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THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN FICTION
IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION


Lev Rubinstein

HERE I AM

Translated by Joanne Turnbull

(excerpt from Glas 27)

Here I am

 

So then, here I am!

Well...

Well, here I am...

(Where'd you come from? We didn't think you'd turn up...)

Well...

Well, here I am! I can't tell you the feeling...

...the sensation...

...the feeling...

(Look at you... so dashing, big and strong, I would hardly have...

...recognized you.)

So then...

So then, here I am! What could be more wonderful than this magical...

...What could be more magical...

...than this wonderful...

(And now my headache's gone, it's easier to breathe, and generally...

...I feel better.)

Well...

Well, here I am! No other place...

...like it...

It's a place like...

...no other...

(Now that's much better. Because, to tell you the truth, I was beginning to think that if this was the way it was going to be then we'd better just...

...forget about it.)

So then...

So then, here I am! I would never have dreamed...

Who would have dreamed...

...only yesterday...

(Repeat four times)

Well...

Well, here I am! It's incredible, but...

Hard to believe...

...but...

(The remains of a sad fire crackle in the grate)

So then...

So then, here I am! I won't bore...

...I won't bore...

...you...

...you, the reader...

Aged 54, works in the planning department of a research institute.

Re-married.

Has a grown son from her first marriage.

Looks young for her age, in good shape.

Likes to sing and plays the guitar "just for fun."

Was coming back from her lunch break at around 2:30 p.m....

(Well...)

Aged 39, drives a cab.

Used to lift weights when he was younger, then gave it up.

Married.

Two children... Denis, 14, and Lada, 9.

Started his shift at around 2:30 p.m. and headed for Domodedovo Airport...

(So then...)

Aged 24, teaches kindergarten.

Around 5'8" or 5'9".

Pretty, a bit on the heavy side.

Lives with her parents.

Not married but seems to have a steady boyfriend.

She was standing at the tram stop near Riga Station at around 2:30 p.m....

(Well...)

Aged 51, stage actor.

Suffered a major heart attack three years ago.

Gets mostly small parts.

He left the theater at around 2:30 p.m., after rehearsal, and decided to walk the couple of stops instead of taking the bus...

(So then...)

Basically, the whole thing has to be exceedingly light, almost transparent, barely discernible.

Could be something like a rainbow.

Whereas the description of a house can start anywhere.

With the color of the roof, say.

Or with something growing in the garden.

An old white willow by the fence, for instance.

Or something like when you think that you're just pretending to be asleep but in fact are really sleeping.

Or like when someone sneaks up on you from behind, puts his hands on your

shoulders and starts laughing in such a familiar way you can't keep from crying.

Or imagine that you're living in constant fear of some appalling catastrophe.

I think that's why you instinctively resist any life changes.

"I just can't keep sewing that idiotic half-belt back on for you every god-damned day!"

(Throws the coat on the floor and bursts into tears)

But we know perfectly well this isn't about the half-belt at all.

Or imagine that you've been waiting for this moment your whole life.

And now your heart is in your mouth as you push open the forbidden door...

I.e., something like a tightly wound "goodbye forever."

Is that clear?

So then, here I am!

...here I am! I won't bore you, the reader, with the details of my exhausting trip...

...the details of my exhausting trip, with descriptions of the people I happened to meet, some of whom were quite nice, while others I'd rather not even think about...

...while others I'd rather not even think about, of the growing excitement and impatience as the coveted destination comes closer...

...the growing excitement and impatience as the coveted destination comes closer, and so much besides...

...and so much besides. Now they're barely distinguishable, they're fading into the morning haze, these nighttime visions...

...these nighttime visions, and now a band of boisterous boys is racing down the hill-side right to the river...

...to the river, while the hills of the Rhine go rushing by, the castles and the vineyards...

...the castles and the vineyards, and it all becomes so infinitely remote... the cracked teacup, the dusty stuffed squirrel, the glass marble, the crumpled piece of paper...

...the glass marble, the crumpled piece of paper, and there is no sense any longer in beating the drum, it won't respond anyway because it's dead...

...it won't respond anyway because it's dead, and now the remains of a sad fire are crackling...

...the remains of a sad fire are crackling, but of course things cannot be disturbed...

...cannot be disturbed, and we go our separate ways...

We go our separate ways, don't forget me.

We go our separate ways, don't forget me.

We go our separate ways, don't forget me...