Book 8, part 1. The New Civilization (2005)
Pre dawn feelings
Anastasia was still asleep. And over the endless Siberian taiga the first glow of light was breaking across the pre-dawn sky; This time I was the first to waken, but stayed quietly lying be-side her on my sleeping bag, admiring her serene and beautiful face and the flowing contours of her figure, as the soft, heavenly light of the advancing morning made them ever more distinct. It was good that this time she had arranged for us to spend the night under the open sky She had no doubt been able to sense the warmth and gentle stillness of the approaching night, and so had made our bed not in her cozy dug-out cave but outdoors, at its entrance. She had spread out my sleeping bag, which I had brought during a previous visit to the taiga, while she fixed up beside me a beautiful place to sleep for herself, comprised of flowers and dried grasses.
She looked picture-perfect lying there on that taiga bed, wearing a thin flaxen knee-length dress, which I had brought her as a gift from my readers. Perhaps she put it on only when I was around; she was quite capable of sleeping in the nude. The colder it was in the forest, the more dried grasses were applied; after all, a haystack can keep out the cold in the winter too. Even a simple soul without Anastasia’s level of hardiness could sleep comfortably in hay without extra clothing. I tried it myself. But this time I was lying there on my sleeping bag, looking at Anastasia resting beside me, and I kept imagining how this whole scene might look in a wide-screen feature film.
A sylvan glade in the depths of the endless Siberian taiga. The pre-dawn stillness is only rarely broken by a scarcely audible rustling of branches in the crowns of the majestic cedars. And here is this beautiful woman so serenely asleep on her bed of grasses and flowers. Her breathing is perfectly even and barely audible. The only thing noticeable is the slight swaying to and fro of a blade of grass clinging to her upper lip as she inhales and exhales the health-giving air of the Siberian taiga.
Never before had I managed to see Anastasia asleep here — she was always the first to awake. But this time...
I took great delight in watching her. Carefully raising my upper body and resting on my elbow, I studied her face, im-mersed myself in thought and began talking to myself.
Той are still altogether beautiful, Anastasia. It will soon be ten years that we have known each other. Of course I’ve got older during this time, while you’ve hardly changed at all. No wrinkles on your face. Only your golden hair is now showing one strand of silver grey. Apparently something extraordinary’s happened to you. Judging by the massive campaign that’s been unleashed against you and your ideas, judging by what is being said in the press and bureaucrats’ offices, something is going on in the dark forces’ camp. They keep trying to get on my nerves, and I know how they’d love to get their hands on you. But their arms are evidently not long enough...
And still, you’ve got that grey strand of hair showing. But it can’t spoil your extraordinary beauty. Той know, tinting individual strands a variety of colours is an ‘in’ thing right now. Among our young people today highlighting strands is a hip fashion statement. And you don’t even need to go to a hairdresser’s — it’s just happened all on its own. And the scar where that bullet grazed you,1 it’s practically gone.
The pre-dawn sky continued to brighten, and the scar was barely noticeable, even up close. Soon it would disappear completely
Look at you sleeping so peacefully here in the fresh air, in your own taiga world, while out there, in our world, extremely significant events are takingplace. Researchers are talking about an ‘information revolution’. Perhaps it is thanks to you, orperhaps they are simply following the dictates of their own hearts, but people in our technocratic world are beginning to create their own family domains, enriching the land. They have adopted your image wholeheartedly, Anastasia — the marvellous image of the future for their family, the country and possibly the whole order of the Universe. They have understood all you have said and are building this marvellous future for themselves.
And I am trying to comprehend, too. I’m trying my best. I still don’t completely understand what you mean to me. Той taught me to write books, you bore me a son, you made me famous, you brought back my daughter’s respect for me — you’ve done a loti But that’s not the main point. It’s in something else, the main point. Perhaps it’s lying hidden somewhere within.
Той know, Anastasia, I have never spoken of my feelings for you, neither to you nor even to myself. In fact, I’ve never told any woman in my whole life that I love her.
I’ve never said that, not because I’m completely without feelings, but because these words have always seemed strange to me, even nonsensical. After all, if a person loves another, this love shoidd be reflected in one’s actions toward one’s beloved. If words need to be spoken, that means there are no genuine, tangible actions. It’s the actions, after all — not words — that are most important.
Anastasia stirred ever so slightly, took a deep breath, but did not waken. And I continued to talk with her, still speaking within myself.
Not once have I ever spoken to you about love, Anastasia. But if you asked me to fetch you a star from the sky, I would climb up to the top of the tallest tree, andpushing off from the uppermost branch, I’d take a leap in the direction of that star. If I happened to fall, I would catch myself on its branches, and climb up once more to the top, and again leap toward the star.
You’ve never asked me to fetch you a star from the sky. You only asked me to write books, and I am writing them. But my writing doesn’t always come out too well. Sometimes I fall. But I’m not done with them yet, after all. I still haven’t written my final book. I’ll try to write it so you’ll like it.
Anastasia’s eyelashes fluttered, a gentle glow flushed across her cheeks, and she opened her eyes. I caught the tender gaze of her greyish-blue eyes... Oh, Lord, what a warmth those eyes always give off, especially when they’re so close to me. Anastasia watched me without a word, but her eyes sparkled as though full of moisture.
“Good morning, Anastasia!” I said. “You probably haven’t had a good long sleep like that before — you’ve always woken up before me.”
‘And a good morning to you, and a marvellous day, Vladimir,” Anastasia responded quietly, almost in a whisper. “I should like to have just a wee bit more sleep.”
“So you haven’t had enough sleep yet?”
“I have, and a very good sleep at that. But my dream... I was having such a pleasant pre-dawn dream.”
“What kind of dream? What was it about?”
“I dreamt you were talking with me. About a tall tree and a star, about falling down and climbing up again. The words were about the tree and the star, but it struck me as though they were really about love.”
“Things can often seem pretty fuzzy in dreams. What con-nection could a tree possibly have with love?”
“Everything can have a connection, and great meaning too. It is the feelings that matter here, not the words. This day’s dawn has brought me an extraordinary feeling. I shall go out to greet and embrace—”
“This marvellous day, which has offered me such an ex-traordinary gift.”
Anastasia slowly rose to her feet, stepped a few paces away from the cave entrance and then... She did something she always did in the mornings — her unique exercise routine. There she was, flinging her arms out to the sides and a little bit upward. She gave a momentary glance up at the sky and then all at once spun round. Then she ran off and did an incredible somersault before spinning round again.
Lying on my sleeping bag by the cave entrance, I admired Anastasia’s darts and lunges and thought: Wow! A mature woman already, and look how quickly, beautifully and energetically she moves, just like a young gymnast! Fascinating how she felt what I had in mind as I was talking to myself while she was sleeping j Maybe I really should own up to her?
And I cried out:
‘Anastasia, it wasn’t simply a dream you were having.”
She stopped her exercise routine at once and stood there in the middle of the glade. Then she deftly turned a couple of cartwheels in my direction and landed right beside me. She quickly sat down on the ground and joyfully enquired:
“Not simply a dream? And just how is it not ‘simple’? Out with it! Tell me all the details!”
“Well, you see, I was thinking about that same tree. I was talking to myself about a star.”
‘And where, tell me, where did you get these words from? What produced them — these words?”
Our conversation was interrupted by a cry from Anastasia’s grandfather.
‘Anastasia! Anastasia, listen to me right away! Do you read me?”
Anastasia jumped up, and I got up quickly, too.