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Beautiful woman in a red dress

Who needs you?

The rattling alarm clock did not wake Luda up. By this time, she was already lying with her eyes wide open, having long been accustomed to waking up at this time without any alarm clock. She wound it up every evening out of habit, performing this action mechanically, like everything else. The woman swung her legs off the bed and put on a bathrobe. I went into the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove. While it’s boiling, I went to the bathroom. It’s the same as always. An ordinary morning, no different from the others. Refreshed, the woman brewed herself instant coffee, splashed milk.

The only thing that could somehow diversify the morning was breakfast.
After thinking for a few seconds whether to fry her eggs or make sandwiches, Luda settled on sandwiches with butter and cheese. She had breakfast, returned to the bedroom, looked at the unmade bed. Sometimes I really wanted to tell everything to go to hell and leave the bed like this. After all, who sees her but her? The last time a neighbor from the first floor looked into the apartment, she asked for soda. And it was about a month and a half ago. Lyudmila sighed and carefully made up the cot. She smoothed the crease with her palm. Habit is second nature. And, probably, after all, accuracy was in Luda’s blood.

Now she will go to work, leaving the apartment in perfect
order. A cup and a plate are washed in the kitchen after breakfast. There is nothing lying around anywhere, everything is in its place. Luda accustomed herself to this a long time ago, once hoping that an unexpected and exciting male guest would come to the apartment. Luda did not know what it would be like, but she often dreamed about it. Again, once upon a time… She had stopped dreaming now, but she kept the apartment clean.

Before leaving, Lyudmila glanced at herself in the mirror hanging in the hallway. There’s nothing to catch the eye on. An ordinary “gray mouse”. The hair is smoothly tucked into a neat bun. Clothes in dark shades. Lyudmila believed that at her thirty-five years old, it was not worth dressing brightly. Only young people can look defiant. And once she also wore an orange down jacket and an emerald sweater. It didn’t help. No one asked Luda to get married.

At the age of twenty-five, there was some kind of sluggish current relationship with a not very attractive young man. Luda was not in love with him, but she was ready to get married. However, the guy himself did not strive for this. After murdering Luda for two years, he met a more attractive girl. Lyudmila remembered their last conversation very well.

– Luda, I’m sorry, please. You are a very good and kind person. Economical, calm. Someday you’ll be the perfect wife. But not for me. I thought a lot and still realized that love and passion are more important than peace of mind. I need another one.

That’s it! Then Luda forever learned the lesson that it is impossible to love her.
Although I couldn’t come to terms with it for a long time. The question is, why? She’s not some kind of freak. The appearance is quite average. Well, maybe her nose is a little too big and it’s a stretch to call her pretty. So what? Is it really impossible to love for the soul?

Years passed, and no one needed Luda’s soul. And at the age of thirty-five, she felt almost like a decrepit old woman whose life had settled down long ago and no changes would happen in her. Sometimes I wanted to rebel, to do something out of the ordinary. For example, not to make the bed. Or howl at the moon.

Shaking in a crowded subway car and holding on to the handrail, Luda sometimes entertained herself by looking at the faces of passengers and trying to guess how they live. Was someone waiting for them at home, or were they as lonely as she was?

Here is a serious man in an expensive coat. His trousers are ironed, with a perfect arrow. Clearly a woman’s hand. Of course, his wife is waiting at home. Here’s a girl, beaming and texting with someone on the phone all the time. Everything is clear with her. Yeah, that’s a very old granny. But she doesn’t look unhappy or lonely either. Luda shifted her gaze a little lower and her eyes came across the muzzle. Yes, the real face of a sleek cat. He was peeking out from behind the peeling collar of his grandmother’s coat. From time to time, the old woman stroked the cat’s head and whispered something soothing to him. She’s not alone either, she has a cat.

“What’s to stop me from covering up the cat?” Luda suddenly thought. “You won’t have to go back to an empty apartment anymore. The cat will be waiting for me there in the evenings. Yes, he will litter, tear up the wallpaper. But there will be someone to clean up and take care of. How did it never occur to me before?”

When she got to her job, Luda only strengthened in this thought and went up to the third floor to the surgical department, where she worked as a procedural nurse in high spirits. While giving injections and bandages, she joked with patients. And when I was free, I ran to sit at my post and chat with Alfia. Alfia, like Luda herself, has worked here for many years. The nurses have been friends for a long time.

– Listen, I decided to get a cat for myself, – said Luda. – You have a cat, right?

“And not alone,” Alfia said grimly. – Recently, my youngest brought another flea from the street. No matter how I beat him, he shits in the corners and that’s it! You have no idea how many problems there are with these lumps of wool. A ten-year-old ficus was dropped and not only did they spoil the plant, they also dragged the earth all over the apartment. I washed everything until nightfall.

The more Alfia dissuaded Luda from the cat, the more she strengthened her thoughts and only smiled in response to stories about the tricks of her friend’s cats.

– Oh, well, since you’ve decided to make problems on your head, then take a thoroughbred. They say they’re smarter,” Alfia sighed.

– Smarter and prettier. I want Bengali! Luda’s eyes flashed.

She even took her phone out of her robe pocket and started flipping through the ads. The prices of Bengal cats did not please her. Luda did not need money, but her entire salary was already scheduled. She always saved part of her salary for a rainy day. It became a tradition and People did not want to get into these accumulations.

“You’d better find a side job instead of a cat,” Alfia looked over Luda’s shoulder. – Look, there’s an ad. A single man needs to get injections at home. And it’s an extra penny, and there’s some variety. And the address is not far from your house.

“That’s right,” Luda nodded. – I’ll work part-time and buy the best kitten. With a pedigree and documents.

She resolutely dialed the number listed in the ad. The man who answered the phone asked who she worked for, if she could give injections. Upon learning that Luda works as a nurse, he was delighted and asked when she could approach him.

In the evening, standing in front of the intercom of an unfamiliar entrance, Luda became agitated. Now, what she had easily decided on in the morning seemed like an adventure to her. It was somehow scary to enter an apartment with a strange man. Although, judging by the voice, this man is clearly not young.

And so it turned out. The man who let Luda into the apartment was clearly in his sixties. Sixty-five, as Anatoly Lvovich later told her. That was the man’s name. His joints ached and the therapist prescribed injections for him, but the man did not want to go to the clinic every day and stand in long queues there with sore legs.

Anatoly Lvovich, despite his age, looked very presentable. The thick hair on his head was pitch black. Luda suspected that this hair was dyed, and was convinced of this later, going into the bathroom to wash her hands and seeing a tube of hair dye there. This did not cause any negativity in the People. A young man wants to look better. What’s the big deal about that? But his neatly trimmed beard is completely gray and in combination with his hair it creates such an unusual contrast and looks very attractive.

Anatoly Lvovich himself was very correct and courteous. While Luda was giving him an injection, the man said that he had worked as a researcher all his life.

“Well, that explains a lot,” Luda thought then.

After giving the injection, she stayed a little longer in Anatoly Lvovich’s apartment, listening to his stories about herself. And before leaving, the man kissed her hand. It was nice.

Lyudmila returned home much later than usual. And that’s not bad either. At least some variety. Since then, every evening after work, Luda went not to her home, but to Anatoly Lvovich. She gave him an injection, and then they chatted for a long time and even drank tea.

People felt a little sorry that the ten days for which Anatoly Lvovich’s injections were scheduled had flown by so quickly. She really liked the calm, intelligent man. I liked talking to him and spending time with him. However, Anatoly himself was not going to let Luda go so easily. The last day after he paid her for the injections, the man volunteered to escort Lyudmila home. She was a little embarrassed by the suggestion, but she didn’t mind. Anatoly Lvovich escorted the woman to the entrance, gallantly kissed her hand and left. And the next day, coming out of the subway, when she was returning from work, Luda saw a familiar black-haired head in the crowd. Anatoly Lvovich was turning his head, clearly looking for her.

– Lyudochka, – he rushed to her when he saw her. – But I decided to meet you. I know what time you get home from work, so I’m waiting here. You know, those ten days while you were giving me injections were wonderful. I waited all day for you to come and seemed to come alive. And now I feel a little sad that we won’t see each other anymore. Shall we go for a walk?

Luda herself did not understand why she agreed with such joy, but what Anatoly said found a lively response in her heart. She herself, hurrying to him in the evenings, felt alive, needed by someone. Someone was waiting for her.

They walked down the street, even sat in a cafe. And the woman didn’t care that they were mistaken for a father and daughter. She felt good.

A couple of days later, Lyudmila invited Anatoly to visit her. That’s where it happened between them, what happens between a man and a woman. It turned out to be somehow clumsy, awkward. Anatoly apologized afterwards, saying that he was not young and next time it might be better. Luda was hooked on the words “next time.” So Anatoly is going to continue dating her? Are they in a relationship? The man confirmed her guesses.

– Lyudochka, I am no longer young and very lonely. You know that my wife died seventeen years ago, and my adult son lives very far away. It may sound very stupid, but I would like to propose marriage to you. What happened between us today is not the main thing. The main thing is the kinship of souls. And with you, I feel it. We have a good time together, Lyudochka. Please think about it.

Lyudmila was thinking. She even consulted Alfia at work, which horrified her friend.

– Are you crazy or something? Why do you need this old man? There’s thirty years difference between you. As you say, he almost didn’t succeed… in this very… well, you get it. If only his apartment is good… Isn’t he offering you an official marriage?

Anatoly Lvovich offered People an official marriage. And his apartment was more than good. Spacious, three-room apartment. But when agreeing to marry a sixty-five-year-old man, Luda was not thinking about the apartment. Next to this man, her life became completely different. Diverse. Her evenings were no longer like one another. Someone was waiting for her after work.

Lyudmila and Anatoly did not arrange a celebration. They just signed under the perplexed gaze of the receptionist. We went home and had tea with a cake.
That’s the whole wedding!

By that time, Luda had already moved to live with Anatoly, and the man offered to rent her apartment. Rent directly furnished.

“Lyudochka, don’t worry,” the man assured her. I have very good friends. A married couple. They are decent and I will do business with them myself.
Once a month I will come for the rent and check your apartment. I understand that it’s inconvenient for you to do this.

Luda was glad that someone was taking care of her. However, the man immediately offered to sleep in different rooms, explaining that it would be more convenient for both of them.

After the painting, the man decided to specifically correct his health and get himself a medicine that previously seemed expensive to him.

– Lyudochka, you don’t mind if I buy it with the money from renting your apartment, do you? I’m only doing this for you. You need a cheerful husband.

Luda was not against it, and Anatoly bought himself medicines, for some reason forgetting to buy groceries all the time. A woman had to buy groceries, now for two. Luda couldn’t save part of her salary, as before. In addition, Anatoly turned out to be extremely fastidious in food and asked to buy what People sometimes thought was a waste.

Lyudmila had to put ivs on Anatoly every evening, and get up early in the morning to measure his blood pressure and sugar levels.

“Since my wife is a nurse, I have to take care of my health,” Anatoly joked.

The next month, after receiving money from the rental of Lyudmila’s apartment, Anatoly said:

– Luda, you don’t mind if I buy myself a new bed, do you? My place is already in the landfill, and with my joints you need to sleep in comfort.

Luda didn’t mind. Although, for some reason, she slept in another room, on an old sagging sofa. Then my husband needed a new blood pressure monitor. Yes, not any way, but the most expensive. Orthopedic pillow and mattress. In general, Luda did not see any money from renting an apartment. She also spent her own salary on groceries and communal services.

Besides, Anatoly has become very demanding in terms of health. He could call a woman in the middle of her workday and complain about high blood pressure. Luda raced across the city to give her husband an injection.

Gradually, discontent began to grow in her, especially since she no longer had any previous heart-to-heart conversations with Anatoly. They discussed only his health, his comfort.

The “last straw” for the woman was her conversation with a neighbor in the stairwell. That day, she ran home from work because Anatoly asked her to hurry up, as it seemed to him that his sugar was rising. Luda ran up the stairs without waiting for the elevator, and saw a neighbor opening
the next door. She greeted her politely, and the neighbor narrowed her eyes.

– What, did our Tolya really find a nurse?

– I’m not a nurse, I’m a wife. Anatoly and I got married,” Luda replied politely.

– That’s what I’m saying. Do you think you’re the first one like that? Ever since Tolya’s wife died, he had a great life and he said that he would never marry again. And as my health began to fail, I started fussing. He invited many people here to marry, even me, only on the condition that I would take care of him, forgetting about myself. Am I a fool to agree to this? Then he started looking for ads. I chose younger and with a medical education. Do you have a medical degree?

Luda blinked in confusion, unable to believe her neighbor’s words. She guessed it:

– Why are you so surprised? Didn’t he inform you that he was looking for a nurse for himself? Here it gives! And he used to brag that anyone would marry him, thinking that his apartment would get later. And he signed this apartment off to his son a long time ago.

Luda did not have time to say anything, as Anatoly Lvovich leaned out of the door.

– Lyudochka, don’t listen to this gossip girl.

“I’ve already heard everything I need,” Luda said and, pushing her husband away from the door, went into the apartment. – Call your tenants, Anatoly, tell them to move out immediately. I’m going back to my apartment tomorrow.

“But that’s not how it’s done, Luda,” Anatoly babbled. – Are you offended? Is it really that hard for you to take care of your husband?

“You’re not my husband,” Luda snapped, “you’re a patient.” – It’s just unclear why I still had to pay for it. I’ll spend the night with a friend today, and I’ll pick up my things when my apartment is free.

– Well, scram! The man who had stopped pretending spat out angrily. – Who needs you, scarecrow? I would be glad that they got married!

A few days later, Luda cleaned her apartment after strangers and, putting each of her little things in place, exhaled. Well, everything is the same. She has already filed for divorce and everything is back to normal. Although, why did it come back? She can still get a cat. Just don’t cheat anymore and postpone the purchase.

On the same day, Lyudmila entered an unfamiliar apartment and several striped kittens trotted comically towards her. Little Bengalis. The kittens were sold by a smiling young man, about the same age as Lyudmila.

“You know, I live alone,” the salesman explained. – In order not to be lonely, I got myself a cat. The kitty was bored, I had to set her up with a cat. And so… The man pointed at the kittens in confusion. – I have to put them somewhere now. I’m probably selling expensive. Do you want me to lower the price?

“Don’t,” Luda smiled, squatting down and holding out her hands to the kittens. “I’m willing to pay if you’ll just give me this handsome man.” I just don’t know how to take care of him yet.

– And I’ll teach you. I’ll teach you everything if you want to.

Luda raised her head and looked at the man. He was smiling affably.

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