Breaking Stalin

Breaking Stalin

Part II Chapter I

Our story begins in the years leading up to the year 1888.  Oh that woeful year, in which mediocrity begat bestiality.  At some point in those years prior to our fateful year, the young woman, Liubov Ivanovna Ismailova, took up residence and began teaching in a primary school in Moscow.  She was described as being a very sensible woman of rare honesty and diligence.  Her beauty has been lost to history-her dark silky hair, her unblemished round face, but her penetrating blue-gray eyes live on, forever to be remembered in the personage of her own personal monster.  The other culprit of the story is yet another Muscovian schoolteacher, Ivan Antonovich, a graduate of Moscow University.  He was a staunch Orthodox believer, conservative, and eventually a liberal when that became fashionable in politics, he was a mathematician by trade and remained that until 1893, but now we’re getting ahead of the story.
            I’m not quite sure how it happened, the details are rather obscure.  But I imagine it happened on a cold winter’s night.  The end of the year had finally come, and the different primary schools in Moscow were holding a modest party for their teachers.  A small sleigh appeared in front of the brazen school doors, and a young man with patches of red hair sticking out of his bowler hat alighted tossing the driver a coin as he flew up the steps.  Ever so punctual, it was not like him to be late.  He glanced up at the dark sky above him as he opened the door.  The swirling snow angrily met his defiant glance, “yes” he thought to himself, “it was this accursed storm that made me late”.  He removed his bowler hat and shook his snow dusted head as he opened the door, the rushing light dazzled him for only a moment as he slipped inside the door closing quietly behind him.  He looked around many of the teachers were already there.  He knew most of them by name.  He suppressed a grin as he caught sight of Lev Nikolaevich, the ancient teacher of Tsarist history, his long white beard was testament to his aged wisdom, and worked as well as any broom as he walked the corridors of the small school.  Off to his right was Aleksei Mikhailovich, the director of his school, timidly perusing the slim choice of wine the party had to offer.
            No one noticed his entry; he slipped off to the side of the room to avoid being spotted.  He was a good-natured fellow, but tonight he had better things to do than talk to old acquaintances.  He was late, but he had arrived just in time.  The ball was just beginning.  He looked down sheepishly at the shabby drivel that was supposed to be his pantaloons.  Most in the room were much better dressed than he, but “no matter” he thought to himself.  Tonight was his night.  He surveyed the room, the band was just preparing to play its first song of the night, and partners were being chosen, off to his left a young woman caught his eye.  Her dress was hardly better than his hastily mended pants and petticoat, but he noticed she had a certain rich air about herself.  She was poor but so was he.  He walked up to her and in his beautiful baritone voice recanted:
I am perhaps of love unworthy! ...
But if feigned love, if you would
Pretend, you'd easily deceive me,
For happily would I, believe me,
Deceive myself if but I could! 
Liubov blushed a little as she smiled.  The soft glow from the chandelier reflected dully off her red cheeks.  Her response shook Ivan:
My soul attained its waking moment:
You appeared before my sight,
As though a brief and fleeting omen,
Pure phantom in enchanting light.

And now, my heart, in fascination
Beats rapidly and finds alive:
Devout faith and inspiration,
And gentle tears and love and life.

“You know your Pushkin!” he said in a daze as she let him take his hand.  They danced the whole night together.  Ivan was entranced by those penetrating eyes.

No comments:

Post a Comment