Katerina woke up from some noise. Stretching, the woman looked out the window. The blizzard played out late in the evening, howled even more violently. Katya rolled over, wrapped her head in a warm blanket and closed her eyes.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. “That’s it… Someone must have fallen ill,” the woman thought and stepped onto the cold floor.
– Who’s there? – I asked through the door.
– Katerina Vasilyevna! It’s me, Mitrofanovich! The chairman shouted.
The woman put on a handkerchief and opened the door.
– I’m sorry, Katyusha, that I alarmed you in the middle of the night. They called from a neighboring village, where the child is very ill. I need your help! – said the gray-haired man.
– OK. I’m going to get dressed and go out!
– That’s not all! My Volga is like an evil not to start. What to do? How to get there?
Katerina thought for a minute, and waved her hand:
– Okay, I’ll take Milava. Go home, I’ll get there myself!
– Aren’t you afraid of being alone with a horse in the middle of the night? What if the wolves attack? The chairman asked anxiously.
– Where have you seen wolves with us? Katya laughed. – Go already, you’re just distracting me!
– All right! It’s useless to argue with you. In general, as soon as you enter the village, you will see the third hut on the left, there the light will be on. Waiting for you! – the man explained.
The woman led the trotting mare out of the stall, locked the door and set off. Milava snorted with displeasure, but did not dare to disobey her beloved mistress and walked obediently along the snow-covered road.
– Don’t be angry, darling, the baby got sick there, and Mitrofanovich’s car broke down, – the woman explained.
Milava seemed to understand that the hostess did not pull her out of the warm bed in the middle of the night out of spite. The horse shook its mane, and ran faster.
Katerina – worked as a local paramedic. The young woman loved her job, and never refused people, she was ready to help at any time of the day or night.
Five years ago, she had to leave her native village. A young girl was going through a mental drama at that time. It so happened that the man she loved ran away from her a few days before the wedding. And two months later, Katya found out that Anatoly married someone else and went to live in the North.
After finishing her studies, Katerina returned to her native land. Here she grew up, a woman in the village had friends and relatives, and in the city, Katya felt like a complete stranger.
Having entered a small village, the woman immediately saw a small house in which the light was on. Driving into the yard, Katerina tied the horse to a tree, took her suitcase, and knocked on the door. An agitated man immediately appeared on the threshold.
– Good night! Are you a doctor? Please come in, we are really waiting for you!
Katya quickly took off her outer clothes in the hall, and went into the room. Seeing the owner of the house in the light, Katerina turned pale and lost the power of speech.
– Anatoly? What are you doing here? the woman blurted out.
– Katya? Where did you come from? – I answered Tolya’s question with a question.
– Where is the patient? Or did you make it up? The woman asked sternly, pulling herself together.
“In the bedroom,” the man said softly.
Katerina entered a small room, and saw a boy of about five years old on the bed. The child had a fever, he was restlessly delirious in his sleep. After examining the patient, Katya left the medicine and headed for the exit.
– The child has a common cold. I gave the injection, the temperature will drop soon. Everything that needs to be taken further, I left on the table and painted the treatment regimen. Yes, let Mother put mustard plasters in the morning,” Katerina said without raising her head.
– Unfortunately, Egor does not have a mother… Tolik said.
– So, you put it on! the woman said.
– Katya, will you ever forgive me? At that time, I was very young and stupid. I don’t know how I could have done this to you,” Anatoly began to justify himself.
– I have long forgiven and forgotten! the woman tried to smile. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to talk to you. My horse is standing in the cold!
– I’ll do it! Anatoly rushed to the door.
– No need! Go to your son, I’ll find the way,” Katerina said, rushing out the door.
Only in the yard, Katya gave way to tears. As it turned out, the old wound did not heal, the woman still loved Anatoly… Milava saw the upset hostess, and began to beat the snow with her hoof restlessly.
– My dear, do you feel everything? Don’t take it to heart, everything will be fine with us! Katya whispered as she mounted her horse.
Milava was given to a woman as a gift from her father. The girl has been fond of horses since childhood, spending all her free time in the stable. These animals beckoned to them with their love of freedom and good nature. Katya was sure that her Sweetheart understands everything and experiences her problems and sorrows together with the hostess.
A few days later, Christmas Eve came. Katya had dinner and was looking out the snow-covered window. An unexpected knock on the door distracted the woman from sad thoughts.
“Probably the kids came to caroling,” the woman smiled as she opened the door. But Anatoly was standing on the threshold with a child.
– What are you doing here with your sick son?! – the woman was surprised.
– Katyusha, I’m sorry that I came to your house. We arrived at the medical center, but it is already closed there… So, I decided to bother you at home.
– Of course, it’s closed! It’s already late in the evening. Didn’t you notice? Okay, what happened? Is Yegor unwell again? – the paramedic asked.
– Ugh, ugh, everything seems to be in order, – Anatoly knocked on the tree.
– We came for an inspection. You never know, the kid may not be cured… Sorry, we’ll be there tomorrow.
– Wait! Go into the house, there is nothing to drag the child back and forth in the cold. I’ll examine him.
Katerina Ivanovna listened to the child and looked at the throat.
– How are you feeling? Are you eating well? – she smiled at the kid.
– I feel good and really want to eat. Maybe you have some bread? Yegorka asked.
– Of course there is! Tolik, aren’t you feeding your son?
– Feeding. Just until we got here, we worked up an appetite a little. Egor! Stop begging. Let’s have dinner at home now! Tolik said.
– Come to the table. Let’s have dinner together. It’s Christmas Eve after all,” Katerina invited.
Anatoly and his son did not refuse, and quickly scurried to the table. The boy was eating pies on both cheeks, washing down with warm tea.
– Thank you! Very tasty! My dad can’t cook like that…- I thanked the hostess.
– Can I take a walk near the Christmas tree? – You can, Yegorka. There are delicious sweets hanging there, you can take pictures of them,” the woman smiled.
The boy ran to the tree, and silence reigned at the table. Katerina and Anatoly ate dinner in silence, afraid to look into each other’s eyes.
Over these six years, Tolik has changed for the better. The man has matured, and has become even more beautiful.
– You haven’t changed at all, Katyusha. Just as fragile and beautiful,” Anatoly said in a velvety voice.
– Maybe… Only my soul has become callous, I am no longer the naive fool that you once knew.- Katya raised her eyes and looked intently at Tolik.
– You still haven’t forgiven me… Katyusha, I am very sorry to you. Let me explain everything right now.
– How can betrayal be explained and justified? the woman grinned.
– My fault is that I cheated on you then with another. You see, a month later, Irina began to blackmail me with her pregnancy. She threatened that she would go to the police, blow up a scandal all over the neighborhood. I was cowardly and gave up. Back then, I tried to tell you the truth, but I didn’t have the heart. You see, I’ve never had feelings for this woman. Her father had the power at that time, and could safely put me behind bars. I was young, and I was just scared,” the man said sincerely.
– And where is Irina now? Why are you alone with the baby? Katerina asked quietly.
– She’s not here. It so happened, in general, I am a widower…,” Anatoly whispered.
There was a heavy silence in the house again. Katya didn’t know what to say. Or rather, she wanted to say a lot, wanted to shout to the whole world that she loved him. He loves her even more than before… But bitter resentment choked her, did not allow her to utter a word.
– Katya, please forgive me if you can. If you want, I’ll beg you on my knees. Understand, I don’t live without you, but only exist. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought about you and regretted the last monstrous mistake. If you tell me to leave now, I’ll leave and never bother you again. Please think carefully before giving an answer!
At that moment, Katerina had two feelings fighting in her soul. An inner voice screamed to say, “stay, don’t leave, because I have no life without you,” but pride and resentment did not allow me to say it.
– Go away! Katerina whispered softly. Anatoly frowned and followed Yegor into the room. The woman came in after him, and saw that the kid was curled up peacefully sleeping on the bed.
– Yegorka! Did you fall asleep? the man whispered.
– Hush. Don’t wake the baby. Stay with me… Katerina gave up.
Katya looked at her loved one and laughed. Covering the baby with a warm blanket, the woman left the room. Anatoly approached Katerina and embraced her:
– Thank you, my love. I was very afraid that you would drive me away, not listen to me and not forgive me.
– Say thank you to Yegorka! Katerina smiled.
The woman was happy. After all, whatever it was, whatever happened on the path of life, but she managed to step over her pride and resentment, for the sake of great love, without which life loses its colors.