The Foundling

Katerina hugged her husband, whom she had not seen for more than six months. Finally, he returned from the watch, where he earned money for the very apartment in which they now lived.

This big and spacious three-piece was their dream. At first they rented it, and then the owners offered to buy the house they liked, and Oleg agreed. They discussed the terms of payments, and Oleg left for the north, from where he sent money to Katya, and she was already distributing the budget.

For almost five years, Katya and Oleg rarely saw each other, but the last separation was the longest and now he returned, promising that he would not leave his wife anymore.

Katya watched with what pleasure her husband ate everything she cooked and told the news that had happened at home during his absence.

– Olezhka, you’ve lost so much weight!

– Yes, you know, somehow there was no time to eat, the last object was the most difficult, and the weather was just disgusting. The crane was twisted like a match in a whirlwind and thrown aside, can you imagine?

– What are you doing? And the crane operator?

– He wasn’t there. I was delayed for half an hour. And so it would be all, kranty. Petrovich says he was born in a shirt.

Oleg pushed the empty plate away, then took his wife by the hand and drew her to him:

– I’ve missed you so much, dear…
At that moment, the doorbell rang, and Oleg grimaced with displeasure.

– Who brought there? Did you tell someone that I was coming?

– Of course! How could I keep such news? Oleg affectionately slapped his wife:

– Well, then go open it. However, I was counting on something else… She giggled and went to the door:

– Will you have time yet…

Oleg got up and poured himself a cup of tea, listening to the voices in the hallway, but there was silence. Katerina didn’t come back either. Oleg looked out of the kitchen with bewilderment and saw that his wife was standing as if not alive and looking down somewhere. He came up and also lowered his eyes: there was a baby carrier in front of them, in which a baby was sleeping.

–What’s that?” Oleg stammered.

– It’s not what, but who! Katya turned to him.

Then she took the carrier, brought it into the apartment and carefully put it on the sofa. Oleg stepped closer and pulled out a piece of paper on which it was written:

“This is your son Vanechka. Educate.”

“Is there anything you want to explain to me?” Katya turned to him. – Who is his mother? And how did she know where we live? Did you bring her here? there were tears in her eyes. – So you dissuaded me from giving birth, but on the side – as much as you want, right???

– Are you crazy??? It can’t be my baby! I haven’t been here for a long time!

– I was, Olezhka, I was, everything fits according to the terms. Or maybe you brought it with you from there?!

– Katya, you’re talking nonsense! I had no one else but you!

– Of course! I believe you!

The baby, hearing loud voices, opened his eyes and suddenly began to cry. Katya grabbed her head and ran out of the room. The child cried and cried for five, ten, fifteen minutes. finally she couldn’t stand it and went out. Oleg was changing clothes.

– Where are you going?

– I’ll take it to the police, let them sort it out there.

-no need! Do you want to get rid of your son so that you can suffer all your life? the child is not to blame for anything! Give it here!

She took the carrier from his hands, lifted the baby in her arms, hugged him to her. Then she handed Oleg a notebook and a pen:

– Write: a single diaper, formula for feeding (take different ones), two bottles … – Katya made a whole list, and when Oleg left, she burst into tears from resentment and despair.

That’s what she should do now?! Katya called her friend and told her everything. Rita listened to her and exclaimed:

– Are you crazy? Oleg correctly wanted to give it away! Why are you hanging a yoke on yourself??? Well, even if your husband did, so what? Who doesn’t? Saints do not live on this earth. And if he had not one, but five? And each one will throw you her own cuckoo? No, well, if you want, of course… But if I were you, I would give birth to him myself. And let the mother bring up this one!

– Rita, don’t you understand? It turns out that Oleg will be a traitor if he refuses his son.

– Oh, just let’s not do this cheap theatrics! And if the child is sick? Have you thought about that? Do you want to tie yourself hand and foot forever?

– No, he’s healthy…

– Yes? What are you, an X-ray? Why is he yelling like that?

– He wants to eat…

– Katka, come to your senses! You’re already in your thirties, not a brainless girl! Why do you need someone else’s child?

– Rita, what if I don’t have my own anymore? Why couldn’t I get pregnant? I’ve never taken pills, I lied to Oleg, he thought I was protecting myself. And I still didn’t succeed… – Katya heard the sound of the lock clicking. – That’s it, Rit, Oleg has come…

– Katya… Katya… wait… – Rita hurried, but short beeps were already ringing in the receiver.

All evening Katerina did not leave the child, fed, bathed, put her to bed, and Oleg sat in front of the TV with an indifferent look looking at the screen.

No, he had an affair with a woman, even up there in the north. With Olga…

Olga worked in their brigade canteen. She was five years younger than Oleg, but she managed to taste the bitter taste of this life. Olya was brought up in an orphanage, where she was taken away from her alcoholic parents when she was five years old.

The battered, emaciated girl was afraid of people for a long time and could not stand it when someone touched her.
When she grew up, she fell in love with a guy with a drilling rig, married him, but before they had lived for six months, his car fell through the ice.

He did not have time to escape. Olga was three months pregnant when she found out about the tragedy. Several men with difficulty dragged her away from the polynya in which her husband drowned.

She couldn’t bear the grief and lost the child. Since then, the silent statuesque beauty attracted the attention of men, but no one thought to molest her or offend her. Olga was respected for her modesty, decency and simplicity. Harsh men treated her like a sister and they themselves put down young broken newcomers.

Oleg himself did not know why she chose him. Already before his departure, she came up to him, looked into his eyes and said:

“I know you have a wife. And I don’t pretend. I only ask for one thing – I want a child, let it be from you. You look a lot like my husband.

Oleg hugged her, looked into her eyes and said that he couldn’t do that, and then said goodbye and left, thinking that forever. Olga did not hold him back, did not ask him to stay, did not cry and did not demand anything. And he still left with a heavy heart and a feeling that he had betrayed her. And now this child…

Katerina interrupted Oleg’s thoughts, came and sat down next to him. They were silent.

– Oleg, – Katya began, – I have to confess to you…

Katerina wanted to tell him that she had never taken birth control pills, that she simply could not get pregnant, and she wanted it so much, and that she was not angry with him for this baby and would raise him as her own, – but Oleg understood everything in his own way and jumped like a stung:

– Yours? Is this child yours??? You gave birth to him while I was gone, right? And now you’ve played this comedy? Yes, you… you…

– Oleg! Oleg! No, that’s not what I meant! – she protested in despair

Katya, but Oleg grabbed his bag, which he did not have time to disassemble and, slamming the door, left the apartment.
Vanechka, awakened by the noise, woke up again and began to cry, and the stunned Katerina automatically took him in her arms, soothing him. And then she sobbed for a long time, not understanding what she had done wrong.

Time passed slowly. Katya tried to call her husband many times, but he changed his phone and after six months of trying, she stopped calling him. Vanechka had grown up a lot and pleased Katerina very much, he was a strong healthy child and had already started babbling, trying to tell her something. Katya laughed and kissed her adopted son, resigned to her failed fate.

One evening, Katya’s doorbell rang, she opened it and saw a tall man of about thirty-five on the threshold.

– Hello, – he said, – my name is Mikhail. Can we talk to you? What is your name?

– Yes, come in. I’m Katerina.

– Katya, – he began, embarrassed, – you have been raising my son for almost a year…

Katerina opened her mouth in surprise and choked on the feelings that rose to her throat, and he continued:

– You see, I met Lera at a club, she’s a dancer. And somehow everything started spinning… She’s so flighty… In general, I found out that she was pregnant, proposed to her, but she disappeared every night… I searched for her, returned her, all to no avail. And one day I caught her with another. We had a fight and she said she had an abortion. This morning we accidentally ran into her again, she began to blackmail me, demanded money. I didn’t understand what was going on, and Lera was talking about the baby she had given me. She threatened to take him away. I asked her to show me where she took the child, and Lera led me to your door – she made the wrong entrance… I called you, but no one answered me, then I asked the neighbors, and they said that you live alone and you have a one-year-old son, Vanechka.

Katya stood up:

– Vanechka is sleeping, let’s go … – She believed Mikhail at once and only squeezed her hands with force, breaking her fingers.

A stupid accident destroyed her marriage, and now this man will take away the baby, to whom she is attached with all her heart. Mikhail looked at his son and Katya saw their similarity, they were just like two drops of water.

“Will you take him?”

– Yes, no, not right away. You see, I didn’t know anything about his existence and now I just don’t know what to do. Can I come to you, at least for a few days, so that he gets used to me, and I…

– Well, of course… okay, let’s go have tea…

A month later, Mikhail picked up Vanechka and, saying goodbye to Katerina, left, and she was left alone in a deafeningly empty apartment.
She thought for a few days, and then bought a ticket to Oleg, find him, tell him everything, explain…

Finally, she found her husband’s address and headed there, when she suddenly saw him and stopped: Oleg was walking with a woman who was in the last months of pregnancy. They were laughing and obviously happy…

Katya stared after them for a long time, then took a few steps to catch up with them, but stopped. And twenty minutes later, she caught a taxi and drove to the airport. They had already announced the landing when someone took Katya by the hand: it was Oleg.

–You…” she said, wiping away the tears. – I saw you near my house. Why did you come, Katya?

“To tell you everything.” Vanechka was thrown to us by mistake. His parents were found.

– Katya… I’m sorry… I can’t go back… you know, I fell in love with another … Olya is good and we will soon have a son… Sorry!

– I didn’t come here to bring you back, Oleg. I just wanted you to know the truth. That’s all. Be happy!

They parted, never to see each other again. A new life awaited each of them. On the first evening after her return, Katya heard the doorbell ring. Misha was standing on the threshold and holding Vanechka in his arms.

– Mom! – the baby stretched out his arms to her, and she picked him up, covering his pink cheeks with kisses.

– Katya, Vanechka can’t live without you, – Mikhail said and quietly added:

– And I can’t do without you either…

A month has passed. Katya was setting dinner for her beloved men and suddenly felt dizzy and weak, Misha managed to catch her, but she broke away from his hands and, holding her mouth, rushed into the bathroom.
Mikhail was scared, but Katya, fresh, washed, came out to him without wiping tears of joy: she was pregnant. The doubts that had been nagging at her for several days now turned into confidence.

“Misha, I think we’re going to have another baby,” she said.

“I love you so much, my dear,” Mikhail hugged her. – I love you to distraction…


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