The First Story of Elvia. Chapter 1

Here is my first translated chapter. It is not perfect, I am not a native English-speaker, but at least it is a little better than automatic translation. Enjoy!

“The Redhaired Friend”

Chapter 1

I Got It. And There Is Nothing to Worry About.

It was the First of September – there is no day worse than that. You have to pull on the school uniform, cheer and be glad that the new school year is starting, when it is the last thing you want to do. Dina walked the street gloomily, making long and bold steps as she always did, and looking around herself. There, it is still summer! Who came up with this crazy idea that kids should start their school year at the First of September? The fish have not yet vanished into their winter depths, the apples have not yet been harvested, the nights are still warm… who needs it, this first of September? Dina sighed.

She felt uncomfortable wearing her crunchy, neatly ironed white collared blouse. To keep it from getting dusted, Dina put on her jean jacket – she was a careful girl. However, the fact that she was not an ordinary public-school student was demonstrated by her high green Converse sneakers, into which her pants were tucked, and her greyish-green backpack, made in a style of a hiking sac. The uniform was that one thing that Dina hated the most: black, inconvenient, it never fitted anyone properly and never looked good. Dina was an artist with her soul and mind, and she was greatly irritated with the lack of harmony in the style of the uniform. The rustling fabric, that easily crumpled and was rough like canvas, annoyed the students throughout the day. Dina often cursed the one, who was the creator of this clothing.

There was a huge puddle in the middle of the road. It would have been delightful to run and jump right into it. Dina sighed again – here was the school’s doorstep and here was the crowd. Students-students, teachers-teachers… and the irritating noise. Dina stood in the back rows, grudgingly sharing “hellos” with her rear school mates. After an annual greeting speech, followed by the screaming sound of music, the director received a gigantic bouquet of peonies and opened the doors of the school.

“Welcome, my dearest! Let us start the school year!” she cried out and entered the school.

The students slowly followed her. It was cool inside. The school had absorbed the aroma of summer wind. Soon it was filled with ruckus and hubbub. Infinite number of white ribbons, bows, pompous blouses and hairstyles, black ties, blue suits of high-schoolers, high heels that glittered like the coating of a car, and numerous amounts of different school gear flickered before Dina’s eyes. For sure today’s goal for the middle-school girls was to put on as many white ruffles as possible, because some girls’ bows were twice as big as their heads. For the high-school students it was the contest over who would wear the shortest skirt. Dina gazed around with the eyes of a stylist. She got bored of the presence of all these fussy students. She forced her way through the crowd and hurried to enter the classroom.

There was no one yet inside. The silence froze in the air. Silence finally!   

It was a small room, the walls of it were painted half blueish green, half grey. Light desks and big windows made it a little brighter and more pleasant. The wall across the room from the windows was covered with portraits of famous figures of history. Tall cathedra in front of a murky green blackboard was hidden under a shadow, casted by the disgruntledly bulging lamps. Dina never really liked this classroom. It was always the place to teach the Russian language, which was boring and tedious, and the blueish color of the walls and those vicious lamps made it a sight of even greater despondency.

Dina made her way to the fifth desk in the row, into the corner, made herself comfortable there, in the shadow, and pulled out a book from her backpack, feeling annoyed because the students were gradually now filling the room. She placed “The Two Towers” on the desk and shielded herself from the crowd with the cover. That is interesting. They enter the classroom, pass by, and never even consider asking her, how her summer went… For what sake do they need to know of that? It is personal. Dina felt satisfied that no one was trying to enter the realm of her own life. Suddenly something warm and hard carefully touched her shoulder.

“I’m sorry, do you mind if I sit next to you?” asked a boy’s voice of a magnificent timbre – it was soft, melodious, and handsome…. For some reason Dina knew that he was handsome right away. She lifted her gaze and was ready to turn the boy away, but the gentleness, with which he asked her, and his guilty green eyes, that looked at her with hope, made her forget her idea. For a few seconds Dina looked straight into his incredible eyes, bright like young leaves. She saw nothing on his fine face but these big, almost glowing eyes. When she got over her surprise, she realized that it was improper to stare at a stranger in such a way.

“You want to sit at this desk?” she murmured.   

“Yes, if you will allow me” the boy tilted his head to the side, and Dina saw his hair, that fell over his shoulders onto his back. That was some fascinating hair! It was the color of an orange, soft, bright, and long. Dina was startled once again. She was not against such a neighbor.

“Of course, you can sit here” she muttered.

There! Someone wants to sit next to her! It seemed like he was new here and just did not know what she is like. The boy moved the chair, dropped his backpack and pulled out his notebooks. He had remarkably long legs and thin wrists, which looked quite beautiful. Dina had never before seen people with such well-made constitution.

She experienced a mighty need to draw him. Here is the harmony! Dina suddenly realized that she liked him. Anyone, who tried to sit at her desk caused distrust or disgust to rise inside of her, but this boy… he was different. Once the books and papers for the lesson were placed on the desk, the boy glanced at the window and smiled to the sun, that illuminated his freckled face, his white skin, and his funny, slightly flatted nose. The profile of his face was a little strange. His lower jaw together with the lower lip was a little protruding but this made his noble-looking face seem even nicer.

With delight Dina noticed his clothing: dark-brown blazer, white shirt, black bow tie and tight black pants. In Dina’s class no one wore formal blazers, students preferred vests over them, but Dina liked when boys wore something as formal as that. Suddenly her neighbor turned his head and looked her in the face seriously and calmly. Dina lowered her gaze in embarrassment.    

“I am Nickita Listov,” the boy introduced himself and held out his lean hand with straight fingers. “You may call me Nick.”

“Nice to meet you. I am Dina,” Dina warily shook his hand. The hand of his was cozily warm, almost heated, dry, with soft skin.

“Well met. What are you reading?” asked Nick, holding his hands together and looking at her book with interest.

“’The Lord of the Rings. The Two Towers’” said Dina with dignity.

“Oh! That is great! I love that book so much! Actually, out of the whole trilogy this one is the best, I think,” said Nick gladly. Dina beamed, her heartbeat quickened. She felt a twin soul in this Nick. The wall of awkwardness, that always rises between two strangers, collapsed between them. They had a conversation until the school bell rang.

A new wave of students burst through the door. Dina frowned, but Nick was looking at them with curiosity. The students were taking their places at the desks, arguing, screaming, throwing the books at each other, jumping on the tables. Dina and Nick stood still among this raging sea. Kuraev Lyoha or “Leshiy”[1], nicknamed this way for his consistently disheveled hair, was standing on his desk and shouting something, spinning his vest overhead to gain attention. He was the kind of fellow, who was ready to do anything to for the sake of his glory. Kostya Fyorov was his follower in this way, but he was always the “good boy” once an adult appeared in view. At the desk in front of him sat a tidy girl with curled braids, that were bent upwards. She wore retro outfits, and today she was dressed in her mother’s uniform with a starched collar. Her desk mate Dasha Smirnova was the exact opposite of her. She considered her duty to represent the most fashionable style and imitated the high schoolers. Dasha wore the cleanest uniform and waked the streets at any season of the year with a scarf on her neck. She became famous for that.

The population of Dina’s class was divided into several layers. The first one consisted of the loudest and the trendiest, the lovers of social media. The lower layer was made of those, who glorified the higher ones as if they were some sort of gods, but were not allowed by their parents to enter that realm, even though they eagerly wanted to do so. The other lower layers were inhabited by the lovers of studying and good graders. However, Dina was not in any of these layers. She liked studying but was never the one to sweat over it. The girl was part of the layer, of which she was the only member. Dina was on her own.

Nick’s reaction was somewhat strange. He examined everyone with his tenacious and discerning eyes, and then turned to Dina and asked:

“Is it always this way?”

“What way?” Dina did not get his thought.

“Does such mess happen every time?” clarified Nick.

“Almost every time,” Dina sighed. Nick winced.

“I will miss my school,” he said. “In my wall there were only ten apprentices, and we all were friends and we probably were quite loud, but to be this crazy…”

Dina did not understand him and decided to ask:

“Where did you used live?”

“Far from here,” replied Nick. “Very far.”

“I’ve lived here, in this town, all my life,” said Dina.

Nick glanced at her with a strange look, in which chagrin, sympathy, and sorrow were mixed together. Dina did not answer that look but decided that it is interesting to be friends with such a strange human being. She was already in doubt if he was a human – so strange was his behavior and appearance. In addition, he had an unusual, almost unnoticeable accent, as if he was not talking on his native language. His words sounded softer than what they normally would and were combined with unfamiliar aspirations.

At the desk in front of them twirled one Vas’ka Bondarev – wild, small and wicked like a rat, with a nose predatorily bent downwards. He turned around, stared at Nick and froze.

“A-a-ah! A newbie!” he shouted suddenly.

“Shut up!” snapped Dina.

“A-a-ah! Already in love with the newbie!” even louder cried out Vas’ka. “Hey, people! A newbie!”

Nick looked at him with condemnation and said in a low voice:

“Why are you screaming like that?” but no one heard his quiet words. Dina was desperate, she realized that now she will receive all the teasing. Vas’ka shouted, like a megaphone: huskily, but loud, with hysterical squeals. Dina noticed that Nick was very calm and decided to follow his example.

The door opened and the teacher, Anna Nikolaevna, entered the classroom. Everyone froze, straightened next to their desks. Anna Nikolaevna, who was dressed in a vest and a plaid pencil skirt, went to her cathedra, clicking her heels, and stepped behind it, still holding on to the pack of notebooks and textbooks in her hands.

“Fyorov, where is your class’s log?” asked Anna Nikolaevna, quickly fixing her eyeglasses, that slid to the tip of her thin spiky nose.

“Moment!” Kostya jumped from his desk, stumbled, almost fell and ridiculously ran to the door. He was gone. Everyone was laughing, and even Dina made a gloat face.

“Sit down, everyone,” Anna Nikolaevna placed the textbooks on the cathedra and stepped down. “The school year just had a start, and you are already doing your old tricks! Why is it so, that I cannot see the uniform on the half of the class? What a disorder!..”

The disciplinary instruction always took the first ten minutes of the lesson. Once it was done, Anna Nikolaevna stood at her cathedra and said:

“We have a new student. I hope he will not follow the example of his classmates! Nickita, stand up, please.”

Nick rose from his chair timidly. He stood there, boldly looking the teacher in the eyes. She confusedly lowered her gaze.

“Anna Nikolaevna, excuse me, but it is not necessary to make me the center of attention,” said Nick.

“As you wish,” agreed Anna Nikolaevna. “You may be sited.”

 Nick sat down and again earnestly clenched his fingers together. A few laughs were heard in the class.

“What a barling!” nickered Leshiy.

“Redhead!” added his desk-mate Dima Tuna, who was usually called “The Seal” for his body type. Nick looked at them as if he did not comprehend why he was insulted. He felt the hurt, that was obvious, but he controlled himself very well. Dina realized that she was in a great need for his example. She was very irritable.

The lesson was progressing slowly. Dina felt sleepy.  It was stuffy, drear and sunny. She strongly desired to climb out of the window and flee by running. “I wish an eagle would come and take me from here…” thought Dina, while reluctantly writing down the exercise into the notebook. It was the last year’s material and the girl studied it all over again. Nick was clearly not bored. He promptly scribbled with his quill pen, his hand moved gracefully and skillfully over the paper. Dina watched him, watched Anna Nikolaevna, and even the chalk that creaked and squeaked on the blackboard – she was dying from boredom! Finally, the bell rang, followed by a shout, that always reminded the school about a break.    

The class did not have homework in their minds, they had to leave this stuffy room, drown in the bustling sea of the school. Dina stood up, started to collect her belongings into her backpack. Nick threw his bag with the textbooks over the shoulder and asked:

“Listen, do you mind me staying by you for now? I am not really familiar with the school.”

“No, I don’t mind,” said Dina.

“Thanks,” Nick smiled joyfully at her, charmingly bending the corners of his lips. Two little dimples appeared on his cheeks. Dina took her backpack, and they were off to the door. For so many years Dina always walked everywhere around the school alone. She had never had a friend before.

At the door waited Dima Tuna. At his sides like an escort stood Kostya and Leshiy with their sleeves rolled up.  

“Where are you going, fox’ pup?” hissed Tuna with provocation. Nick wrinkled his forehead and frowned.

“How dare you call me that?” he replied.

“That’s easy! In this class I am – the chief! You’re either with us, or with that garbage!” Tuna nodded towards a skinny “smarty” Fedya Alyosov, who stood at the first desk with his head drawn into his shoulders waiting for the scene’s end and calculating whether he had a chance to get out of the room in one piece or not.

“You are not the chief, Seal!” cried Dina.

“Be quiet, psycho!” answered Tuna.

“Hey, you, don’t touch her!” Nick stepped in front of Dina, who was now blushing, not letting her come too close to Tuna.

“Oy, are you protecting her?” inserted Kostya.

“She is a girl! You can’t harm her!” stated Nick.

“I can!” and Tuna went to Dina with his fist clenched over his head. Nick did not let him through. A sharp kick nocked Tuna out of the classroom. Kostya and Leshiy, scared to death, fled after him. Dina stood there, frowned, tightly squeezing the slings of her backpack. Her cheeks were flushed and burning. It all happened so fast. She understood one thing: Nick was a well-mannered being, who respected her. He stood up for her… Dima flew into the classroom like a cannonball. No one was able to understand what was happening, a terrible clatter and Kostya’s victorious hooting filled the air. Dina stared at the overthrown chairs and the fallen desk next to the green wall of the classroom.

Nick stretched prone on the bright linoleum in the middle of this riot without a sound. Dina, horrified, thought that he was unconscious. For a moment she froze, not knowing, what she was supposed to do. Then Nick moved. Dina rushed off her spot, climbed over the chairs, squatted next to the boy, and grabbed his elbow.

“Oh my…” she muttered. Nick sat up and covered his nose with his hand. Till the end of her days Dina remembered his eyes – wet with resentment – and his lips covered with blood.

At first Tuna himself was scared of what he had done, however he soon recalled his proud position and his cold and cruel look returned.

“What, psycho, how well did your friend protect you?” he asked.

Nick gritted his teeth, grabbed Dina’s arm, not allowing her to go forward, rose, darted at Tuna and knocked him over. The fight started, students crammed into classroom. Terrible noise and hubbub filled the room. For some time Dina watched them fight, but soon she felt ill because of the thuds and clamor, and she made her way into the corridor.

She ran to the next classroom, where the next lesson was about to be, because the bell rang again. She fled from the battlefield, from knocked over desks, from friendship. Why does she need friendship, if she has to bear the pain of teasing and bullying for it? Why was it that every time she found a friend, she started to gain enemies and getting tripped? Dina ran into the classroom, found her place, settled her textbooks on the desk and started to calm herself down.

She ran away, but what actually happened there? Tuna was big and strong, he could kill Nick… Dina felt so bad and so scared, that she placed her head on her folded arms and sat like that for a long time, not noticing what was going on around her. The class continued to have a noisy break, the teacher was not there yet, and everyone discussed the fight. Dina wanted to weep. She was tormented by her consciousness. She did not stay there, she could not bear the thuds and the look of blood, but she had left Nick there.. She should have helped; she was the only person in the whole school whom he would have trusted to ask for help…

Suddenly the voices grew louder, and Dina lifted her head. Dima Tuna, Leshiy, Kostya and Nick entered the room. Nick’s shirt was torn and dripped with blood; he held his blazer in his hands. His washed face looked pale, the hair was tousled, his nose was now darker, and his lips got injured. Dina lowered her head again. After a moment right next to her she heard the rustling of the blazer that fell on the back of the chair, and Nick sat down at the desk. Dina did not dare to lift her head again.

“Are you alright?” quietly asked the boy’s voice. “They didn’t touch you, did they?”

Dina looked at him, straight into his eyes and saw anxiety and compassion. He did not even know how treacherously she betrayed that little sprout of friendship between them.

“F-forgive me…” muttered Dina. “I’m alright, but I… I ran away…”

“That’s fine” Nick smiled wearily. “That is alright…”

“I’m really sorry, I just couldn’t bear it…”

“I got it,” Nick fixed his bowtie. “And there is nothing to worry about.”

“Thank you…”

[1] Leshiy is a humanoid creature in the Russian folk tales and mythology, that lives in the woods. Also, “Lyoha” and “Lesha” are both versions of the name “Alexey”.

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