The World Has Completely Changed
Olga Ivanova woke in a white
room. A woman in a white cap wearing a
white mask looked down at her. Behind
her, a sun in a silver dome hurt her eyes.
"Barshnip bouknip," the
Olga moaned. Her head hurt with a pain that cleaved her
skull. When she touched it with her
fingers, she had no hair, but a bare white skull with a hunk of gauze in the
"Nork nuggie barshnip,"
the woman said, jerking her hand back.
"For the love of God,"
Olga said, almost in a scream, "what is happening to me?"
The sound of the voices told her
these were either Americans or British.
When she tried to remember though, Olga knew no Americans or
British. She thought of Leningrad, where
she surely was, and trying to make a living after she wrote the play. And her parents in their apartment. Bits pushed through that confused her,
however: a bus and out the window the
steppes of Kansas.
She fainted. She must have fainted. Or it might have been the anesthetic, for
clearly she was in a hospital. A man
with long hair and fat lips sat at the side of her bed when she woke, holding
her hand, crying, saying in English something passionate that seemed full of
love. She didn't know this man. She smiled at him, for she felt unsure, and
shrugged her shoulders.
And oh how her head hurt. A small mirror was attached to the pale green
wall opposite her bed. Shock rolled in a
wave through her as she saw her face on a white orb, a hideous monster's head
with a white gauze bandage in a lump on top.
Then she laughed. A sick
egg. That's what she was.
Before she had been pretty. She remembered dispassionately, for beauty
was a tool to use. She had been an
actress, a bit, after she could no longer study the oceans. But who was this man, with her hand in a grip
hard as steel? She felt pity for
pooitally," he said, staring into her eyes with the deepest
She knew she was supposed to say
something, so she smiled again. Olga
didn't dare move.
A flood of humans gushed into the
small private room. Two were dressed in
jeans, a man and a red-haired woman, both middle-aged. Two were in white, a nurse and a man, likely
a doctor. Behind them came scowling a
thin man in poor clothes. He had a
scraggly fringe of a beard and looked depressed. Ah, at last.
The others talked English to her, as
if they expected her to answer. Olga
looked right at the man and said, "What is all this? What has happened to me?"
"You don't know?" he
sneered, like it was her fault. She felt
comfortable with this man. His Russian
felt like rain, like meat, like a real job would feel.
"Nothing. Not a thing," she answered, and shrugged
her shoulders. "Something bad,
though." Life had to be bad. A word, "catastroika" ran through
her hurting head.
"You fell on a bicycle. Your head hit the curb. Maybe your brain is damaged," he
said. His face was long and thin, and
when he spoke the gray skin around his eyes wrinkled into despair. She felt herself falling in love with this
"But I am in Leningrad. Who are these strange people?" she said,
especially the man who held onto her hand like a life rope.
Olga wished he would quite crying
and let her go. His face was fat and
shiny. When she spoke, no panic entered
her voice. She had seen worse. Here there was even a color television on the
wall playing a cartoon.
"Leningrad! No, no, no," the Russian said
precisely. Now he cheered up. He could teach her. Maybe he was professora. The others waiting patiently had faces like
masks; this one had a face like a bulletin board. "You are in Oakland, California. And besides, there is no Leningrad anymore. There is only Saint Petersborg."
"Saint Petersborg?" she
said. She couldn't believe it. Olga sighed.
At least these strangers didn't appear to wish her harm, though she had
to be on her guard. Even if they hated
her, what could she do? She could just
be sad. Whatever had befallen her was
going to be awful.
"Gikky bitz snoob," the
Russian said to the others. Eyes
widened, mouths dropped opened, sounds rose in a chorus. She had to laugh. They looked so funny. What idiots.
"I told them you lost your
memory," the Russian said.
The fat-cheeked man holding her hand
broke into tears. The man actually
cried, and she disliked his weakness so intensely she could have spit at
him. A man crying! Leonid's long, gray face was permanently
depressed; he knew. This baby, who rose
as if to embrace her, knew nothing about life.
She felt his soft belly against her.
"No," she said at
him. In English. The nurse, thankfully, said something mean to
the man, and he retreated with an expression like a spanked boy.
"Who is this man?" she
asked Leonid cynically.
"Your fiancé," Leonid
said. A cruel smile slanted his thin
lips. "Maybe you would like me tell
you a few things. When was the last time
She pictured Leningrad's dark
buildings, and trying to make a living after the government turned against
her. She remembered finishing at the
Leningrad University with a degree in oceanography, and with that her love of
the sea flooded through her pain-racked body like, well, the cold tide of the
Baltic. The stupid play she wrote, a
satire of Brezhnev and his all-embracing Soviet bureaucracy, was produced by
friends just before she was to graduate.
She was happy to see her words turned into humans on a stage; was that
stupid. The play made the government
deny her request for a passport. No
passport, and she couldn't leave the shore.
No passport, no ocean, no graduate work in oceanography. And with a bachelor's degree in oceanography,
all she could do was fall back on her looks, and her legs. How she loved the sea. It stretched, gray and brooding.
"So I lived with my
parents. You know how that is, crammed
into two rooms. We hate each other. Years and all I got was a job here or there
as an actress. Once I made a program for
the television," she smiled.
Actually, she had loved the life of not working, standing in food lines
and scrounging. If not the ocean, then a
life as a high official's mistress.
Work was for peasants.
Her ancestors had been aristocracy.
"When was this?" Leonid
asked. The doctor left. And who were the man and woman, maybe in
their 40s, beside the nurse. She smiled
at the man.
"I . . .," Olga tried to
think, and was aware of an empty space of years, empty and brooding like, well,
the sea. Everything was like the
sea. Her poetry mentioned the sea often,
and for that the poets told her it was shit.
"The last for sure, maybe, winter, 1986."
Leonid laughed, at her. He told the others, and again that widening
of the white eyes, that gasp, and the idiot man blubbering at her. The Russian returned his sharp eyes to her,
his head at an angle, and a know-it-all smile.
"What if I tell you this is
January, 1992," he said. She
shrugged her shoulders, a tired, sad egg.
Bad things happened. Worse too. She enjoyed the feeling that something
incredibly bad had happened to her, because it was interesting in a life of
boredom and struggle, and because it was bigger than usual. And because she sensed that she would live
and maybe have a better life, with air conditioning and a color TV. If her head would just quit hurting. And her beautiful hair!
"So, it's 1992," she said
flatly, enjoying Leonid's disappointed look.
"What else can you tell me?"
recovered, though irritated. He had
thought he would floor her, but how could any human react to such news? "For example, you are not a citizen of
the proud Union of Soviet Socialist Republics anymore. There is no Union. You are a plain Russian."
He waited for her response. Which was nothing. How could she care about a stupid statement
like that? She grew suspicious. What kind of lousy communist she had been
anyway. Politics bored her. Rising to the challenge, Leonid tried to stab
her with a knife of words.
"And, you are divorced and have
two children waiting for you back in St. Petersborg."
Olga tried to keep no expression,
but that news really hit. Being a mother
revolted her. Families were bourgeois
things she hated, like her own family.
But children! The thought made
her eyes water, though try as she might, she couldn't remember any babies. Why hadn't she gotten abortions? Which was the father? With the greatest effort, she shrugged her
shoulders, so what? She was an actress.
Leonid tried again.
"And, there's a McDonald's in
Moscow," he concluded triumphantly.
Six years lost, but later, alone
with the throbbing in her head, bits came to her, like pictures in somebody
else's album. The boy and girl, 3 and 4
years old she was told, and the husband who deserted her, did not return, so
she dismissed them as inconveniences.
But she did remember, guiltily, sleeping with Tom in his Leningrad
artist's studio for meat and warmth one year before, and she remembered meeting
the woman with the red hair, his wife Victoria.
The man and woman in the blue jeans.
In the seconds between the shot the nurse gave her so she could sleep,
and while she drifted off into oblivion, she laughed to herself. It was said by the political outcasts of
Leningrad that Olga Ivanova had beautiful pale-rose lips, and the sad eyes of a
One Sunday a month later she remembered
little more, though she accepted all the stories of her life she was told, like
fiction: the long bus ride from New York
to San Francisco, and the man who stole her purse with the few dollars in the
middle of Kansas. Olga lay below
blankets upon a mattress on the plank floor of Tom and Victoria's studio. The wood was hard. Above her the rafters, and around her the
chaos of paint-splattered walls and failed gray sculptures. The air of San Francisco's Mission District
was ice cold, and she wanted to lounge below the blankets much longer, maybe
Though Victoria was clearly growing
tired of her staying for free, this second-story studio, a former warehouse,
was better than the mystery if she had to leave. Olga had no money, zero, nothing. Below the blankets was better. But then she had to trap an American husband
quickly. Too bad she had insulted Rich
at the hospital. Maybe Tom. He could divorce Victoria. At least he had been an immigrant once, from
Prague of all low places, and the parents had brought him to America when he
was only two. So what did he know?
The two daughters, Alyssa and Haley,
burst from around the Japanese screen and jumped on top of her. They pulled her ears and stuck their elbows
and knees into her stomach and sides.
"Get up, get up, get up!" they yelled as one.
"Get up?" Olga said,
recovering her breath. "What is the
time?" She really hated children,
especially these two without discipline.
Victoria let them run wild. She
would borrow more money from Tom today.
"Lazy bones," Haley, the
oldest, accused her, eye to eye. If this
was her child, she would whip her until she obeyed. The daughter's dirty blonde hair was chopped
short. "You get out of that bed,
The girls only repeated what her hostess
said in private. But they also enjoyed
"Tom?" she'd overheard
Victoria the night before, when they thought Olga was asleep in the next
room. "When is that woman getting
out of our lives?"
And that wasn't the first time. Olga's story, apparently, had been that she
was organizing an arts festival in St. Petersburg, and would remain in San
Francisco one week, recruiting artists.
She wasn't sure if Tom or she had thought of that excuse.
"So what do you want me to
do? Kick her out? She hasn't got anywhere to go."
Tom had drank from a glass of vodka,
straight. He stared at his wife with
stark hatred before he walked out.
Victoria suspected he took refuge in other women during these exits, and
was sure Olga had slept with him, even after they had brought her from the
Oakland charity hospital.
Olga wanted to sleep with every man
when she first appeared before Christmas, unannounced to her though Tom,
despite denials, seemed to know. He
probably slept with lots of Russian women.
Any male with an American citizenship and the chance for her green card
had his neck surrounded by Olga's arms a few hours after she met him. Victoria had watched even Haley's 60-year-old
elementary school psychiatrist get the treatment. But she couldn't condemn the woman. Life sounded terrible back in Russia, with
the riots and meat only once a month.
She supposed she'd do anything too, except maybe abandon two babies. If Tom divorced her, she'd keep the girls and
try to save them.
Victoria opened the old
refrigerator. The frosty glow lit a
slice of the room. Their studio had been
a small warehouse, divided into the big rough room where they painted and
sculpted, and what had been small offices that became the kitchen-living room,
and two bedrooms. The floor was raw
plank, pitted and splintery. Furniture
was garbage they got for free, though they painted it red and yellow, like
canvas, to hide the age. Tom contracted
house renovations for the real money in their lives, and she had argued for him
to make improvements in the dark, morbid loft.
But he was unwilling, too restless and always planning to move them
elsewhere. He also was very cheap.
Among the leftovers wrapped in
plastic and a dish with tuna fish, Victoria found the coffee can. A few grains littered the bottom. She sighed, because Tom had promised to buy coffee
last night. Without coffee, and the
long, luxurious ritual of wakening that two cups every morning allowed her,
especially Sunday, life seemed intolerable.
Shopping meant a walk out into the Mission District. Even one coffee can meant leaving her fortress
into the dangers of the American city.
Olga emerged with the two girls
holding onto her legs and smiled at her sleepily, dressed only in Tom's
shirt. She looked sweet sometimes, like
now, dewy and gentle in spite of the spiky brown hair growing on her bald head,
and that terrible scar. Sometimes
Victoria even admired her. To have
demonstrated in the streets against the government, and to have climbed to the
top of the municipal building to tear down the communist hammer and sickle took
more courage than she had. At other
times, though, Olga had a nasty temper, especially after she and Tom or one of
Tom's friends drank whiskey until comatose.
Victoria was incapable of
holding a grudge; that was one of her faults.
Even if Tom slept with Olga, she was just one more. And Victoria had slipped up a time or two, or
three, but one night stands only. At
least the Russian, being pummeled by Alyssa who climbed around her shoulders,
and Haley, who wrestled at her middle, was a good babysitter, patient and
Poor Haley. Her first was already in therapy. What would Haley do if Tom left? Maybe craziness ran in the family.
Victoria's own mother was a manic
depressive, and had to be put into the hospital for beating her kids,
especially Victoria. But she'd gotten
over it. She couldn't hate, even her
mother. Victoria couldn't even argue
with Tom, who argued day and night. She
resented any lack of smoothness in her day.
"I'm out of coffee, Olga,"
Victoria enunciated slowly. At times she
didn't believe Olga had lost her memory, because her little English came back
right away. "I'm going to
Olga smiled. Haley stared through the glass of the
office-bedroom with those red eyes down deep holes. Why couldn't she just be a child? Cynical at six! Unlike Alyssa, who acted dumb and happy, the
jock of the family. Victoria put on her
coat, because she could see her breath inside the room.
She couldn't bear to look at her art
drying on the walls as she walked through the studio. Her paintings and installations were always
dark and morbid. A teacher of hers at
the Art Academy once called them 'constipated.'
In contrast, the two paintings in their midst that Tom had brought back
from Moscow and Leningrad were in yellows and reds, with cartoon-like robots
marching in an abstract world of white squares and triangles. Still, she kept getting grants, though all
local and not enough to live on.
Down the steep stairs she carefully
walked, then out the rotten door, having to wiggle the key in the lock until it
finally gave. A real drug crazee would
find the lock no barrier at all. She had
seen more than one derelict walking on the roof a mere sheet of glass from the
Then she was outside in the criminal
The sky was gray, and a misty rain
filled the winter air. Her rusted Sentra
slanted half on the cracked sidewalk; she was always glad to see it still
there. The alley threatened her every
second; she came from a clean east coast suburb.
Tom loved the decay, and painted the
rot and the trash in hyper-realistic detail.
He said here was real life and he loved rot, but all she saw were broken
bottles the girls might step on, graffiti on the walls--"Fuck the
Shits," "AIDS Kills"--and the homeless, violent, resentful men
and women down on the sidewalk as she walked by. This morning an alcoholic man slept against a
telephone pole. Victoria stepped around
a lake of still-liquid yellow puke.
Yesterday, when she escorted the kids out to an Indian woman on the next
block who babysat, right by their door a man pissed into the gutter.
How could she raise decent kids in the
District? Tom thought the girls were
better off here than in some soulless suburb.
But Victoria would move in a minute if Tom left her. She liked being happy. Tom just had so much crap inside him from his
own lousy immigrant childhood.
Kim's, the neighborhood grocery, Victoria had to step around a drunken woman
dressed in rags standing in front of the screen door. She was Hispanic and young. Drunk at 9 a.m. At least that was better than cocaine. Inside, Kim greeted her with a sour nod of
his acne-scarred face from behind the cash register. The Korean was talking lottery to a black
guy, maybe Haitian. Kim rang up her
coffee quickly, without a hint that he knew her or that she came there on
average once a day, Tom two, three times for vodka and beer.
After she had eased back past the woman, who
mumbled a blue streak to herself in Spanish, Victoria halted before the
telephone pole at the corner. An
ambulance rushed down the busy street, siren blasting, as she checked over the
stapled flyers for events. Blues, rock,
rap, reggae, a peace poetry reading, a political rally against
gay-bashing. But no, no jazz.
Tom hated music, hated black music
especially, hated blacks with an intensity that was scary, but Olga had arrived
with a love of jazz. The second night
after she called from the bus station they had gone to a jazz club, where Olga,
the dear, wanted to dance. Dance to
jazz! The Russian had dressed up in her
best man-catching clothes, a knobby tight yellow sweater and a pink short skirt
to show off her terrific 31-year-old legs.
Her then voluminous reddish-brown, curly hair had been combed with a
flirtatious slant to the right. She
looked like a woman from the fifties.
When Olga saw that nobody was dancing, she was disappointed.
"In America, jazz is more
intellectual," Victoria had tried to explain through the smoke and the
gloom of the club. A man was passed out
on the floor under the next table.
"We just listen. Rock and
reggae are better for dancing."
Tom left in a rage, mad at being near black
people, and because Olga, in her
feminine, vulnerable, seductive way had insisted on showing them how to dance
jazz. The black band and the white
customers stared at Olga and Tom slow dancing to a Miles Davis moan. Even with Victoria right there, abandoned,
Olga rubbed her body tight against Tom.
And she was twelve years younger than Victoria. Victoria's red hair was streaked with white.
Tom had stormed out without warning as something exploded inside him, and left
the women alone at their table. She
stayed, in need of the blues and despair.
America was in a lousy mood.
"Or we feel the music. Just sit and feel it," she had added.
Always it was hard to tell if Olga understood the English.
When Victoria fiddled with the lock
again, and the door at last yielded, she secured the wooden barrier in a
hurry. If she and Tom broke up, got
divorced like everybody else they knew, she'd let him have the damn studio, and
move somewhere nice, like Berkeley.
The kids had torn up the newspaper, and pieces
were all over the kitchen-living room floor like snow. Savages, but what could she do. Olga smiled at her, an egg with rose lips and
Victoria needed to work on her
instillation that morning, the one where swinging doors painted and shaped like
a rib cage would lead the visitor into a room, painted as the inside of a
stomach. Her grant was about to run out,
and the church with the space was getting impatient. She had work to do, studying Gray's Anatomy.
Haley and Alyssa would be dumped at
day care, though Sunday was expensive.
But first, her two cups of coffee.
The blessed two cups of coffee.
Churchgoing had been part of her Philadelphia childhood, and though she
hadn't been in decades, a Sunday morning ritual was vital.
Heating the water in the banged-up pan,
letting the liquid seep through the grounds and the filter, then hearing the
fall of black coffee into the glass carafe brought peace and sanity to
Victoria. As she sipped the coffee, she
forgot the rest of her life, past, present and future. Let the shit flow past unnoticed; don't worry
glided into the room, looking sheepish and hung over. Victoria and Tom had taken her to a poetry
reading at the Cafe Beano the night before, and, as had become usual, a knot of
male candidates had shown up too. Rich,
still trailing her like a dog, was kind of stupid, but he worked with Tom on
house renovations and made a decent living.
Sid was unemployed and lazy, but he had a law degree from Berkeley and
one day might snap out of it and be a good catch. That Leonid too. Olga could talk Russian with him, though Olga
didn't take him seriously as a green card husband. Just as long as that bitch was out of their
An image flashed through Victoria's mind as
she took another full sip of the coffee:
the big blue eyes of Olga, dressed like a high school dream of the
1950s, standing in the vast auditorium New Years Eve night at the Exotic Erotic
Ball, one week after her arrival. Gay
men made out, each wearing women's gowns; topless women bounced to the rock
band; and in the middle of a thousand dancers an exhibitionist woman gave a man
a blow job. Olga looked like she had
landed on another planet.
"I drank too big," Olga
said in her charming slurred accent, and smiled her humble smile.
"Where are you bursnip
norfday?" Victoria said slowly.
The Russian felt uncomfortable
around her. She knew the American didn't
like her, and she wasn't sure she liked the American. Too chirpy and optimistic. And she let those brats run wild. But what choice did Olga have?
"Maybe, I think, I would see the
ocean today," she said. "My heart, the sea."
She made a sweeping motion with her
arms, like she would embrace it. And she
knew she could never leave San Francisco, or at least some coast of America
where she might dive into the ocean. So
far she had hardly seen it, but that was O.K.
As long as the sea was nearby for her.
And a sophisticated city too; she needed a city. The daughter of aristocracy had to have
"Is Leonid dortforgy you?"
the hostess said, pouring her a cup of coffee.
American coffee was terrible, so thin.
She sat across from the woman, whose gray streaks of hair in the muddy
red were particularly noticeable this morning.
She was doomed be a wrinkled, ugly old woman.
"No, no," she said. Leonid was a good man, but he insulted her
poetry, and told her she was spoiled, a city kitten. She wanted a male who would spoil her. Not loving a husband had its advantages too,
beyond the financial. If Tom left
Victoria, as he said he was, he would be the best of a bad lot.
America was too democratic, but what
could you do?
So the two women sat at the table,
drinking coffee. Olga's skull throbbed,
the scar a burning ditch. When her hair
grew over the scar, she would feel more beautiful, and get down to
That night was the monthly
grandmother night. Tom and Victoria
brought the kids and Olga to the nursing home where they had put Victoria's
grandmother. How could they say bad
things about her leaving her babies, when, instead of the 92-year-old living
with the family in their studio, they dumped her into a rundown building? As was the routine, Tom and Victoria guided
the brittle body out the security doors, and a few steps down the sidewalk to a
Mexican cafe chosen because the granny could no longer bend to get into the
small car. El Palenque, the Fighting
Rooster, had a linoleum floor, torn vinyl booths, and a few posters of
bullfights on the wall. The waiter, a
glum man with a mole by his nose, brought them the menus. Olga ordered a big enchilada, because Tom was
paying, and stared out the window at the dirty street splashed with orange from
high-intensity security streetlamps.
Babushka looked around the cafe like she was
in shock. Her face was wrinkled like a
sea turtle's, but white as her hair.
Long hairs grew from her chin.
Alyssa and Haley screamed in the booth beside her, but she didn't
notice. The granny stank. And while Olga sat across from her, the
yellow, rotted odor of her dry skin surrounded her, like medicine.
"And who are you?" the old
woman asked for the tenth time since they sat down. Who were these people? She concentrated, and there was the expected
Victoria, and what's his name, Tom. Tom
looked Jewish. Was he? Surely Victoria, a good old Irish gal from
Philly, wouldn't marry a Jew. The cafe
looked familiar, with this black-haired waiter with the fat stomach, but who
were all those effeminate men in the other booths. Why, those two at the next table were holding
hands, and they were hairy as her husband, dead fourteen years now, bless his
soul. Philadelphia had sure
"My name is Olga," the
Her accent was confusing. A Pole?
Good-looking though, and well-dressed in a silver silk blouse, pleated. The name didn't ring a bell. Mary drank her coffee. They didn't let her drink stimulants at the
"Can I have a beer?"
Victoria said. The cafe was too noisy,
clinking plates and mumbling queers. Why
didn't they take her to Momma Leoni's where she always went on Sundays? The husband hardly looked at Victoria, but
that's the way it was in a marriage.
When she and hers first got hitched, they held hands and stared into
each other's eyes for hours, like they were hypnotized. A few years, and they were like strangers. But, once you said 'I do' you did for
life. 'Til death do us part. She tried to picture her husband's face and
couldn't, nor could she remember his name.
Where was she? At least there sat
The waiter brought some beer she didn't know,
not the Budweiser she always drank. Her
granddaughter poured the bottle into a short glass, but made too much
foam. Mary downed it in a gulp. There sat that foreign girl with the ugly
"And what's your name
again?" she asked.
"Olga. Olga Ivanova."
"Are you a friend of
"Yes," the woman said,
with a sad smile. She was real
young. The waiter banged a plate down in
front of her, some cheese stuff she didn't recognize, and beans. Every Sunday she ate spaghetti with meat balls;
Victoria knew that. She'd just
starve. He poured more beer into her
glass, and she killed it.
I have another cup of coffee?" she asked Victoria.
"How many is that?"
what's-his-name, the husband, asked. He
always looked mad. His eyes were alcoholic. Oh well, that was Victoria's problem. For better or worse, 'til death do us
part. Sixty-two years with hers. Four kids raised right. At least her husband never fooled around,
like they do these days. He was a good
breadwinner, even if he was a bastard.
She'd had a secure family with him, and a house they stayed in forty
"Just two so far,"
Victoria said. "I'll cut her off,
but let her have a day out. I think that
new roommate of hers is mean."
Bless Victoria. She felt safe with her around. Victoria was much better than her stupid
daughter, Victoria's mother, who never called from Baltimore, just down the
"Can I have a beer?" Mary
asked. The little girls giggled. Her great-granddaughters were sure spunky.
"Your beer is not . . .
dead," the foreign woman said, pointing to the Mexican bottle. Then smiled in apology.
"Are you sure a diet burrito is
the right thing?" Tom asked, his dark face scowling. "She'll make a
"Then let her make a mess, for
God's sake. It's the least spicy thing
on the menu."
"Fuck it," Tom
screamed. He wiggled out of the booth
and stomped out. Mary turned red at the
language. They didn't talk like that in
her day. She'd almost never missed a
mass at Christ the King for seventy years.
Maybe the priest could bring her the host.
"What's his problem?" she
asked her granddaughter.
"Oh, he's just, just Tom. I don't know," Victoria said, with
resignation but also plainly glad to be rid of him. Mary too.
He didn't even have a regular job.
She felt sorry for Victoria because she had to work, and couldn't be a
housewife. The kids didn't have a
full-time mother like in her day.
"Something's on his mind
Alyssa cried, but Haley just
"Tom has very big temper,"
the foreign woman said.
"And who are you again?"
the grandmomma asked. Where was
she? Now it was just we gals. She took a sip of beer straight from the
bottle. The waiter set a new cup of
coffee beside her untouched burrito.
"Can I have another beer?"
"Sure, grandma," Victoria
said. "Anything you want now. Take your time."
"Olga," the foreign woman
"Polish?" Coffee dripped off Mary's chin. The strange woman reached across with a
napkin, and patiently blotted her dry.
"Russian," she said, with
a proud toss of her head and a smile.
"I am Russian."
But maybe I will stay here, Olga