Pavel liked Zina very much. When he found out that she had also been invited to the Lisitsins for lunch on Sunday, he couldn’t wait for the weekend to come. Never before had the way to the Moscow suburb of Vitenevo seemed to take so long. The last time they had met, he felt that Zina liked him too, and he was impatient to see her again.
The lunch, as it usually did, proved long and dull. There was a large number of people drinking without moderation, shallow inappropriate jokes, and empty laughter. Although Pavel had always been a welcome guest at the Lisitsins, he didn’t much like to be at their home. But Zina…
God, what a pure, innocent, and heartwarming face she had. How modestly, but at the same time elegantly she dressed. How beautiful her eyes were. They were full of mystery, deeply hidden feelings, and some amazing love, not yet overtly expressed but surely already present there, as if it was only waiting for the right time.
As soon as Pavel joined Zina in the crowd of guests noisily arising from the huge table, he quietly and discreetly proposed that they take a walk outside the village. Zina happily agreed at once. It was as if she had been hoping for the same thing.
Bliss, what bliss it was to walk just like that with Zina along the green field, talking seriously about all kinds of trifles. To feel her light movement alongside, her focused attention and her almost inaudible, hardly palpable breath, so close and dear to him now. God, here it was, here and now, a real life so full of wonderful colors. Here was the fantastic flutter inside and the expectation for a miracle to happen. Here it was, true happiness. Bliss, bliss!
“Pavel, aren’t they going to bite us?” Zina timidly asked when she saw a pack of wild dogs running in their direction. She was hiding behind Pavel’s wide back, frightened but at the same time not abandoning her female coquetry.
“No,” Pavel reassured her. “No,” he repeated, trying to keep calm as best he could, and he looked at the swiftly approaching pack of dogs with their teeth bared. The problem was that ever since he was a child, Pavel had not just disliked dogs, but he was extremely scared of them. Maybe he was afraid of them because he didn’t like them, or maybe he didn’t like them because he was afraid of them. In any event, all his life dogs, wherever he saw them, reminded him of his dislike for them. Dogs reinforced this dislike, and the first chance they got, they always acted the same towards him. Now the dogs had a rare opportunity. There couldn’t have been a better time for the dogs to express their dislike. There was no one around, just an empty field, nowhere to hide, and big, clumsy Pavel with Zina trembling behind his back. What’s more, the dogs had a numerical advantage.
To tell the truth, Pavel was terrified. But for the first time in his life, he wasn’t scared for himself, but for Zinochka. Well, due to the while situation. He didn’t want the dogs to hurt Zina, but he was even more afraid that he would look stupid and helpless in Zina’s eyes, that he couldn’t protect her. But although he was big and clumsy, he was still a man.
What a mess they were in…
“Those dogs are going to tear us apart here and now,” he thought, growing ever more afraid for Zina in particular and due to the situation in general. Here and now, right here and right now. Right into tiny little pieces. Grrrr. Pavel didn’t want it to happen so much that inexplicably, he decided right there and then that he was a bear. As soon as he decided that, he didn’t wait another second, he dropped to the grass on all fours and galloped a dozen meters towards the still uncomprehending dogs. Stupidly and too bravely considering the changed circumstances of space and nature, they continued to dash headlong at Pavel the Bear. He came eye-to-eye with the leader of the pack and clumsily sat on his haunches, baring his teeth. Then he suddenly rose as if on his hind legs and lifted his arms up threateningly… and right there and then he roared! It was an angry, warlike, and furious war. It was a real, bear-like, bestial roar. It was wonderful, or to put it a better way, it was epic.
In any event, when Pavel’s ability to think like a human being returned, when he came to his senses, he saw the pack of dogs running away in shame with their tails down. The first thing that Pavel the Bear did was to turn around to see if Zina was all right.
Zina was unexpectedly standing in the same place he left her. She had her hands against her chest, looking with amazement at the still not entirely human Pavel.
Not only was she looking at him, her eyes surged powerfully, wide open to the new world revealed before her, a world forever changed. In those eyes was:
- Boundless admiration,
- Love, love, love!
“Pasha,” she said, literally gasping from the emotions overflowing within her, and she leaped into his arms, overcoming the distance between them in an instant. “Pasha”, she said again, almost fainting from the feelings welling inside her, and then she burst into tears.
“How strong you are,” is all Zina could say through her sobs…
*From that day on, Pavel was no longer afraid of dogs. One cannot say, of course, that he liked them, but when he encountered them, even the most fearsome dogs would lower their gaze, put their ears down, and try to quickly and quietly shuffle past him somehow.
Zina loves her husband very much. She’s proud of him and at every convenient moment she tells her female friends how brave he is – and that with him, she’s not afraid of anything.
And as it turns out in all happy endings, she bore him sons. In this case, three of them, and not only intelligent, but each braver than the other.
P.S. This story is based on real events.
The author has changed the names of the characters to avoid any misunderstandings.
The readers are kindly asked to treat the notion of “here and now” presented in this story as just one possible point of view. This point of view is not definitive and calls for your own critical evaluation.