A man took down his telephone receiver and while he was waiting for a chance to call the operator, heard this conversation on a party line.
“That you, Jack?”
“Yep, this is Jack.”
“It don’t sound like Jack.”
“Well, this is Jack speaking all right.”
“Are you sure this is Jack?”
“Sure, this is Jack!”
“Well, listen Jack. This is Henry. Lend me fifty dollars.”
“All right. I’ll tell him when he comes in.”
Natalia disappeared on the other side of the door. The door creaked itself open, and Mina could see the smolder fill the hallway. Somewhere, in the burning apartment, a child was screaming for Dasia.
“Over here, Mina,” Natalia calls her through the smoke. “A child’s in here.”
Mina rushes in searching for Natalia. The smoke gets in her eyes and lungs, making her cough. She finds Natalia in the kitchen. The boy is screaming from the fire that had engulfed him. Natalia and Alena extinguish the flames. All Mina could do is hold the boy in her arms.
“It’s going to be all right,” Mina repeats over and over.
“Dasia, Dasia,” he quietly calls out.
A neighbor had rushed in, trying to put out the flames. Other neighbors were alerted, helping to put out the flames. Mina couldn’t recall what happened next because images of the burnt boy were seared in her mind. His voice rand in her ears for days after.
“Dasia, Dasia,” she heard him say.
A few nights later, Mina wakes up in a jolt with cold sweat running down her back. The boy still calling out for Dasia. Alena was there to lull her back to sleep, but the dreams kept on troubling her.
The next day was the same vapid routine. She woke up, went to school, paying little attention to her surroundings. After school, she decides to walk toward the bridge to watch the river below. She wasn’t getting enough sleep at home, besides her father, the dreams kept her awake.