translated by Pavlina Marvin 

I met Valter by chance but we kept in touch, which kept growing with time.
He lived with his family in a beautiful farm in Zaporizhia, sometime in the fifteenth
century, and I, in Kiev, in a dark flat on the 15th floor, in 1984. For a long time we had
a rather successful long-distance relationship. We communicated mainly through
birds and bottles; sometimes, he’d manage to squeeze his voice through my kitchen
sink’s tubing, and I would push and stuff my whispers through his chimney.
Whenever we had the opportunity, we gave each other splendid advice, so
appropriate, that it was of no account that they never arrived intact or in time. I never
slept without thinking about him. He never woke up without remembering me. In the
evenings, we’d drink almost together ― I, a drop of Charlotte liqueur, and he, a single
malt whisky, not less than four shots. I helped him to not fear the future, and he told
me about the present in full detail, offering me the unique skill to accurately represent
the past. Valter, my precious secret. And if at first the never received kisses didn’t
matter, as always happens, little by little, the messages began to get into a mess.
While I phrased a question concerning feudalism, the answer I got was related to the
ingredients of a countryside soup. Though the owl still came at night, its claws were
empty, it now seemed fat and less agile. The misunderstanding to top them all wasn’t
late in coming. Bottle in my bathtub, and the message written in charcoal: «You don’t
love me». Bottle in the flour sack, and the message written in cheap eye pencil: «You
don’t love me». The sky and the sea were the first to understand, and, as is proper,
and stopped forwarding the messages. I became an exceptional historian. I forgot,
without joy, but also without grief. During some recent excavations, they invited me
to decode a mediaeval manuscript. They said it was a miller’s diary. Its last phrases
were: «I never understood, Galina. We had exchanged engagement rings and soon we
would get married.». To the chief archaeologist, I wrote hastily that I’d only found
calculations about credit accounts. Irrelevant.

  [2014]