Eventually she made me understand the end of my nose had gone white. So I ended up thanking her and hugging her like she was my real grandmother….”
by caroline m. davies
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone
We used to sing that in school. It’s still dark at ten in the morning and the ice on the Neva is several feet thick. I hadn’t realised how cold St. Petersburg would get. Now I understand why everyone wears a fur hat. I used to think it looked cute.
Today, on Nevsky Prospect, one of those little Russian babushkas pounced on me. She grabbed my face and started rubbing my nose. Like your own mother attacking you with a hanky dampened with spit to get you clean. It was horrible. My Russian’s not that good and she was mumbling so I couldn’t get what she was saying. Eventually she made me understand the end of my nose had gone white. So I ended up thanking her and hugging her like she was my real grandmother.
When I got back to the flat Dmitri said that it was the first sign of frostbite and that I ought to wrap up more warmly. He doesn’t go out much. He just stays in the flat drinking – mostly vodka.
St. Petersburg was so beautiful when I was here in the summer, with the sun scarcely setting before it rose again. We’d stay up all night just talking me and Dmitri. Just talking, talking and it seemed like the world was perfect.
That is why I came back. I thought he would be pleased but he wasn’t. I can’t go home because I don’t have the money to pay for the flight.
So I just feel numb, pretty much all the time. Perhaps when the spring comes.
Caroline M. Davies is Welsh although she lives in England. She writes poetry and short fiction and is a member of Alex Keegan’s Bootcamp She is not working on a novel.