bloodbath at Velikie Luki in the winter of 1942. The young Vitka also remembered Dad complaining to his old lady, not about being afraid to die, but about his feet being frozen all the time. Now Vitka wondered to himself how that could be. Tanks, planes, and his dad shivering with cold in his felt boots.

Vitka thought a while longer and watched some more television, listened to the anchor who got worked up so easily and always scared him with his cussing and his arm-waving, and decided that the front needed help. The very next morning, trampling the snow under his old felt boots clad in new, glossy, black overshoes, he ran around the village, trying to prod the grannies into showing their mettle. They weren’t too eager to be prodded, all being as old as could be, but there was no getting away from him.

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