Hope woke up because her husband was stroking her hair:
— Darling, have you already missed me in one night?
Denis removed his hand and said:
— Almost… My sun, are you all right? You’re all wet.
Nadia got out of bed and answered: — I had some kind of bad dream, I don’t even know what it would be for.
Her husband got up after her:
— If you want, I’ll make breakfast myself. Just don’t laugh if something doesn’t work out for me again.
In response , Nadia smiled and said:
— Yeah, well, I know what you’re going to cook there. Probably your favorite scrambled eggs again? Eh, Denis, cooking is clearly not yours, but otherwise, you’re just a golden man!?
After praising her husband in the morning, the wife went to the bathroom. Denis, however, did not wait and washed his face in the kitchen. He jokingly translated her irony and began to cook.
So the day began in their new apartment, where they moved after a long renovation. In addition, Nadia had to change her place of work, since it would take too long to get from the other end of the city. She hasn’t gone to the company’s office yet, she just discussed everything on the phone, but today is her first working day. Coming out of the bathroom, Nadezhda sniffed and said:
— Well, I knew it, the scrambled eggs are burnt as always. I should have boiled the dumplings at least then. Okay, sit down at the table already, I’ll come up with something in a hurry.
While they were having breakfast with sandwiches and coffee, the husband again touched on the topic of dreams:
— It seems to me that your previous sessions with a psychologist have not yielded results. I suggest you agree to my proposal and go to Aunt Valya. Although she is not a qualified specialist, she helps to cope with various negative moments from the past. Your childhood torments you, doesn’t it? I understand that it is unpleasant to remember this. But if you don’t put an end to this issue, then you will wake up every morning in a cold sweat.
Nadezhda understood that this was a rational proposal, but she did not want to share her personal experiences with Aunt Valya at all. The fact is that Nadia is a former pupil of an orphanage. She got there when her mother left her. At least, that’s what the staff of the institution said. And it seems that they did not pour mud on her mother, but they did not justify it either.
In general, Nadia grew up with the idea that her parents betrayed her. She never saw her father at all. It seems that he abandoned their family even earlier, and now, years later, Nadia is not at all interested in where he lives and whether he is alive at all.
After eating sandwiches, the couple began to get ready for work. Denis got dressed and went outside. While Nadia was preening, he managed to warm up the car and listen to the radio. Nothing new was reported on it, only congratulations were sent to today’s birthday people. Two minutes later my wife came down and got into the car:
— The office is located on Pushkinskaya. Drop me off a little early, I want to walk a little and tune in to success.
Denis closed the cabin door and answered with a smile on his face:
— Whatever you say, honey, but I think it’s not walking that attracts you. Don’t you want your colleagues to think that a lady came to them by carriage?
Nadia waved her hand at him and asked him to watch the road carefully.
In half an hour they got to the right address. The wife flew out of the car like a bird and blew her husband a kiss. Catching him in his hands, Denis wished Nadia a good working day. At parting, he signaled twice and drove off. Nadia looked after the departing car and headed towards the office. It was still a hundred meters away, plus crossing the road, but before reaching the zebra, she noticed a stop out of the corner of her eye. Great, so it won’t be a problem to leave here, Nadezhda thought. And if she’s lucky, then her office windows will just go out on this side and Nadia will see which buses come and go from this stop. At the same time, she could not understand what attracted her to this stop, there are more than a hundred of them in the city. But it was on her that Nadia lingered her gaze and even stopped for a minute to study the route schedule. But time was not waiting, and it was necessary to speed up so as not to be late on your first working day. Inside the building, despite the heat, it was quite comfortable. She was personally met by the director of the company:
— Come in, Nadezhda Konstantinovna, your office is already ready.
Smiling back, they went up to the second floor together. As expected, the windows just overlooked the roadway and the very stop. Nadia is not used to dull landscapes, but here you can see at least some animation. The director briefly explained the specifics of her work:
— I hope you enjoy working in our company. By the way, if you have any questions, my office is behind the wall. Please contact me for any reason, I will always be happy to answer your questions. In the meantime, get used to it, the internal phone is working, if you need someone from the staff, then do not hesitate and then, of course, call him to your office.
Closing the door behind him, the director left, loudly tapping the heels of his polished shoes. Nadia walked around the office, and then went to the window. Her attention was again attracted by this stop, as if there was something mysterious about it. Remembering why she was now overcome by strong emotions, she put her head in her hands and did not hear how they came to her. It was a young girl.
— Hello, Nadezhda Konstantinovna, I am your secretary. Here some papers need to be checked, Vadim Petrovich said that you are already familiar with the company’s activities in general.
Nadia nodded in response and took the documents from her:
— Thank you, you can be free. Although, wait, what an ignoramus I am. We haven’t even met. You just said my name, but what is your name?
The secretary quietly replied:
— I’m Lisa, that is, Elizabeth. If you need anything else, I’m always in touch.
The assistant left the office, and Nadia sat down at the table and thought. Some strange thoughts came into my head:
— Why does this feeling of shame not leave me? For what I could apologize and to whom, it is unclear.
In addition to these thoughts, an image of a woman literally appeared before her eyes for a second. It seemed to be mom, but for some reason, Nadia did not remember her well. She got into an orphanage when she was only four years old. What could have happened then is still a mystery. But the fact that her mother abandoned her, Nadia will never forget. She was even surprised when the teacher once asked:
— Nadyusha, do you want to find your mother?
Naturally, Nadezhda was not going to do this for obvious reasons. Anyway, at that time she had other plans. She wanted to get out of the orphanage faster and become independent in order to manage her fate differently.
Nadia spent the whole day reviewing documents and periodically receiving calls. Later in the evening, she went to the window again and saw an old woman at the bus stop. The pensioner was looking around, probably waiting for someone. After standing a little longer near the window, Nadia began to get ready to go home. She did not call her husband, but he arrived in advance and met her near the place where he dropped her off in the morning. Opening the door, Denis said:
— Please, madam, kindly take your pen.
Nadia laughed and answered:
«Oh, yes, monsieur, but don’t drive the horses.
Already in the car, Nadia was upset, her husband noticed it:
— What are you doing? Didn’t the first day go the way you expected?
His wife shook her head:
— No, that’s all right. I just remembered the past, or rather, fragments of it. I just can’t figure out what connects them.
Denis turned around and asked again:
— What do you mean?
Nadia turned towards the bus stop, but that granny was no longer there. Pointing at her with her hand, she said:
— When I passed by her this morning, I somehow felt awkward. But I don’t even know what it’s connected with.
The husband pulled out of the parking lot and drove the car towards their house. On the way he mentioned Aunt Valya again:
— You definitely need to go to her. Don’t think I’m afraid of anything, but your condition has been bothering me a lot lately.
Nadia did not argue on this topic, and leaning her head back on the headrest, she dozed off. Half an hour later her husband touched her lightly on the shoulder:
— Wake up, sunshine, we’ve arrived, otherwise I’ll have to carry you in my arms.
The wife smiled condescendingly, but added a little irony:
— And nothing would have happened to you, you would have informed, I’m not that heavy.
They had a big dinner at home, and then everyone went about their business. But less than ten minutes later, Denis heard that his wife was crying. Nadia was sitting on the balcony and looking at old photos. They were made many years ago, when she was still brought up in an orphanage. Her husband decisively took the photo album from her:
— That’s enough nostalgia for you, Aunt Valya will come to us herself for the weekend.
This terrible warning stirred up Hope:
— Don’t, I’m fine. Better let’s go to the movies, I’ll get a little distracted.
Watching the movie had a beneficial effect on my wife, she came back to normal and even talked in detail about how her first working day went.
However, in the morning she refused to have her husband drive her. Nadezhda herself reached the bus stop and waited for the right flight. Of course, it took a little longer to get there, but Nadia still had time. When she got off the bus, she saw the familiar old lady again. The woman was sitting on a bench and peering at the numbers of passing minibuses. It seemed like she had to go somewhere, but she didn’t know which bus. Nadezhda went inside the office building and went up to her office. There wasn’t much work, so she often went to the window. The old lady waited for some time, and then abruptly stood up, waved her hand and left in the direction of the supermarket. Nadia watched her go, and a feeling of imaginary confusion appeared in her soul again.
For several more days, the old lady also came to the bus stop as scheduled. It seemed that someone promised to come to her, but did not keep his word. Well, okay there, maybe a day or two, but not for a whole week, right? Nadia became interested, and she decided that somehow she would choose the moment and approach the old lady, but then, as if from a cornucopia, orders poured in. And she had no time to seize a free minute to get to the bus stop.
On Saturday, guests came to them: Denis’s parents and his sister, who, moreover, has long been Nadia’s best friend. After the feast, the women retired for communication. And so Denis’s sister, squinting her eyes, suddenly asked:
— I remember you once said that you wanted to find your mother? What has changed recently, are there any results?
Nadia didn’t want to remember about it, but in order for Irina to ask less questions, she decided to answer:
— I don’t think she and I need to date. After all, I once said that my mother was caught in a lie about the disease. My teachers kept telling me about it.
After looking at Denis and his parents, who were looking at something in the album, Nadia continued:
— The fact is that then, it seems, the mother pretended to be a sick person. I don’t know how true this is, but after that incident I don’t know anything about her.
Irina tensed and asked again:
— Wait a minute, what kind of case are we talking about?
Nadia’s lower lip was shaking, but she pulled herself together:
— I don’t remember exactly, but my mother abandoned me, betrayed me in one word. In other words, I can’t express it and let’s not talk about her anymore. And then I’m all on nerves, and even past memories often began to emerge from under consciousness.
Irina realized that it was hard for Nadia to talk about it:
— Well, okay, I’m sorry if something is wrong, I’m not angry. By the way, my husband and I are going on a picnic next weekend. Tell Denis not to plan anything.
Nadia frowned and said:
— He’s your brother, you can talk to him yourself.
In response, Irina waved her hand:
— I won’t, he doesn’t listen to me, as if I’m a little child for him.
Nadia promised to talk to him:
— Okay, I’ll bring up this topic later. I’m a little tired, I’ll probably go lie down.
An hour later, the guests left, Denis saw them off himself.
On Sunday, my husband wanted to bring Aunt Valya, but his wife forbade it.
Monday morning began with the fact that Nadia gave Denis a list of what to buy. After looking at the impressive records, the husband whistled:
— Wow, are we going on a hike or something?
Nadezhda took the keys to the door, which were lying on the nightstand:
— So you need to eat something! And this is all the most necessary. Honey, I didn’t feel like taking a minibus today, do you have time?
The husband took the hint and almost carried her to the car in his arms. Arriving at the office building, Nadia looked at the bus stop, but there was no one there. She seemed relieved. It seems that the old lady, after all, waited for the guests or went to them herself. Before lunch, Nadia was busy with routine: she held a meeting between subordinates, received several visitors, and then completely immersed herself in paperwork. At some point, she had a feeling of excitement again. Going to the window, she saw the old woman again:
— Okay, now I’m definitely going to her.
Not understanding why she needed it at all, Nadia left the office and went down the stairs. Opening the door, she quickly crossed the distance that separated her from the bus stop. The old lady sat in the same place and thoughtfully looked at the numbers of passing buses. Overcoming her shyness, she sat down next to her and said hello:
— Hello. I often see you at this stop, but, for some reason, you don’t eat anywhere. Maybe you’re waiting for someone? Or do you need help?
The old lady turned to her, and tears sparkled in her eyes:
— I still don’t understand which bus she left on. Do you know what kind of bus is going that way?
Nadia didn’t quite understand who she was talking about:
— And who left, who did you lose?
Putting her hand over her eyebrows and looking into the distance, Grandma replied:
— So my daughter, Nadenka, I’m still waiting for her. Here near the shop quite recently, she was playing with her teddy bear, and I just went to look at the schedule. I turn around, and there is no my Nadyushka, I do not know where I have disappeared. So I’m waiting for her baby, maybe my daughter will come.
Nadia felt that her legs were wadded up, and her head was making a lot of noise:
— What is it? What did you say? daughter’s name is Nadia?
Remembering about her favorite teddy bear from childhood, Nadezhda abruptly grabbed the bench and said;
— It’s me Nadia, do you hear Mom! Your own daughter! Mommy, how long have I been waiting for this meeting!
But the old lady seemed to be in another world and even sat aside a little:
— Woman, you are confusing me with someone, I do not know you! My Nadia is only four years old now, and you clearly look older. My daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world, but I didn’t keep track, I don’t know where she is without me.
Here Hope, like a lightning bolt pierced and tears gushed by themselves: she remembered that stop and the fateful day when her mother lost her. Looking at the old lady, Nadia could not yet believe that, finally, an epic meeting had taken place, but that’s not how she imagined it.
In order to somehow defuse the situation, Nadezhda tried to talk to her grandmother again. But no, she kept saying:
— I’m waiting for my daughter, but I don’t know you at all.
It was only then that she realized that her mother really had problems with her head. And what is happening now is echoes of the past. Nadezhda could not believe that her own mother was sitting in front of her, who did not recognize her. From resentment and depression, the daughter could not utter a word. After a couple of minutes, the pensioner looked at her watch and asked for help to take her home:
— I live right next door.
Two houses later they found themselves in front of an old building, where the sign of the city hospice was on the front side. A woman in a white coat came out to meet them:
— My God, and we already thought she was lost. Thank you, woman. Did you meet her at the bus stop?
Nadia , entering the building , replied:
— Yes, it is, I’ve seen her there often. Excuse me, can you tell me how you got this elderly woman?
The nurse willingly agreed to talk:
— Oh, so it was a long time ago, more than thirty years ago for sure. I haven’t worked here yet, so I’m telling you from the words of the former staff. At first, Tatiana Nikiforovna was convicted and deprived of parental rights for leaving a child in danger. Allegedly, she wanted to get rid of the child and specifically planted my daughter… yes, definitely a daughter, on an intercity bus flight. I don’t know if she did it on purpose or not, but against the background of the loss of the child, and all the worries and stresses, her mind was shaken. Tatiana Nikiforovna got to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, spent a long time there, and then came here to us and now the hospice has become like a home for her.
Sitting down on a chair, Nadezhda said through tears:
— Only now I remembered what happened at the bus stop. I was playing with my teddy bear, a bus stopped nearby and out of the corner of my eye I saw my mother climbing the steps of the back door. I quickly rushed to her and just managed to run in, as the doors immediately slammed shut and the bus moved off. Squeezing through the crowd of people, I realized that in front of me was not my mother, but a woman with a similar dress. Very scared, I backed away and waited for my mother to come in and take me to her. What a fool I am, that’s how I framed my mother and broke everyone’s life…
Taking out a handkerchief Nadia continued:
— And all this time the truth was hidden from me. After all, it seemed to me that my mother did it on purpose – she quit, and began to live for her own pleasure. I didn’t believe it about some kind of illness back then. What should I do and how should I live with such a load now?
The question was rhetorical, and Nadia did not ask to answer it. Instead, she persuaded the medical staff, and then the hospice management, that she would come to her mother.
She visited her for almost a month, and one day she came and did not see her mother in her usual place. She was informed that Tatiana Nikiforovna died tonight, without waiting for her own daughter, who had been by her side in recent days. Out of a sense of solidarity and respect, the medical staff gave Nadezhda some of her things. Among them was her favorite teddy bear, which Tatiana Nikiforovna, according to the staff, kept as the most precious thing in her life. It was his mother who held him in her hands when Nadia saw her in a dream. After the funeral, Nadezhda whispered through tears: «Sleep well, Mommy, I love you!».