Sitting by the window, Nina Andreevna looked out at the street. Snow fell in large flakes on the ground, enveloping it in a snow-white canvas. The glass felt a little cool.
The women’s peers were walking: some alone, some in pairs. Her neighbor, Nadezhda Ivanovna, was sitting on a bench, wrapped in a down shawl, she called for a walk together, but Nina Andreevna refused. She didn’t want to go out, because the phone was picking up well here only in one place, and the woman was waiting for a call. Constantly looking at his screen, she was waiting for a call from her daughter, who promised to take her home for a day, for Christmas, and today was just Christmas Eve. But time was inexorably running forward, and no one had come yet…
Varvara has been running around the shops since the morning, because she was called to work right after the New Year. Already on the second day, she was sitting in the office and painstakingly checking reports in which the former accountant made a lot of mistakes. And here it’s not far to the check! It was necessary to put everything in order. The woman didn’t have time to buy everything in advance, so she decided to buy ready-made food: grilled chicken, salads, cake.
The husband could not keep Varvara company because he had a part-time job in the garage, for which they paid pennies, but “A friend asked. You can’t refuse a friend.” In the evening, my husband returned home tired. He looked with disdain at the table that the happy spouse had set. Even though the feast was scheduled for noon on the seventh of January, Varvara wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve with her husband. She was used to the fact that every Christmas was celebrated at midnight, just like the New Year. And then we got together again on the seventh and continued the fun.
– Egor, you take a shower as soon as possible, the time is coming! Varvara began fussing.
– What time is it? I’ll take a shower and go to bed. We’ll sit down tomorrow. So eat yourself if you’re hungry, and I had a snack in the garage and I’m tired like a dog.
Varvara silently swallowed the insult, deciding that she would not say anything to her husband. After eating some salad, she watched part of some Christmas movie that was broadcast on TV, cleared the table and went to bed. Since the morning, the woman has been spinning. She was setting the table and fussing, because Yegor’s friends and relatives were coming soon. With sadness, Varvara thought that no one would come from her side, and then suddenly shuddered, as if she had been scalded. She decided to talk to her husband again about her mother.
– Egor, maybe we should go for Mom? She won’t bother anyone at all! She really wanted to be home for Christmas! This holiday is of great importance for our family! Varvara began the conversation cautiously.
– Here’s another one! I’ve already told you everything about it! First of all, your mother is senile, obsessed with religion! I’m tired of etching all this religious nonsense out of you! And secondly, she doesn’t get along with my mom! We have already decided that you will go tomorrow, take her a cake! – the man waved away.
– But, Egor, I promised her… I can’t do this, it’s too heavy on my heart …
– Don’t be so boring, Varya, and don’t spoil my holiday! Egor declared and stared at the TV.
Soon the house was filled with noisy voices and fun, but Varvara was sad this time. The guests raised toasts, congratulated each other on Christmas, but everything was not right at all, not like that. There was no sense of the spirit of the very Christmas that she usually celebrated with her family. Breathing heavily, Varvara plunged into memories from the past…
– Merry Christmas! Thank God for sending His Son into this world, who became our Savior! – my father said at the table, and my mother took up his words.
There were a lot of people. Varvara did not remember most of them, because she was only five at the time. She knew that these people also believed in God. Among them were Andreika, Varya’s good friend, and Sasha, a girl with blue eyes like the sky, with whom Varvara was happy to share her toys. All the adults sang songs praising God and talked about the miracles He had done in their lives, and the children were turned on Christian cartoons, from a video player, even on old cassettes. Then it was fun and carefree, but now everything has changed. Varvara remembered how she climbed on her dad’s lap, and he told her stories from the Bible, pointing to heaven and saying that God lives there, and that one day He will take them all with him. The girl grew up quickly. She went to a Christian school and believed in God. It was only when she turned seventeen that her father fell ill. It just so happened that Varvara became a late child in the family. At the time of her birth, her father was forty-five, and her mother was forty. Parents dreamed of a child and, despite the fact that doctors made disappointing diagnoses, they prayed to God for a miracle and believed that it would happen in their lives. The father’s heart weakened, but he continued to praise God and say that death is only the beginning of something new. When Varvara turned twenty, her father died. He was still so young…
Then Varya was angry with God for the first time. She cursed in her heart and said that He could heal his father, give him a little more time. Just a little more! He believed! I’ve done so many good things! Served! And now he’s gone. Varvara grieved greatly, sometimes it even seemed to her that she was stronger than her mother, although she often hid in the room and cried furtively, trying to hide her emotions from others. Mom continued to adhere to the usual traditions: they still considered Christmas the most important holiday and invited guests to their house, generously treating them to their favorite goodies and talking to them about God.
Only Varvara herself began to move away from religion. The turning point in her life was the day she met Egor, the new financial director who came to their company. A handsome, confident man drew attention to her, offered to go to the cinema with him for some novelty that came out recently, and Varvara agreed. She couldn’t believe for a long time that he could have chosen any of the clever and beautiful women who worked in their company, but he chose her. Why? Varvara had no answer to this question. However, she did not try to find him. The relationship soon became serious, and Egor began to come to visit them. Mom didn’t like her daughter’s chosen one.
– Something’s wrong with him, Varechka, he’s kind of muddy, or something…I can’t explain it! He doesn’t know anything about God at all, moreover, he doesn’t believe in His existence, and he doesn’t even want to listen to anything I say. It will be hard for you to get along with him!
– Stop it, Mom! You and your father got together! And he didn’t believe in God at first either! Varvara rolled her eyes.
– With your dad, everything was completely different! Nina Andreevna continued to argue. – We got together when he came to church! That’s where we met! He was looking for the truth, and Egor doesn’t need it.
– And you don’t know how it is with Egor and me! He’s a wonderful man! We love each other and want to be together! Do you really think that something can interfere with our relationship? I’m sorry, Mom, but I don’t want to discuss this anymore! I have to go to work early!
It should have been said that Nina Andreevna did not like Yegor in the same way as he did her…
He often began to tell his girlfriend that her mother only spoils everything, that everything could be different without her, and Varvara thought at such moments. The young people tried to move out and rent an apartment. Nina Andreevna was very worried about her daughter, but she remained adamant and said that she would marry only Egor, because she was sure that he was the right person.
Varvara stopped going to church, and practically did not look at the meetings of believers. She found out that Andreika and Sasha, friends she disowned after her father’s death, got married and were about to have a son, but she didn’t care about that. Varya herself did not dream of having a child, and in general, children were not a priority for her, but if she allowed herself such thoughts, then Yegor immediately said that they were good together, and a new person would only destroy all the good things that make them happy now. Varvara turned twenty-nine. On her birthday, Egor proposed to her, and they decided to get married.
Nina Andreevna then had a stroke from severe stress, and she had to miss the wedding. After the wedding, the young couple moved into the apartment of Varvara’s mother. At the hospital, the girl was told that she would have to take care of her mother, since her legs were paralyzed so far, and it was not clear whether something would change. At first everything seemed to be going well, Mom didn’t ask for much, but Yegor became unbearably angry. He was returning from work and was indignant at his wife for not having time to cook dinner, or not meeting him with hot hugs.
– Do you see for yourself how much time you spend on your mom? – Yegor grumbled. – does she turn out to be more expensive to you than me? Listen, Varya, well, it was good when your mother was in the hospital! Take her to a home for the elderly or disabled, and that’s it! And we will live in the apartment ourselves, you will give birth to children, well, you wanted children!
– It’s too late to have children, Egor! I don’t want to give birth as late as mom, and I can’t throw her out of my own house! Varya shook her head negatively.
– Can’t you? Well, then I’ll leave! Choose! She doesn’t just live in this house! She poisons our happy future by not being able to do anything on her own, and you’re running around with her like a written bag! – as if the man spat out his words and hurriedly left.
Egor did not appear at home for several days and did not answer his wife’s calls. Then Varvara was very scared, because she could not imagine life without this man. Egor seemed to her so similar to her father, courageous, handsome, caring. And partly Varvara understood him, tried to understand him. Deciding that he was right, the woman entered her mother’s room and informed her that she needed to move out.
– You understand that I will pay for the rent of an apartment, then I’d rather pay in a normal home for the disabled! So you will live there, like Christ in his bosom! They will take good care of you, but I want to live, and not bury myself right now. That’s how you rehabilitate yourself completely, so Egor and I will take you home.
Nina Andreevna stared out of the window in mute silence. She just nodded and didn’t say anything to her daughter because of the lump that bitterly squeezed in her throat. Of course, Varvara was right on some side, but after all, her mother did almost nothing from her, she did a lot herself, and she was already making some progress and could take a step or two…
However, Nina Andreevna had no idea how things would turn out next, so she agreed to live there for a few months, recover a little, and then return home. But no one planned to return it later. Varvara was constantly putting it off, telling her mother that life was not bad there either, and repairs needed to be done at home, and the neighbors were constantly bothering. Nina Andreevna realized that no one was waiting for her at home. Even though she could walk slowly, she would not be able to get to the store on her own to buy groceries, and her daughter made it clear that she would not help, and if her mother suddenly decided to return, she would certainly move out herself. So a little less than a year has passed.
That’s just Nina Andreevna could not imagine how she would celebrate Christmas away from home, because it was an important holiday for her! Yes, and for Varvara once. Of course, faith lives in the heart, and there can be joy too, but Nina Andreevna did not want to renounce the tradition either.
– Daughter, take me at least for Christmas! I missed the walls of my family, and I’m used to celebrating this holiday at home! With our Christmas tree, with reading the Bible and singing praises! Happy watching holiday movies! I’m not asking for much! After the holiday, take me back! Nina Andreevna pleaded.
Varvara then winced a little. She felt sorry for her mother, but it was useless to argue with Egor, and he had already managed to rejoice that now they have their own apartment in quotes, where you can invite relatives and friends. And he invited his relatives for Christmas, and his mother did not get along with Nina Andreevna at all.
– Okay! I’ll talk to Egor! Varvara forced a smile.
– No! You promise! Promise me you’ll pick me up! I want to sort out some things, because I have nothing memorable from your father except this ring! Nina Andreevna grabbed her daughter by the hand and began to shake her a little, looking pleadingly into her eyes.
– I promise, Mom! I’ll take you for Christmas!
Varvara quickly packed up and went home. She tried to talk to her husband, but he didn’t want to hear anything about her mother, and said that if she decided to bring her, he would leave and spend all the holidays with friends.
And now, when the wine was flowing like a river, and drunken laughter filled the room, Varvara clearly saw the frozen tears in her mother’s eyes when she squeezed her daughter’s hand and asked her to take her away for Christmas.
– I’m sorry! Varvara whispered to herself.
She understood that there was no spirit of God in this place. People gathered just like that because they could find a reason to arrange another gathering and have a drink together. She only now began to realize what a great fall she had committed. And she understood that she had betrayed her mother, and not only her. She betrayed God. Did her life get better after that? No…
It was empty now. The woman was no longer happy about anything, even the proximity of her husband. Once she loved Egor, and now there seemed to be nothing left at all…
No feelings, just an annihilating emptiness that I wanted to get rid of. Having gone into the kitchen and hugging herself, Varvara began to walk from corner to corner and think hard. She wanted to drive everyone away, to disperse this Sodom and Gomorrah that was happening in the hall where the name of God was previously praised.
– Varya, did we still have wine? And then there’s nothing left on the table… I think – to run for more or… And what are you such a buka? How long has she left us? Egor asked, finally convinced of what a huge mistake she had made.
– What difference does it make to you when? You are in the circle of your family and friends! It’s me alone!
– Did we have any wine left? Egor asked again in a strained voice, ignoring his wife’s words.
– Go away… Tell everyone that the performance is over and leave with them, otherwise I will do it myself. So that their spirit is not left here! Varvara hissed.
Egor grabbed his wife by the wrists and squeezed them hard, he made her moan in pain and looked straight into her eyes.
– Have you lost your mind completely? If everyone leaves now, then just know that I won’t come back. You’re crazy! Embarrassing me in front of my friends!
– And that’s right! Don’t come back! The devil confused me that I contacted you! Go away and don’t come back! If you can’t accept my faith, and are so strongly opposed to my mother, then it’s better to leave Egor… I’m tired…
Egor flared up, and after an hour there was no one left in the apartment. Varvara closed the doors with all the locks and called the master to change the lock on the front door. She no longer wanted Egor to appear in her life again. Varvara prayed to God to grant her forgiveness. She shed bitter tears, realizing what she had done and asked to be given another chance.
All night Varvara cleaned the house and vacated her mother’s room, where Egor managed to make himself a playroom. After collecting her husband’s things, the woman was sure that she no longer wanted to give their sick relationship a chance. Egor himself arrived early in the morning, silently took his things and said that he was sorry for Varya all this time and was with her only out of pity.
– I started dating a plain girl, I thought that you would be faithful, and you would be silent like a mouse, but you are a real fool! No one will need you now with your snags and your mother! Yegor said.
After leaving, he began to send messages with insults to Varvara, which forced her to turn off her phone. After taking a nap for a few hours, the woman went to get her mother. She imagined how happy she would be and knew that she would have to beg her mother for forgiveness. However, in the invalids’ home, Varvara was greeted with bad news.
– Your mother is in intensive care. At night she became ill with her heart. Now the condition is serious, but stable. We called you, but we couldn’t get through. The drunk man replied that he did not know any Barbarian.
Varvara remembered that she had given Egor’s number because she was planning to change her SIM card. And he didn’t tell her anything about the calls, and probably didn’t remember. Returning home, Varvara began to sob again. Crawling on her knees in her mother’s room, she prayed to God to save her, to give her another chance.
In the morning, Varvara called Andrey and asked him to support her in prayer. Two days have passed, and Varvara was pleased with the news that her mother’s condition has improved a little, and she will be transferred to the ward very soon. As soon as Nina Andreevna was transferred from the intensive care unit to the usual department, Varvara immediately went to her. Having bought a huge bouquet of chrysanthemums and products that were advised to use to strengthen the heart, Varvara rushed to the hospital, but did not dare to go for a long time. The woman began to cry when she saw her daughter with flowers, but tried to restrain her emotions so that she would not feel bad again.
– Mommy, I’m sorry! Forgive me if you can! – the only thing that Varvara could give out, hugging her mother. Tears were pouring down the cheeks of both women.
– God will forgive! And I didn’t hold a grudge against you… I just waited until the last one, and then suddenly it got worse…
Varvara asked her mother not to worry and told her that she had driven Egor away and now wants to improve her life by returning to God and taking her mother home.
– You were right, Mom! I shouldn’t have married Egor, but it’s too late to look back now. I ruined everything myself, I have to fix it myself again. It won’t be an easy path, but I believe I can handle it.
– We will cope with everything together, and God will certainly help! Nina Andreevna smiled, squeezing her daughter’s hand. Varvara and Egor were given a divorce quickly.
The man behaved as if he did not regret what had happened at all, as if their relationship meant nothing to him at all. Varya changed her job, and now she spent all her free time with her mother.
Four years later, Varvara was returning from church, and saw a gazelle near her entrance. A thin, dust-stained man was carrying things and, noticing her, suddenly stopped.
– Hello, Varya! How are you doing? – he asked.
It was noticeable that Yegor’s life had been considerably battered, and Varvara felt sorry for him. My heart clenched into a ball. – hello! It’s all good. Thank you. Mom has completely rehabilitated herself. She’s helping me with my daughter now.
– With your daughter? – the man was surprised. – After the divorce, I soon found out that I was pregnant, but I was afraid to call you, but does it really matter now?
“It does, Varya! Even as it has! I’ve changed a lot! I started wearing a cross here! Look! – the man took out a slightly bent cross from under a sweat-soaked T-shirt. – I do not know how to do something right! I buried my parents during this time! I was fired from my job, my friends disowned me! I remember how you used to pray, and I started doing the same. And so, I found the cross!
Varya smiled, not knowing whether she was happy or afraid that the situation might happen again.
– Does the cross mean anything? What’s more important is what’s in your heart,” Varvara sobbed.
– There is darkness in my heart, but if you don’t help me get rid of it and erase it, then who else, Varya? Your God says to forgive! Forgive me and give me one last chance! Let me meet your daughter and… your God? Because I understand that by myself I am nobody…
Varvara blinked away her tears and sighed heavily. She was afraid that she might be wrong, but her heart told her that it was really worth giving a chance. The daughter was quickly able to find a common language with her father, and Christmas, which they were to celebrate together, passed the way Varvara was used to. Egor, on the other hand, thanked her and Nina Andreevna for forgiveness and took timid steps along the path of approaching God.