Я родилась в Ленинграде, начала писать в 10 лет. Сама иллюстрировала свои тексты. Посылала рассказы в журнал “Пионер” и каждый раз получала отказы, но до сих пор помню, как с замиранием сердца открывала конверты из “Пионера” с красивыми марками. Первая публикация случилась только в возрасте 24 лет, затем последовали и другие. В 22 года я переехала в США, сразу же начала писать на английском, не оставляя в покое и русский язык. Год назад переехала в Дублин (Ирландия), где, восхищенная даром слова ирландцев, пытаюсь стать русско-ирландским писателем. Публикуюсь в русскоязычной и англоязычной прессе и пишу, думаю, люблю на двух языках.
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the time it was still called Leningrad. I started writing short stories and illustrating them myself when I was only 10 years old. Unfortunately, no magazines in the former Soviet Union published my prose. In 1994 I emigrated to the U.S. and started writing in Russian and English: about music, performance art, about emigration and a torn, dual identity. Publications both in Russian and English followed me. In 2015, in search of language and a “truer identity,” I emigrated to Emerald Isles, also known as Ireland, where I now live and attempt to become an Irish writer.
The Princess Bed
…I asked Pedro to leave our family bed.
A dozen years he had already spent in it, snoring, squirting and sneezing, with a red face and sweat on his upper full lip, making both children on it, but never making the bed. Never cutting his toenails, so that they looked sharp and scary like weapons.
When I was a little kid in Romania, my grandmother took me to a communal bath. Abundance of steam and of flesh. Soaps in hands. Sagging breasts. Enlarged brown nipples, the color of old leaves that were on the twigs of their sauna whisks. Fuzzy sponges and furry genitals between their legs. Camaraderie of bare skin. Of their full-figured bodies. The women did not shy away from the display of their flesh. I was a scared cute kindergartener, who did not know that in thirty-five years the same fat fate waited for me at the every eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell’s corner.
Now the skin on this former kindergartener’s belly, stretched by two childbirths, is wrinkled. The womb is empty, unfilled. When she bends over her husband in a bed, she sees the folds of her own flesh hanging. Here they are in the room with a huge marital bed…
“I cannot breathe, careful.”
“I know that you will like it. You liked it last time!”
“Please don’t crush me. Move up a little bit. I’m suffocating.”
“It can’t be as bad as you describe.”
My breast bone is crushed; between my legs there is a burning sensation. He weights twice as much as me. The math of our union does not compute. It’s true that I never got into shape after getting out of the maternity ward. But the deformities of my body were caused by child labor, Pedro’s – by laziness.
His mouth. A red full-lipped mouth framed by a thick bush of black hair, with its saliva showing between the teeth when he eats or when he hurls at me his disparaging comments. This contrast of red flesh and black hair, something hidden inside and covered by black brush, all this reminded me of female genitals. He looked at me, either shouting or pleading for love, and I saw a woman’s pussy instead of his mouth and remembered those women in a Romanian sauna. It would be unnatural for me to kiss female private parts, so Pedro had no choice except to start sleeping on a dining room’s couch.
It was so apparent to me that since I am not inclined to be close to him, he should go elsewhere. Yet, as soon as he assembled the children’s bunk bed donated by a homey, heartfelt African-American housewife whose size was almost equal the size of the bed, he started sleeping in it. On the princess sheets. On ephemeral creatures from fairy tales. Crumpling girls’ dreams. Smashing airy princesses in their cute castles. Covering the bright pink and bright gold of gowns and crowns with his pale skin with strange red spots in need of a dermatologist or a dietician since he literally ate all his sores. Pushing down magical wands. Obliterating the sparkles.
My younger daughter was crying.
Pedro continued sleeping on the princess sheets in her bed, and the more repeatedly I asked him to sleep elsewhere, the more repeatedly he would go into our daughters’ room in the evening and lie in their bed.
* * *
In the evening Pedro came home late and ate berries which had been washed and prepared for the girls. Blueberries, raspberries and boysenberries were very expensive, and many times I emphasized that these were for the children. For Pedro I usually left pears and apples but he would not even touch them, preferring pulled pork. Then he went right to the princess bed. I asked him again not to sleep there or at least to make the bed each day to show an example to the girls. He motioned me away, glued to his immaculate Mac. Then I took out a camera.
The view was just horrid. Pedro was huge, with a bad haircut and grey hair, an immense unkempt man with a potbelly and thick legs, an overweight sea lion with a dirty mouth and fish breath, who used to suck all the life out and strangle beautiful princesses. Holding down their surreal thin bodies with his full weight.
I told him I’ll show to my mother what he made of her gift, princess sheets for her beautiful granddaughters. He asked me to go away. I took the first snapshot. He repeated that I should leave. As soon as the camera flashed in his face, he got enraged and jumped from the bed, asking me to disappear. I noticed that his thighs were joined in the middle and folds of fat kind of pushed into each other – that’s how fat he had become. I took a second picture of him, in his stretched trunks, with yellowish spots in front from drops of urine, with a manly face distorted by anger. He took something out of his trousers’ pocket.
Something flashed. There was a crackling sound, like firecrackers. Like it was July 4th instead of March 4th. Something black was pushed into my face. This was a Taser. The Taser he had showed me recently. He claimed he had acquired it for his late night walks from the parking lot to our house. He said he had only used it once during a dispute with a man who didn’t want to pay him for installing his windows.
He advanced towards me. Pushed Taser buttons, enraged. It was a threat. I had to stay very calm to keep my composure.
“Don’t do anything to me! Don’t you dare move!” he screeched, as
though everything was in reverse and it was me who was attacking him.
I had to come a bit closer to pick up my bra, in a dash to escape.
Moved a bit closer.
He put the Taser in front of him, in his outstretched hand. Shouted:
“If you touch me, I’ll Taser you! Now! Stay away, bitch!”
“I’m only picking up my stuff and I’m leaving,” I said very quietly,
not to anger him more. Because the children were here. He was raging like mad. Standing on his toes, appearing even taller and bigger, and repetitively pushing the buttons on the Taser. Crackles. Light. Danger. The atmosphere was literally charged!
Something flew over my head and landed on the floor, falling apart. Two glass parts were lying within an inch of one another. In between there was a piece of a middle-sized carton. A picture taken during our wedding twelve years ago. I was putting a ring on his finger. Now his finger was pressing a button on a Taser!
Our younger daughter rushed to the picture and picked it up. She held it close to her. Then kissed both of us in the picture.
“Don’t do this while the children are here!”
Our younger daughter tried to put the photo back into the frame.
“You are a f*ing bitch!” he shouted. “Pinche Puta! You are a whore!
If you file for a divorce, you will see what will happen! You will be destroyed! You will not have even a cent in your name!”
“I’ll send your mother a picture of you threatening me and I’ll ask her to send me those eighty thousand dollars you are hiding from the American government in one of your Tijuana accounts! And I’ll live lavishly on this money with the kids, without fussing over each extra berry, choosing to buy only in bulk, just to save! I’ll finally live a normal life! We earned this money together in the beginning of our marriage so at no point they should be staying in Mexico!”
“You crossed a red line! Fucking cunt!” he shouted. “Do not touch my mother! Leave her alone. She is eighty already. Let her live her last years in peace without knowing what a bitch her daughter-in-law has become!”
And here is where he showed that he could not be a perfect murderer. That he was unsuitable for the role of an ideal killer. He blurted out what he had hidden almost for the whole length of our marriage:
“You stupid cow! You think anything’s left! All the money is gone! There is nothing in the bank account in Mexico! Moreover, I am in debt and now, according to the California law that I’ve researched, this debt is totally yours! Because I have nothing. I can’t earn anything here without a degree! You were a fool to believe that my construction company brought me money – instead it ate all our savings… and even more… I’m drowning in debt. And you will pay it to the last penny if you file for a divorce! You earn the good money so you are doomed – you’ll pay the alimony to me for the rest of your life! And I will take away the kids!”