Now, all these years later, I wonder: does Natasha dream about operating in the shadows, about turning into a spy? When she cries in her sleep, is she still there, in a hideout or on some route of escape? Having lived through perils no one else can imagine, does she still sense the excitement, a heightened vibration of life going through her veins?
Is there enough time for me to listen to her story, to commit it to paper—even as she is losing the words?
I wish I could sweep her off her feet, the way I did in our youth, and kiss her till she is weak at the knees—but who knows how she will react. At this point I have to be more careful with her.
“I hope you know,” I say, at last answering her question and hoping she can, somehow, hear me on the other side of the glass door. “These were still the good times.”
I slide it open. Her hands fly faster and faster over the keys, to the point of becoming a blur, and her music is no longer the stuff of fairytales. It is becoming wilder, and I sense what it is she brings out of her piano, out of the belly of the beast.
It is darkness, downright darkness that can not be mistaken. What can it be called, but despair?