Вернуться Следующий Предыдущий A Winter Dream

Cocking a branch of a pine, Masha looked in his eyes. Snow fell from the branch wrapped in winter clothes. Sasha caught some snow in his palm and stared at her. A bullfinch flied up, seeing the two lovers: apparently, it felt that it was not in time. The lovers had a look at the bird, then Masha pulled another branch, and Sasha was totally covered in snow. Masha started running, drowning in large drifts in the hope that she would be caught soon and would appear in his arms. Near the next pine she swept snow over him again. Masha stood aside and burst into laughter. Perhaps, the silence of a winter forest was not broken but for a couple of lovers who found themselves alone with each other.
It all ended as Masha wanted it to end: she was in his arms.
“What a wonderful winter dream”, Masha thought. She rolled over on her side and wrapped in a blanket. She frankly did not want to get up. And she could easily do it: it was the last day of the year, December 31, her “bunnies” were still asleep.
It was quiet in a country cottage in the pine forest covered with snow, ready to celebrate the New Year, ready for festivities and countless fireworks produced by holiday-makers.
It was not cold. And at night she could come out with the children into the yard, where there was a huge spruce tree that grew up here, as it seemed, three hundred years ago. During the construction of the country house it appeared as ever suitable, and even more so when she had her two little “bunnies” – Misha and Katya.
She threw back the blanket, looked out the window and stretched. From the window she could see a beautiful view of the forest. Flakes of snow were falling from the sky. She ruffled her hair and slipped her feet into slippers.
– So, today is a good day!
When she dreamed of him, Masha was always in a good mood: she shone all day long, and in the last day of the year it was, perhaps, particularly im-portant.
Masha put on a gown, opened the door and walked towards the stairs. There was her first sleepy little “bunny”.
– Mommy, – her daughter said, rubbing her eyes.
– Katya, why are you up? – She leaned over and patted her on the head.
– I got up to help you, – her first little “bunny” said, yawning.
– Well, let’s go, my assistant. I’ll have a cup of coffee and we’ll begin.
Two ladies walked down the stairs, holding each other’s hand.
– Tomorrow is the New Year. Do you already know what you’re going to wish?
– Yes, Mommy. For Misha to listen to me even a bit, because he’s quite naughty.
Masha smiled.
– You’re my good assistant.
They went down. Masha turned on an electric pot, and both beauties went to the window.
– Mommy, it’s so beautiful here! And will uncle Kolya come today? – She asked suddenly.
Masha changed in the face.
– No, uncle Kolya will come later. And do you like him?
– Mommy, well, it’s you who should like him.
– Ooh! You’re all grown up now.
Masha opened the cupboard and took out a cup.
– You know, sometimes there are moments when you just must like some-one.
– Well, but it’s bad, Mommy.
– Oh, my little one, it is. Well, let’s talk about something good. Have you prepared a gift for Misha?
– Yes, – Misha’s sister said in a satisfied voice.
– Let’s go, you’ll show me.
– Mommy, tell me please about the fairy.
– And what should I tell you? I’ve already told you everything, – she hugged her daughter.
– Well, tell me again.
– Every year, at the New Year’s Eve, she comes and helps Santa to give gifts to children. Santa has much work to do, and we’re living in the forest, and Santa may get lost. So, the fairy – the owner of the forest – helps him.
–Well, and will she come today?
– Of course, because tomorrow is the New Year.
They went into the nursery, and Katya showed her a gift – a great construc-tion set that Misha constantly asked from his mother.
– Cool! Well, Katya, come on, while your brother is sleeping, we’ll start preparing for the New Year, huh? And then he’ll get up, and we’ll have break-fast. All right?
– Let’s go, Mommy.

– That’s because you are an idiot! Holy shit! – Lena slammed the car door. – Sasha, fucking shit! It’s an hour before the New Year, and we’re stuck in this forest. Well, what shall we do now?
– Lena, sweetie, well, don’t worry so much!
Alexander went to his future wife and adjusted the scarf on her fur coat.
– A little bit cold, – he commented his act and kissed her on the nose. Lena softened, but not for long.
– Well, damn it, – she sniffed again.
– Lena, well, let’s meet the New Year here. We have a full trunk of food, vodka and champagne. Well, you wanted to celebrate the New Year originally, didn’t you?
– Shall I booze with bears here? – Offended Lena said frowning.
– Let’s do it this way: there are lampposts, so there is a settlement some-where here. And then, as far as I know, there are cottage houses here. I think people are preparing to celebrate the New Year there. Let’s go. We’ll get warm at the same time. It’s not warm at all to stand here. I think we can ask for some-one’s invitation or take the tools and fix the car.
– You’re so naive! Well, who will invite us? We are in the forest! Maybe we’re some maniacs?
– Well, you are, for example... – This time, he did not let her finish.
– A very sexy maniac, – he put his arms around her. – I would like you to come to me in the New Year.
Lena smiled.
– And so I came to you in the New Year. In such a way we met each other, Pushkin! – She remembered Sasha’s nickname at the institute.
– Well, let’s go, what else can we do? – Lena commanded.
– Or at least we’ll take the tools and I’ll fix the car, – Sasha was catching up with her.
– Now I’ll make my husband work at the New Year’s Eve! What am I, some kind of a monster?
They started walking along the road. It was well trodden, indicating the proximity of civilization benefits. Snow was creaking under the boots, frost was pinching their noses, stars were shining brightly illuminating a beautiful winter evening, with spruce beauties dressed in snow caps. A hare ran in the snow.
– Oh, look! Someone’s running! – Lena looked at the hare.
– A hare! Hurrying to his friends for the New Year.
– Very funny, Sasha. Just very! I’ll take a picture of it with my mobile phone.
– Lena, how are you going to be in time with it? – Sasha nodded his head.
– Of course, I’ll be in time. Do you doubt your girlfriend? – She took out the mobile phone and went to build links with the “locals”. Ironically, the hare was standing still. Whether it liked Lena’s mink coat or beautiful Lena herself, with her long brown hair, thin lips, big brown eyes that she knew how to use in relationships with men, when she wanted to impress them, and slender figure, or something else, but it was standing still. She clicked the camera button – and he escaped. Lena wanted to get closer but then ran away back to Alexander.
– Sasha... There’s a man in the snow, – she said scared, pointing at the snow.
– What? No way!
– Maybe he’s dead?
– Stay here. I’ll take a look myself.
Sasha began to approach, when someone climbed out to meet them... And it was Santa! His beard was hanging out on the left ear, they could see his real black mustache, one mitten was hanging on an elastic band, the second one was lost somewhere. His drunken eyes were barely open. In a slightly “sober” voice and barely getting the words, he said:
– Sorry, but the New Year is already here?
– In general, we wanted to ask you about it, –Alexander retorted.
– Me? – Santa asked in surprise. – I don’t know, – he spoke confusedly. – I went to congratulate kids with the coming New Year. And whether it’s here or not, I do not know absolutely. Sorry, – and with that he went back into the snow.
– Where are you going? – Lena ran after him.
– Lena, well, you’re like a Santa Rescue Service! – Sasha grabbed Santa by the arm and pulled back onto the road.
– Let’s have a drink? I have it. Let’s go, – Sasha suggested, probably to certainly discourage his desire to sleep in the snow. Santa’s eyes lit up and dis-tinctly widened.
Lena and Sasha went back to the car to set a stranger Santa in order. They put him in the back seat and began to rub his ears. After a while, distant sobriety seemed to appear on his face.
– Oh, what’s up? – He shook his head.
Lena nodded.
– What’s your name? – Alexander bent over Santa sitting in the car.
– Santa, – he replied confidently.
– What’s your name? – Alexander continued.
– Santa.
– And in your ordinary life?
– Sergey, why? Where am I? – His eyes became round. – Who are you?
– My name is Alexander, that’s my girlfriend Lena.
Lena nodded.
– We’re stuck in the wood. Our car broke down, – Alexander continued.
Sergey decided to introduce himself, stood up, straightened his Santa’s beard, took off his hat and said:
– Best mechanical engineer of the local factory, the best one! Hope of the local convoy. According to the surveys of independent experts.
– Drinking buddies, then, – Lena whispered to Sasha.
– The king, very nice, the king! –Alexander said ironically.
Sergey shook his head and a minute later came to his senses.
– OK, guys, I’m going to congratulate kids with the New Year. It’s not far from here. Let’s go and ask for the night. Maybe she’ll let us in. She’s a good woman.
– Well, let’s go to your good woman. Why sit here? – Lena joined the con-versation.
Everyone stood up.
– I rarely drink, – Sergey justified himself on the way.
The couple smiled incredulously.
– But then, you know, “What?! You won’t drink for kids at the New Year’s Eve?!” And for the first time I did not restrain myself and thought: oh, fuck it all! – He waved his hand. – And thus I got drunk. I wanted to enter the theater school, but failed. But, you know, the soul is in it. Well, everyone shall have a blast somewhere, – he said, looking at Alexander. The latter nodded. – We’ll look at your car tomorrow. Do you agree to celebrate there, huh?
– Sergey, – Lena joined the conversation. – We are not against it. But we are strangers. Who will let us in?
– Don’t be afraid! She’ll let you in. And then, what’s about human confi-dence, help?.. To leave people in trouble?.. Well, how did you happen to get here? – He turned to Lena.
– Thought to save some miles in Zvonaryovo. It’s close here. And then stalled. There are ten people waiting for food and drinks. Well, that’s nothing, now stores work for the whole night, it’s not a problem. They can buy every-thing. We, thanks God, let them know. So, our conscience is clean. Whatever God does is for the best.
Alexander glanced toward Lena, feeling that she softened to him.
The company turned to the left. Soon the outline of a small house and two or three downed poles acting as the fence in front of it appeared. In the yard there was a lush spruce tree. Approaching closer, they saw a dog kennel and (looked like) her owner, who was delighted to see the guests and was running in circles around the kennel.
– Boys, I’m afraid of dogs.
– This is Laika, there’s no need to be afraid, – Sergey said.
– She justifies her name exactly, – Lena said.
– A young shepherd, – Sergey explained.
– Lena, you stay here, and we’ll come to the house.
They left Lena at the fence and went closer to the porch. Sasha was looking at his future wife all the time. Laika was a friendly German shepherd. She let no one through without some licking. Hearing noise from the yard, the owner of the house appeared on the porch. She was wearing winter boots and hareskin coat with a cloud of her blond hair. Sergey straightened his Santa’s beard, took his bag with gifts over a shoulder and said in a fabulous voice:
– Hello, miss! I am Santa. Came to congratulate your kids with the New Year.
– Hello, Santa! – The lady answered in the same tone, with a nod to Santa.
And in the same breath she added:
– Where were you keeping yourself for so long? The kids have been waiting for you.
– Masha, what’s up with you? – Santa was outraged.
– Sergey, Toma called – she’s worried. I am your last today, but you never came.
Masha turned her attention to a man in a black fur coat, standing a little way off.
– Ah... yes. Masha, people are stuck in the wood with their car. Let them in, will you?
– Or at least give us some tools. We will not embarrass you, – Alexander began.
Masha stared at him. Sasha was standing in front of the lantern. And she could not see his face. There was a pause. Then she asked:
– Sasha?
Alexander took a step forward.
– Masha? – He asked, though he knew the answer already, and literally froze. He did not expect such a meeting.
– Sasha! – She repeated.
– Masha! – He came closer to her.
– Do you know each other? – Sergey looked at one, then the other. They stood in silence, staring at each other.
– And... uh... yeah… – Sergey was trying to break the silence.
– How are you? – Sasha began.
– OK, but what are you doing here?
– I’m not alone...
Sergey did not let him finish.
– He’s with his wife, and... uh… well... – He lowered his head, realizing that he’d rather keep silent.
– Wife?
– To be. In two weeks.
Masha raised her eyebrows in surprise.
– Yes. We are stuck in the wood, were going to celebrate the New Year and now...
– Where is she?
– She’s afraid of dogs. We left her at the fence.
Masha saw a silhouette at the fence.
– We’ll do everything now. Sasha, call your wife.
She tied the dog and returned to the porch to Sergey.
– So, you know them? – Sergey asked.
Masha was staring into the darkness, trying to see this “to-be-in-two-weeks” wife and said in a sad tone:
– Only him.
– Um. Well, OK, – Sergey hesitated again.
– That’s all right, Sergey. Happy New Year to you! – Masha tried not to show emotion. Sergey was saying something else, she nodded, but thought about him all the time, constantly looking out into the darkness. He watched it, and then asked:
– Masha, are you somewhere on Venus?
She immediately found the answer:
– Do you remember it? “I was on Venus, on blue hills in unearthly si-lence...”
Masha did not finish – Sasha and Lena were already near the porch – only glared in his future wife’s eyes and quickly assessed: “...brunette, beautiful, long hair, thin lips, big brown eyes... And mink suits her perfectly!..”
– Hello! Come into the house. Already frozen? – Masha opened the door.
– A bit. We won’t embarrass you? – Lena asked, exchanging pleasantries.
– No, no, Sasha and I know each other a bit, we studied together.
– Yes? Even so? – Sasha and Lena looked at each other.
– Come on, I don’t want to keep you in the cold.
Everyone entered the house.
– Take off your coats, – Masha began to take off her own clothes.
– Masha, – Lena said, – we have plenty of food in the car, if you let us in, let the men go bring it, and we will not be so embarrassed.
– Masha... – Sergey volunteered.
– And I’ll help you here, – Lena continued.
– Good, – Masha nodded. – Santa, take off your clothes, too.
– Oh, well, yeah… – Sergey started, taking off his fabulous hat and coat. Soon, a small man, thin, with black mustache already graying in some places ap-peared in front of them. He ran his hand over his head, trying to sleek the hair that he still had, rolled up his black knit sweater and straightened his collar shirt.
– There you are, a forest deer! – Sasha said, and they all laughed. – Come on, let’s go.
The men were gone.
– Such a beautiful fur coat, – Masha said.
– Thank you, – Lena took a comb from the inside pocket and started brushing the hair. – I really thought that only bears will hear me talking about it. Can you imagine it? We’re stuck. Ten people waiting for us with food and drink, and we’re here.
– So, you left ten people hungry?
– Oh, come on, stores are open for the whole night, they have time to do everything.
Lena looked around: a beautiful wooden house, room flooded with light, table to the right of the door. Masha has already covered it with a white cloth and put spoons and forks on it. To the left of the door, in the corner, there was a magnificent spruce tree decorated with colorful balls. They were few, but each knew its place, and that’s why it became quite exquisite. TV with a plasma screen was on the wall in front of the table.
Masha meanwhile examined Lena’s outfit: tight jeans and a bright red blouse with a wide cut in front.
– Come here, wash your hands, – Masha offered.
Together they prepared the table. An hour remained before the New Year. But due to the changes, there was a lot to do. The women quickly found a com-mon language and communicated on abstract themes. But then Lena asked:
– Masha, and you’re alone here?
– No, my little bunnies are sleeping in the next room. I have two: Katya and Misha – five and four. Preparing to stay up all night and sit with their par-ents until the last moment. Although, as usual, they will be asleep in the middle of the night.
– Um, I also tried it as a child, but I was forcibly put to bed.
– Yes, it seems like everyone had it, – Masha supported, remembering her own “New Years with parents”. – Do you have children?
– No, Sasha insists, but I somehow... I don’t know. He wants a girl, – and after a pause she added, – wants to call her Masha.
Masha froze, but tried not to let on. Especially because her companion, ap-parently, did not notice the similarity of her name with the name of their future daughter.
– And where’s the husband? The oldest bunny? I’m not way out of line?
– Ah... no, that’s OK. I divorced him. We are so different. Do you know what they say: “A good man, but not yours”?
– It happens. Well, you did the right thing. Give me some more potatoes, I peeled these ones.
– Yeah, here, – Masha passed some potatoes.
Then the doorbell rang.
– Our boys came, – Masha said and went to open the door.
– Guys, why so much food? – Masha asked, looking at two huge bags.
– That’s all right, I would not bring it all myself, of course, – Sasha said, shaking off the snow.
– Yes, it was not an easy task, – Sergey added, and exhaling deeply, put the bag on the floor.
– So, guys, take off coats and help us – two fragile defenseless women, – it was Lena’s turn to command.
New Year’s Eve vanity whirled, children woke up, started running to the kitchen, every five minutes telling their mom how much time was left until the New Year. The men tried to steal something from the table, with everything being so appetizing.
Soon, the women puzzled them with male business: opening jars of pickles, canned foods and bottles of liquor.
– Sasha, let’s have some. With the women not seeing it.
– Sergey, didn’t you have enough? – Alexander questioned Santa’s health status.
– Come on, it’s the New Year, for the eyes to shine!
– Fuck it all! Come on! – Sasha nodded and they drank. Then again and again...
“Irony of Fate” was already on TV. The clock showed the last minutes of the year. The table was already laid. Lena was only better laying out cutlery. The children sat on the couch, looking at gifts from Santa. Everyone was in excellent mood.
– Masha! – Sergey shouted toward the kitchen. – Come here, let’s see off the old year! It’s half past eleven!
– Yes, boys, I’m coming, – a voice came from the kitchen.
– Sasha, two forks are missing, go to Masha, take them, – Lena asked.
Masha was alone. Sasha went quietly into the kitchen and stood in the doorway. Masha felt someone behind.
– Yes, Sergey, – she turned, holding two forks. Alexander was standing in front of her. She seemed frozen. They kept silence, looking at each other. They wanted to say so many things, and yet...
– Forks... – Masha said musingly... – Two forks are missing, – she said and paused again, never taking her eyes off him. He stood still. Lena’s voice dis-turbed them.
– Guys, where are you?
Masha silently handed a pair of forks.
– Oh, guys, I’ll go to change, – she said.
– Masha, can I put on make up with you? – Lena asked.
– Come, come, of course.
Entering the room, Lena noticed a necklace lying on the trellises. It immedi-ately caught her eye.
– Oh, what’s it? I have something similar. Beautiful trinkets.
Masha strangely looked at the necklace, then at Lena and added quietly:
– There was one big bright love... but it disappeared somewhere.
– I’m sorry, Masha, it’s private, I understand…
– Well, New Year is a bright holiday.
They put on make up and headed to the guests.
– Come to the table to see off the old year! – Masha offered, entering the room.
– Let’s go, let’s go, – the children shouted in one voice. By that time they finally woke up and took Santa prisoner, getting at him from both sides. He glowed with happiness.
– Bunnies, this is Aunt Lena, and this is her friend, Uncle Sasha – our guests, – Masha introduced guests to her children.
– Mommy, – Misha, her eldest, a small blond burly, began, – why Santa turns into Uncle Sergey every year?
– Let’s get to the table, and then I’ll tell you.
Everyone took a seat.
– Well, guys? Let everything bad stay in this year, huh? – Masha raised her glass.
– Yeah, yeah. A perfect toast! – Her guests supported her. Then, following an old tradition, they started telling each other what good they had this year.
– We had a good year – bought a car, – Lena said. – Sasha got a promo-tion, he’s a big boss now.
– Well... – Sasha waved away.
– Masha, was he already nicknamed Pushkin back then? – Lena asked briskly.
– Yes, – Masha nodded. – During the double period, when the teacher not-ed attendance, we made a list of the group and wrote: Pushkin, Suvorov, Kutu-zov. Well, the teacher, making the roll call, asked in a serious voice: “Is Kutuzov here?” And gave his regards for the systematic skipping of lectures. In general, it was funny, and then one of the guys noticed Sasha’s name and patronymic. And so it went.
– Yeah, cool, really, – Lena nodded. – And the teacher bought it, right?
– Yes, it’s one of the best jokes of the institute.
– We bought an apartment, Masha, – Lena continued, – made repairs. So, we’ll celebrate the New Year and move there. The year was good, of course.
– The best year for me, – Sergey intervened. – How you meet it – in the same way you’ll spend it, and it’s about me... Oh, congratulation of the presi-dent!
– Yes, let’s hear what this good man will say to us, – Masha said and add-ed volume on the TV.
– Well, that’s not it... the country is run by other people, – Sergey, already pretty drunk, joined the discussion.
– Well, you know that, – Masha noted ironically. Everyone laughed.
– I’ll finish, – Sergey insisted, joking. – Here I am, too – Santa. Do you think it’s me giving gifts?
After this question everyone looked at Sergey.
– No, – he continued. – I have a little fairy for this. – Masha raised eye-brows. She told her little “bunny” the same story about a fairy.
– And that’s she who makes wishes come true, and I’m only entourage, cover.
– That’s enough, – Lena concluded. – No more alcohol for Sergey.
– But why don’t you believe me? – He could not calm down.
– Masha, well, and what good did you have this year? – Lena turned to her.
– I divorced my husband, bring up children. It’s difficult for a single wom-an, of course, but, in principle, we cope with it. In the whole... – she sighed, – in general it was a good year.
– If only I could have spare parts for the carpool! – Sergey interrupted her. – Why are you all laughing? – He wondered.
– We’re talking about happiness and success, – Lena tried to explain.
– I don’t know. You all philosophize... When I see my car, which appears after repair as a new one, I get into it. Roads are waiting for me, and there is a pack of cigarettes in the pocket. Oh, and nobody’s happier than me in the whole world.
– Now it’s your turn to philosophize, Sergey, – Masha said. – So, does Toma yell as usual?
– Well… – he waved away.
– Sergey, – Alexander started. – I wish you a lot of parts in the future year! Well, my friend, give me high five!
They shook hands.
– Yeah, OK, – he waved away again, suspecting irony of the guests.
So, it’s the long-awaited time... Chimes strike twelve on the TV screen. With cries of “Hurrah!” everybody clinked glasses and made a wish.
– Happy New Year!
– Happy New Year!
– All right, guys, help yourselves. Who wants what? – Masha as a hospi-table owner of the house began to watch the table. The guests clattered with spoons, forks, plates.
– With these shows there’s a desire to constantly switch channels from one to another. There used to be only the “Blue Light”, and it was excellent, and now...
– I totally agree with you, Lena, – Masha nodded.
– Sergey, let’s have a smoke, – Lena suddenly offered. – Guys, we’ll be back in no time. Just want to have a smoke, excuse us.
– Let’s go, – he agreed immediately, reached into the inner pocket of his coat and pulled out a pack of “Priluki”.
– Well, OK, guys, but be back quickly.

Meanwhile, a slow song sounded in the “Blue Light”.
– Let’s dance, – Sasha suggested.
– OK, – Masha stood up. They left the table. Not believing her luck, she gently placed her hands on his shoulders.
– You have such shoulders, – she looked at him, – and light stubble... did you call it in this way?
He nodded.
– I’m even afraid to feel you, – she commented. – I’m so out of the habit with you. With your gray eyes, your hands, your eyes... I can not believe it. It’s you! – She spoke, not taking her eyes off him. – It’s you!
Sasha took a deep breath.
– I myself do not believe it, – he looked away. – Such a meeting!
– How were you doing all this time? – she asked.
– Not bad, scrambled out. Could not find you, and then there was Lena.
– She’s a beauty.
– Yes... – Sasha hesitated, and added somehow hard. – Beauty...
– I have a similar story with you. I was desperate to find you and... And then, you know, divorced – just could not do it any more. He feels... he feels eve-rything... And, you know, it became somehow easier. I became free, I suppose.
– I am very glad to see you. To know what you are.
– I want to say the same thing: I’m glad to see you.

Lena and Sergey were on the porch.
– What do you smoke? – Lena asked, wrapped in her fur coat.
– “Priluki”... simple like that, – Sergey reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled pack of cigarettes.
– Take mine, – she handed him a pack of “Dunhill”.
– To be tough at the New Year’s Eve with cool cigarettes? Well, it’s possi-ble, – he pulled one and reached into his pocket for a cigarette lighter.
– Hey, and why is she alone? – Lena asked, making a puff. – A beautiful woman.
A lantern was swinging in the wind at the door. In its light they could see snow falling.
– She had a great love. His name was Alexey or Alexander, as that of your man. I do not remember exactly. Masha and I grew up in the same yard, became friends. And so, went on with our lives. She told me all her secrets, women can not be particularly trusted, – he inhaled and exhaled smoke. – Cool cigarettes. Um...
– And what happened to that love? – Lena asked, looking at Sergey close-ly.
– Well, he was gone...
– What, made her children and was gone?
– No. Why children at once? In Moscow, at the railway station there was a terrorist attack, this guy sensed something was wrong, and covered her with his body, there was an explosion. When medics arrived, they separated them. They were holding each other so tightly that they barely managed to do it. In general, he turned out to be dead. When she heard it, she rushed to him, screaming so... oh... and began to kiss him. Well, there are these nine minutes when the heart is not working, but the brain is still alive, and man can still be brought back to life. And there it was eleven minutes, well, and medics moved away – well, that’s it... you know? And then his pulse appeared. Weak, but still the pulse. Medics were standing aside in disbelief. Masha was screaming hysterically: “Do something!” Well, those ran fussing... with a defibrillator or something, this is how this thing is called? Brought him back to life. Masha was constantly holding his hand. Once she let go of it – his pulse was gone. You know, when he feels that she’s around – he lives. Without a touch of her hand – that’s it, the pulse disappears. Medics shook their heads and said: “Love! There is no other scientific explanation”. In the ambulance Masha became ill, and they took her to a hospital, which was on the way and took care of the wounded during the attack. He was back to life more or less, but was taken to another hospital – a specialized one. I’m not a doctor, so, I tell everything as I understood it. Well... That’s how they lost each other.
– Sasha, and what about phones? Well... social networks? How is it possi-ble to lose each other now?
– Everything was gone in that explosion. Well, do you remember the num-ber of your cell phone?
– No, why?
– Well, here it is the same. Now, of course, she knows it, but then...
– Well… A cheerless story. And not for the New Year’s Eve at all.
– Lena, you asked – I answered.
– Yeah, of course, – Lena nodded.
– And now, does she have someone?
– Yes, there is one suitor. She does not accept his courtship much. In gen-eral, Kolya is a good guy, efficient man, with a snap, he has some business, trad-ing building materials or something.
– And what does she think about him?
– In my opinion, she still misses her Alex or Sasha.
Lena immediately stopped and became pensive.
– Lena, let’s go.
– No, no, Sergey. I’ll have another one. You go.
He nodded and left. Lena lit another cigarette and looked out the window at Sasha and Masha’s dance, trying to outshine this picture by the exhaled cigarette smoke. She tried to remember, to compare: can it really be him? At that time he really was in a hospital somewhere... It can not be true... Maybe, they’re not here by accident? Well, could he plot the car damage? Well, it’s silly somehow. She was very touched by the story told by Sergey. This love only happens in movies. Sasha is certainly capable of such feelings. But she wanted them to be given to her.
However, Lena decided to reject such thoughts and sort things out. Per-haps, it is not her Sasha. And still, it’s the New Year’s Eve now. She stubbed out the cigarette and went inside.
– Are you still dancing? – Lena looked at Masha in the hands of her future husband.
– Yes. We have been waiting for you for a bit and got carried away, – Sasha said.
– Well, yes, – Lena hung her fur coat.
They all sat down at the table again.
Then the doorbell rang. Masha looked at the door in surprise.
– Another visit? I’m not expecting anyone, – she said and went to the door. Sergey and Sasha went with her.
– Kolya? – Opening the door, she asked in surprise. – And what about your business trip?
At the door stood a tall man with a broad smile, in his forties, in a long black leather coat and mink hat, in his right hand he had a package. He took off his hat, and his bald head with a little hair on the sides gleamed in full. He alter-nately looked at the men standing next to the woman he loved, then at her her-self, apparently trying to understand whether she is pleased with his arrival or not.
– Happy New Year! Well, I’m late for the chimes, – Nikolay said. – I left the car there. You know, even froze while walking here. – He began to shake off the snow. – Apparently, the frost hit. But basically, you can shoot in the wood.
– Come on, Kolya, – Masha invited him inside.
He went into the house, rubbed his hands, kissed Masha. Lena was watch-ing Alexander’s reaction.
– Oh, Kolya, you’re so cold, with red cheeks, – Masha smiled friendly.
Kolya reached out to Alexander.
– Nikolay.
– Alexander.
Then he greeted Sergey. Masha helped him take off his coat and invited to the table. Everyone turned attention to the new guest, his bald head, black eyes and a charming smile that appeared on his face almost every thirty seconds. It was evident that he was very glad to get here.
He unbuttoned the top button of the suit and looked at Lena.
– This is Lena, Alexander’s girlfriend, – Masha introduced her. – They got stuck in the wood before the New Year, and we studied together with Sasha. Such an unexpected meeting.
– Masha, I... Where are your bunnies? I brought them gifts, – Nikolay reached for the package.
– Let’s go, have a look. They are probably already asleep, but maybe not. Katya asked about you.
They went into the nursery. Her little “bunnies” were asleep and probably saw sweet dreams.
– Masha, – he hugged and kissed her. She did not answer. Even shivered somehow.
– Let’s go to the guests, – she said quietly.
Those were silent and waited for the couple.
– Kolya, help yourself, – Masha took a seat. Nikolay remained standing.
– Yes, Masha. It’s from me, – he took a bottle of vodka and expensive French champagne out of the package.
– Kolya, we have enough of everything!
– Put it here, Kolya. I’ll run things a bit, – Lena joined in.
– Masha, – Nikolay paused. By his face, it was clear that he was preparing to say something very important. Lena showed Sergey with a gesture to diminish the TV volume.
– Masha, – Nikolay was worried. – I wanted to do it later, but... Not so, – he smiled and corrected himself. – Masha... – She stared at him. – You know I love you. And this night I wanted to propose to you, for you to become my wife. I was going to tell you this later, but... I know that in your life there has already been love. I will not be such. But one loves, and another one allows to be loved. So it is all arranged. This must be understood. I’ve been waiting for a long time... This person is not here with you. And I understand that he will never be. I’ve been waiting for a long time... I can not wait any longer. You will have every-thing.
There was a silence. It even seemed that they heard snow falling outside the window.
– I am not a poor man. I mean, as for the proposal… – He said, smiled and exhaled, pulling a small gold ring from his pocket.
Masha lowered her head. After a while it became clear that the pause is prolonged. Lena broke the silence.
– Well, a lovely man’s act. You were also going to propose to me, weren’t you? Only on my birthday, in two weeks, – she turned to Sasha, who became somewhat pensive and sat staring into space.
Masha didn’t look up.
– Maybe, you will do the same? You are a real man, too, – Lena continued. Sergey did not understand what was happening, and looked from one couple to another one. Alexander stood up, picked up the glass and looked at Masha. She did not raise her eyes to him. He was silent. The pause was long. Lena picked up a napkin and with the words: “As was to be proved!” threw it on the table, got up and went to get her things.
– Lena, where are you going? – Alexander shouted.
Lena said nothing and left the house. He immediately ran after her.
– Lena, well, come on! – He shouted.
But she walked without turning, barely pulling her legs out of the snow, wrapping herself in the mink coat and did not think to stop.
He caught up with her, stopped and grabbed her shoulders.
– Sasha! I realized it: you had a great love. Sergey told me everything. I just don’t want to interfere. You are so decent, it’s even disgusting! You will suffer with me, but won’t quit me. No, Sasha! Be happy! Masha said it right: “There is such a concept – a good man, but not yours”. I feel that you are always some-where far away, and here you blossomed when you saw her. I’ve never seen you such! Sasha, leave it, each person should be happy.
– No, I don’t agree! – He yelled with all his forces.
– Sasha, just do not spoil your life and mine! Now I understand the reason for your constant shitty mood! – She was screaming now. – Sasha, it’s destiny. Go and try to be happy.
She started walking again. After a couple of steps she turned.
– And tell her I said hi... Bitch!
And then she shouted:
– Sasha, will you ever go with a scarf? Well, I’m tired of barking at you! It’s so cold, and you are with an open throat, – she immediately started to cry bitterly, turned and walked on.

– It’s him? – Kolya abruptly pulled out a chair and sat down. Masha never looked up. After some time, she nodded.
They were alone. Sergey went out somewhere, probably to catch up with Lena and Sasha. Kolya leaned over her, kissed her hair. Masha lifted her head. It was evident that she was crying.
– It’s the New Year, you can not cry, – Kolya tried to smile, though he felt his own tears in the eyes.
He kissed her on the cheek, got up, took his coat and left in a hurry.
– Kolya, do not leave! – She immediately ran after him, finding her usual vest.
Once she managed to run out onto the porch, Kolya has already pulled away from the gate on his Jeep.
Without knowing why, she decided to have a walk. To make it more com-fortable, she put her hands into the sleeves, as in the muff, and wandered aimless-ly with his head tilted. There was a crazy roar from holiday fireworks in the wood, it was as bright as if in the daylight. After walking for a while, she sat on one of the stumps. Tears were running on her cheeks again. She heard footsteps, then felt someone walking to her. It was... a little girl dressed in some kind of a very large shirt, in which she was drowning.
– Who are you? – Masha stood up in surprise, wiping away tears.
– Me? – The girl’s voice was fairy-tale, quiet and very gentle. – A little fairy.
– So, girl! What a fairy! Do your parents know where you are? Are you cold? – With these words she began to take off her vest.
– No, no. I need nothing.
– Well, what do you mean “nothing”? – Masha did not listen to her.
– I’ll reveal you a secret... He’s here. Sasha is nearby.
– How do you know him?.. Well... wait, who are you?
– I am a little fairy.
– What a fairy! – Masha was indignant.
– The one you and Sergey-drinker told your children about, not holding your tongues! Next time I’ll have another Santa, – she said resentfully, rubbing her eyes.
– So, you are alive?! I told my children about you. I thought that I made you up! – Surprised Masha leaned over the girl and began to consider her.
– Well, thanks God! Everything you ever made up really exists. And how can a mother lie to her children? Well, you finally believed me! You, adults, have a problem with a belief in miracles.
– Wow! – Masha sat down. She immediately started smiling in disbelief. – A fairy? – She repeated. – It can not be true!
She came closer and touched her hands.
– It’s the New Year, no one should cry. Besides, you have already been told about it today.
– How can I not cry? Kolya is unhappy, Lena is unhappy, Sasha is wor-ried.
– Well, and what about you? Are you happy?
– Me? Very. He’s back in my life! He is here, I can see him, I can touch him, I can talk to him. And this is the greatest happiness!
– These are beautiful words, and let me take care of the happiness of oth-ers, right? And you should watch yourself, your happiness.
With these words, Masha somehow calmed down and stopped crying. Ei-ther magic acted, or the fairy’s words were so convincing that it was impossible not to believe her.
The fairy vanished as silently as she had appeared. Masha got up and wandered off somewhere again. She wanted to find him. Maybe, he’s still here and never left. Near a spruce tree, she stopped holding a branch, decided to fix one of her boots. And then snow was falling from other branches. She turned. And there he was, Sasha. Standing and smiling.
Cocking a branch of a pine, Masha looked in his eyes. Snow fell from the branch wrapped in winter clothes. Sasha caught some snow in his palm and stared at her. A bullfinch flied up, seeing the two lovers: apparently, it felt that it was not in time. The lovers had a look at the bird, then Masha pulled another branch, and Sasha was totally covered in snow. Masha started running, drowning in large drifts in the hope that she would be caught soon and would appear in his arms. Near the next pine she swept snow over him again. Masha stood aside and burst into laughter. Perhaps, the silence of a winter forest was not broken but for a couple of lovers who found themselves alone with each other.
It all ended as Masha wanted it to end: she was in his arms.

– It turned out well, – Sergey, dressed in Santa again, said to the little fairy.
They stood on the edge of the wood, discussing their actions.
– We still have to think of the rest of them, – the fairy said.
– And what shall we do? I don’t know. Well, for some nice policeman to stop Lena’s car?.. Banality! – Sergey concluded.
– Well, yes. We need to think. Well, a company of drunken cops in the wood? Cool! – The fairy supported his idea.
– Do you really think so? – Sergey said and touched his mustache. – I’m not sure. Hey, what did you do for Sasha’s car to stall?
– Ah, – the little fairy waved him off. – I’ll tell you something: it’s not stalled. Lena’s going to leave in it now. Well, when you crawled out of that drift, I laughed so hard.
– And where were you there? I did not notice you.
– I was sitting on a branch. What should we think, with no such banality? – The fairy became thoughtful. – And why not banality? Let it be.
Meanwhile, Lena’s car was spanking along the belt road. Lena stopped at the traffic lights, staring at the red light shining brightly in the darkness, and thought about something else: about Sasha, how they met… Maybe, she should... Her thoughts were interrupted by a wild crash – someone drove into her car.
– Well, what the fuck! – She slammed the car door and walked to the of-fender, owner of the Jeep. The latter was not getting out of the car. By the silhou-ette, she realized that it was a man. Lena menacingly tapped on the glass. The glass went down slowly.
– How are you feeling? – Slyly alluding to January 1, Lena asked.
– Well, OK. This is my way of making acquaintances, – said... Nikolay.
– Kolya, it’s you?!
He looked out.
– I’ve got a bottle here... not opened. If you want, we can invite cops – to have some company, – he smiled. – If not, the New Year on the belt road is quite unusual.
– Yeah, we have such a New Year... – she said sadly.
Kolya opened the door and got out.
– Lena, well, now they just need to be left alone. I’ve heard their story. And then, you see: it’s not clear how it will end. They have not seen each other for a long time, they became estranged from each other. Now they need to be alone, and then, maybe, we will be back. Life will dot all the i’s.
– And you are a crafty guy. Went away in order to return?
– Ah, – Kolya shrugged, making a face. – Leave it! If a fiancée leaves, you never know who the lucky one is!
– And you know how to calm down, – she became kinder. – And I have food in the trunk.
– This phrase should be told with a gleam in the eyes and a sense of undis-guised joy! I’m empty at all and want to eat something. Better yet, to get every-thing here! – Nikolay said, and together they walked to the car, in which Lena came, to get some food. Five minutes later, a makeshift New Year’s table was laid on the hood.

– Well, everybody is done with. That’s good! – Seeing it all, the fairy con-cluded. – I came up with a good idea. Banality, of course. But then we have no time to argue about it, or they will leave for good. And then, why can’t they be together, why look for some other “halves”, since they met here like this?
– Little one, fulfill one my wish.
– Come on, and then I have to run to the adjacent district, it’s also ac-countable.
– Well, actually... – Sergey hesitated.
– Well, Sergey, any wish today.
– I’d like some spare parts for the carpool, – he blurted out.
The little fairy laughed.
– Oh, well, quite a fool! I’m a fairy-tale fairy, I bring happiness into homes, help lovers find each other...
– But do you know how happy I’ll be with whose parts in the carpool?.. I’m so tired of Mikhalych!..
– Oh, I can’t stand it with you any more! OK, you’ll have your parts!.. All right, Sergey, bye! Until the next New Year’s Eve! Thanks for the help! And… do not get drunk so again! – She came closer and hugged him.
– Bye, little one! I’ll miss you.

Masha woke up and opened her eyes. Sasha was lying next to her. Snow flakes were falling outside the window. It was quiet. She could only hear his breath. She turned off the blanket and gently stroked his back, remembering fa-miliar bumps and hollows, every cell of his body. Then covered him with the blanket again. Morning of the first of January – beginning of a new life. She al-ways liked this moment. There is still nothing, just the forest wrapped in snow outside, silence, everyone’s asleep, New Year… No mistakes are made, no joy is received, there is no loss.
Beginning of a new life. Now she will get up, put on her slippers and a gown, at the door her little “bunny” will be waiting for her, rubbing her eyes. She and her daughter will walk down the stairs, brew some coffee, the house will be drowned in its fragrant smell, and it will be snowing outside. They will stand at the window, looking at all this beauty, and Masha will think that a new life has begun, a life, in which she won’t be alone!

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