Every morning there was a cough outside her bedroom wall. A long, nagging, doomed cough that kept me awake no longer.
— Yes, what’s so-and—so, — irritably throwing off the blanket, Nika jumped out of bed. Stomping her heels loudly on the floor, not caring about the neighbors from below, let them wake up too, she went into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker.
It was five-thirty in the morning. I could sleep for another hour.
While the cup was filled with fragrant coffee, Nika listened to the nagging cough move into the kitchen. The sound insulation in the house left much to be desired.
«I’d like to kill this realtor who didn’t warn about the neighbors living behind the wall,» she hissed, standing by the window with a cup of coffee.
Nika moved into this house quite recently and has not had time to meet anyone yet. Yes, she didn’t really want to. What a whim, she thought, to know everyone you live next to. The main thing is to live quietly, without disturbing anyone, that’s the motto of the modern neighborhood.
After drinking coffee, getting ready slowly, there are still advantages in an early rise — there is no need to run around the apartment in a panic, Nika went to work.
Returning in the evening after work, she saw an ambulance at the entrance.
Shrugging her shoulders, Nika called the elevator and went up to her floor. As soon as the door opened, she saw a stretcher being carried out of the apartment next to her. An old woman was lying on them, coughing violently, covering her mouth with a handkerchief crumpled in her hands. She glanced at Nika and smiled sadly. The orderlies with the stretcher disappeared into the elevator, and the paramedic told the woman living opposite Nika the address of the hospital where the old lady would be taken. When the elevator door closed, she looked at Nika and, shaking her head, said:
— That’s how you live, you live this life, and the neighbors call an ambulance.
«Is she all alone?» — asked the girl, before whose eyes there was an image of an old woman on a stretcher.
— Yes, as if alone. She has a son, but she hasn’t had a nose for ten years. Where he is, what he is, the mother does not know. And he doesn’t care about her. Wow, if I saw this parasite, I would tear off all my ears. The mother has been ill for the second year, and he doesn’t care,» the neighbor was hot, holding a piece of paper with the address in her hands. — Well, who’s going to visit her? My daughter went on a business trip, she hung me with grandchildren. Before visiting me.
— And let me visit, — Nika suddenly said.
— Oh, baby, that would be nice. The old woman doesn’t need much, but to know that someone cares, it costs a lot.
Once in her apartment, Nika looked at the piece of paper with the address in surprise. Why did she do that? She has never noticed compassion and concern for herself. Live quietly, don’t shine — was her motto in life.
But, no matter what, the next day, after taking time off from work early, Nika went to the hospital. When she entered the ward, she greeted her shyly and sat down on a stool near the old woman’s bed.
— I didn’t know what you like and brought you pears, — said the girl, putting the fruit on the nightstand.
The old lady smiled and wanted to say something, but the cough did not give.
— And I look out the window every morning, and I see you rushing to work. And in the evening I see you coming back. Also alone, like me,» the old woman condemned when the cough let her go.
— Yes, for now, alone. But I still have time,» Nika replied, shrugging her shoulders.
— Time. It is so fleeting that looking back you think how it managed to run so fast. So I was once as young and light as you. And now I’m lying here like a helpless old woman,» and again the cough did not let her speak.
The next day, Nika came again. And a day later, too. And so all week she visited Natalia Lvovna, with whom she even became friends. She turned out to be a very cheerful old lady whose life was filled with interesting moments.
«I wish I was a writer. It’s a whole book you can write about the life of this cheerful woman,» the girl thought, leaving the hospital with a smile.
She already imagined how Natalia Lvovna would be discharged from the hospital and they would drink tea in the evenings. The girl will tell her how the day went, and the old lady will remember funny stories from her life. After all, it is impossible for such good people to drink tea alone.
And when I came the next day, Natalia Lvovna’s bed was empty.
— Has Grandma been discharged? Nika asked her roommate happily.
— Discharged. They were discharged to the next world,» the neighbor replied grumpily, turning away to the window.
Natalia Lvovna died quietly and alone. As quiet and lonely as I’ve been living lately. Out of nowhere, my son came to the funeral. A healthy, well-groomed fellow on the arm with an equally healthy wife, who looked around the apartment with predatory eyes. She looked at Nika with a contemptuous glance and, curling her lips, turned to her husband:
— Do you know this girl?
«Wait, don’t bother, later,» he waved away.
Nika was disgusted to the point of nausea and she left without staying for the wake. Standing at the window in her apartment, she looked down as those who came to honor the memory of the departed dispersed. And she felt so sad and sad. After all, for half a year she listened to a cough behind the wall and it did not occur to her that there was a person so lonely there that there was no one to drink tea with in the evening.
— Should I get a dog so that someone is waiting at home, — the girl thought, wiping a tear rolling down her cheek.