21 February 2011

Fair Trade

Sergei held his head in his hands and slowly moaned to nobody but perhaps the family dog. He could hear the wind blowing outside (and nearly through) the window of his cabin – the cold, cold wind blowing through the Siberian forest and across the Siberian plain and straight up to the walls of his little Siberian cabin. The window, at last, proved no real match for that wind...that wind that brought with it only chill and the promise of dark days to come.

He tried hard to think of what his daughter looked like – it seemed he could hardly remember, and now he knew that she must look very different indeed. She had left as a rather plain, young Siberian girl, and now she was wearing her hair in a "bob," running around in tight, short dresses and makeup, smoking cigarettes, drinking cocktails, listening to "jazz" and dancing the "Charleston."  Change, change, and more tragic, tragic change.

It all began that day five years ago when that young American soldier with the round eyeglasses showed up. True, he had saved Sergei and his family from the Bolshevik ruffians, but in the end he had only caused the ruin of the Ivanov family. That unassuming “Sammy” had taken his daughter to that land across the ocean – that “Amerika” of trolley cars, indoor plumbing and something they called “electricity.” How could he go on, knowing that he had done what he had done – agreeing to abandon his beloved daughter to that foreign land and those foreign people who smiled all the time, danced in public and listened to that devil-inspired device...the so-called “Victrola.” How she must miss the farm, the rock-picking, the woolen undergarments, the cabbage and the blood sausage. How could he have done this to his only daughter, and how could he ever come to grips with his failure?

Sergei glanced at the handsome 1903 Springfield leaning against the wall near the door, its rich American hardwood stock framing the beautiful blue gunmetal. A slight smile broke across his face. “Perhaps she likes to dance the 'Charleston,'” he thought, rather absentmindedly.

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