In an Electric Train. Joanna's Page 22
In an Electric Train. Joanna's Page 22
Denis - a sunny day.
After this walk of theirs, about which all the editorial office heard, she felt ill at ease when she appeared there. She was blamed. The worst thing was her awareness that they were right. She also blamed herself, and perhaps, she would also be indignant if somebody of her colleagues fell in love with such a person, the more so because they were ideological workers who were called to teach high moral principles to people.
She couldn't clearly explain why Denis Gradov was so bad. He wasn't a sponger but rather a workaholic; he was entrusted to shoot a film; he didn't drink and didn't behave like a hooligan, but as for his rudeness and arrogance, his 'fateful girl' and his taste in dress, what else should he do with such people as Leonid was. And 'the fateful girl' herself ran after him.
Clothes and foreign cigarettes were sent to him from abroad by his parents; Peacock's father who was a commercial representative constantly worked abroad, and he sent to his son the things that were sold there. And in foreign countries all of them wore trendy clothes. Even their proletariat wore jeans and chewed gums. In a magazine she herself saw a photo of some shaggy-haired nutcases with an inscription 'French proletariat is protesting against the war in Algeria'.
Denis was a stranger, and that was all.
But when prudent Yana reasoned and blamed herself, another Yana who was all the more uncontrolled and unknown kept on clothing herself in Peacock feather. They coexisted in this way. One Yana acted but another blamed her actions. She did it in a passive way on the third hand and together with her colleagues. Instead of waiting for Denis she had to visit a police helper who worked at a bread-baking plant and reeducated three hooligans.
At half past three there was a break in the caf?. Maybe, they decided to refuse from lunch? No, they came out of the caf?.
Carelessly swinging her briefcase, Yana went across the street, giving Denis an opportunity to notice her.
'The fateful girl' said something caustic to him, and Yana became furious. She would like to seize her braid and express all she thought about her. But only abusive words were in her mind, and her fury disappeared. Denis ran to her across the street, and 'the fateful girl' followed him with such eyes that Yana felt a little sorry for her.
'The fateful girl' really loved him. She would always love him. She would marry and divorce men and take lovers, but she would love only Denis. She would be very good in sewing and could earn very much but wouldn't leave the cinema. She would remain to be a permanent assistant of Denis Gradov in all his movies.
Denis said that tonight he was going to Moscow - his parents would phone him at night, and his grandmother had poor hearing. And he would stay there till Monday. Yana answered him that she was likely to travel on business on Monday and would come back in a few days when the shooting of the film might finish, so 'let's say good-bye to each other for every case'.
If only she could endure all of that. 'The fateful girl', damn her, was waiting for him across the street.
As usual, his eyes were transparently light and calm. But this time they became dim and disturbed; he didn't shake Yana's stretched hand.
"Buy the way, we can come together tonight".
"To Moscow. By an electric train at 6:10 pm."
He again said it as if it depended on her to take his words seriously or laugh them off. Then he took her hand, and her heart sank as if she jumped into an abyss and flew alone without a parachute more and more quickly.
"At 6:10 pm," he repeated. She felt that he also 'flew' and became easier.
"I will have no time. I must go on an urgent business. They have been waiting for me for a long time."
"Do the other thing, then," he freed her hand.
"I will really have no time."
"You can come later, I'll meet you."
They agreed to get together at ten at an underground railway station. Denis went with 'the fateful girl' to have lunch. Yana ran to the bread-baking plant. And while she looked for the police helper who finished his shift and found him with his friends, those very hooligans, at the bath's door, and here in the changing room interviewed him, paying no attention to clatter of beer glasses. At the same time she made an exact plan of her future writing material. She still felt that another Yana who had to wait for him late in the evening in Moscow's underground had nothing to do with her.
Even when Yana saw only her reflection in the carriage's window, she still didn't believe in the reality of this mad Yana who would get together Denis Gradov at an underground train in an hour and a half.
And the same unreality seemed to her in stuffy warmth of the carriage and in people who sat silently opposite each other and had one wish to get to Moscow by this night electric train. They did whatever they liked: four men played cards, a small girl in a pink hood slept on her woman's knees, a boy with a bruise leafed through a magazine, his walleyed girlfriend nibbled sunflower seeds and an old woman kept watch over her numerous bags.
It seemed to Yana that all of them secretly watched her. She felt tight and stuffy here, and she went along crashing and swinging carriages to the end of the train. Frightened people looked at her, taking her for a ticket collector.
At last she found an almost an empty carriage, sat down and took off her cap. A slightly drunk man asked her to watch over his toy wooden horse while he would smoke in the platform of the carriage. "Will it gallop off or what?" Yana could see her own reflection in the darkness behind the window - a little twisted hair, wooden face, huge and frightened eyes.
She could disappear or vanish in the darkness behind the window, become her own reflection and pass this evening when it was impossible for her to go to Moscow end even more impossible not to go there because 'the fateful girl' also would spend her day off in Moscow and then.
She got herself together and started inventing a story about passengers. But the carriage little by little filled with new people, and the established warm and stuffy world of the carriage collapsed. Lather everything ran to the exit - people, suitcases, and bags. An emptying carriage for a moment resembled a sinking ship. And to make matters worse, the light was turned off. Yana jumped out of the carriage in time, and immediately another tangle of bags and people who were travelling the other way rolled into the dark carriage.
She was struck with terror. Clenching her teeth, she thought that no girl ever went to her lover like to an execution; everybody felt love, passion, felicity and so on, but it would be the most terrible thing for her to see Denis appearing at the first carriage of a train coming from the center. "Doesn't she love him? What is happening? But it would be even more horrible thing not to see him at all."
Peacock hadn't come. Trains were arriving and departing; passengers were getting on and off. It was ten, a quarter past ten, eighteen past ten. Peacock hadn't come. Yana was distressed; the cold marble froze her back. 'She should get out of here, catch a return electric train and think over her novel. As for Peacock, she could tell him that she hadn't been in Moscow.' But she had no strength to leave.