The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 4   -  Happy Families

July 2

‘A child is the world in miniature, and the fate of a child stands for the fate of the world’.

Vera remembered the words of an old professor as she took her afternoon rounds at the Leningrad Children’s Hospital. Those words had put her on the path to becoming a doctor and she felt the weight of them with every patient.

The little girl’s name was Zoya. For the past week she had been under Vera’s care, and in that time she had fallen deeper and deeper into a condition for which there was no diagnosis. Specialists had been consulted, but all of their treatments had failed and it seemed the moment of crisis was near.

Vera walked along the rows of metal cots to the far end of Ward 6, which was set aside for the most serious cases. She pulled back the curtain surrounding Zoya’s bed. At the bedside sat the girl’s mother, her head resting on the mattress. In her hand was a cloth doll that fell limply to the floor at the sound of the curtain.

“I’m sorry Nadia, I didn’t mean to wake you. I just wanted to look in on her.” Vera took a pulse, then folded back the bedding to feel Zoya’s extremities. The girl’s eyes were closed and she gave no response to Vera’s touch. Vera listened to her heart and noted her shallow breathing. Her temperature remained high.

“She talked in her sleep last night, doctor, but she hasn’t said a word all day,” said Nadia. “Is there anything you can do?” She had spent the night and several nights before by her daughter’s side and she looked exhausted.

“We can only wait and see if the fever breaks,” said Vera. “Being with her is the very best thing you can do right now.” She motioned for Nadia to sit. “Here, let me bring you a cup of tea.”

“That’s very kind, doctor. I’d get it myself, but I want to be here if she wakes.” She paused before asking, “… and I know you’re busy, doctor, but … would you mind sitting with me for a few minutes?”

“Of course. My shift is nearly over. I’ll be back with the tea.” Half an hour later, Vera returned with two cups and pulled up a chair. Nadia fixed her hair as best she could and leaned to whisper something to Zoya. She took the cup from Vera and the two women sat knee-to-knee next to the bed.

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Chapter 4   -  Happy Families

One Response to “Chapter 4”

  1. G Garcia says:

    Dying to know what the confession was.

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