Denis - a sunny day. Joanna's Page 14
Denis - a sunny day. Joanna's Page 14
Firewood was cracking in the stove; her drenched socks, coat, mittens and kerchief were steaming. There was smell of wool and slightly burnt dry crusts. Yana always had to chew something when she wrote: dry crusted, fruit drop, sunflower seeds. Also, there were mother's smell, her perfume, her unheard steps, rustling of her dressing-gown and her praying look.
"You are forty years old, mom, and you don't wait for Arkady Sinegin any more, don't finish his dissertation and don't torment men with your beauty. The present meaning of your existence is Joanna Sinegina who fights against released genies in felt boots and an old cotton dress." Words and lines were lost being shot by her pen and crumpled sheets fell to the floor trembling in agony.
She personified her genies settling them in the story she had invented for Denis Gradov. She had never had to deal with such a quantity of personages, and when it already seemed that she couldn't bear and cope with it, suddenly everything fell into places, and on the 22th page they started living their own life? And Yana hardly had time to write down their acts, thoughts and dialogues.
In five days and nights many years ago on the 82nd page at 8.20 a.m. an unknown man put on his raincoat and left. Yana put a point, reached the editorial office, gave her manuscript to Lyuba for reprinting and asked for permission to leave for two hours rest after sleepless night.
Mad Lyuba's knocking at the door woke her up.
"Are you out of your mind? This boy of yours has stayed at the editorial for a long time. Oh my, two hours!"
Either being half-asleep after lying in a warm bed, or due to icy water from the tap under which she put her sleepy face, but her real pre-duel struggle started.
With fear she looked at the face of Lyuba who urged her, and Lyuba who usually played the role of a critic was silent as ill luck would have it. And at last Yana lost her patience. "How nasty are these goddesses-typists with their inalienable rights of the first word."
"How do you like it?"
"With a pitiful and ingratiating smile she waited for a sentence to be passed. Lyuba who had become skilled and picked up all kinds of literary terms and who had feared the most of all to show herself as a dilettante on this subject suddenly said,
"Girls say that it was not you who has written it."
"Which of girls?"
"Our girls." It seemed that it had been an opinion of Lyuba herself.
"Which of girls says so?"
"Well, you know better. Stop it. I'm only joking."
But she didn't joke. In the same estranged and suspecting way she was met at the editorial, as if she, being their favorite who had got used to their advices, protection and even friendly criticism of her sometimes unsuccessful opuses, suddenly tricked them. Only yesterday she bagged three rubles till paydays but now she took a bundle of money out of her pocket. And everybody felt ill at ease now.
Yana felt lonely, rejected and very unhappy. Demonstratively asking Peacock for a cigarette, she would shrank into corner and started smoking; she was waiting until Denis reached 82th page of her scenario. Everyone in the room was be waiting for it, but they weren't be at her side now.
Peacock seemed her to be even more parti-colored and handsome. This time he wore another coat with golden buttons and the same scarf: his hair was shot with platinum.
It was the last page. Silence swallowed up Yana liked a quagmire; she was waiting for a shot. It was her single-combat or duel, and these amiable friends who thirsted for her blood...
"Well, Joanna Arkadievna, could you come and have a chat with me?"
Looking at oblong faces of the present people, Yana felt at least partly revenged.
"It's past six already and all rooms are locked," the onlookers still hoped for something. And then Yana got up.
"We can come to my place, it not very far."
It is a knockout for her co-workers. They are quits now.
Yana led Denis Gradov (He didn't have his 'Moskvich' today because the stuffing box of the brake cylinder started a leak) past a food store and a manufactured goods shop, past small single-storey houses with comfortably lighting windows and past Lyuska's house: it became completely lopsided and grown into the ground or, maybe, it was she who grew up. It was a long way but they have gone for a moment. It was really so: a long way to her place for a moment.
Denis told about a friend of his who could move matchboxes by his willpower only but no good comes of it, and Denis persuaded him to learn how to move scenarios through censorship, art councils and various committees..
Yana could hardly listen. In the long run, his friends who could moves things were none of her business. She was tired. She didn't know yet that Denis always blattered when he is off the rails.
They passed a kerosene shop, walking along the path leading to her place. It was slippery and frosty, and the street lamp didn't light as usual. Denis was grumbling.
"Certainly we had no asphalts, illumination and cars weren't sent up to the door. Also we couldn't write scenarios and so on."
Yana inflated her breast as much as possible in order to 'hit with a word' but she lost her nerves. Suddenly the path began to shake under her feet as a ship in a storm. Yana was carried somewhere aside and Denis just cought her, and when they clung to each other the path began to turn around as well as birches, an empty icy bench under them and the brown door with rhombuses, before which they suddenly stopped.
Yana began to laugh; she died laughing. "Not really!" he said; he imitated her laugh and also started laughing. They were under forty years old for two of them, and the wall broke, and Yana brought him into her life through the brown door with rhombuses up the creaking wooden stairs to the room where she and her mother lived. It was where firewood creaked in the stove, hot lights danced on the wall, her father's table lamp under a green glass lampshade shone and sheets of paper torn by her lay under an old rocking chair.
And smell of mom's perfume, and her cutlets, and she herself putting on a sweater over her dressing-gown. Mom went to their neighbors to watch TV in order not to prevent her from serious talking to a producer from Moscow.
Incredible inappropriate Peacock didn't fit in her room and her life.
Mom had left. They tucked away cutlets with fried potatoes. On the stove a kettle was boiling.
"Now I can understand why you succeed in writing your masterpieces. The secret is in cutlets. Maybe, in five years I will make a great film according to this scenario."
"In five years!" Yana fell from heaven to earth.
"Try to figure it out for that this is a scenario of full-length film but I have been charged to shoot a half an hour's documentary. So it is here." He took several stapled sheets out of his folder. "I have written it by myself. Something was deleted and something was added. Please write it."
How primitive and unserious these writings looked near her fundamental opus! Yana started reading and finally was horrified. Nothing was left of her essay and that was never mind, but what about that horrible and clumsy style and confused episodes without any connection with each other?
She read the last page for ages, agonizingly thinking about what to say to him in order not to offend him.
"It's quite good but some corrections have to be made."
"If so, it's for you to make them," Denis readily handed a pen to her; of course, it was a gold nib fountain pen. "You are an author."
This improper "you are an author' took Yana's breath away. With difficulty she overcame her wish to delete all of that up to the last 9th page.
"I would like to reread it."
"Yana read again and again. She felt sick of disgust but at last she managed to find a core of good sense. Denis' interesting plot was completely lost in the crowd of clumsy lines, and now she had to heal them: blind, humpbacked and lamb ones. She had to heal them turning them into brave soldiers and put them in due order.
Little by little Yana began to be carried away. Denis was an author but and she is an editor who makes corrections.
Denis tried to protest but later gave up as lost and left her alone, obediently and perplexedly looking at crossed out lines and appreciating her 'some corrections have to be made'.
Then she knocked on her typewriter. Mom came back from her neighbor a long time ago and made the camp bed for Denis. She gave some signs to Yana but Yana ignored them and suffered for that very much. Because when mother as usual sank into a deep sleep on her sofa and Denis Gradov familiarized himself with a masterpiece of editing typed by Yana she suddenly realized that mom had intended to move some furniture in the room in order to put the camp bed to the stove. But now the camp bed stood almost close to her own bed and nothing could be done here because it was impossible to move the sofa with her mother sleeping on it.
"It can't be written better," Denis stated.
Over her the problem of the camp bed hung like the sword of Damocles. But it seemed that Peacock was not worried about it. And when Yana came back from the kitchen with a resolute intention to wake up mother, Peacock slept already and his splendid feathering lay close to him on the chair.
Frightened Yana switched off the light in order not to see his bare shoulder and neck with a silver chain. She made thread to her bed like through a minefield then lay down under the blanket with her dress on. Mines exploded, and a sound of fallen shoes and a creak of the mattress spring were heard. Oh!
Denis gave no sign of life.
Then she dared to take off her dress. It would be easier to take off one's skin. She wriggled in the stuffy and creaking bed and at last emerged out of the blanket, being nearly suffocated.
Denis slept not knowing about her torments. And his deep sleep in a meter distance from her was so wonderful by its insolence as his scenario was.
She feared to move, turn and breathe. The clock agonizingly slowly counted seconds and an endless night was ahead. She felt as if she had swallowed a mammoth bone.
But in her night prayer she didn't ask God to deliver her from torments and carry Denis far away from here. She was ready to endure mammoth bone and slowly rate of the clock.
His face with closed eyelids was turned to the window and mysteriously whitened in the darkness.