The Coldest Winter

The bell rings, his shift is over. Vladimir walks to his locker and changes his clothes. He walks over to the cashier to get his pay 15 rubles for a week, more than last week but not enough. Disheartened he walks out of the mine. Outside it’s still snowing, such is russian winter in siberia. With the aid of the wind the freezing cold pierces all clothing to chill him to the bone. He begins his walk home. The entire town is blanketed in white as if the snow was sand in a desert trying to smother the town. He passes by the church and stops, the christian faith had been introduced only a generation ago but it now had many faithful. He however wasn’t there for god, he was there for his father. Around the back was the cemetery, he walked along it until he came to a small plaque in the ground.

“Here lies Grigory Zima, father and soldier” was what the plaque read. Even in the cold winter Vladimir stood there unmoving without saying a word. He remembered his mother receiving the news, their grieving and his anger. He remembered his brother and him working double shifts for a month to afford a small funeral for his father. He remembers burying not a body but his father’s accordion, something that only Grigory knew how to play. He remembers having to work full time because his brothers salary was not enough. For all he remembers he cannot say a thing while he stands there. After what seems like an eternity he simply says “Papa I miss you” and leaves.

He walks along the town, the place seems barren and dead. Most of the men had been conscripted to fight and many of the women that had thaumaturgic abilities were taken away. The town that would seem lively even during winters like this now seemed cursed and dying. He walked along wordlessly to a tiny shack, home. Inside he sees faint light and smoke is trickling out the chimney. The house looks very worn out by use. He opens the door “mama i’m home”. “Vladimir how much did you get paid for this week?” his mother said. “15 rubles, less than i thought for all the work i put in” he said. “Shame we need more” she sighs “ i don’t know what he are going to do.” “We will survive” Vladimir responds. He looks down at the table, two plates of soup on a small table for four. He thinks to himself “where is Dimitry?” before he remembers that his brother was also conscripted.

They both sit down and eat their soup, both too tired to say anything to each other only silently staring at their food. Afterwards His mother washes the dishes before going to bed. Vladimir stays sitting near the table thinking about how much more money they need, too much. He stays there as he slowly falls asleep sitting on the chair. That winter was the coldest in memory.