Snegirichka Fairy-tale

Tamara Alexeeva

Winter came. In the morning, the yard where Kutya The Puppy lived looked transformed. At first, he thought little doves had appeared in the skies. Their ruffled feathers trembled and their bright whiteness sparkled as they landed softly on the branches, benches, and pathways. Oh, no! Had white sheep been shorn somewhere far away? And these were their curls, wavelets and hairs. . . Or maybe these were butterflies, shivering with cold. Kutya sneezed, waved his paws. This was his very first winter. He’d been born in summer, when the grass was green and the ground was warm.
“It’s cold!” he complained to his Momma.
“You’re just not used to it,” Momma disagreed. “You have warm fur, and the frost can’t hurt you. In winter, one should run around and jump more, and not sleep in our dog-house, like you enjoy doing.”
True, Kutya liked to sleep and laze about, with his nose stuck in fragrant hay. It smelled of summer: flowers, frogs, and berries. His dreams had been bright and sweet before winter crept into their red-roofed house.
“Who can I play catch with? Or hide and seek? Momma is busy, as usual, she left to run her errands.”
Kutya approached the big house where the Master lived and called out, raising his head, “Pussya! Come out!”
The face of his bosom buddy Pussya The Kitten appeared in the window instantly. His was shaking his head sadly, which must have meant “no.”
“Sissy,” the puppy grumbled. “How can I be friends with him if he never wants to come out side to play? First, he’s afraid of the rain, then of the snow.”
Kutya wandered into the garden. The air was dry and crackling. White, fluffy butterflies were teeming around.
“Step aside!” a tinkling voice rang out. Kutya jumped aside, startled, and hit his forehead against a white hay-stack. A bit of rye hay rustled and fell away. It looked nothing like the hay they used to sleep on back at the dog-house. The puppy looked around…

A pretty girl wearing a silver cap whom he initially mistook for a butterfly was standing on the footpath. She was airy, translucent, and had unusually expressive and shining eyes. She also had crystal white wings.
“Who are you?” Kutya asked. “I’ve never seen you before.”
“Of course,” the girl laughed, showing her straight white teeth. “I wasn’t here before. I’m a Snowflake. We always arrive when winter comes.”
The Snowflake’s eyes were big and deep blue. Her eye-lashes were long and thick, and she was wearing a blue dress. She was very pretty.
“Do you have a name of your own?” Kutya asked. “Or are you all called Snowflake?”
“Of course, I do. My name is Snegirichka.”
“And I’m Kutya. I also have a friend, Pussya The Kitten. But he’s afraid of the cold and is staying home. Why were you yelling like that? Were you afraid of something?”
“I was afraid of landing on your nose. I’m still very little, and it’s only been a week since I learned to fly.”
“It won’t hurt me!” the puppy said, proudly. “The next time you can land right on my nose!”
“No, I’m not allowed!” the girl said in a serious tone of voice and batted her silken eyelashes. Her eyes turned dark blue and were as transparent as colorful crystal.
“Why?” Kutya was surprised.
“I’d melt because your nose is warm,” Snegirichka explained.
“Melt? What does it mean?”
“I’d turn into a drop of water and seep into the ground. I wouldn’t exist any longer.
“What a shame!” the puppy got upset. “We just met, and you’d disappear. We haven’t even had time to play. Do you like playing?” Kutya wondered.
“Of course, I do. A whole lot!”
Kutya was sitting in the footpath and Snegirichka was flying around him. Her dress, braids, and eyes sparkled in the sun and shimmered with colorful lights. She shone and smelled of the deep blue. Kutya was beyond himself with joy that he now had such a great friend. Or, rather, a girlfriend.
Kutya jumped up and twirled among the blue snow mounds. He tried to reach Snegirichka and jumped higher and higher. He’d never been this happy! Everything around him plunged into a dance! Even the trees were dancing!
“Snow! Snegirichka! Sun!” Kutya sang.
“Winter! Sun! Kutya!” Snegirichka tinkled.
The snow creaked and the air smelled of freshness. Kutya brushed against a tree branch and snow flowers that looked like apple tree flowers but were very cold fell on top of him. He stayed quiet. Snegirichka swept handfuls of snow away with her small, deft hands. She unearthed the ears that looked like wrappers of a bog chocolate bar, then the eyes that squinted happily in the bright sun. Finally, she dug the puppy out. He sneezed loudly, and Snegirichka clapped her hands. The puppy barked joyously, and the girl laughed because she’d never heard a dog bark before.
And Kutya had never had a snowflake for a friend. She made him happy. Her palms were made of crystal, and her fingers were very thin…
Dusk settled on the snow mounds. Night time was coming. The moon and the stars appeared in the sky.
“This is beautiful,” Snegirichka whispered. “But it’s time for me to go home.”
“Home? Where do you live?” Kutya asked.
“Winter is our mother. At night, she covers us with her fur coat. Look up!”
Kutya raised his eyes and saw a multitude of Snowflakes, floating in the same direction. Fluffy little girls were streaming across the magical night sky in the same direction, laughing joyously. The Snowflakes sparkled in the light of the lanterns. The golden stream of light trembled and sparkled in the folds of their dresses, in the lacey frills. Tiny beads and ear-rings clinked, their free-flowing hair glistened, their wings clanged and fluttered in the wind… The Snowflakes turned into a light mist, an imperceptible fog…
“It’s time for me to go,” Snegirichka sighed and flew after her sisters, trying to catch up with them. Her lace dress, velvet bows and feet in crystal shoes sparkled and disappeared…
Kutya stared at the skies until the white glow dissipated. There were no more Snowflakes in the sky.
“She didn’t even say if she’s coming back tomorrow,” he thought wistfully, trudging back to his red-roofed house. “And I never asked because she flew away so fast. What if Snegirichka never comes back?”
The tops of the trees disappeared in the darkness. Kutya dug himself into the warm hay and fell asleep.
In the morning, loud, wonderful and tinkling laugh woke him up.
“Get up, lazybones! The sun’s been up for hours!”
“ Snegirichka!!!” the puppy yelled and jumped out of the house.
He saw yesterday’s Snowflake, a round-faced wonder-girl with sparkly eyes. She was tender as a forest flower, washed with rain in the rays of early morning sunshine. Her shining hair was swept, and there were new silk bows with crystal beads in her braids back. Sea-blue flowers covered her dress.
Kutya drank in the fresh air. It had never tasted so delicious and clean to him! He felt happy.
“You are saw blue and white,” he told Snegirichka. “And so is the sky. Is this done on purpose to make it hard to spot you?”
“I don’t know,” Snegirichka laughed. “We, the Snowflakes, have always been this way. And you are red. Has it always been this way?”
“I look like my Momma. In winter, my hair becomes thicker to keep me from getting cold. And hares go white in winter to avoid being caught. In summer, they are grey. Do you change your dress in summer?”
“No,” Snegirichka sighed. “I don’t know what summer is. We go far away, where it is always Winter.”
“What a pity,” Kutya got sad. “I’d like to be friends with you in summer, too. You could wear a red dress.”
“That’s impossible,” Snegirichka replied. “This only happens in fairy tales.”
And then she saw Kutya’s eyes fill with sadness.
“That’s it!” the girl clapped her hands. “Today we shall fly!”
“Fly!” the puppy was caught unawares. “How can I fly if I’m not a bird?”
“Listen carefully,” Snegirichka shook her head. “You can’t fly. But the sky is so strong that it lifts you up. Do you believe that the sky is strong?”
“Yes,” Kutya agreed, after pondering this for a moment. “It must be really strong if it can hold all those clouds and birds.”
“And the planes, and the helicopters, as well,” Snegirichka added.
“It must be very powerful,” the puppy said.
“Then let’s go!” Snegirichka yelled and grabbed his paw. Kutya didn’t even understand how they ended up in the air and whether Snegirichka raised him up or the powerful sky. They flew above the trees, and the world was dancing again. This dance was magical and endless. The wind rustled Kutya’s fur, and his tail fluffed out. He was weightless. Snegirichka drew him higher and higher as her frosty skirt rustled and her blue eyes shimmered.
They danced and flew above the trees until the first evening star appeared in the sky. They saw it and felt happy, forgetting that it was time to go to bed…
In his sleep, Kutya kept flying. He shuddered and moaned with pleasure. The tender tinkle of her voice gleamed in his heart.
With the first rays of sunlight, Kutya awoke and peered outside. The fair Snegirichka was skipping and running in front of his doghouse. Like a little bird, she was leaving tiny footprints on the ground. This looked so funny that Kutya erupted in a happy bark.
“I’m learning to walk like you,” Snegirichka pouted, so the puppy had to apologize.
It was a beautiful winter! There was so much snow that even a slight breeze would bring up a cloud of sparkly dust.
As soon as he’d wake up, the puppy would rush into the street and always meet his Snegirichka. He felt protective of her because she looked so fragile. Her arms and legs were like stalks of white grass…
They danced carelessly in the skies and skated gleefully down icy hills. Kutya would glide downwards toward the river and Snegirichka yelled, grabbing at his ears. Her blue eyes sparkled like polished stones, her white cheeks became crimson red, and her silk braids came undone. The days flew by fast like flocks of birds. Neither he nor she realized that one day Winter would end.
Once when they were gliding down a high hill, Kutya crashed into a passer-by. The man hit him with his foot and swore.
“What an idiot! Get out of my way!”
Kutya rolled into a snow mound. He hit a piece of ice, wheezed, got up and licked his wounded paw. He looked around for Snegirichka, and then saw her… She was lying in the middle of the road, looking dead. Blue shimmer was dripping off her, like water off a piece of glass. Tears were hanging on her cheek. They froze and poured down, like icy peas, dripping onto the ground… Kutya froze in terror, staring at Snegirichka: her dress, face and hands that looked so beautiful not a minute ago turned into dried up dirt.
Without wasting a moment, the puppy rushed towards her and lifted her up. She became see-through and was growing darker by the second…
“Snegirichka!” Kutya yelled. “Don’t die!”
She opened her eyes, but they were empty and dull. In their bottomless depth, the light was turning to stone, and this frosty greyness was all that was left of the Snowflake. She had nothing in common with the girl he knew. This was her pale shadow that was diminishing by the moment. Through the transparent dress and tiny crystal bones, he could see her heart that was covered with black veins.
“I love you,” the puppy whispered, pressing her close. “I love you. How can you die if I love you?”
He didn’t know what to do to help her. He walked around, whispering these words and thinking he was going to die together with her…
Carefully, he touched her fragile head with a paw as if it were treasure… He pressed his cheek to her body. It was light like a bit of cotton wool. In desperation, he licked her. Nothing happened…
And then she started coming back to life: her eyelids trembled, her lashes fluttered. Then her eyes turned blue and her lips became similar to a drop of pink dew. And her dress became crimson red and incredibly beautiful.
“Snegirichka,” Kutya said, surprised. She was already standing in front him, in the festive glow of a red shimmer, like a new bright star.
The little star’s hair and eyes shone even brighter than before. Kutya lost his breath because he was just so happy that she was alive and healthy.
But Kutya was not the only one to be amazed. Snegirichka also stared in bewilderment at her dress. She was touching it with her hands, as if finding it impossible to believe what she was seeing.
“Didn’t you say this could only happen in a fairy tale?” Kutya rejoiced. “But what happened? I saw that the passerby didn’t even touch you.”
“I forgot to tell you our legend,” Snegirichka said, and the silver streams of her voice came alive and clinked once again. “It’s the legend of the Water. We are made of Water and Water reacts to words. Whatever the words are, the Water and the Snowflakes will become, too. And everything that’s white easily adopts any color. Do you understand?”
“No,” Kutya confessed. “I don’t understand anything.”
“See here. I will pronounce words and you watch how the snow changes.”
Snegirichka said “bad” to the snow mound. And the snow grew visibly darker, as if dirty Water had been splashed on it.
“I’m sorry, so sorry. You are beautiful,” Snegirichka hurried to say. The snow mound became very white, just like whipped cream. Wonderful bluish lights shimmered on it.”
“So this is how it works!” Kutya was amazed. “That man’s words almost killed you. He almost caused your death. So how do you survive in the cities, among all the people?”
“Snowflakes don’t live long in the cities,” Snegirichka explained. “Cities are soaked through with bad, mean words that make Snowflakes’ hair turn into smoke and leave burn marks on our bodies. And then the Snowflakes never come back home. Words come up like hissing rays. They burn through our clothes, melt in the skies, and fall like black water-drops onto the streets, houses, people. There are words so mean that they stab us straight in the heart. This is why there are so many dirty puddles and the snow is always grey or black in the cities.”
“Why did your dress turn crimson red?”
Snegirichka stared at her dress in amazement once again. It was made of red sparkly silk decorated with swan’s down. She loved her new outfit as much as the puppy did.
“Nobody said such beautiful words to me before. Nobody told me I was beautiful. I didn’t even know such a wonderful transformation could happen because of this…”
“And what about your mother? Hasn’t your Momma Winter said nice things to you?”
“Momma Winter says nice things to us before putting us to bed. She even tells us fairy tales. But there are so many of us that each gets just a drop of her love. This is why we are all the same color. We fly around holding hands and never make friends with people or anybody else. That would be very dangerous.”
“What about me? Why did you become friends with me?”
“I trusted you,” Snegirichka responded meekly. “Now my dress will let everybody know that somebody loves me.”
It was true. She really stood out against the white snow.
“Your words smelled so good,” Snegirichka confessed. “I never thought this could happen. Listening to them was like drinking blackberry juice.”
“What do you like to eat?” Kutya asked. “I like a good bone, for instance.” “We eat water drops. Clouds sprinkle them up in the sky. Right at the top, drops are aromatic and transparent. They are very tasty and they smell of blue milk. We put our hands under the clouds and drink until we are sated. When it’s cold, we fly next to the tops of pine trees, waiting until drops of ice-cream start flying our way. This happens when clouds touch pointy branches with their bellies.”
“So blue clouds are like cows? Then why is Rain never sweet down here?” Kutya wondered again.
“As the water descends, it absorbs everything it meets: iron airplanes pass by, roaring, factory chimneys release clouds of grey smoke. Also, people have lost the habit of greeting Rain with joy. Children don’t run around barefoot in the puddles. Once upon a time, people composed songs in its honor, and that’s why it was so thick and aromatic. It was also colorful because water drops absorbed all of the beauty of the rainbow that floated in the air…”
“When I saw first snow, I thought there had to be little sheep up high, in the skies. They must have been shorn and their white wool was dropping down,” the puppy said. “And then I decided that somebody must have poured a lot of milk into the deep blue sky… And added pieces of marshmallow into it…”
“We have a sweet tooth, too,” smiled Snegirichka. “In the Forest, the needles of fir-trees are covered with thin sheets of ice. We break off the ice taking care not to harm the branches. These lollipops smell of pine, and you can chew them like wet grapes. We call them mint sticks. Or pine pies.”
“It’s fascinating,” the puppy was amazed. “You live in a completely different world. It’s so mysterious and so unlike ours. Let’s go into the Forest! You can show me your treats, and also, let’s paint the snow there!” Kutya suggested.
This game was even more exciting than flying in the skies! They would approach a snow mound and tell it the most beautiful words they could think of. And soft snow would glow with clear crystals and multi-colored lace. They covered trees with word ornaments, braiding them up to the tops with green bows. A muted tinkling spread around the Forest. Ice flowers opened like fistfuls of colorful needles, smelling of honeydew and freshness. Rough branches bowed and moved under their weight. It was as if golden bees were about to appear, buzzing. The Forest came alive and transformed, shimmering with precious stones…
“Do you recognize me?” it seemed to ask.
It was all so surprising and unexpected.
They were drawing a real live Forest as if painting a picture. Only instead of a brush and paints they had simple words, reflecting a new ornament, and every one of these words would bring a light cloud of snow dust that flew away as emerald, glowing Snowflakes. White flakes, silvery down, everything was brittle and blue, and everything tinkered, laughed, shone…
“Hroum, hroum,” the snow said under the paws.
“Din din,” colorful icy crystal clinkered.
Kutya’s whiskers and the chocolate red fur on his face were covered with ice that didn’t melt under his breath because of how bitterly cold it was.
Sparkles of laughter beamed out of Snegirichka’s shiny eyes. Her white wings rustled as she glided between juicy green boughs, looking like a lightning-fast blue-eyed firefly. Up and down, skip and jump, over and beyond the snow mounds. Crystal shoes, skirt, hands, wings, braids! Another skip and a somersault! Here is the white doll once again, soaring high above into the skies, her wonderful blue eyes glimmering. Even the sounds of her voice sound like porcelain beads and diamond streams, forming complex and meaningful ornaments.
Just a moment ago, Kutya saw her right next to him, right here, on this bow, and now he is looking everywhere and wondering where she could have gone.
A grain-sized snow ball hits him right on the forehead and the fidgety tomboy is twirling and dancing right in front of him, clinking her silver bracelets and beads.
I’ll get you! But in the time it took the irate Kutya to make a snow ball of his own, she disappeared from sight!
Snegirichka is up high, swinging on a bough, laughing out loud and making fun of the puppy, with her pearly teeth sparkling. Forget-me-nots shine from the bottom of her eyes, and bunches of glimmering eye-lashes tremble around them. Plop! Plop! Snow dust falls off her lashes.
Snowflakes were twirling around, creating cold colorful clouds and touching each other with their elaborate crystal skirts. Some of them were lilac-colored, while others looked like the petals of a tez-rose. An old Tree Stump creaked, opening his crusty eyes, and winked at them playfully. The Snowflakes laughed, batting their long blue eyelashes. Ash blond curls and pony-tails that looked like streams of golden rain escaped from under their porcelain caps. As the evening approached, their light and tender aroma intensified…
Snegirichka and Kutya treated everything to their kind words, all of the paths and trees, covered with fluffy fur coats. They didn’t miss a single thing. They even ran to the most faraway Bush with its snow cap askew, and its cap erupted in a glow of aquamarine diamonds. Feeling smart and dandy in his new hat, the Bush straightened himself up and looked around proudly. Under the feet of the little friends, the starry snow and ice creaked and sang, like a bell…
“Look,” Snegirichka wondered, “see the shadows? The color has entered them, too…”
A hundred yellow, red and golden shadows were streaming in diagonal shadows from the tops of the pine-trees to the road. Sun beams touched them, and their heat made the shadows sparkle even brighter.
“Nobody knows about this,” Kutya whispered, “and nobody will ever find out… There’s just the two of us in the whole wide world who can see it…”
He sat by the side of the road and whispered in an even quieter voice, lost in admiration as he looked at Snegirichka who was dancing in a scarlet glow, “And I would have never discovered all this had you not come into my life.” She grabbed the silk lace of the skirt with her tiny hands and started twirling in the air, spurred on by the strong wind. Her transparent shoes shimmered and when their heels clicked, raising clouds of glittering dust from the road, a thin, lily-white sound could be heard.
Skip, jump! She twirled on one foot so fast that she started looking like a snowy flower in bloom, a broom, and then a pointy little whirlwind… It contracted like a thin spiral and then soared upward, flying away and making silvery circles… It was breathtakingly beautiful!
Soar! The reached even farther up like a twisty and swift bit of fluff. The wind rustled her velvet bows and the silver threads with crystal balls that held together her braids. A soft thin curl that looked like a blue spider web shivered next to her. A flowery tiara made of ice drops crowned her head.
“Silverichka!” he yelled in her wake. “I have figured it out! If you say these words to even the most desiccated old Tree Stumps they will begin to flower! Those who don’t understand this will never see this magical Forest!”
That’s what Kutya said as he started running down the road which was as long as a ray of sunshine and as wide as the sky. Twilight crept upon the Forest but inside it there was still a bright sunshine that made it look like a golden palace. The puppy left the Forest and saw the trees and the snow mounds standing there as if surrounded with starry shining braids. The air itself shimmered with a multitude of colors. The red-haired sun licked the tops of the pine trees in the same way as dogs do when they lick their puppies before putting them to bed…
“I will never forget this”…
He ran along the road strewn with moonstones that glimmered like burnished silver. Kutya the Puppy and a tiny little girl who hugged him tight, burying her face in his thick fur. Her lashes spread like a bluish fan on her pink cheeks. Sniffling softly, the Snowflake slept…
One early morning, they sat on a birch tree stump next to the house. Snegirichka was rocking in the air, while Kutya was examining a sparkly and clean piece of ice. Both were taking mint sticks that smelled of pine needles out of a packet and nibbling on them. Snegirichka had already been to the Forest before Kutya had a chance to wake up.
“Talking about Water,” the puppy suddenly remembered. “Water is so dirty in our rivers. And the flowers die. I thought it was always like this. But Grandma, who is very old, told me that there was a time when Water in the rivers was so clear it was transparent. Water was emerald blue, can you believe that, Snegirichka? When you stood on the river bank, you could see fish at the bottom of the water stream. Flowers grew in the water, lilies and lotus flowers. They were red and white. Can you imagine how beautiful it is when flowers float down a river?”
“They can also be blue,” Snegirichka said dreamily, twirling her hair.
“Flowers that are blue like your eyes will float down the river,” Kutya said. “They will be bluer than the sky and the water, brighter than the sun and the moon… This is what these flowers will be like.”
“Let the flowers that are blue like my eyes float down the river, bluer than the sky and the water,” echoed Snegirichka in a sad voice, lowering her lashes that were longer than the petals of forget-me-nots.
Days flew by, and the sun was shining brighter every day. Once Kutya peered out of his dog house and saw icicles hanging from the rooftops. One was very beautiful and had golden bits of sunshine sparkle inside it. Water slowly dropped from it. Water drops looked like clusters of sparkling stars…
“Snegirichka!” Kutya called out, looking around. “Look, this is a miracle… You’ve never seen an icicle like this one!”
But nobody responded. Kutya was worried to death and started circling the dog house, sniffing the air. Nobody was there…
He rolled down the hill and rushed to the Forest… In the Forest, he ran from one tree to another, throwing himself against the ground in desperation and digging through the snow mounds without sparing his paws…
He looked for her until he ran out of steam and realized that she wasn’t coming back. Spring had arrived. He wasn’t going to see Snegirichka again. He found a tiny footprint next to the dog house and understood that Snegirichka had visited him during the night to say good-bye. He pressed his snout to the footprint and growled…
Days passed by. The tired snow melted and it was time for the greenery to bloom and for the birds to sing. Buds opened, emitting a sticky aroma. The entire garden turned green but Kutya saw nothing. He stayed by the dog house, guarding her footprint. Even Pussya the Kitten came into the garden and sat by his side for hours. Momma came from the neighboring yard and tried to cheer him up. She’d just given birth to little puppies, Kutya’s new brothers and sisters.
“They are so cute,” Momma was telling him. “They are chubby and sweet like kewpie dolls. You can play with them.”
But Kutya wouldn’t even open his eyes.
While he could feel Snegirichka’s scent that came from her footprint and could go on guarding it, he could pretend she was still there, by his side. Water streamed down his face. He licked it and realized it was salty. These were the first tears he’d ever cried. He wept and inhaled the scent coming from the ground. He kept sniffing and grieving as if watering her scent with his tears could bring her back and make her talk joyously. But could there be any life in a footprint?
“You can’t hear me,” the puppy mused. “Even if I spend the rest of my life weeping, you won’t see it. The clouds are too thick. Where are you these days? You must be far, far away, at the other end of the world. You are so small and defenseless. And if something bad were to happen to you, I wouldn’t be able to help you…”
The puppy worried so much about Snegirichka that he often thought he could hear her scream that sounded like the clink of crystal breaking against the stones. It was her voice, she was asking him to come and help her…
Apple-trees were covered in flowers and then lost their bloom. A spring Rain sprinkled. Birds flapped their wings, passing by. Still, the puppy stayed on the ground, sopping wet… He didn’t feel anything when the Rain soaked his fur through and through or when the Sun dried it. He didn’t turn his head when there was a sound of footsteps approaching or when boughs creaked. There was nothing he cared about any longer. There was just a single time when he lifted his head and strained his hearing. There was a sound of silk rustling and something white whispering. But that was just a hackberry tree dropping its petals. Diminutive flowers touched the ground slightly and glided downward, but they only pretended to be like snow…
At night, he wheezed quietly and moaned, staring into the sky. After the beautiful snow girl left, the overwhelming feeling of joy abandoned him, too. She’d turned everything into magic. Even though she was so tiny, she could make everything – the forest, the wide circle of the sky, the swollen clouds – look enormous and feel mysterious. Kutya had never imagined that taking care of somebody would be so pleasing. Because there was so much love in it…
“The Water is so warm. Let’s go look at the kids bathe. It’s very close,” Pussya called to him. His voice was sad because he knew that the puppy would refuse. Seeing his friend cry made him teary-eyed, as well.
But the word “Water” suddenly attracted Kutya’s attention. He opened his big sad eyes.
“The River where the kids bathe,” Pussya explained.
“The River…” Kutya suddenly remember how he and the Snowflake dreamt of flowers floating down the River, flowers that looked like her dove eyes.
He jumped up and told the kitten, “Let’s go, let’s go, it will be dusk soon.”
Feeling surprised, the kitten rushed in his stead, incredulous of this unexpected joy. Kutya has come alive! Kutya is running towards the River with him!
There was nobody by the river. The kids had been brought back home. Kutya touched the Water with his paw. It was warm but dirty, filled with sludge, cigarette butts, and wrappers. Nobody but him heard the Water moan and struggle to breathe as if a heavy net had been cast over it. He walked into the River and slowly swam along the bank. Pussya followed him. He was afraid of swimming on his own. The kitten didn’t notice that Kutya was whispering into the Water. He was whispering for a long time.
But he did notice the Water shudder and soar like a bird that was caught in a net. It freed itself and continued its transparent blue flight. One could see colorful fishes moving at the bottom of the River.
“Kutya!” the kitten yelled. “Look how beautiful this is! The Water is so clear. I had no idea this was even possible! The wind must have chased away all the dirt…”
But Kutya didn’t hear him. He was looking straight ahead. Flower buds were floating towards him from afar. They exploded with a slight crackle, turning blue. These were lilac and lotus flowers. Many more flowers were opening, sea blue and aquamarine ones that looked like stars. They were brighter than the bluest blue, like Snegirichka’s eyes!
The sky dropped warm clusters of raindrops. Furry night bees covered the thick blossoms sprinkled with dew and either kissed them or sucked nectar out of them. White stamens were hanging from the blossom of the largest flowers. They looked just like Snegirichka’s bare feet.
“Glop!” a pearl-white tip of a fin glided by and disappeared like a silent shadow. Fishes splashed, reflecting the moon in their scales.
Kutya was looking around mesmerized. There was such a multitude of crackling flower petals in full bloom!
A warm mist came off the Water. The lotus flowers showered sparkles of golden and blue clink-clank. The infrequent night birds passing above the river were lit by the bright glow and then lost themselves once again in the darkness. The shimmer of the Water and the splashing of the fishes made the stars want to come down lower to see what was happening.
“They are dusty,” Kutya whispered, raising his head. When the stars come so close, they look like a molten mirror, rusty at the edges and dim. These stars have been left behind by everybody… This means nobody is admiring them any longer…”
He wasn’t amazed by everything that was happening, like Pussya was, because the puppy already knew the secret of words that Snegirichka had confided to him.
“Now I will be able to survive the summer. And even the Fall,” he thought, swimming slowly among flowers and moving aside the long, resilient stems “Until she comes back. I believe that she must be seeing this Water and the lotus flowers. She sees them from the white clouds up above because it’s always cold there and Snowflakes never melt. From up there the flowers must look like floating blue beads.”
Look, Snegirichka, blue flocks of flowers are swimming downstream. The petals are like feathers you dropped from your wings. These lotus flowers remind me of you. It is as if you were swimming in the Water, my Snegirichka. All summer and all Fall, every day, until the river freezes, I will whisper to it how beautiful it is. And the flowers will never wither, They will keep burning, like candles. I have so many things to do before you come back. There is the Water, and the flowers, and these abandoned stars… The skies are covered with a thick coat of dust. When you come back, you won’t even recognize this place”…
This was the first story about Kutya and Snegirichka.

To be continued…

Drawings by Tamara Alexeeva

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