The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 13   -  Karelia

He rose early, as the first hint of light was visible at the edges of the heavy curtains. The room, beyond a short distance from the stove, was bitterly cold. Viktor pulled on his boots and took his coat from the hook, trying to make as little sound as possible.

“Vasha?” said Elena, waking in her chair.

“No, it’s me,” whispered Viktor. Vasha was asleep under layers of blankets. “I’m going now. Say goodbye to him for me. I’ll get word to you when it’s time to leave. I don’t know when – maybe a week or two.” He crouched next to the chair and kissed her on both cheeks. “We’ll be together soon, Mama.”

“Be careful, Vitya. Keep us in your heart,” she said as he left the apartment.

He started on the long walk back to the fire station, this time taking the bridges that cross the tip of Vasilievsky Island where the Neva splits in two on its way to the gulf. The view from the island’s furthest point, the Strelka, was like the view from the prow of an enormous icebound ship. The sky above the Winter Palace in the distance was layered in ever darker colors rising from the faint dawn. The streets in this part of the city were deserted.

As he crossed the Palace Bridge, Viktor rehearsed his speech to the Captain. Strictly speaking, he didn’t need the Captain’s approval to leave – the Admiralty’s authority was superior to that of the brigade – but he felt a debt of loyalty that demanded an explanation. The Captain will accept his reasons for leaving, he thought, because as a military man, he understood the concept of the greater good. No need to cloud the issue with his evacuation plans. As he walked, he tried out several turns of phrase, such as ‘my distinct honor and privilege’ and ‘my heartfelt admiration’.

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Chapter 13   -  Karelia

2 Responses to “Chapter 13”

  1. Robert says:

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

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