Love & Beyond

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

Kemerovo (Russia)

Cold Friday Evening

Late December

Perfect little snowflakes pour from above and paint the vicinity white. An Aromatic fragrance from the potpourri fills a cozy and vintage home near to the coalmine.

Dmitri is looking for something in the cabinet beside the right side of the chimney. He is finding it harder and harder to breathe as he starts coughing profusely but tries his best to maintain the uproar to the minimum so as to not wake up Sophia sleeping in the room adjoining the hallway and the kitchen before their special dinner planned ahead. Ever since he was diagnosed with Lung Cancer, the smell of potpourri activates his allergy but he tolerates it as it’s the only thing that has a deep rooted connection with his loving old wife and does not want her to know one bit.

He finally grabs a fresh pack of spaghetti from the cabinet above and places the bag over the island countertop, struggling as he holds back his cough. He turns over towards the shelf near to the side of the fridge where his medicine is kept. He grabs hold of it and washes it down his throat with the neat whiskey he was drinking sitting on the island’s countertop.

His eyes glances over to the portrait of his young self and his young wife Sophia standing near the rim of the coalmine; covered in snow with their rosy cheeks and not a care in the world. All the while reminiscing about that time when the days were short and the nights were long, their hair were black and their body was tough, before seeing his frail old reflection from the glare of the glass of the frame next to the medicine.

65 years ago, this day today, they celebrated their first wedding anniversary. He smiles a little before withdrawing his eyes to complete the deliberate task at hand ahead, All the while thinking about the first day their eyes met each other. He grabs a pan, a pot and a blender from the cabinet underneath the shelf and fills the pot with water from the tap of the sink and puts it to boil. He fills the pot with water along with a tablespoon of salt and fills it with the raw spaghetti.

He sits on the chair behind the island and waits for the pasta to be cooked. He looks over to the window to find the white blanket getting bigger and bigger; coincidentally his wife wakes up from the short slumber, totally fresh and “present in the moment” as of now.

“Did I wake you up honey?”

“Oh no… (Walking very slowly as always from the hallway to the kitchen)…I woke up on my own(smiling)

I told you to wait for me…didn’t I?” (Giving him her signature looks as he smiles back).

“I wanted you to rest sweetheart...…don’t worry, I have it under control.” (Fetches a clean glass and fills it with water)

“Here, take your medicine.” (Hands her the glass along with her Alzheimer’s medicines which were kept next to his, grabs her gently and offers her the seat where he was sitting.)

He walks his way over to the boiling pot, switches it off and takes out the cooked spaghetti and places it on the plate.

He then opens the fridge to grab some already diced tomatoes, bell peppers, and some herbs;

(Washes them and starts sautéing tomatoes along with the bell peppers and onions with some olive oil) “Honey, do you remember the first time we met?”

“How can I forget? (She grabs his whisky kept on the island and starts sipping)

It was love at first sight!! (Her eyes widened with a gentle smile)

Our eyes gently witnessed each other in the supermarket.

Then I used to teach Mathematics to grade six and you…you were so raw and handsome.

Your raw appeal really had me going.”

“I believe you just started working in the mine…right?” she quips while gently enjoying his whiskey.

“Right….but honey you skipped over the best part.

The part where I only just introduced myself to you and you instantly rejected me as I was too upfront according to you.

That really made me want you more.

Then as fate would have it, it kept nudging us together in almost every place…sort of like a cupid’s arrow.

Our first date was after the birthday party of Anya where I finally convinced you to spend a day with me.

I have to say, it was pretty hard to woo you...what really changed?”

“Well I obviously liked you (gushes)!!

I was just a little scared of the future ahead.

I have always been scared of the repurcussions of my actions…you know that.

It was hard for me to leave the house back then as my step dad would constantly harass me.

But, on our first date, I never felt so liberated…so free and true to myself.

You have no idea…but you really bring out the best version in everyone, certainly me.

In a way…you saved me from the medieval patriarchal society and toxic family atmosphere.

You truly were destined to be my better half!!”

He smiles with a soft grin and puts the tempered mixture in a jar and blends it.

She reaches out to the window and her mind begins to fade away slowly.

“White; so white; never really liked the white.

(Gasps) ahh…coalmine!! (Smiles)

Curses…so many curses; dreaded mine (visible anger)” as she was mumbling these sentences Dmitri grabs the potpourri and rushes towards her for its fragrance to bring her back from nowhere.

“(Smells)its familiar….Dmitri!!(She yells)”

(She hugs him looking out the window)

“I love this fragnance of this potpourri….u know it was one of the first things we bought for our own home…our sweet little home…remember?” (She whispers as Dmitri nods in agreement)

“I always loved how much you loved this season…snow filling the area white, like foam of happiness over everything.” (It was the first time Dmitri realized that Sophia only tolerated this weather because of him)

Hey did you know it is our anniversary today?” she chuckles.

“How can I forget...I cooked your favorite dish.”

“Red sauce pasta!!” she exclaims, “Off course” he replies and starts coughing in an unexplained manner.

He rushes towards the sink to spit and paints blood stains all over.

(Sophia is visibly shaken) “You are...taking your medicines, right?”

“I think so.

Actually, I don’t really know. I think I might have…but then I might have not.” (He is confused beyond belief)

Sophia hands him a glass of water; he walks over to the shelf to pick out his medicine and gulps it again.

“One of these days, we must start with our daily medicine alarms...don’t you think?” Sophia nods her head in agreement.

Sophia sits on the chair again and all of a sudden she begins to notice her vintage locket while he walks over to the jar filled with tempered mixture and blends it away until it forms a smooth paste; takes the pan and drizzles some olive oil and sautés some garlic with chili flakes and diced onions and starts mixing the paste when the garlic and onion starts emitting fragrance and combines it well.

“The only good thing that dreaded mine ever gave was this piece of jewelry. It only made you suffer in return; throughout your whole life. It really took your breath away. (She chuckles as her frown returns)”

“It gave us our home, didn’t it?

And the wonderful times we celebrated, how can we forget that?” (He says while gently stirring the pan)

“I know, but I wished...if things were a bit different.

Maybe we could have moved to someplace nicer, some place warmer and you also wouldn’t have to suffer this disease; maybe adopt a kid or two and live a completely different life.”

Sophia and Dmitri never had any biological children of their own, nor did they adopt any for the sole reason that they were afraid of not providing enough for their child due to their restrictive incomes.

“It is what it is Sophia. I am happy that we both spent our lives here…..even if we could not have kids, it really didn’t bother me.” He replies as he goes over to the freezer and grabs a pack of hot dogs and puts five pieces of it in the air fryer at 180 degrees Celsius; three for her and two for him.