|“Are we going?" asks Lana.|
“Of course we are, silly” Ivan answers.
In the evening Lana and I go for a walk. There's nothing to do. It’s still too early for any parties, and we haven’t walked anywhere for ages. We've only been around clubs. We wander around downtown, stop in a Chocolatnitsa and eat our fill of sweets. This morning’s conversation has left its mark. Then we go shopping.
“Let’s look for an exchange point,” Lana says.
“What for?” I ask, surprised.
Why would Lana suddenly want to buy dollars or euros? We don’t have that much money to begin with. What I took from home is steadily running out, thank God we don’t have to pay rent. And Lana didn’t have that much money to begin with…
“I need to change money. Why else would I need an exchange point?” she answers.
“I don’t get it. You want to take what’s left of our money and buy dollars or euros? What are we going to live on?” I keep pestering her.
But really, I don't get it.
“No, no. The other way around. I want to change dollars.”
Meanwhile we’ve found an exchange point. There are, after all, a lot of them in Moscow, practically on every corner. Lana takes me by the hand and we go in. She pulls out a few banknotes from her back pocket and hands them to the girl sitting on the other side of the glass. I manage to note that each of the banknotes is a hundred dollar bill. I am totally speechless. I just stand there slack-jawed staring at Lana. What? Where did she get that money? My fair-haired devil takes the rubles and puts them in her back pocket in a very businesslike manner before leading me back outside. The fresh air hits my face and I can speak again. More or less, anyway, given the situation.
“Where did you …. where did you get that?" I ask in total shock.
“Just got it…” Lana starts to try to justify herself. Vanya and I didn’t go to the hotel right after we left the club. We went somewhere else first. The guys there were already totally wasted. They didn’t care, and it’s pennies to them, anyway. Just a little from each of them, and nobody notices a thing. We need this money more. Oh, by the way, I'm running out of makeup, and I need some new jeans. And what are we going to use to get food? I took it quick, when they weren’t looking. Nobody saw me…” I just stand there totally dumbfounded listening to Lana’s speech. I don’t have the ability to say anything.
I can’t believe her. She is a total freak!
“You stole that money?!” Finally I am able to speak again. "you... you are out of your mind!!"
“Oh, whatever! C’mon, let’s go shopping,” Lana says. Maybe she’s right. Everything just keeps moving so fast that I don’t get a chance to think about what we’re doing.
Well maybe I don’t need to. Although I never would have done that. Never…
After a three-hour exercise in shopping, we go to MacDonalds. We're practically starving. We bought some makeup, some jeans for Lana and a skirt for me. I don't even know how much money she has. In any case, there’s still some left. We get salads, French fries and hamburgers and cokes. Later we’re supposed to head back to Vanya’s, since he hasn't kicked us out yet. Then we'll go to another club for the night. Awesome! I can’t think of anything better. I’ve always dreamed of living like this. I wonder where we’ll spend the night today - at Vanya’s place or at some other guy’s apartment?
When we get back to Vanya’s place, there's practically no one at his apartment. The only thing we see for sure is that he's not home. That's not a great sign... We take our backpacks and supplies with us just in case (we take them everywhere with us - you never know where you’re going to end up spending the night).
We start getting ready for the nighttime activities. Lana puts on her new jeans and I put on my new skirt. I just love it - it's a mini skirt just like the t.A.T.u. girls would wear. I put my hair in two ponytails and Lana puts her hair down. Some guy is sitting in the living room, but we change right there without paying any attention to him. We're used to it by now... awesome new clothes, camouflage print - we are ready to go!
Dude, this club is so freaking awesome. There’s a bunch of famous people here tonight, someone else every time you turn your head. Oh, and Ed's here, too. Naturally... I guess you can’t have a party without him. I demonstratively ignore him. He can party on if he wants to, I couldn't care less... It's not our fault we hang with the same crowd. I decide to forget everything and just have a good time. These amazing people keep stopping by our table to say hi. It’s so cool to be hanging out with an older crowd, you start to feel important and cool.
All the sudden Julia Volkova comes over to us (well, to Vanya..)!
Julia! Oh my God! She’s with - ohmygodit’stoogoodtobetrue - she’s with the former singer of the group boom! Steve (actually, his real name is Sviatoslav)! Oh, I love him! He’s so sweet! I love his blond hair, his mysterious looks! It could only get better with Elena Katina. Oh! My! God! Kris is going to die of jealousy! boom! is her favorite group. Oh, how she cried when they broke up. It's like each of them are writing their own album now, and now Kris is double happy. I can't believe it - Steve is next to me! Wow! Oh he totally has to hang out with us, Julia probably won’t leave Vanya, and Steve is her friend. And they sang together at NepoSedah. I can’t believe how lucky I am!
Lana interrupts my happy thoughts. She starts to shake me and whisper “It’s Julia and Steve! Oh my God! Oh my God! I love him! Isn’t he awesome? He’s even more gorgeous in real life!”
Oh, we are so going to party with him! Yes-yes-yes! Oh please let them stay here and party with us!! Please-please-please!
We are sitting at the same table as Julia and Steve! I could never in a million years imagine that I would be here now. Julia even remembers me and Lana.
“Hi, girls! How’re you doing?” she asks us cheerfully.
“Fantastic!” Lana says.
Her face is just glowing from happiness. Of course she's glowing - she’s sitting across from two of her favorite stars, plus they’re talking with her. Oh, if only Elena were here, too - that would really be something!
“We’re just partying all the time. We’ve been staying at Vanya's for a few days. How are you?"
“Super! Always on the move, from one place to another. we’ve got promo tours and record parties. We’re only in Moscow for a few days, see my daughter, and then back again," says Julia.
“And how’s Elena?” I ask.
It would have been weird if I had asked anything else. I always liked Elena, and now I’m waiting for her solo album. Everyone’s talking about it, but it’s not out yet. There are so many different rumors. But I won't ask her about that. I’m not trying to get myself killed...
“She’s great, too. She’s at the institute these days, taking exams. Basically, everything's just great," she answers and lights up a cigarette.
“Oh - can I have a cigarette?” Lana asks.
Somehow I missed the moment she started smoking…
Steve sits there quietly next to Julia. He's just looking around him and he looks at Julia from time to time. I've got to ask him something, or else he'll leave and I'll miss my chance to talk with him. I want to get a picture with Steve, but then I'd look like some crazy fanatic and he'll ignore me. No - no photos. Too bad! I hope he doesn't leave too soon.
“How is your solo album going? Are you recording?” I ask.
It’s a totally neutral question.
“It’s slow-going,” Steve says, sipping some sort of drink.
And that’s the end of our conversation. I don’t know what else to ask. I feel like I really should ask something else, but I can't think of anything. It's always like this...
Suddenly July gets up and goes somewhere. Steve follows her. I’m so relieved when I notice that they've left their things at the table - they'll be back.
“Wanna dance?” asks Ed, who has made his way over.
Doesn’t he get it? He’s not gettin' anything from me.
“Not with you," I say, dragging Lana to the dancefloor.
I can feel his stare behind me. Some sort of popular slow music is playing and we, just like always, are embracing each other and dancing. I try to relax and ignore Ed, but it’s hard. It’s hard to keep from feeling that burning stare of his. If I had met Ed in a past life, then it would have been much better. I might have even fallen in love with him... But that was a different life. And I’m not going back there, not ever…
After we dance through a few songs we go back to our table. I'm so thirsty... I drink down a glass of soda in one gulp and take a few swigs of whiskey... then a few more... I'm drinking like a horse. In my former life, I could get tipsy from a couple of glasses of champagne. But that was a long time ago…
I go back to Steve and Julia. They’re so strange. Their expressions are totally blissful, but totally blank. Absolutely empty. Just some heavenly kind of happy, blissful, drugged-out state. Their eyes are one hundred percent empty. Totally emotionless. It’s pretty dark in the club, but I can see their eyes are totally dilated. Their eyes are almost completely black, you can barely see the whites of their eyes. And that didn’t just happen… I have naturally large pupils, and my eyes are very dark. But Steve and Julia’s pupils aren’t naturally large right now… whatever, I don’t care. It’s none of my business.
Lana goes to sit near Steve and tries to talk with him, but it's no use. He's not looking for anything anymore. He already got everything he was looking for earlier. I leave Lana and go dance with Dima. She can rouse our pop star alone, I feel like dancing.
“My name’s Lana.”
“Nice to meet you, Lana.”
“Do you come here a lot?”
“Sometimes. Usually with Julia.”
“Steve, I hear you’re putting out a solo album.”
“I’m trying. Even though they're rushing it..."
“What’s the matter?”
“You know, just a lot of everything… you need a lot of money, for example…”
“You know, I came here from Stari Luk… and we’ve got this one really cool guy there. He’s got money bursting out of his pockets, and he’s a huge boom! fan. A fan of yours, specifically. He might be able to give you some money. Just like that. And for a video, too. You won’t have to pay him back, either.”
“Really? So what are you proposing?”
“Well, we could go there somehow. I'll introduce him to you, and it's smooth sailing from there. You won't have to do a thing. Just come with me and collect the cash. I mean, if you need the cash…”
“You aren’t bullshitting me, are you?”
“Don’t offend me! I know all the important people in Stari Luk. I’m not the last person on the list in this town, either…”
“Well, we’ll see. Just don't disappear on me, OK?"
“I won’t disappear.”
“Gimme your phone number…”
I’m just sitting there staring at Lana and silently listening to their conversation. I can barely believe my ears - Lana knows some big-shot businessman. Well, she did get money from someone for her trip to Moscow…
“Is that true?" I ask as soon as Steve leaves.
“Is what true?” Lana asks me.
“About your rich acquaintance who’s a fan of boom! from Stari Luk,” I explain, taking a swig of whiskey.
“Of course not,” Lana answers, looking somewhere far away. “I just wanted to get to know Steve better. This is so cool. I mean, how else could I get close to him?”
She’s simply an angel! As simple as it gets! Lana will never cease to amaze me.
“What are you going to do when it comes time to introduce him to the rich daddy-o in your hometown?" I ask.
“I dunno. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” says Lana. “But the main thing is that I got Steve interested, and that’s all that matters,” she smiles.
I agree. Just like always.
Julia looks at her watch and starts to gather her things.
“I’m getting so tired... I’m gonna go,” she says. “See you girls some other time." She smiles at us.
“Definitely,” Lana smiles back.
“I’m going with you,” Steve says to Julia. He starts to pack up as well.
“No, don’t think so,” Julia says, giving him a serious look.
"Why not?” he asks.
“Because… that’s why. Enough partying. See you later.” Julia turns and leaves. Steve is left staring angrily behind her.
Nope, we’re not staying at Vanya’s tonight. He left a half hour ago with some girl. We're left behind with Steve, Ed and a few others. "It's starting to get boring here, I say let's go somewhere else," Steve says. We're game. What difference doesn't it matter where we are - the main thing is who we're with. Lana goes up t” Ed and whispers something in his ear. He nods enthusiastically and smiles at her. I can’t hear what they’re talking about, but I do hear Ed’s last sentence: “Anytime. Just let me write down the new address. I moved to my own apartment…” Ed’s not coming with us, he’s got a couple of model-type girls with him and he’s taking them home. He doesn’t live too far away from here, after all.
We end up in some totally amazing sauna. I’ve never been to a sauna before, and neither has Lana. And I never would have ended up here if Lana hadn't lied to Steve about the money. She was probably right, after all…
It’s just the three of us: me, Lana, and Steve. Any girl would dream of being in our place, but here we are. This is all just too good to be true. Only it's a little hot and stuffy. (But what did I expect? You can’t have a cold sauna…) We’re wearing white towels and I’m sitting on a wooden bench, leaning against the wall, sweating. It’s nice… Steve can’t take his eyes off of Lana, and she is trying to sit closer to him. She’s laughing at everything he says and making eyes at him. I have a feeling that everything is going to end up like always... Well, whatever... I don't really want to have any feelings about that. Let them have their fun alone. It's not like I can change anything. I scoot slightly further away from the pair. It’s the right thing to do…
They didn’t waste any time talking. Steve put his hand on her knee in about two minutes, and she didn’t say anything, she just smiled at him with her green eyes. No one can resist those strawberry lips of my Lana or those devilish green eyes…
They sit and kiss. She slips her hand under his towel. They don’t pay any attention to me. Well, fine then… She puts his arms around his neck and puts her fingers through his hair. Both of their towels fall to the ground. Her nails dig into his back, she breaks the skin… He spreads her legs. It’s all just like it always is, only with different men… He whispers in her ear:
“You’re gonna introduce me to Mr. Moneybags, aren't you?"
“I sure am,” she moans.
Her legs are wrapped tight around his back, the room fills with the loud moans of their pleasure… I can't look at it. I can’t stand to hear it. I can’t change anything... all I can do is close my eyes and sweat. I mean, when am I ever going to get another chance to go to a sauna...
We’re sitting on a bench near a pool eating ice cream. It's nice here, cool and fresh. What else could you want? It's already really late (or, you could say, really early). My eyes are falling shut, and I want to go to sleep. Through my tired eyelids I can see Lana, yawning, if she’s not careful her nose is going to fall right into her ice cream... And only Steve is suspiciously awake. Where does his energy come from?
“Girls, you two look like zombies," he says cheerfully first glancing at me, then at Lana, then at the pool with it's seductive sparkling blue water.
Well, it would have been seductive if I wasn’t so tired.
“What do you say about going for a swim?" Steve sasys.
“What do you mean, go for a swim?” I say sleepily, barely able to get the ice cream into my mouth.
“We wanna sleep,” Lana yawn.
“Sleep?” our famous friend doesn't get it. "It's still early. There's still plenty of time to party. You two ran out of air pretty quick…”
“Well, I dunno how you do it, but we wanna go to bed,” Lana pronounce lazily.
“Yeah,” I say. “Even at Vanya’s we went to bed earlier than this.”
Steve gets up from his chair and goes somewhere. “Be right back,” he says. I wonder what urgent business he suddenly has to attend and leave two charming girls behind? What if we can’t wait up for him and we fall asleep? Oh, these capricious celebrities… Or maybe he just went to go pee. Why not…?
He’s back much more quickly than I expected. Steve is carrying some kind of little bag in his hands. Our star takes his place again and holds out the contents of the bag for us. Pills...
“What is it?” I ask.
Lana also seems to wake up and looks at Steve curiously. But unlike me, she grabs fr the pills right away. She takes a few and looks at them for a long time.
“Yeah… what is it?” she asks.
“These will help you keep from sleeping," he answers. "So we can have some more fun..."
Really, what difference does it make? I already don’t care. I don’t care about anything anymore.
“Well, OK then,” Lana says and swallows a couple of pills. I follow her example…
Suddenly I’ve got a second wind. Forget second wind, it’s a third wind, fourth, and fifth wind all at once. Let’s go out singing and dancing! I’ve totally forgotten about wanting to get any sleep. Why sleep! It’s time to get jiggy! My eyes fall on the pool. Oh, it looks so nice. “Let’s go swimming!” I squeal happily, and we all jump into the water…
It’s like any time I’ve ever gone swimming, except some how it's more fun, it's brighter. We swim, push each other under and laugh. I'm having so much fun. Steve splashes me in the face, and I do the same to him. Soon Lana and I are pouring water over our new sweet-voiced friend… I have never had so much fun before. It’s all thanks to Lana and her quick thinking...
We’re at Steve’s apartment, which is giant. It’s the size of a football field. Lucky. He’s rolling in money… Maybe Lana and I should sing, too? We could be t.A.T.u. #2. Hmm… doesn’t matter that we can’t sing, that’s not the important thing. We’ll find people to fix that, that's for sure. I mean, Lana not finding someone and then not getting to know them? No way, that's like science fiction or something. Lana can do anything. We can do anything...
We’ve been given a separate room. One for the both of us. The bed is huge. I haven't slept in my own room or in a separate bed for such a long time. Whatever. We’re just like newlyweds or something, or… well, whatever it is you could call us…
It's already morning, but I don’t feel like sleeping at all. Lana falls onto the bed and turns on the TV. The morning news is already on, and the next silicone star is already singing on MTV. I sit at the windowsill (which is really big and wide, not at all like the one at home). I hold my knees to my chest and turn on my walkman to listen to t.A.T.u.'s album 'Disabled People.' I look out the window at the people walking by, in a hurry to get to work, to university, to school... In my former life, I would have been on my way to school, late for the morning class. Then the teacher would have yelled at me, and I would be thinking about how to get the hell out of the next class... but that's all in the past now. Now there's no school, no teachers, no parents. And no problems. There’s just me and Lana. And our crazy life…
It’s still dark outside. I’m listening to the song ‘new model,' and in my mind’s eye I can see a memory from Gaudi. The girls from t.A.T.u. singing and my first kiss with Lana. It was so soft, so filled with strawberry. And so forbidden… forbidden in my past life. Nothing is forbidden in this life. You can do whatever you want and love whomever you want and sleep with who you have to…
The snowflakes fall lazily down. They’re so soft and so white. They melt once they touch the ground, and turn into dirty grey slush. It's so sad... I don't like this weather; it's cold, but still over 32, it's dirty everywhere you look, and slush is everywhere. It’s gross… Although, there’s not much these days that’s gross to me anymore. I mean, only the weather is gross to me now. And those soft, white snowflakes that turn into dirty slush as they just barely touch the ground…
I soon get up from the windowsill and jump into bed with Lana. We embrace each other and fall asleep.
We wake up near evening. Steve is already up, music is playing in the apartment and smells of something delicious are coming from the kitchen. I crawl out of bed and fall onto the floor. I can barely hold myself up, and my head hurts. I didn’t wake up because I slept long enough, but just because I had to get up. Lana and are are going to have to go somewhere, and actually it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start getting up a little earlier. Lately, we haven’t been seeing anything except the insides of clubs. Don't get me wrong, clubbing is loads of fun, but I need some time to get my shit together, maybe thing of something else to do’
It is with these wise thoughts and my altogether not wise, hung-over head that I make my way to the shower. Oh - there’s a jacuzzi!! I have always wanted to sit in a jacuzzi! I’ll be a good girl and ask Steve if I can use it. The response comes in a sound that is not exactly clear, but definitely affirmative. Satisfied, I turn on the water and start looking in the closet. It turns out ot be filled with different type of creams and oils and other stuff. It's like my dream closet! Heaven! Except… why would a guy need all this stuff?
I don’t think about the gender issue too long. I pick out some bath salts and bubble bath and pour it all into the jacuzzi. The bath is soon ready and I get into it. The only thing that's missing is some essential oils. Plus, I forgot my walkman in the other room. It would have been just like in the movies. Nice. But it’s not too shabby this way, either.
About two hours later I drag myself out of the bathroom. I used everything there was to use - all of the oils, all of the scrubs. Exquisite! Now I've got my mind set on a fabulous breakfast. Steve has already left the kitchen, and Lana has been waiting her turn for the bathroom. Alone, finally, I start to feel my way around the kitchen. First things first - I look in the fridge. It's practically bursting will all kind of scrumptious goodies. I get myself some juice, a few strawberries and a piece of cake (hmm… cake again? Is it in fashion to have cake for breakfast now?). There are two small little savory pies in the microwave. They turn out to be mushroom pies and I take them out. I start to eat once I have covered the table with food. Lana doesn’t seem to be able to get out of the bathroom, just like me...
Steve is getting ready to go to an interview, and then to a concert at a club in Moscow. He’s got tons of things to do, and he doesn’t have room in his schedule for us today. We understand and start to get our things together. It takes me an hour to find a missing sock, which eventually turns up underneath the bed in the darkest, farthest corner. How did it get there?
“We should call Ed,” Lana says, putting on eyeshadow.
“Why?” I ask.
I really don’t know why, either. Why can’t we go to Vanya’s and hang out there? Although we are there a little too often. What if he sends us away?
“Gotta make sure his new address is right,” Lana says, “ and find out if he’s at home. I mean can you imagine us going all the way there and then he's not at home?"
She’s right. We can’t very well sleep in the doorway or at a train station with the bums…
“So call him, then,” I say.
Ed's new apartment is small, but very cute. It’s a studio apartment, but it’s big for a studio. I like his parents' place better, but this isn’t bad. I wonder what his parents do if they’re able to buy their kid an apartment so close to downtown. My mom would have said something “Just look what a great husband he would make. Don’t let this one go! He’ll take care of you and a family.” My mom would have said a lot, actually. I can just imagine the tirade she would go off on if she found out what kind of a life I'm living now. “War and Peace,” man, nothing less…
Ed is getting ready for the next party. I make a solemn decision to go to bed earlier today. I've gotta mix things up a little. I mean, it’s been the same thing ever day: breakfast, gathering our things, party, gathering our things and party… and the same horrible headache every morning. Tomorrow I’ll get up at 3 pm and wke Lana up. We'll get our things together and go somewhere. Even for a walk in the park. We’ll think of where to go tomorrow. Meanwhile, we’re drinking coffee, I'm ignoring Ed and we’re getting ready for Ed’s party to start. Ed’s housewarming party has been going on for a few days now…
The faces are all familiar: Pasha, Dima, Marinka, Mashka, Sasha, Dan and Valya… even if I don't know someone's name, I've definitely seen them around before. There's even the girl who I ran into in Vanya's kitchen, the one who kept looking for food. The blonde beauty still looks sad. I wonder what happpened?
The booze is flowing freely, and joints are lying on the table. There’s also some loose swag and somenoe’s pipe. Cool. We should get a picture of this, it’d be hilarious. It’s a good thing I’ve got a digital camera with me, and I’ve still got a lot of room on it, too. I should go print out some of the pictures tomorrow, since I have a little money. If I run out, we can always ask someone.
Everyone's having a good time. Lana, Dima and I are all dancing together. I'm already drunk, Lana's a little more sober than me and Dima can barely stand. We’re dancing, sometimes we fall back on a chair, a sofa, or the people around us… funny!
After we dance to our heart’s content, I go into the kitchen. I want something cold. I dig around in the fridge and take out a coke. As I go over to the table to pour it into a glass, I notice that same sad blonde from Vanya’s kitchen. She’s sitting on a chair again, with her knees up to her chin. She still looks sad. I get two glasses and pour her some cold coke, too.
“Hi,” I say, holding out a glass for her.
“Hi,” she answers, looking right through me.
“I think we’ve met before,” I say, sitting across from her.
“I remember, at Vanya’s.” She says.
“I’m Jane,” I say, taking a sip of my coke.
The girl looks even more depressed than last time. Maybe not even depressed, more like sad or tired.
“I’m Kira,” she says. She looks at her glass.
“Are you having a problem? What’s the matter? You always look so sad…” I say, looking at her.
“It’s nothing… I’m just tired,” she says staring into space. “I’m tired of everything. These endless parties. No one's really interested in each other. Just getting drunk and switching off reality… there’s no choice, either. It's even worse at home. That’s why I always go out if someone’s having a party.” Kira looks at the floor and takes a few gulps of coke. “I can’t stand the sight of anyone anymore, but it’s still better than being at home. The first time was fun, just really easy and simple. There were so many people. And that I got sick of it. The same faces over and over, blurry memories of what happened the night before. I barely ever go home anymore, and when I do, I just fight with my mom…”
I quietly listen to Kira. She really does look beat and I don't know what to say to her or how to help her. I don't know why, but I like her.
“My life has become totally meaningless… everything started with my boyfriend. We met at some party, and that’s back when I wasn’t partying a lot. I just went to a club with some girlfriends one day, and it was one of their birthdays. Plus that night some super popular group was having a concert. I don't even remember who. Oh, it doens't matter. Anyway, that’s when we met. He really loved to party, he knew everyone,” Kira stopped talking. She poured herself some more cola and took a long sip. Then she closed her eyes, as if she were remembering something.
“Then what happened?” I asked.
“Then the endless parties started. It was a lot of fun, he had his own apartment, I practically stopped going home altogether. I stopped caring about everything. We went to all of the clubs, all of the party apartments... It was really a lot of fun. Max - that was his name - shot up. That was his only flaw. Except I only paid attention to that in the beginning. Later it seemed fun. He would become totally strange, he said the weirdest stuff… He offered me some, but I limited myself to Vanya's weed. I sniffed some stuff a coupla times, but I didn't really like it. Anyway everything was great. Hanging out with celebrities, partying without them... like a never ending holiday. And then..." Kira stopped again.
I think tears seem to be welling up in her eyes. What on earth happened? I mean, sure, if they broke up, then yeah. If Kira and Max were still together, then I would have met him, and Kira would be talking about him in the present tense.
“What then?” I ask
“…then… at one of the parties, he took too much. He wasn’t enjoying it for long. He mixed up the door and the window. And we were all drunk, and we couldn’t… it was the seventh floor. The neighbors called an ambulance - we were too out of it, we didn’t even figure out what was going on right away… it was too late. I remember how I was throwing up on the street, totally wasted. I had no money, I had nothing… I had no where to go. The cops had come, they started checking people, saying things… I crawled outside. I don’t remember where I spent the night, probably in some disgusting, cold doorway. Then, taht was it. A week passed, and we were at it again. I could stand to see anyone at home. It all started up again. It was impossible to stop. I got so high, I was practically a zombie, and I spent several nights at Vanya’s, at Ed’s place, and there were other girls… it seemed easy and simple... but it’s not all so simple… I started going clubbing again, only without Max. I didn't care anymore... or that's what I thought. I ran into these famous guys again, and again everyone was drinking all the time. They had everything… and I took everything…
I sat there without saying a word. There was nothing I could say.
Kira’s face had turned grey.
“And then one fine day, I woke up in a strange apartment. Just like always. With strangers who didn't give two shits about me. I realized how sick of it I am. I remembered Max. I think about him a lot. I think about the life I used to live a lot, my mom, my friends… I barely ever see them anymore. I miss it, but there's nothing else I can do. My parents think I'm a slut, and I keep smoking more and more. I want to quit, but I'm afraid I’ll move on to something stronger, like Max did… I really want to quit, but I can’t. I’ve become so weak. I can’t quit, it’s the only way I forget about how lonely I am… You know… I dunno…why should I keep living? I keep looking out the window, thinking that maybe Max didn’t mix anything up at all. Maybe he was just sick of it all, only he forgot to take me with him…
We’re sitting there just staring at the floor. People periodically come into the kitchen, get something to drink and leave, without noticing us at all. The bathroom door slams and someone starts puking their guts out. We can hear music and loud laughter from the other rooms. Everyone’s having a grand old time… I was too, about 20 minutes ago. But Kira’s story has made a huge impression on me. I wonder where Lana is right now? Where are we going to be in a month? I look at abandoned Kira, who's lost any prospects for a bright future (or does it just seem that way to me? Maybe that's just how she is? Maybe things will still work out for her…)Then I wonder what’s going to happen to Lana and I. How are we going to keep living? I look at Kira. She’s a really pretty girl. She could be a model for an artist. It's almost as if she's stepped out of a painting from the Renaissance era, like she’s a live version of an ancient Greek statue… but she’s stagnating in our swamp. Losing that beauty of hers… so much potential, and she's not using it. She knows lots of important people, after all. She only has to ask, and she could have it all. She could sing, she could speak, she could pose for the camera. There are a lot of pretty girls out there, but Kira is really beautiful, unusually so. I mean I wouldn’t change anything between me and Lana for the world, but it’s really a shame that this girl is fading away…
My sad thoughts are interrupted as Lana appears in the doorway. She looks at me with some surprise and goes over to the freezer. Lana doesn't look at me as she takes out a huge container of ice cream.
“What are you doing here?” she asks. “You disappeared without saying anything. We were looking for you, and you’re sitting here all depressed…”
“I just came in, and Kira was here. So I stayed in here… we’re just sitting around and talking. You know,” I said looking at Lana, who was putting some ice cream into a giant bowl.
“Wanna come with me and eat some ice cream?” she asks, putting her arm around my neck.
Of course I’ll go. Where would I be without my Lana? Plus, it’s already late and I want to go to bed earlier. It would be nice to lie down on a bed in front of the tube, my arms around my Lana, and eat some ice cream. Not a bad way to end the night…
“Of course I will,” I say. I just want to go to sleep. Let’s lie down. I want go get up a little earlier tomorrow, OK?”
“Sure,” says Lana. Only we have to sleep in the kitchen, since no one else feels like sleeping."
“No problem,” I say, glancing at Kira.
“I’ll leave,” Kira says. “Don’t worry.”
“Everything’s going to be OK,” I smile at her.
“Thanks,” she says, smilng back. Kira gets up and leaves.
“I’ll be right back,” Lana says, leaving the ice cream on the table. ”I’m gonna go see Ed and get some blankets.”
“OK,” I say.
Lana goes into the living room, and I’m left alone. Depressing thoughts, deep conversations with Kira, it's all gradually falling away... I look in the cupboard, searching for some syrup or chocolate for the ice cream. I find both, pour it on, and start to eat it.
Lana brings in a huge mattress, some sheets and a blanket and two huge pillows. Thankfully, the kitchen door locks such, so we don't have to worry about anyone barging in. I won't have to see Ed till tomorrow morning. I’m not quite as sick of him today. Maybe he’ll get tired of me...
Once we make room, for the bed, we lay down in front of the TV. I am so tired, and I lean on Lana while I eat the ice cream… Out the window I can see snow is falling again, and I start thinking about tomorrow. Everything is so strange. I’ve already got used to this kind of life, I didn’t notice anything strange about it, but now it’s starting to seem really weird…
But no matter what, I don't regret anything. Everything is going to be OK. I know it. I mean, we don’t have to party 24 hours a day. If we get tired of it, we just won't go. We're free people. Lana's not Kira, we're not going to lose out on any opportunities... right?
“What happens next?" I ask Lana, who's falling asleep.
“What d'you mean?" she mutters.
“What’s going to happen to us? We can't go around clubbing and partying and living where ever we end up for the rest of our lives…” I sit across from Lana and look at her through the darkness.
“What are you so worried about?” she asks me, surprised.
“It’s nothing… just… I was thinking, where are we going to go from here."
I don’t want to talk about Kira. Let her be sad, but I don’t want my girl to be all depressed.
“How do you see our future?”
Lana thinks for a while.
“I see it as bright and happy,” she says.
“But are you sure about it?”
“Yeah,” she answers, sitting up. “We have our whole lives ahead of us. We'll find our place. Just look at how many people we know already. They'll set us up. I promise you. Don’t you believe me?”
“I do,” I say.
Of course I believe her.
How could I not believe those strawberry lips? I look at Lana in the darkness, at her face in the moonlight. She’s so beautiful… I hug her and forget about everything. To hell with everything. Que sera, sera. Everything is going to be OK, as long as we’re together. I'm not afraid of anything as long as I'm with Lana.
“Let's go to sleep,” she says, holding me to her.
“Yeah,” I yawn. “G’night.”
“Good night,” she answers.
In the next room, music is still playing, the drunken voices are still calling out. But I don’t care anymore…
It’s 1:45 pm. It’s been forever since I've been up this early. Feels so strange… it’s even stranger that Lana is getting up with me. The kitchen is filled with the smell of fresh coffee. Lana is running around, putting food on the table. Chocolate croissants, hot coffee and bitter chocolate…Mmmm… awesome…
“Good morning!” Lana smiles when she sees I’m awake.
“Morning,” I smile back.
“Sure I do.”
“How about breakfast in bed?" my girlfriend winks at me.
“Sounds wonderful,” I saw, looking into Lana’s eyes. “I’ve always wanted to have breakfast in bed.”
Lana takes out two tiny coffee cups from the cupboard and puts them in the middle of the bed, followed by the chocolate and the croissants. Then she takes the coffee brewer and sits down on the bed.
“Hold up your cup,” she says.
Lana is so sweet today. Fresh, without makeup, her thick, blond hair resting on her shoulders.
We sit cross-legged on the bed and start to eat. It's so unexpected, so romantic. This is the best breakfast of my entire life... It's deathly quiet in the apartment. Only Pasha's snoring interrupts the silence from time to time. So peaceful. Everyone’s sleeping, and no one’s in the way. No third wheels. Just me and Lana, and our great plans for the day.
“Hi... what are you doing up so early?”
“Just woke up. Can’t I get up early?”
“Of course you can, Ed.”
“Anyway, it’s not that early. It’s three."
“Whatever. Go back where you came from."
“I want to apologize. I was an idiot that time. I was acting like a real jerk.”
“What do you mean 'like’?”
“You’re right… you’re right, I know. I was just... I had too much to drink. I wasn’t… I mean there you were… with Lana… and I dunno… I think you’re worth more…”
“More? What is that supposed to mean? You?"
“Look, I’m sorry…”
“For the second time today. And so soon!”
“I know. I just couldn’t hold myself back…”
“You came to get breakfast, right? Well you got it. So leave."