Kristina was sitting on a bench under a spreading chestnut tree in a remote corner of the old park and tears flooded her face. Bitter thoughts tormented her head, regret squeezed her chest: why is she so unhappy?
What the Lord punished her for, that at 37 she feels devastated and destroyed, and has already become jealous of those who have passed away. A small curly-haired dog with a flattened nose appeared from somewhere at Kristina’s feet. Pekingese. Her favorite breed! Kristina hugged him to her, treated him to cookies. I felt warmer from his breath, trusting eyes.
I looked back at the crackling of branches and saw a slender man with a fishing rod.
«That’s where you are!» – he turned to the dog, greeted the girl.
He sat down next to her, told her that he was going fishing, there was no catch, and a thunderstorm was approaching. He nodded at the dark clouds in the sky. Kristina was silent. The stranger began to peer into her tear-stained face, asked what happened, maybe she needed some help? The man’s words, his caring question touched Kristina and she gave vent to tears even more.
«No, I won’t leave you here like this! Moreover, it started raining. Tell me why these tears?» – the man opened the raincoat tent, which he always took fishing, covered her with a dog. Repeated: «Tell me!»
Kristina herself did not know why she felt confidence in this beautiful fisherman, because she had long ceased to believe people. Word by word, she began to tell her story.
I grew up in a wealthy family. My parents were in a managerial job. And also – my uncle, who left for Canada many years ago, helped the family. When little sister Olesya was born, Kristinka was nine years old. Since then, her childhood has stopped. While her friends were playing outside, she was forced to cradle her sister, peel potatoes, sweep the yard. Also study for «excellent». It became her duty to feed her sister, to braid her pigtails. Her mother even cut Kristina’s hair, saying that her curly hair requires special care, and there is no time for it.
Everyone «lisped» only with Olesya, and they treated their eldest daughter as an adult. One day the mother, hearing Olesya screaming, ran into the house and saw that Kristinka was playing with a doll that had been bought for her sister.
Shouted at her: «Girl! Give the doll to the child! Do you hear her crying? Go, better, give the bird some grain. Learn to be a hostess!»
Kristinka burst into tears: «It would be better not to have this Oleska. I want a doll too!»
Her little heart was bursting with pity and despair: why was her sister loved, but not her? The years passed. The parents were happy for their beloved daughter, did not mind that she got married early, took her son-in-law into their home. And Kristina graduated from accounting courses in absentia and worked in her specialty.
After work, as always, I hurried home, where I was waiting for chores around the house, in the garden, in the garden. My mother began to get sick, and my father after work, after eating, lay down on the sofa, read the newspaper and watched TV. He, as he himself said, is supposed to rest after work.
Kristina had no such right. I worked until midnight, and woke up with the sun.
With the birth of twins – Karolinka and Alinka – she had more trouble. As if it wasn’t Olesya, but she gave birth to them. The mother ordered Kristina to quit, because they can’t hire a babysitter for the girls.
Kristina got used to the idea that the word of her parents is the law. And, though reluctantly, I still wrote an application for settlement. But I didn’t get any thanks. Olesya became a full-fledged hostess in the house, and the older sister turned into a free maid. For some reason, Kristina did not have the courage to say that the whole household was supported by her. Olesya and Sergey have a car, and she takes heavy bags to the market in the city by bus.
Somehow my sister’s family was going to go to the sea. Kristina, as if by the way, said that she had never seen the sea before.
Olesya remained silent, and the mother suddenly flushed and shouted: «Wasting money? In her daily chores, Kristina did not even think about the fact that all her friends have had families for a long time, and she does not see the light of God at work. Her hands were cracked to the point of bleeding, and most of all, her soul…
Olesya was recently admitted to the hospital. She had her appendicitis removed. At night, a drunk Sergei broke into Kristina’s room.
He went to the bed, began to tear off the blanket. «You helped your sister out in everything, then replace her now,» he said. Terrified, Kristina resisted, begged to come to her senses, threatened to tell everything
Olesya, but he only laughed maliciously: «Don’t scare me!» She didn’t know where the strength came from to push him away, hit him in the face and run away from home. I sat in the bushes in the garden until morning. Then, exhausted by an anxious night, I went to go around the farm.
On the porch I ran into Sergei, who reeked of alcohol. «Do you consider yourself a queen? And who needs you like that?» he hissed and began to laugh maliciously, as if at night.
Kristina packed up and left the house. And so I spent the whole day in the park. Work is waiting for her at home again. But I don’t want to go back there.
Ivan, that was the fisherman’s name, listened attentively.
He took her hands in his. «You’re cold, go home. Don’t be afraid of anyone. If something is wrong, call me.»
He handed her his card. «Don’t be offended, think about what I’m going to tell you. It’s your own fault that you became a servant in your own house. You have to love yourself, you know? If you don’t love yourself, why should anyone love you?». Then, looking into her confused eyes, he offered to meet again.
At the same place in two months, when he returns from a business trip: «I want to see you different – cheerful, with makeup, confident. Promise me that it will be so. That you will love yourself.»
«I promise!» – Kristina breathed out in one breath.
Ivan’s words did not leave my head. After meeting him, she changed her attitude to herself, to life. No one recognized her at home. She found time for herself, knew how to fight back when necessary.
For the money earned on the market, I made a modern haircut, bought new clothes, cosmetics. In the end, she returned to work, now everyone in the house had their own responsibilities.
I caught myself thinking – every second I remember Ivan. Who is he? Does he have a family? Will he come to the park on the appointed day? Every day I picked up a business card, but I didn’t dare to call: maybe he didn’t have time for calls there, on a business trip? And when the day of the meeting came, I unexpectedly typed the numbers that I already knew by heart.
«It’s me–Kristina. Remember, the woman from the park. When did it rain?» she asked timidly.
«Yes, I remember. And I’ve been waiting for you on our bench for an hour. Come,» I heard his warm baritone voice.
Ivan did not recognize in this noble, beautiful lady that pale, tearful woman who once resembled a wounded bird. He stared at her with wide-open eyes. Dressed in fashion, in high heels, with light makeup and a sparkle in her eyes!
«Now do you believe that I have fallen in love with myself?» – Kristina was glowing with happiness. «I believe it,» Ivan replied and confusedly handed her a bouquet of autumn flowers.
He began to talk about himself. He grew up without a father who left them with his mother. For many years he worked at a construction site. Now he has a small business. Three years ago I buried my mother, now I’m alone. Of course, he had women, but he had never met one whose heart would freeze at the touch of her hand. Until I saw her. All these two months she had not left his thoughts.
Three years have passed since Ivan married Kristina, whom they did not want to let go of the house in any way. Soon my son Misha was born. Ivan dotes on his baby. He is respectful to his wife, who has remembered for the rest of her life: if you want to be loved, first of all, love yourself. She did it and became happy.