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he windows inside have fogged over. Cowberries lie

scattered on an old writing desk. A light slowly

dawns at the edge of the horizon, seeping into

NadezhdaMihailovna’s room.

She finds it hard to get up in the mornings. Blanket pulled

over her head, she delays this moment of waking. Then,

very carefully, she raises the blanket, forming a tiny gap,

letting in just enough light to register that the morning has


First Nadezhda always senses her legs. They are heavy as

logs cursing with an odd current, which drags her

downward. Then they start to itch and tingle. She in turn

bends and straightens them, then stretches her toes. Every

morning her legs feel like the mechanism of an old, rusted-

out bell. When moved, it slowly comes to life and begins to

rock the whole thickset body.

Looking at herself in the mirror, Nadezhda Mihailovna has

often fantasized what the parents who created her would

have looked like. She has a wide face, slanted eyes and a

flattened nose. It appears as if somebody has drawn a heavy

palm over her face, leaving it – downward-stretched. She is

small of build – stocky and thickset. From the back it

appears as if she constantly has her head drawn into her

shoulders, but from the front one can see that her neck is