«If you bring another one to my bed, I’ll kick her out!» thought Tanya, and immediately woke up.
The room was dark. The stuffy, painful silence was broken only by the snuffling and snoring of the neighbors.
— My God…, – she passed her hand over her forehead, – Why did I even think that?
Well, yes, recently they had problems with Valery, and it even seemed that it might come to a divorce, but this … no. He’s not a fool, after all, to lead someone into the house: there are three kids there! Tanya turned over on the hospital bed, trying to get comfortable. Sleep did not come.
She got here ten days ago. More precisely, she was brought in an ambulance, on a stretcher. I didn’t remember much: only funny temperature glitches, and annoying voices. She also asked to go home. She kept repeating that she had three weathers, and the eldest was only three years old. The elderly doctor calmed, persuaded:
— What kind of child care can there be in such a state? You have pneumonia, the temperature is on the scale! Well, be a good girl, you will heal up and go to the children. We need to stay in the hospital, honey, we need to.
She was recovering quickly. They promised to discharge her tomorrow, taking her word of honor that she would continue to take all the necessary medications at home.
The youngest, Sonechka, was 5 months old, and for some reason Tanya was most afraid that her daughter would forget her.
— Nonsense! – she told herself sternly, — And in general, rather than think any nonsense, it’s better to sleep! Tomorrow morning Zina will arrive, I will go home.
Tanya asked her friend in advance. There was absolutely no one to pick her up from the hospital. Valery will not leave the children at home alone to bring her clothes. Nina, no problem, agreed.
– Have you already told Vita that you’re checking out?
– No, – Tanya reluctantly admitted, – I’ll call you as soon as I finish with you.
– Oh! – judging by the intonation, it dawned on Zina: — Let’s make a surprise then? Don’t worry about the clothes, I’ll bring you something from mine.
– Come on.
Tanya didn’t want to admit that she didn’t really want to talk to her husband. Just before Sonechka was born, she found out that Vitya was cheating on her with some youngster. The husband swore and swore that all this meant nothing. Then Tanya, clenching her will into a fist, decided that the main task for her now was to safely give birth to a child. All family graters can wait. And after giving birth, I decided to give the relationship a second chance.
«In the end,» she thought, «I am to blame for something: I have completely gone into children…».
She still loved him, and she knew it. And children need a father. Vitya, seemingly delighted with his wife’s decision, calmed down. But only Tanya has noticed more than once how abruptly he turns off the Skype window as soon as she enters the room. She also saw how cold and aloof her husband had become. It’s Vitya! Always so affectionate and caring…
And although she promised herself that she would be more attentive to her husband, it was increasingly difficult for her to approach him and hug him.
Getting out of the hospital is happiness in itself, and if the spring sun has also begun to warm up on the street! Tanya stopped on the porch and breathed in the fresh air with pleasure. Of course, breathing has not fully recovered yet, but this fresh breeze after the hospital stuffiness…
Zina briefly signaled her from the car.
– I’ll come home and go straight to the bathroom! – Tanya promised cheerfully, strapping herself in, – I stank of medicines all over.
– Nonsense, – the friend smiled, – now you will wash off, you will smell perfume again. The main thing is that you were cured.
– That’s right. Zin, thank you for stopping by my place. And that she took me away.
– Come on, what nonsense! Better tell me what you’re thinking about your husband? You were talking about a divorce…
«I don’t know,» Tanya sighed. – Honestly, I don’t know, and I don’t have the strength to decide something. Let everything go as it goes for now.
–That’s also true,– Zina agreed, taxiing into the familiar courtyard…
— Yes? Vitya’s voice came from the intercom. Zina winked at her friend and pressed her finger to her lips: – This is Zina.
– I won’t let you in.
Tanya stared at her friend in amazement. «What happened?» she mouthed. Zina waved it away.
– Tanya asked her to bring her a book of some kind.
–I see,» Vitya replied with displeasure. – I’ll take it out now…
He came down in a minute. The heavy door of the entrance creaked open, and Vitya froze, seeing his wife next to Zina.
«Hi,» he said without any expression.
– What are you doing here?
– I was discharged, – Tanya shrugged her shoulders.
– Yeah… Well, let’s go. He took the heavy hospital bag from his wife and quickly walked up the stairs. Tanya, quickly saying goodbye to her friend, followed. They rose in silence.
– And I’m not alone, – Vitya broke the tense silence. – Olya came to help.
Tanya shuddered. She knew well who Olya was. The very youngster with whom her husband managed to get mixed up! He said it was over, that they didn’t even communicate…
Turns out he was lying. For some reason, all this did not surprise, and did not even upset. On the contrary, now that the deception has been revealed, it even seems to be easier to breathe. But what will happen now?
They entered the apartment. Someone else’s bag in the hallway, someone else’s shoes. There were no children to be heard.
«So,» Vitya began coldly, «why did you run away from the hospital?» Or, I don’t know, checked out ahead of time.
– I was worried about you, – Tanya muttered in confusion, – I was thinking how you would cope, not even to go to the store.…
– Well, – the husband nodded, and continued with the same icy, murderously icy intonation, — there is fresh food in the house. And as you can see, the apartment is tidy. I hope this will continue in the future, because children need cleanliness.
– Why are you saying this? – the wife did not understand.
– I’m leaving. Since you’re already at home, then my help is no longer needed.…
– Vitya, but I’m still… I was discharged ahead of schedule!
«You’ll manage somehow,» he chuckled.
– I love you … – Tanya whispered.
He looked over his shoulder, and mincing every word, replied: – And I don’t have you.
Tanya, without saying another word, went into the bathroom. She wanted to wash her face. She was there a little longer than necessary: she didn’t want to look at Olya. And I didn’t have to. The husband and his young girlfriend left very quickly. Tanya opened the door to the nursery and quietly entered. The daughters, Yana and Alya, did not move at first.
«We didn’t expect it,» Tanya thought, and stretched out her hands to the children:
– Well, Mom is back!
The girls rushed to her:
Hugging the babies, inhaling the sweet smell of children, Tanya felt really happy. Sonechka was still asleep, but when she opened her eyes and saw her mother, she smiled happily. The soup, cooked by her husband, Tanya, without any regrets, poured into the toilet. She couldn’t bring herself to feed it to herself or the children. A package of eggs and a piece of sausage were found in the refrigerator. Luxury! After asking a neighbor to stay with the children for half an hour, Tanya went grocery shopping. A little money, which would have been just enough for one trip to the supermarket, remained in the jacket pocket since the hospital days. In the evening Zina looked in.
«You knew everything, didn’t you?» – Tanya looked her friend straight in the eye.
– I once stopped by… the other day, – these memories clearly did not give Zina any pleasure, – and I saw… her. Well, what was I supposed to do, Tanya?! To tell you… and if you didn’t believe it? To keep silent… well, too. I decided that we would just come without warning, and come what may.
– Come on, – Tanya waved her hand. – You did everything right. Maybe for the best…
The next morning brought amazing news: the stash was empty. Tanya, just in case, looked into her wallet several times, where she used to keep cash. Empty.
– The children caught a cold, had to spend on medicines, – Vitya explained on the phone.
– But now we don’t have any money at all … – Tanya could hardly speak from shock, – the food will run out, what will I buy new ones for?
– Sorry, I can’t help you, – the husband replied dryly, – the salary is not coming soon.
In the evening, after putting the children to bed, Tanya sat down at the computer and typed «freelance» in the search engine. The job wasn’t easy, but it was paid for. Every day Tanya handed over one story to the customer. Love stories and detective stories were in the greatest demand. It wasn’t difficult to write them, but it took a lot of time. She had almost completely stopped sleeping. The day was spent on household chores and fuss with the children, and after ten in the evening the second work shift began, which lasted until 4-5 o’clock in the morning.
– You’re plowing away! Zina repeated, looking at her exhausted friend.
– But, – Tanya smiled, – I have money for a living. Wait, I’ll also master script writing!
– Does Vitya pay child support?
– But of course, – Tanya laughed, – as many as seven thousand. The king is generous! You can not deny yourself anything.
– Freak, – Zina grimaced.
They didn’t talk about it anymore. Vitya appeared from time to time. Once a week I walked with the children for a couple of hours. The amount he gave out for their maintenance did not bother him at all, did not seem ridiculous. Tanya didn’t want to discuss it with him. Her love for this man turned out to be too terrible a disappointment for her. And I didn’t want to communicate with him once again. According to rumors, he was already living with some new woman. Not with Olya, with another. And it was not clear how you could fall in love so quickly, create a family without even getting a divorce. They divorced after a year and a half. Vitya got married again, and told the children that soon he, with a new family, was leaving for the south forever. She felt calmer. Too often the children, after meeting him, were upset. Vitya preferred to send them to children’s playrooms, and at that time he went to a cafe. The girls said that they, in general, could not communicate with their dad. And yet they perceived his departure as a betrayal.
– In general, they are right, – Tanya told her friend, – betrayal is. So they at least occasionally saw each other … and on the other hand, and God be with him. It will upset them less with its inattention.
– And you? Zina asked sadly, «Aren’t you sorry yourself?»
Tanya hesitated with the answer for a minute.
«Probably not,» she admitted, «I’m completely disappointed in him now, too.
The work was going well. Since Anya began to combine writing with the preparation of scripts, her earnings have increased, and the other day something completely unusual happened. In the morning, an intermediary called her.
– Tanya, syuyuyurpriiz!
– Vova, – Tanya replied in a sleepy voice, – it’s six in the morning, so for God’s sake, state it quickly and concretely.
– Okay, – Vova was in a fantastically good mood: – Guess who bought your last script?
– Well? She was getting impatient. – BBC, Tanya! And, for your information, you’re a talent, and they want to sign a contract with you!
– What did you say? – Tanya sat up abruptly, almost waking up Sonechka, who was sheltering next to her. – Did they buy my script? And they want me to write more?
– I finally got it! — Vova burst out laughing, – and yes, my dear, you have a flight in a week, so figure out where to put the little ones.
– What flight, where?
– Yes, to London! To sign the contract. I’ve already booked a ticket, but in the meantime, rest, get yourself in order. Let’s show the British that we are not slurping soup here!
– What are you implying? – Tanya tried to speak strictly, but it didn’t work out very well: the smile interrupted the harsh intonation.
– Well … – Vova hesitated, – go to the barber shop. Buy a new dress. Don’t be offended, Tanya, but you’ve let yourself down a little because of work.
–All right, bummer,» she laughed, «I solemnly promise to devote today to making myself look decent!
Two days later, Tanya was walking along the Mediterranean coast.
London was still a few days away, and the shock of the upcoming event was so great that I wanted to do various pleasant stupid things.
For example, to go to Italy for three days. The faithful Zina took the children to her, and Tanya wandered around fashion boutiques all day, drank fresh drinks in numerous cafes, and swam in the sea. Suddenly she began to like herself very much: a beautiful, not yet old woman who won. What did you win? Yes, everything!
I survived the betrayal of my beloved husband, I was left with three children in my arms, but I didn’t break down!
I found a suitable job, and now I’m flying to London to sign a contract with one of the leading international channels! And right now she’s just a slender brown-haired woman in a fluttering beach dress. She walks along the shore barefoot, and seagulls are circling in the sky. Beautiful!
– Excuse me, miss! – someone called out to her in English.
She didn’t even notice how the tall stranger caught up with her.
– I may be wrong, but I think I know you. Are you Tatiana Lenova?
She looked closer. The man’s face seemed familiar to her…
«You fool,» she muttered in Russian, under her breath, «the whole world knows him, you’re the only one slowing down.
– Excuse me?
– No, no, nothing. It’s really me,» Tanya quickly switched to English.
– I was offered a role in a film based on your script, – the man smiled modestly, – and you know, after reading it, I immediately agreed. You are very talented, Tanya. Incredibly talented!
– Coffee? – she suggested, taken aback by this unexpected praise.
– Wait, coffee? Did you just drag him to drink coffee right away? Zina was indignant.
– Oh, Zin, I’m just superhumanly confused! He’s such a celebrity, so many people love him, a talented person, and suddenly he praises me, praises ME! Do you understand?!
Zina winked significantly:
– Well done! Know our people!
«And then,» Tanya chattered, ignoring her friend’s remark, «we had dinner together.
Zina inquired matter–of-factly.
– And I had a plane in the evening. But we met in London, and he said he wished we had exchanged phone numbers. I’ve been busy all day…
– And? – the friend interrogated in the same tone.
– And just flew home. Zin, while working with the channel, I will have to move to London with my children. For three years yet, and there… who knows.
The phone in my pocket vibrated.
– Tanya, this is Vitya. I’m in town, and I want to see the kids.
–How nice of you to remember them,– she said.
–Don’t be sarcastic,» he said softly.
– Is that so? Why? However, okay. In the end, it’s good that you came. I need you to sign a permit to take the children abroad. I’ll meet you in half an hour at a cafe near my house.
– When are you going? Vitya was twirling a cup of coffee on a saucer: holding the handle, he turned it to the right, then to the left.
The sound was disgusting.
– In two weeks.
«That’s how… that’s how it turns out,» he said thoughtfully.
– Yes, it turns out that way, – Tanya said impatiently, putting the signed documents in her purse, – but in the meantime, you have quite enough time to communicate with the children.
– And I won’t see them for three years afterwards…
The ex-wife’s voice sounded metallic:
– It didn’t bother you when you left to bask in the southern sun.
Vitya looked longingly at Tanya, but there was no stopping her:
– How many times have you called them? Twice? Three? How many times have you come to visit them? You don’t care about the kids, Vitya. You can break the comedy as much as you want, but please, not in front of me.
«Don’t be so mean. He tried to take her hand.
Tanya managed to pull it away.
–Very well. I… did a bad thing to you. But then I myself… it was a crisis, Tanya, understand! I wanted to change something, to run…
«That’s what you did,» she chuckled.
– I don’t argue. And then… text you, look.
A text in English appeared on the screen: «I’m counting the days until your arrival. I can’t wait to see you again and get to know your children. I found a cozy cafe here. We’ll definitely look in here together, okay?».
–And then,» Vitya continued with a dejected look, «I began to think about you more and more often. And only recently I realized how much I need you. And if only you let me…
«A gun salesman,» she said suddenly, looking into her ex–husband’s face.
He had aged: once a clear oval face, was melting, and his beard was almost completely gray.
– There was no crisis, Vitya, – she explained, – you just got bored with life, responsibilities. It happens to everyone. Only not everyone at the same time abandons their family to the mercy of fate. But you quit.
– I already…
She got up and threw on her coat, preparing to leave. – I apologized. But only because it turned out that in the new family there is a routine, and duties, and life. But the ex-wife has risen well now, right? It won’t work, Vitya, I’m sorry.
He smiled sadly.
– You used to be softer.
– Naively, – corrected Tanya, – and paid for it. But you know, all my present confidence, calmness is a weapon against naivety, which you sold me in exchange for your freedom. You can see the kids tomorrow.
She was walking down the street, smiling. Today, she and the children will bake buns, and before going to bed, she will definitely read aloud to them. And in two weeks they will plunge into London together: into its smells, sounds, traditions. A new, still unfamiliar chapter of life will begin. But she, like all the others, will definitely be happy!