Is That a Joke? God She Wished It Was…

A voice boomed in the first room of the office. A chair rolled and slammed to the floor. The boom said, We wouldn’t want this very important work to fall into the wrong hands, like those of the fascists in Kiev. So, we’ll take some of these materials under our own protection.

This voice caused her to fall back on her upbringing. Zina fell back into the hustle and drive, which an Odessitka inherits. Her arms, hands, and fingers began moving in concert to gather as much of the real archive, the paper and ink diaries themselves, as they could and place these items into her large bag. These items she treated like passports. She knew immediately with an unconscious genetic memory that she would need them to cross a border, or some other surface like that of the place where water meets air. On the other side, she was unsure whether she could breathe without these documents.

The voice sounded much like that of Volodya. The voice sounded like the version of his voice he used to disguise himself. It was a voice spoken from behind a mask.

Zina entered the room where Nastya and Dasha were trying to confront the men. It’s a matter of respect for the privacy of the witnesses and their families, Dasha said. As another man started carrying
a box out, she said, Many of these are the only versions of such documents.

More the reason, Volodya said.

Who are you? Under which authority do you act? Zina asked.

He turned his head to her and chuckled. He said, We’re Russians. We’re Soviet, imperial patriots.

Of what? Odessa? Is that a joke? God, she wished it was.

-Ch. 14 of Two Big Differences by Ian Ross Singleton