By Michael C. White
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Elizabeth could see her chest rising and falling, a dry rattling sound faintly reverberating from her lungs. “It was different then,” the woman said. ” “Everything. The world. Your country and mine. ” “Ach,” Tat’yana Levchenko said. ” Elizabeth turned and reached for the folder again, took out another picture. This one showed the same pretty woman, though now she was up in the branches of a tree, holding a gun and aiming it off to the left. ” The old woman looked at the photo and shook her head, a scornful smile playing about her lips.
It was so unlike me to let my thoughts drift when I was in position, rifle at the ready, all of my senses heightened like those of a wolf stalking its prey. Such an indiscretion often ends badly, let me tell you. But there I was, recalling a summer morning before the war, remembering a way of life that seemed unreal, as gossamer as a fairy tale. In the memory I lay in bed alone. Kolya, my husband, was already off to his job working for the city of Kiev. I recalled that the bedroom window was open, the yellow curtains I’d made the first year of our marriage ballooning like a bellows.
In the memory I lay in bed alone. Kolya, my husband, was already off to his job working for the city of Kiev. I recalled that the bedroom window was open, the yellow curtains I’d made the first year of our marriage ballooning like a bellows. The cool air from the Dnieper was wafting into the room, and from the apartment below ours drifted the wistful cello notes of the music student who lived there. Mostly, though, what I remembered of that morning was the feeling, that strange and altogether wondrous sensation somewhere deep down inside a woman when she feels—no, when she knows—she is carrying life within her.