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Fading love

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Fading love

Autumn was mild and cool. Such it happens only at the end of September in the center of Moscow and nowhere else. Only now, on this grayish evening, he had fully realized what this Moscow autumn is. Autumn, wrapping the streets in yellow with a red blanket of leaves, autumn of a tall and transparent dome of the sky, autumn of pale display windows glowing with artificial light, autumn swallowing memories, autumn bearing oblivion. Yes, she was soft and cool. Such it happens only in the center of Moscow.

***
With the echoing sound of a door, the door slammed shut, and after five minutes he was already standing on Petrovsky Boulevard. And as always, having done something quick and rash, he stopped and tried to analyze: why was he here, which led him to this dreary boulevard with benches wet from the rain and black trunks of bare poplars reflected in the puddles against the sky?

***
If you want to exchange a small room in a communal apartment on Petrovsky Boulevard for a two-room apartment on Ryazansky Avenue, then do not think that this is absolutely ridiculous. It is possible that there is a person who is ready and on such a fantastically stupid deal.
Those who exchanged with him were lucky, he found them himself, offered an exchange himself, and he himself agreed to a not quite adequate surcharge, which, however, allowed him to live for some time, indulging in his favorite activity.

***
Since she was not around – he was sleeping.

***
He sat down at the nearest shop. And nothing, that it is damp: when you strongly want to take a nap in the fresh air, can a slightly dampened drape coat really become a hindrance?
Here, on this boulevard, they walked with mom in those distant times when she took him out of school. It seems to have been sixth grade.
It was at that time that he first discovered that he did not like classmates. And this was the second misfortune that had fallen on him in his entire life. The first was the absence of the father. But when he got used to the first, the second immediately appeared.
He quickly determined the reasons for his failures. He was from a poor, incomplete family. And if up to the fifth grade he was not embarrassed at all that he did not donate money for breakfast, but on the contrary, wears lunch cans from school, then as soon as he began to like girls, he understood: his shameful poverty can cause only pee in peers but no other feelings. And this time.
And two, three, four, and even five is that he was a freak.
And this, too, was found by the end of the fifth grade. How did he not know about it before? After all, the mirror was with her and her mother in the corridor, and he often looked at himself, pulling on his shoes before leaving the house. But now, at the same moment, when it turned out that he could not buy a sausage with mustard, like the whole class, on trips to the Exhibition of Economic Achievements, he didn’t find the little things they had with his mother, and now I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time …
Thick cheeks and liquid hair (they were almost nonexistent, did not grow), slightly crooked on one side of the mouth with thin lips and to the insulting small eyes. Lively, in a flash, he compared himself to his peers and realized that he was the worst. Previously, he was the same as they are, and now … and at the same second he guessed that they must have seen what he was, and for certain they laughed at his ugliness behind his back. This, of course, was not true, his ugly face and clumsy figure did not interest anyone. But now, when he found out, or rather, saw himself, he could not believe that his classmates and, even worse, classmates could not laugh at him.

***
Mother found him in the hallway. He sat on the floor under the mirror and cried. It was not roaring like a little, but crying soundlessly and bitterly, wiping tears with his hands, trying to stop. And the more he tried, the more he clenched his teeth, the larger the drops broke and fell from his eyelashes.

– What are you? – Mother leaned over and tried to raise his head. – Deuce, or something, shlopotal?
He just grinned back. For the first time, so bitterly, so manly, she grinned that his mother even for a second was taken aback, – so he became different, an adult.
“I fell in love,” she concluded, and smiled, and she was sure that she had now found the correct diagnosis.
The son looked at her, and she realized that she was wrong.
“Mom,” he said calmly, as if there had never been a tear, “do you have a picture of your father?”
She did not expect such a question. That is, of course, she suspected that someday the son would want to know who his father was, but she was not ready for such a question right now.
“I don’t care who he is,” the son paused, waiting for an answer, and, without waiting, continued, “it doesn’t matter who and where.” Just maybe you had his picture left?
What could she answer. She did not know who he was or where. But she had his picture.
– I still have his picture. – Mother did not ridiculously pronounce the letter “r”.
She left the corridor to the room. Judging by the sounds, she searched the secretary for a long time, and returned. She stretched out a black and white card on the palm of her hand — one that was molded into passes and in a passport. – Here you are, Pavlik. This is your father.
The son took the picture. He held a moment in his hands, another. Mother waited, and what was she left?
His father was looking at Paul. He was a freak, with small eyes, thick cheeks and a slightly twisted thin-lipped mouth. This creature, this ugly fat-cheeked creature, with small eyes and a slobbering mouth, dared to throw his mother.
He glanced at his mother briefly — he knew what he would see. Mother, of course, was very beautiful.
Then he looked at the photo again, just to give and forget about it forever.
I handed the card to my mother.
“The creature,” he said calmly, “is an ugly creature.”
“He is your father, he …” She was not at all ready to talk with her son …
“Throw it out …” he said. – Throw this face.
Leaning on the wall with both hands, Pavel rose. Felt back chill from the mirror. Turned around.
Now he will always see his face. Even if you tear the photo into small pieces. Every time he glances in the mirror, the hated bastard who abandoned his mother will look at him from there.
And at that moment he realized how he loved his mother. Hatred and love blended together, became something one, inseparable, and the main thing in his soul.
***
Actually, nothing has changed in his life since he saw a picture of his father. He simply realized himself, understood who he was in this world, and, accordingly, understood how to behave with others. True, the surrounding did not notice the changes that occurred in it. Nobody except mom, but mothers notice everything. And the rest did not care how Pasha changed there.
And he himself understood and agreed with his probable future, in which a place was prepared for him somewhere aside and in which his mother would be the main person for him. The world has become simple and clear. There is a goal.
“Let's go to Leningrad,” he said one evening, “let's go on a vacation to Leningrad.”
– Only for the summer. – Before the summer was still very far away, and the mother could promise anything.
– Good. – He said. – Summer.

***
He, of course, never for a moment forgot about this trip. With concentration, almost like an automaton, I went to school. I tried to save as much as possible, which the mother could not help but notice. Trifle, which she occasionally gave him at the weekend, he kept in his piggy bank all to the penny.
Of course, not because of this piggy bank, but the trip every day became a real future for them. Somewhere in late winter, and my mother got used to the idea that on her vacation, they would go to Leningrad for a week. I got used to it, was delighted and took an active part in the preparation.
Together they flipped through the book he had brought from the school library. It was a regular guidebook album of cheap gray paper with muddy black and white photographs.
They especially liked St. Isaac's Cathedral. It was possible to climb its roof and see the whole of Leningrad at once. The spirit captured from such an opportunity.

***
The summer week in Leningrad was much better than he could have imagined. Every day is filled with something important, significant, new …
The cruiser "Aurora" and the Bronze Horseman, Lyceum, Petrodvorets, and finally, right on the roof of St. Isaac's Cathedral. The feeling that you are flying over this wonderful cold city, a feeling so close to perfect happiness that it was difficult to breathe.
They, hand in hand, flew over Leningrad.
“Can we still buy ice cream when we come down, mom?” I saw it was sold at the checkout.
– We can. – She smiled, her son's delight passed on to her in full. – In a cup, with a rose.
She did not pronounce the "p" in the word "rose". She had big gray eyes, and a white bang fell over her eyes and she frowned and blew it out, ridiculously sticking out her lower lip.

***

Since then, they went to Leningrad every summer for a week. These trips could be interrupted for two years, when he was eighteen years old, and he did not go to college. They could have taken him to the army, but an elephant's figure helped just that – a gift from the photo that was still kept in a secretary.
The medical commission in the military recognized Pavel as unfit for service in peacetime. And even among his peers, the exemption from honorable duty was considered something completely unacceptable on the way “army – maturing – marriage”, he was not upset. About marriage and did not think. But to get a job and leave in the summer with his mother, he was quite able to rest.
In Leningrad there is an embankment, from which pleasure ships depart in good weather. And you can go to the stern and feel almost liquid flowing air and water droplets on your face.
– Mom, tell me, did you love him?
– Whom?
– My father.
– Loved.
“And now,” he easily talked about it, here in Leningrad, they could talk about anything. – Now you hate him.
She looked somewhere past the spire of the Peter and Paul Fortress, into the distance, into the bluish-gray Petersburg sky.
– Not. Love – And then quieter, as an adult – love never disappears. And nowhere.
– Like this?
And then she turned to him and smiled her beautiful smile.
– I look at you and see him. Do you understand? No, of course, you do not understand. But you will understand. – She smiled.
He was nineteen. But he still did not understand.

***
He was twenty-one when she died. One week before the trip. In July.
He returned from the store, and she lies face down on the floor in the hallway.
He somehow immediately realized what had happened. I realized that it was not a swoon, not a seizure.
He did not shout, did not rush to pick up, but picked up the phone and called an ambulance. Called as if to live. If you do not know what happened. And even at the end asked to hurry.
I hung up and looked at her. I made a move. Bent down. And, wrapping her robe on her, he lifted the already cold body into his hands. Such a force suddenly took hold of him, that he never stumbled, did not shake, and carried her to the bed. Put it down.
As she fell, she broke her lips. Blood dried on his cheek and chin.
He went to the bathroom and soaked a sponge with hot water, almost boiling water. And wiped his cheek. Not until the end. I went again. And further…

***
He did not remember the funeral. Almost completely. Crematorium. Many people. Lot. They were always alone with their mother. And now there were a lot of people. Lot. In the distance is a coffin. There are a lot of people around him … a whole room. They were always alone.

***
Funeral he did not remember. Almost completely. There were a lot of people. There was no fat bastard from the photo.
The mother’s second cousin, who had come from Vladimir, said quietly, but in such a way that it was the only thing he heard and remembered:
– Quite Pasha plague. As if the loop did not impose.

***
He imposed. In a day, or in two, or in three. Did not work. Even in spite of all the finished vodka left from the commemoration (about half a bottle), it was painful and scary. Noise in the head is stronger than every second and fear, and panic. The horizontal bar, to which he tied a rope, turned out to be too low and weak – it broke under Pashkin's weight. This bar once made for him mom.
There is a red mark on the neck. Nobody noticed him when they celebrated nine days.

***
Soon he advertised on the exchange of the apartment. And, of course, very quickly found willing. And just as quickly he was here, on Petrovsky Boulevard. I put things in my little room with my mother.

***
Behind him, with a hollow bang, the door of the entrance slammed shut, and in five minutes he was already standing on Petrovsky Boulevard.

***
Ten minutes later he was sleeping on a wet bench.
Since she was not around, he slept all the time.

***
– Wake up, you will freeze. – She ridiculously pronounced the letter "p".
He opened his eyes.
– You can not sleep on the wet, – yes, she ridiculously pronounced the letter "r".
She had curly brown hair, bangs, big eyes and a little long nose. She was wearing a green cloth coat with a belt and brown zippered boots.
– I will not. – He smiled. – I dreamed of Leningrad.
– I have never been there. Where just was not, and there is not. – She blew, and bangs soared to the top. – What is your name?
He called his name, and she his.
– It is necessary to go to Leningrad. – He said. – There is St. Isaac's Cathedral.
– I know. Maybe it will. Next summer.
– Required.
– Goodbye. – She said, turning away, went across the boulevard. She stopped. Turned around. – I'm home. And you would not sit. True, cold.
– Nothing. “I'm still a little bit,” he said. She nodded and went to the nearest house. I went into the arch.
A few minutes later a light came on in the window on the fourth floor. A moment later, her silhouette appeared. He waved her hand. And she waved back.
And for him, this wave meant that then, in Leningrad, mother was right.

***
Love never disappears. And nowhere.

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