Hiding from the light of a street lantern, I stand in the shadow of two-story building of the club, five steps away from the library. Bottle of wine is getting warm in my bosom, I wait for Lilia. The northern wind is blowing. It pesters me a lot. It’s five to one. Lilia should come at half past one, with the key to the library, which she promised to take from her aunt. I wait. Start marking time...
Well, I came here rather early, impatient fool. Though, how can one sit still? Yesterday already I ran into my dormitory, turned on tape recorder, set up alarm-clock (guys flocked to bar to celebrate our future departure), but my thoughts were all about Lilia and our last night. I was lying in my bed and thinking: “It’s great I bought these three candles. We should have everything as it’s written in the best romantic novel, the most sensitive melodrama.” I’m shuffling those candles in my pocket now. I’m a bit worried, it’s not a joke. It’s serious. I’m grown-up already. I even figured out what to say to Lilia when she comes. I’m going to say, embracing her: “Darling, you didn’t have to expose yourself to danger and come here. I’m not worth it. God forbid, someone sees us. I don’t care, but you... I was standing here and begged the Lord to keep you from coming... I’m afraid for you, because I love you dearly!”
And if she doesn’t come, I’ll drink the bottle of wine and go back. Hurt, of course. Maybe even thinking: “Slut didn’t come! I walked here God knows from where, was freezing for three hours, and this jade is sleeping under warm blanket and isn’t turning a hair.”
Suddenly I felt as if heavy current strike hit me. I saw picture of me and Lilia kissing in the library. It was so clear... Three candles are burning. Two glasses and unfinished bottle of wine are standing on the table. We are surrounded by books only, a sea of books. Somewhere up there are the volumes written by my favourite Joanne Johnson. What a scene for her novel!
I clenched my fists. That’s awesome! It’s a sign from above, no doubts! I once had this prophetic dream, I just forgot it, and now, in conditions close to real, I remembered. I almost jumped for joy. I glanced at my watch. Lilia should be here any minute...
Really?! Yes, it’s her! I almost shout:
“Lilia, you came!”
Lilia speaks in agitated tone:
“Quiet, Sasha, don’t scream.”
I squeeze Lilia in my arms. I kiss her lips, cheek, forehead and ear. I kiss her fragrant hair. I say:
“Open the door faster...”
Lilia frees herself from my embrace. She holds a pause. And then says:
“I haven’t taken the key.”
Now I’m silent. It took some time for me to grab the meaning of her words. Lilia is looking at me with her wide-open eyes. Her look is trusting. She asks sincerely:
“Sasha, what do you need me for?”
I’m in denial:
“It can’t be happening! I’ve just seen a sign. Your answer contradicts to all the principles... It means we should break the door!”
I make a step towards the library. Lilia pulls me back.
“Are you out of your mind?! Don’t do it, Sasha,” she says.
I don’t resist. I feel myself awful. As if I was cheated and lost 100 bucks. I say:
“And I bought a bottle of wine, your favourite “Isabella”.
“Are you serious?”
“Couldn’t be more serious.”
“But I was joking.”
“And I was asking guys to borrow me one hryvnia each.”
Lilia clings to me, kisses, puts her head on my chest. We’re standing still for some time in silence. Only our heartbeats can be heard.
I’m thinking: “All is lost. I give up. I’m a looser.” I want some wine.
“What did you want to tell me?”
“So are we going to stand here like this?”
Lilia is taking me around the corner of the building. We’re climbing wide iron stairs up, stop on the staircase before second floor. It’s cosy here. Lilia takes out and is trying to spread some piece of cloth to sit on it. I take off my jacket.
“You will get cold.”
“No, I won’t. I have you and this bottle of wine.”
I put the jacket on the staircase.
“I won’t sit on it. It’ll become dirty.”
“What a small-minded person you are.”
I take the bottle out. I’m trying to open it with my teeth.
“You won’t open it like this. You’ll only break your teeth.”
I’m trying to pull the cork out.
“Stop it, Sasha. It hurts me to look at you.”
Finally, bottleneck is free. I make myself comfortable sitting on the jacket. Hold out my hand to Lilia. She sits down next to me. I offer her the bottle and say:
“You start it.”
“I don’t drink from a bottle,” she answered smiling. “Frankly speaking, I don’t want to drink, honestly, Sasha.”
“Go on, drink. Why are you showing off?!”
“I told you: I don’t want to.”
“Then whom I was buying it for?”
“Thank you, Sasha, but I won’t...”
“Please, Lilia, at least little bit,” I pleaded.
Lilia swallows once and passes me the bottle. I drink minimum 200 grams. Then light a cigarette.
“Well, what did you want to tell me?
“Don’t pressure me.”
It feels good from that wine I’ve just had. I wrap my arms around Lilia and say:
“I adore you, Lilia!”
I kiss her forehead.
Entrance door is being slammed downstairs. Lilia steps away from me.
“Don’t, Sasha,” she says.
“Why?” I say.
“Because,” she answers.
What can I do? I take the bottle with wine.
“Want some?” I ask Lilia.
She twists her head in denial. I drink. The wine is good.
Frozen branches of the tree are scratching hand-rails of the stairs.
“I’m going tomorrow... Actually, it’s today already.”
I can hear Lilia’s nervous laugh. She makes some uncertain gesture. I thought it’ll be easier after I tell her this, but it turned out opposite way, even worse.
“I, myself, found out only yesterday,” I say.
“So what’s next?” asks Lilia.
Pause. Lilia lifts her head up and, it seems, looks at the sky. I also glance at it frowningly. Not a single star can be seen, not a single light patch.
“Pass me the bottle.”
“What if your husband smells it in the morning?” I blurt it out without thinking.
Lilia is drinking. And I’m already drunk. Quite tipsy from what I had. I say:
“Lilia, I was always honest with you. I told you, I’m not going to live with my parents. At first I thought of ranting a flat, I have enough money for the beginning, but the thing is... I’m not the one to explain it to you. Family it’s a very serious thing. And a child, too... Don’t think anything bad, I will love Marichka as my own... but...
“Don’t... Say nothing more,” says Lilia.
I say, almost hitting myself in chest:
“I swear, Lilia, I will take you with me in six months. I’m going to take care of everything during this time, I will find...
“Sashko, will you finally shut up!? Or else I will get upset with you.”
I turn silent.
“What time is it already?”
“It’s twenty to three,” I answer.
“Well, let’s go apart then?”
She gets up. So do I. I wear my jacket back on.
“Turn around; I’ll clean your jacket.”
She cleans my jacket. We’re going downstairs. A cock crows somewhere.
“So?” somewhat too cheerfully starts Lilia. “Farewell, Sasha. May God send at least to you that other half to be happy with.”
Lilia kisses me, then turns around and goes. I stand as if I’m dug in. I shout after her:
“I need no other halves. I love you, and only you, do you hear me?! I will always love you...”
Northern wind brings Lilia’s sobs to my ears. I’m crumbling the candles in my pocket. I’m also crying...