Book 8, part 1. The New Civilization (2005)
Thoughts of food, however, were gradually relegated to the back burner as I began to concentrate more and more on thoughts of my future daughter. On the one hand, it wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if Anastasia gave birth to a daughter as well as a son. But on the other hand, when this daughter gets older, she will either have her own Space or inherit the Space created by my son and face the same problems Volodya is hav-ing to deal with right now. Besides, who could she possibly marry, here in the taiga?
She could go off into our world, but that wouldn’t be easy either. It would mean leaving her own Space and her loyal animal friends. And I can’t imagine any young man agreeing to come and live with her in the taiga. It’s not all that comfortable here in the wilds for someone from the outside. And, to be honest about it, that includes me. It is interesting to talk with Anastasia — I would even say her company is alluring. When I’m with her, I feel a sense of peace and joy in my heart. But when I’m left all alone and she’s not around, I feel uncomfortable, to say the least — even a bit fearful.
The creatures treat Anastasia and our son quite differently from me. Of course they don’t attack me, but whenever we meet, they still regard me with an air of suspicion. I once at-tempted — in Anastasia’s presence — to command the squirrels to bring me some cedar cones. I made the same gestures as Anastasia, but there was no reaction from the squirrels. Another time I tried calling the she-wolf. Just like Anastasia, I held out my hand to her, then clapped it against my thigh.
But instead of running toward me, she stood rooted to the spot, and her hackles stood on end in a show of aggression. And I lost any desire to further communicate with these creatures. I realised that they could be loyal only to one specific Man in perpetuity.
So it could turn out that some young man comes to see our daughter in the taiga and he will not feel comfortable in her Space. Volodya has not given sufficient thought to his sister’s future. Turns out he feels sorry for the creatures, but appar-ently not for his sister. And I didn’t think about it either — I absent-mindedly gave him encouragement.
Immersed in these thoughts, I was surprised to discover that I had already arrived at Anastasia’s glade. No sooner had I taken a few steps in the direction of the familiar dug- out than I noticed Anastasia herself standing there, her body half-turned to me, combing her long hair with her hands. I stopped dead in my tracks: she did not look at all like the same woman I had known for the past ten years. And when she turned to face me, my legs became jelly, my heart began throbbing and I realised I could not move from the spot.
Just ten to fifteen paces from me stood a woman who looked the picture of a fairy-tale vision. She was wearing a long, sheer, light-coloured dress down to her ankles, almost like a ball gown, gathered with a belt around her slender waist. Her head was crowned with a wreath woven of grasses and flowers, like a diadem. Her golden hair hung in wavelets around her shoulders. But that wasn’t all! Her stately figure and face were so beautiful as to defy any possible description.
I stood there, afraid to move, my gaze unblinkingly fixed on Anastasia. It seemed as though if I took my eyes away I would lose consciousness. My head began spinning, but I continued to gaze at her without blinking. I found myself digging my nails forcefully into my hand, seeking escape in pain from this extraordinary state of mind. But I hardly felt any pain at all.
And as this uniquely beautiful woman gradually and graciously approached me, I lost all sensation, not just of pain but of any part of my physique. She slowly came right up to me, and I re-call feeling the enchanting fragrance of her body I could sense her light breathing and... I lost consciousness.
When I woke up I was lying on the ground. Anastasia was sitting beside me, massaging my temples and the bridge of my nose. Her diadem-wreath was gone, and her hair was brushed back and tied with a blade of grass. I felt an almost complete calm as I gazed into those tender greyish-blue eyes which had become so dear to me. And I finally came to myself upon hearing her voice:
“What happened to you, Vladimir? Did you get overtired, or did our son somehow upset you?”
“Our son... No, quite to the contrary, he has been giving me treatments these past three days. We went through a series of exercises.”
‘And you overexerted yourselves?”
“Volodya did. He fell asleep. By contrast, I’ve begun to feel very good indeed.”
“Then why did you lose consciousness? Your heart was throbbing and has still not completely calmed down.”
“Because... Oh, Anastasia, why did you dress up that way? Your hair’s somehow different. And the way you walked as you approached me — that was unusual, too.”
“I wanted to do something nice for you, Vladimir. After all, you are more accustomed to look at women in fancy clothes. I thought you and I could take a walk together through the taiga or along the lakeshore. And here you are lying down. If you want to have a rest, let us go to the dug-out, and there you can have a nap.”
“First let’s go and take a walk, as you proposed,” I said as I rose to my feet. “Only you, Anastasia, walk behind me, please.” “Why?”
“Because... Yes, I am more accustomed to looking at women in fancy clothes, as you say. But it is better for me if you don’t dress up that way, or wear your hair like that, or adorn yourself like that.”
“You did not like the way I looked, Vladimir?” enquired Anastasia, as she trotted along behind me.
“That’s not it. I liked it very much. Only, in future, do it just one step at a time. Your hair first, for example. And then spend some time wearing it that way Then you can put on your diadem-wreath, and a day or two later the dress. Only without the belt to start with, and afterward you can put on the belt. You see, if you do everything at once, it’s really hard for me to get accustomed to. It looks strange.”
“Strange? Does that mean you did not recognise me, Vladimir?”
“I recognised you. But... It’s just that I was simply over-whelmed with your beauty, Anastasia.”
‘Aha, you admit it! You admit it! That means you really think I am beautiful? Eh?”
I felt her hands resting on my shoulders, and I stopped. Then I closed my eyes, turned around and replied:
“Yau, Anastasia, are not just beautiful. You are...”
She pressed herself against me, putting her head on my shoulder.
“Our son, Anastasia,” I went on, in a whisper, “would like to have a little sister.”
‘And I would like you and me, Vladimir, to have a daugh-ter,” Anastasia quietly responded.
“May she have your looks, Anastasia!”
‘And may our daughter be like you...”
I shall not describe that night. Or the following morning. They are beyond description. But I shall say one thing to my men-readers: if any of you manage to see a goddess in the woman you know, your days and nights — many, many days and nights, in fact — will be divine. All the miseries of the past will vanish before them. And there will be no more storms to darken your day I’m not talking about sentimentality here, nor about beautiful words and professions of love. The whole point is...
In any case, let each figure it out for themselves, if they can and wish to do so.