Ilya was in no hurry. It was a beautiful day. The sun was baking hot in summer. In the park, in the shade of a maple tree, he sat down on a bench. I closed my eyes and sat there for a couple of minutes. The working day is over. You can relax. I didn’t want to think about dinner today. The weekend is ahead. Mentally, he ran through the surrounding cafes. Most of all he liked the cozy «Lotus». They cooked delicious there. The assortment was not so great, but it was not necessary to wait long. And, if there was a desire, then you could take food with you.
A slight rustle distracted him from his thoughts. Opening his eyes a little, he saw a young woman with a stroller pass by. She sat down on the same bench a little further away. She immediately took out her phone and was no longer interested in the outside world.
The man was imperceptibly looking at her from the side.
Very young, not even a woman yet, but a teenager. Motherhood did not give her figure the proper roundness. Tall, with long, blond hair.
The child fidgeted in the stroller and gave a voice. She didn’t react immediately. It was obvious that she was more interested in the activity on the phone than the child. Reluctantly, she sat up, found the lost pacifier. The baby smacked his lips with gusto.
«Probably thirsty. The heat is out there … . » — Ilya suddenly thought.
When the cloud came, no one noticed. First, the sky was split by lightning and thunder crackled directly overhead. The rising wind carried a wall of heavy rain. Neither Ilya nor the woman with the child had an umbrella. She was confused and didn’t know what to do.
— Let’s run to the bus stop! — he shouted, took the stroller from her and ran to the exit of the park. It was no more than thirty meters, but they were soaked to the skin.
The child began to cry, apparently frightened by the thunder. His mother took him in her arms. It was a girl, about three or four months old. Everything on it got wet too.
— She is still very young, she may catch a cold. Let me invite you to a cafe nearby. Does the child have something to change into? The young mother nodded:
— Yes, in the package. I hope it’s not wet. she smiled timidly.
«Just a kid… . » — Ilya felt sorry for the girl for something.
That’s how they met Inna. Then Ilya often came across her with a stroller in the park. As if casually taxied towards him. Then they walked for a long time, had dinner in a cafe.
Inna was a single mother. She lived in a factory family hostel. It was only because of my daughter that they gave me a room. She’s a visitor herself. Husband? And there is no one and there never was.
The woman did not attract him, but he became attached to her daughter, Nastenka, in earnest. Inna even left him to walk with the baby, and she herself went on business for an hour and a half. One day a colleague caught him with a child.
— Oh, Ilyukha, are you a family man? Who! A son? Daughter? — Andrey was heartily happy.
— My daughter. — affectionately, he did it. And even at that moment he believed that this small, warm lump in his arms was his own blood, flesh of his flesh.
Somehow, at a meeting, he noticed that Inna was not talkative. He does not chatter about trifles, does not rejoice like a child over ice cream. She didn’t tell me right away. It turns out the hostel is being closed. It goes to another department. And all because of the cuts at the factory. And they gave a deadline of a week. To find a place to live and move out.
— They are obliged, it seems, to provide housing in return. After all, you’re with a baby. — the news stunned Ilya.
— Yes, who will provide something? Who needs us?
— I need them. — he made a decision with lightning speed. — Let’s go pack up. You don’t mind?
A couple of hours later, Inna and Nastenka were already at his house. There were absolutely nothing. «We need to dress the girls,» he thought before he fell into a deep sleep.
In late autumn, they quietly signed. Ilya adopted the baby, giving her his surname and patronymic.
Relations with Inna did not go beyond friendly. And neither he nor she aspired to each other. When he came home from work or on weekends, he dealt exclusively with his daughter.
And Inna was leaving to unwind. She was so tired of sitting with the baby all day.
— Ilyusha, I may stay at Olka’s tonight. You don’t mind, do you? — she was affectionate and gentle at that moment.
— No, I don’t mind. — He didn’t care. So they will be alone with their daughter on the weekend. She was the only one he cared about. I even gave my wife money, if only she would stay at Olka’s longer. Ilya had long guessed that Inna had a man. But the fear of losing his daughter sealed his mouth. And he was silent.
At the age of three, Nastenka went to kindergarten. Her father drove her and picked her up himself.
Inna got a job as a waitress in a cafe. She had enough money for herself. And the daughter was provided by the «husband».
That’s the kindergarten behind. We started preparing for school. Inna had been missing from home for weeks by that time. When she returned, she was quite cold with her daughter. Sometimes I didn’t even notice her.
Ilya was going to buy an apartment. Closer to the center. There he looked after the school. And I didn’t know what to do with this two-piece. Can I rent it out? The financial condition allowed not to put it up for sale.
Inna came late at night. Slightly tipsy. Ilya came out to her in the kitchen:
— Inna, you completely forgot about your daughter. A mother shouldn’t behave like that. he could barely contain his emotions.
— You shouldn’t!? And how should I behave if my whole life is messed up?! And my daughter broke it for me! she started to get hysterical, raising her voice to a screech.
— Don’t shout! You’ll wake Nastya up. — he didn’t want his daughter to see her mother drunk.
— Two people bullied me, in a dirty passage… .And I was only seventeen… .I came to enroll. Failed. I went to the factory. And here it is… . — she burst into sobs of irrepressible self-pity.
— I don’t even know which of the two is her father. I was afraid to go for an abortion. I don’t remember giving birth. I was caesarized. I wanted to leave it in the hospital, but they promised to give me a dorm room as a single mother. I don’t have any feelings for her! I would like to forget everything — but I can’t! As I look at Nastya and think: «Which of those two is her father? »
Nastenka appeared in the doorway. Judging by her, she hadn’t slept for a long time and heard everything.
— Daddy, Daddy! You won’t leave me?! She ran up and snuggled up to him. The little body trembled, the tearful, frightened eyes of the child tried to catch the father’s gaze from below. «You won’t leave me, will you?»
Ilya picked her up in his arms and pressed her to his heart:
— Daughter, what are you talking about? I live for you! My clear sun! Never, do you hear, never even think about it! I love you, my little cat! — the baby relaxed in his arms, hugged him around the neck.
— My daddy.
Ilya and Nastya moved into a new apartment. He rewrote the old two-room apartment to Inna. In exchange for giving up his daughter, without the right to see her.
So the woman herself wanted.