February 17, 2011
During the winter, some very distant memories about one story can come to mind. Oftentimes, they are the ones you’d rather forget about, because they don’t bring up anything other than a feeling of slight bewilderment. You’re not even sure why this story keeps spinning around in your head, refusing to leave you in please.
I was 13 years old, it was the winter holidays, and I was going to indulge in my favourite cold-weather activity – sitting with a cup of tea, wrapped in a blanket, reading a book, and listening to my favourite music. However, my aunt, who was a paediatrician, decided to ruin my idyllic moment by asking me to deliver a prescription to a patient, who forgot it at her office. My aunt was doing a night shift that time, and couldn’t deliver it herself. Also, trying to argue with my aunt was sort of like taking part in bullfighting.
However, I thought I’d at least ask what seemed like a logical question – would it be possible to do it tomorrow instead? My aunt told me that the person needed the prescription to get some medicine for their sick child as soon as possible.
My dad was going to drive me to the address. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t trust me to find it; it was just located in a sketchy neighborhood.
When my dad and I reached the address, it was dark, though it wasn’t so late at night. Since it was freezing outside, my dad couldn’t turn off the car to come to the house with me. Russian cars of that era often couldn’t get started in really cold weather, so he stayed inside the car with the motor running.
The address that I had to make my delivery to was a two-storey apartment building. I found some mailboxes on the first floor. I had an idea to just slip the prescription into the mailbox. However, I was rather upset to find out that the doors of the appartments didn’t have numbers on them. What was even spookier was that the only source of light was a window at the end of the corridor. Through that window, you could see the moonlight breaking through the clouds outside. This was both beautiful and kind of terrifying.
The moon was out, my father was waiting for me, and I had no idea behind which door was the person I was looking for. I proceeded down the corridor. I figured that I had two options. The first one was to listen closely to the sounds behind the doors. Maybe I could figure out where the sick child was. The other option was to knock on the nearest door, and ask where those people lived. The noises I heard through the doors were so chaotic, and the smells that welled up in the corridor were so repulsive that I decided against knocking on most of them.
Finally, I found what seemed to be a quiet apartment. I knocked on the door. A woman wrapped in a shawl opened it for me. Behind her, I could see a tiny apartment, where there was only one bed and one chair. On the bed, I saw a small person. I explained the situation, and gave her the prescription. Without saying a word, she took it and closed the door.
My adventure didn’t end here. When I went back towards the exit, I noticed two guys standing there. One of them grabbed me by the sleeve, and said “What the hell are you doing here?”. I’m not sure why, but at that moment, instead of getting scared, I got really angry. I said “First of all, don’t pull on my sleeve. My coat is very expensive. Second of all, I just delivered a prescription for a sick child. And finally, why don’t you have numbers on your doors?”
The guys let go of me, and mumbled something like “Get out of here, with your expensive coat.”
I left the building, and hurried towards our warm car. My dad asked me “Did you do everything alright?” I said “Yep, I did.”