The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 13   -  Karelia

A few days before, distressing news had reached him of the deaths of two of his old battalion comrades. Vladimir, the rifleman, known to the men as Baba Vlad because he was as cautious as an old grandmother, was killed when Rostov was overrun. Still harder was the death of Kyrill, a trusted friend he had known from as far back as his training days. Kyrill the gambler. Kyrill, who had risked everything to help him at a time when most would have refused, and quite rightly. Viktor couldn’t think of those terrible events without recalling the bravery of his friend and the debt that would never be repaid.

He made a brief detour to call on Kyrill’s mother. She was slow to answer the door, but she remembered Viktor warmly from the old days and insisted he sit for tea. “I have a few minutes,” he said out of respect, though he was impatient to see Vasha.

“He spoke often of your friendship,” she said, as she sat and filled his cup. “I have a picture somewhere with the two of you. Let me see now …” There was a box of photographs in her lap and one at her feet, and still more were fanned out on the floor. She knew them all by heart, it seemed, and instantly found the one she had in mind. “There it is.” She pointed to the floor and Viktor reached for the sepia photo of himself and Kyrill, arm-in-arm outside a dusty row of tents. 1935. A summer day on maneuvers, he recalled, but the image in his memory was vague. It was hot – that much he did remember – and their wool jackets were soaked with sweat.

“My Kiroshka was so proud in his uniform, so handsome. He made all the girls swoon.” There was a sadness in her smile. Her eyes were red and her face puffy and cracked, either from days without sleep or, more likely, from malnutrition. She surveyed the story of her life strewn randomly in front of her, then turned to Viktor with a look of concern. “They wouldn’t tell me how he died. Is that common? It’s just … I didn’t need to hear all the details, but it’s strange not to know anything at all.”

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Chapter 13   -  Karelia

2 Responses to “Chapter 13”

  1. Robert says:

    This is the right blog for everyone who wants to undsretand this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic which has been written about for ages. Excellent stuff, just excellent!

  2. This piece was a lifejacket that saved me from drowning.

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