Author: Annwyd PM
The long-neglected mother country welcomes Susan Ivanova back to Earth in its own way, memories and ghosts at her heels.Rated: Fiction K - English - S. Ivanova - Words: 426 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 08-24-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5327184
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By the time you return to your homeland, the first layer of the dust of history has settled, and they are told to regard you as a war hero. But they do it with a wary eye.
You do not blame them. Setting foot onto Russian soil for the first time in too many years, you feel more alien than human, although you don't care to wonder too much about what it is that makes you different.
In a moment when you fail to resist the temptation from some perverse inner part of you, you think it might be because they see a phantom fleet at your heels, following you because they have nowhere else to go, no one else in the living world they can turn to. You half-turn your head a few times, unconsciously trying to catch a glimpse of them.
You are out on the street a few days later when you realize for the first time what it really is. They see nothing; only instinct warns them. It is you who sees the ghosts.
An elegant blond woman leans against an antique streetlight, gloved and beautiful. You realize after a moment, when she straightens up and stalks away with none of the grace you remember and the shape of her chin is quite wrong anyway, that it is cold, and anyone would be wearing gloves in this weather. But by then there is already a knot in your throat, and it will take more than that to untie it.
You never saw something like this in space. It was cool and empty. Here the land is too rich in its own bleak, special way.
The man who stops you on the street to ask for directions has an English accent, and you turn around a little too fast to face him. By the time you see that he has short hair and dark eyes, your heart is already going too fast, and even once he has thanked you and left, it still aches.
The old streets remember everyone's dead too well, even in this new age, and now they have let you into the elite society of those who give them spirits to animate in fleeting glimpses and half-heard snatches of conversation.
Welcome home, Susan, says the ground beneath your feet. Mother Russia keeps your ghosts warm for you.
You no longer need God between you and the empty places you must walk. Your dead will be there for you, and the darkness will never be empty again.