He is real

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Part 3. Dedicated to Oren. Chapter 12

“A child who’s loved by nobody ceases to be a child: he is just a small defenseless adult”.

G. Cesbron

“Spare your children’s tears, so they can sprinkle them over your grave”.

Pythagoras

Israel 2016

“Abarbanel” mental health facility

The space of the hospital ward, or it would be more appropriate to say — of my room, was suppressing with its silence and emptiness. The blue wall next to the bed on which I was sitting reflected a misty ray of sun breaking through the open window in the glossy painted surface. On the pillow, covered with a white cotton pillowcase, lay oatmeal bars brought by a crazy kid, and in the mirror film of the closet my own blurred image froze — a blonde girl in white hospital pajamas.

— Misha, are you here? — I said, somewhere deep inside me, hoping to hear the voice of my “invisible friend.” I heard nothing more than the noise of the chainsaw motor, which the gardener was using to trim miniature trees growing on the edges of the yard.

— And Misha is not here, — I replied condescendingly to myself and, reflexively, reached for my back pocket in order to get a pack of cigarettes. There were no cigarettes either. — So, you need to settle in a little and start acting.

The door to the ward swung open, a nurse, the “Abarbanel fatty”, came across the threshold, and stopped. Clasping an impressively large folder with papers to her bosom, she gave me an arrogant look.

— Medicines first, and then pancakes. — Her orderly tone left me no choice.

She approached, threw the folder on the bed and put her hand into the square pocket sewn on the pajama-uniform trousers.

— Dr. Sammy prescribed you an injection. Lie down and drop your pants. — Having taken the syringe, she took the cap off the needle. From the other pocket she pulled the alcohol wipes packed in a sealed plastic bag.

I gave her a scornful look.

— This is my job, get down. I have no time to mess with you, the place is full of people like you. — Holding the syringe at the ready, she waited tensely.

I lay down on the bed, turned on my side, lowering my pajama pants. The “Abarbanel fatty” made the injection with a quick practiced move, apologizing for the inconvenience.

I grinned to myself, hissing with the pain caused by the needle entering the skin.

— That’s all, let’s go to the canteen. — The fatty nurse wrapped the syringe in the napkin, with which she’d asepticized the injection site several times and put it in her pocket. She lifted the folder from the bed, walked to the door and stood waiting.

I got up. Slowly, but I did it. It seemed to me that she hadn’t made the injection, but had put on me an astronaut’s spacesuit, which created certain pressure density. With such a round glass helmet that you can look through, feeling like an aquarium goldfish. And behind my back I felt a heavy square satchel, filled with oxygen, which pulled me back. And my steps, so weighty steps, were slowly advancing on the surface of the Moon, and maybe Mars, or Jupiter, whatever you want, the main thing is, that they were the steps of an inspired discoverer.

— Cheer up, it’s quite a normal reaction, — said the “Abarbanel fatty”, who had turned into a talking alien wonder-snowman with twisted, spiral-shaped lines instead of eyes.

So in the gait of astronaut, I followed her, walking up a long corridor, dragging ahead, trying not to give in to the heavy load of the satchel. The fatty nurse suddenly stopped at the elevator door, my round helmet hit her in the back of the head. She turned around, stepped aside a little; naturally, she didn’t miss the opportunity to award me with her reproachful look once again.

— I beg your pardon, first lieutenant, I am nervous before the start. I hope all the engines are working properly and the samples collected on the planet have already been delivered on board. — It seemed to me that the tone of my voice was clearly pronounced, with a business-like accent, coming through the microphone on the helmet.

— Our spaceship is in good repair. The co-pilot Oren is at your disposal — there was a caustic squeaky voice behind me.

Well, of course, you can’t do without him in such situations.

— Are pancakes served on board in tubes? — I enquired of the crazy kid who jumped out from behind. He wasn’t wearing the spacesuit, the same image of a disheveled lean teenager in white pajamas, some sizes larger than he himself.

The nurse grabbed my hand and pulled me into the elevator.

— That’s it, finally you’ll have breakfast, — she said coldly, pressing one of the buttons on the holographic panel that appeared in front of her face.

In the elevator, she didn’t say a word, as she also did later, and the familiar crazy boy was hanging around, jumping and dancing being joyfully elated. At that moment I couldn’t understand what caused such a strong fit of delight.

On the way to the table that was in the canteen hall filled with extraordinary people, the sensation of the weight of the astronaut’s spacesuit began to disappear. I thought that the boy would disappear too. But no. He sat at the table opposite me, put his hands on the tabletop, and tapping his fingers, said:

— You didn’t bring pancakes, pin up-blonde. — He gave me a questioning look with his huge eyes, involuntarily batting his long eyelashes.

— If you got hungry, then bring them yourself, — I addressed him my brief answer.

— And don’t you want to bring?

— No.

— And what do you want?

— Why do you care?

I was trying to concentrate (I was settling in). Yeah, the “Abarbanel fatty” had injected me something incredible, the chemical cocktail, which formula would make “drug lord” or “nomadic chemists” ante up not only all their savings, but would barter away their souls for gain without thinking.

— What’s your name? — I asked my companion.

— I’ve told you. I’m co-pilot Oren, — he said proudly, and straightened his back, haughtily lifting his fine chiseled chin.

— My name is Anna.

— I know.

— Where from?

— Have you forgotten again, that we are acquainted with each other? Shame on you! — He sighed sadly — By the way, in case you forget your name, you can read it on your pajamas.

I lowered my head: on the right side, on top of my chest in Hebrew letters embroidered with black threads, my name was spelled out with the surname added.

— Why isn’t your name embroidered on your pajamas?

— Well, I don’t suffer from memory loss. — He smiled shyly, spread his arms and shrugged.

— And I don’t suffer from loss of memory, I remember you, but I don’t know your name. Just someone knows how to block memories and, apparently, this “someone” forgot to unblock them.

Behind us we heard a slam-bang clatter, I turned around and saw a fat, short, bloke lying on the floor. He was awkwardly trying to stand up, a middle-aged dyed blonde, sitting nearby, laughed hysterically and her laughter was echoed by her surroundings. An old woman I saw here not long ago stopped her usual occupation (she once again was feeding the doll) and began throwing green peas into the laughing people. Swearing, she asked the restless public to shut up. Several grains flew to the table where Oren and I sat.

— Do you still think you’re in a sanatorium? — I asked him and swept the peas from the table to the floor.

— No. This is not a sanatorium, but a hospital, but I think I won’t stay here for a long time. Soon I will leave this place at last.

Meanwhile, the laughter and howls of the patients stopped.

— Progress is evident, well done. — Raising my hand, I stretched out an open palm, waiting for a clap. Oren vigorously jumped and slapped it, then sank back into the chair and leaned back, taking an imposing pose. — I have to go back to my room. Come at night.

— What we are going to do? Play cards? Or should I bring checkers? — He leaned his elbow on the tabletop, put his head in his palm and began to roll his fingers, lightly tapping them along his cheek.

— No, we’ll entertain in a different way, — I said, squinting slyly.

— Really?! — Delighted surprise flashed on Oren’s youthful face. — I am so glad, so glad, — he said enthusiastically and started fidgetting in his chair. — We will finally do our dirty business. — He rubbed his palms quickly. — We can steal some weed from some old man, he is constantly prescribed it for treatment. Or steal hidden chocolates from the lard bucket. Won’t she be upset when she wakes up, gets under the bedside-table, and there won’t be any chocolate bars? Well, or we can put some soporific into the security guard’s jar of coffee.

He got silent and dreamily looked up, apparently casting about in his mind the options for the upcoming nightlife, and after a few seconds he looked at me and said with seriousness that is not typical for him:

— And for the moment you’d better go to sleep.

***

I couldn’t fall asleep, so I sat on the bed for a long time. The night came quietly, enveiling the ward with the darkness of shadows. Holding my knees up, I was peering at the mirror film on the closet doors and calling for Misha. I begged him to talk to me, although it was quite reasonable to expect that that he wouldn’t answer. But I didn’t give up trying, I continued arguing out loud, imagining that he can hear me, even if he is somewhere beyond the limits in the space of another world that is incomprehensible to my mind. He might have already been sent to hell, but he said that even there he could feel me.

— You understand that the expectations won’t be over and in the next life everything will be the same again, don’t you? I will be looking for you, not knowing that you don’t exist. I can’t just sit and wait! I don’t see the point! Will you come back at all! — I grabbed my pillow and threw it into an improvised mirror. Silently, it struck its glittering surface, jumped back and fell to the floor. Memories of not so long ago past days began to emerge in my memory as fragments. I was on the verge of tears. — Forgive me too. You know why I couldn’t promise you. — The idea that my mind instantly clung to at the moment when Misha told about everything, still seemed true to me. It was the idea that provoked the subsequent act.

There was a light knock on the door.

— Well, blonde Anna, you said about the night, I came. — Oren’s head, with disheveled hair on his forehead, squeezed through the open crack of the door.

— Come in, — I said faintly, wiping tears with my pajamas.

— But don’t call these shaggy ones, whose names start with the letter “d”. All right? — He slammed the door behind him, ran skipping over to my bed and sat down beside me.

Shaggy? Looking at his pale face, which had a frozen question facial expression, I grinned a little, and then stood up, rubbing my red eyes, and sighed heavily.

Let’s get started

With full concentration, I started snooping the room. I looked into the bedside-table, under the bedside-table, lifted a thin mattress which Oren was sitting on (even without paying attention to the fact that the mattress didn’t get heavier), I looked puzzled at the wooden rack bed bottom, lowered the mattress, then went to the plastic chair and turned it upside down.

— What have you lost? — My newly made friend asked the question, scratching his nape.

— The pills that I’ve stopped taking. — Knowing myself, I would have definitely hidden them somewhere. But… — I didn’t finish and thoughtfully put the chair on the floor.

— You forgot where you’d tucked them in, — Oren finished the sentence for me. He got up on the bed and began jumping on it, throwing his hands to the ceiling. Because of his frisky and fast jumps the boards began to gnash plaintively.

— You are acting like a child, and you must be thirteen years old, if not more, calm down! — With the rudeness inherent in an unkind mom who decided to scold her disobedient son, I blurted it out towards restless Oren.

— Fourteen. As a child I was not allowed to have fun, but now that’s all I can do. — He jumped off the bed with his offended face, sniffed and adjusted the hem of his pajama shirt.

Standing in the middle of the room, I looked around, looking at every corner, trying to remember where I could hide the pills. My eyes fell on the closet. I came to it and called Oren.

Having pulled the closet aside, we found a crumpled piece of toilet paper on the floor near the wall. I squatted down, picked it up and smiled triumphantly.

— Why do you need them now? — Oren, kneeling down, stretched out his long fingers to the multi-colored pills in my palm.

— In order to have fun, — I explained, and quickly threw the whole handful into my trouser pocket. — Now we need to get into Dr. Sammy’s office, he has a great collection of cognac there.

— Well, this can be arranged easily, — pleased with my idea, he jumped up and clapping his hands exultantly, made a clumsy dance movement.

****

Oren took me to the doctor’s office. As we were walking along the empty corridors of the hospital, the patients who had been so noisy in the canteen were already asleep, whacked out by sleeping pills. We didn’t meet any medical staff. The silence was broken only by the sound of our steps, mostly mine, because Oren tried to step on the floor silently, he was sneaking like a thief, getting into character.

I pulled the shiny door handle of Dr. Sammy’s office.

— It’s locked, — I remarked, pulling the handle automatically once again.

— Let’s open it from the inside. Wait a few minutes. — He quickly ran down the hall and quickly disappeared from my eyes.

“Misha? — I addressed him mentally, standing in front of the white door — My darling, my beloved “invisible friend.” Where are you? — then I sighed sadly and confidently added: “I will find you anyway.”

Oren opened the door from the other side, and I went into the office, which looked empty without Dr. Sammy. Light from a street lamp passing through the glass window fell on the desk, illuminating the shelves and a bar cabinet in the darkness.

After Oren had run across the small office and sat down in the doctor’s chair at the massive desk, he croaked, clearing his throat, giving his thin youthful voice some rudeness, straightened up and said:

— Hello, Anna. How are you today?

Having answered him with a snarl, “wonderful,” I went to the bar cabinet and started looking at the cognac bottles, listening to Oren’s mocking phrases imitating Dr. Sammy.

— Our life consists of things familiar to everyone, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, with breaks for a cup of coffee during the working day. I am all within the limits of a discreet, exemplary doctor who seizes his monotonous life with cakes at night, making forays into the refrigerator.

— Secretly dreaming of touching the young bodies of prostitutes, — I added, as if by chance. Still standing still, not daring to get a bottle.

Oren was inspired by my remark and continued with great enthusiasm:

— Oh, harlots know it, but don’t dare to laugh at the fact that my big belly prevents me from seeing my own cock. They will say nothing, they love me and my dick. Thanks to him, the girls get a lot of money from me. Girls love money, but yet I try to think that they really love me with my dick, that’s what I want. After all, I have achieved great heights in this life, I can say, I’ve made a breakthrough in psychology! — He jerked up his index finger and giggled softly. In the swivel-chair, he turned to me, threw one leg over the other, and watching me with bulging eyes with pupils dilated in the dark, added: — So many awards, recognition of colleagues… Yes, it’s all me, it’s all about me! — And giggled again.

— Devil, how lame-brained you are. — Having chosen a bottle labeled Hennessey, I headed for the table, before that I had time to smack Oren on the back of the head a little.

— How many times do I have to tell you not to mention the devils? — He made a reverse turn on the chair, said: — Oh-oh, — and carefully covered his mouth with his hand, looking around.

I sat on the edge of the desk, facing him, not fixing my attention on the strangeness of his behavior. I tore off the plastic tape around the neck of the bottle with my teeth and pulled out a tight cork with my fingers. Then I reached into my pocket, grabbing a handful of pills. With one quick movement I threw them into my mouth and washed them down with a large gulp of cognac, after which handed the bottle to Oren.

— Have a drink with me,” I suggested to him.

— I do not drink. — He took the bottle out of my hands, put it on the desk and asked with disappointment in his voice: — Why have you done it?

— I want to see the devils too.

— They’ve already come here. One of them is sitting in the corner, stretching out his shaggy legs with orange heels — Oren said, with complete seriousness, without flinching.

I froze in a position with my hand outstretched, as I intended to take the bottle from the table. I pursed my lips, trying not to let a smile appear on my face, looked at Oren, who was seated in the doctor’s chair. His watchful gaze was fixed on the dark corner of the office.

For a few seconds, frightening silence hung in the air. I broke it, grunted loudly — and still being unable to control myself, I laughed picking up the bottle. My laughter was breaking out of me with loud noises, taking possession of me, grew into a rollicking one. I went off at a tangents, it made me laugh hysterically. I couldn’t stop, stifling with laughter, choking with it. Pulling my legs up, I bent over, holding the bottle between my knees, and suddenly, losing control of my movements, I slipped off the desk, fell on the floor, landing on my not-so-soft ass. I moaned sluggishly of a short pain. Misha was right, it lacked some volume.

— Yeah, you can laugh at it again, but they do exist. — A chair creaked, and Oren’s face looked out from the edge of the desk just by the floor.

— Devils can’t have heels. They have hoofs. — I got up, climbed on the desk, a fit of laughter receded, and made a few sips from the bottle, which I carefully held falling from the desk.

— What makes you think so? They have no hooves, but they have heels, and for lower representatives they are of orange color. For a long time these rascals didn’t appear here. — Being relaxed, Oren sat down in his former place, leaned back, but he was still ready to dart and pounce on the one who, in his opinion, sat demonstrating his orange heels. — Just look at him, he doesn’t want to leave.

— Who else inhabits this hospital? Tell me.

I considered it meaningless to impose my beliefs on “a crazed friend”, even if he’s crazy, you should take into account the statement — if I don’t see something, this does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

And Oren started his narration:

— There used to be a lot of ghosts here, but I drove them away. They left, I think, to the neighboring buildings. They need the energy of people. They get into dreams, they can feel alive there. You know yourself what special dreams patients have. So, there used to be a lot of these parasites here, but they are afraid of me and will never come back, they won’t disturb anyone. They are angry, I could see them since childhood and always wanted to be a “ghost fighter”. Can you see how peacefully all patients sleep? I drove everyone away, each and every, even a dog. We had a dog here in the yard, a security officer killed her. — He took off running to the corner and in my understanding kicked the air. “Get out, I say!”

— Oren, come back to the desk! — I demanded. No, this guy could easily bring you to hysterics more than once with his madness. — I liked your ghost story. What happened next to the dog? — Having breathed out and suppressed another fit of laughter, I pulled at the bottle.

— The security officer shot her in the head for biting him. Like this. Bang! — Putting his palms together, he showed a handgun, with his index finger stretched forward and pointing to the floor. — I was standing on the porch that day and saw a piece of, well, this, a part of the flesh flew off the head of the dog. And then she was walking around, with a hole in her head, yelping, apparently wanted to find her owner. I don’t know, really, who he was, but I was sick to death of her nagging. I had plenty of trouble with her, because she was also stupid. However, what can be said, half of her brain remained on the grass.

He walked over to Dr. Sammy’s chair, plonked on it, the chair responded with a gritty creaking.

The effect of the tablets was too slow. For the amount which I’d thrown into my stomach, I should already see the world double. That would say about the first stage.

— So, you were sent here because you can see ghosts? — Sitting on the end of the desk, with my head down, I was turning the half-empty bottle in my hands, looking at the label.

— My parents left me here, and then they went to France. My father comes from that country and my mother is Russian. She used to read me bedtime stories. I liked stories about Winnie-the-Pooh the most. The donkey was a mongol there, but a funny one. And then the tales were over, and I was alone. I didn’t do anything bad to anyone. On the contrary, I wanted to help people so that they would not be disturbed by various lost souls. It’s my gift, blonde, a gift that turned out to be a curse. Nobody believed me. No one. — He folded his arms across his chest, the darkness of the night couldn’t hide the seriousness reflected on his youthful face. — Do you know… — Oren, the cranky boy, abandoned by everyone, got silent and sad. But not for long. He sighed at first, and then giggled maliciously. — You’re right. Yes to hell!

Smiling arrogantly, he raised his hands, spread them, imagining a handgun in each of them, and shouted: “Bang! Bang! Bang! You won’t get to us!” — Then, he brought his palms down with a smack on the table and pored at me.

— I can see something that you don’t even know about, and I’ve also seen your angel. — Angels are good, they can do a lot. He promised to help me.

— He is no longer able to help you. You are special, Oren, and in our world it’s easier to live for those who are no different from others. And the angels aren’t all good. That old man frightened me a lot; he seemed to have spent ages wandering and picking up sinful souls. You definitely wouldn’t like to meet such an angel, believe me.

Oren became thoughtful, sank deep in his thoughts, frowning his forehead slightly covered with a slanting strand of hair, and after a few seconds gave his conclusion:

— Stubborn blonde. I told you that there was a light coming from Michael, I know about other angels, one of them was taking me from the tree. Well, as for taking off, he was messing about, twitching at my toes, until I broke the rope, I thought my head would come off. Imagine, then I could also think… — He stopped abruptly and embarrassedly put his palms on his mouth. Lifting his shoulders, he shrunk, pulling his neck in like a tortoise hiding its head in armor. — I’m not about that, — he said, making an excuse after he put his palms down. Poor Oren really wanted to speak out, to share the pain that no one shared with him, in fact, like his views.

He braced himself, sniffed, assumed a relaxed position, folded his arms over his chest, and continued speaking without focusing on himself:

— Michael warned me that he might not return, but he promised to help. Maybe he had everything under control? How do you know? And anyway, I think you are making a mistake.

I lay down on the desk, it seemed a soft bed to me, and the ceiling was a dark sky, pierced with the uncountable number of luminous points of stars. Without experiencing the first stage, I immediately moved to the second.

— What are you talking about? What mistake?

His last few words — I attached importance only to them that time. He shouldn’t have been so scared when he ran his moth about.

— Yes, the one that he committed.

— I know his fears, and I know where he might be, — I said with firm conviction. Yes, a few minutes ago I was in doubts, standing in front of the bar cabinet, but now I was completely convinced that I would manage to find Misha, one way or another, even in hell.

I actually strongly believed it, and if a few minutes ago I was in doubts, standing in front of the bar cabinet, now I was fully convinced that I would succeed in finding Misha, even in hell.

— Oh, and you kind of aren’t afraid of anything? — Oren asked and grinned bitterly.

— No. What should I be afraid of? I have nothing to lose.

— Blonde, you know, what you’re talking about now and what you’re doing is so stupid. You won’t be able to find him there. You’ll only make it worse. He’ll have no reason to return. You see? And they will get what they want. Do you think you’re acting against the rules? No, in fact, you take cues from those who are building our world according to their own rules.

Of course, the arguments of Oren didn’t bother me anymore, I just gave up on him.

— Enough said, — he said conciliatorily, I’d better play some music. Especially for you.

— On the piano? — Continuing to lie on the soft desk, in the light of many bright stars, I smiled protractedly, turning my head to him.

— Yes, used to have my own piano. I love music. — He bent down, pressed the handle, lowering the chair, took a relaxed position, stretched his hands forward with his palms down, his elbows hung loose, his fingers rested on a flat tabletop, and began to “play” the tune whistling.

He seemed to have gone on the rampage. He smoothly threw his palms up, drumming his fingers, deftly fingering an instrument, it seemed that the music was beginning to sound in my ears with ringing high notes of the sensual melody that he was “playing” swaying and accompanying his performance with whistling. And memories washed over me, bringing me back into the nights with Misha. The entrancing moments when his lips were sliding over my body, touching the skin lightly, at first so gently and slowly. Gradually intermittent kisses became more greedy and passionate, and the movements of his body more impudent. He got horny quickly, had I only given it to him, moving with him in the same rhythm…

— “I can feel it everywhere blowing with the wind of change” Scorpions. Do you like it? — Oren asked after he had whistled the final chord in a long drawn-out manner, having interrupted himself, the piercing gaze of his huge eyes froze waiting for praise or criticism.

— Very much, — I said, amazed by his imaginary play, which affected the very strings of my soul that would have been better not to touch.

And he began drumming his fingers a little louder, shaking his head, his disheveled hair jumped up and his eyes rolled.

Lying on the table, I was looking for the constellation Ursa Major, and I wanted so much to be picked up by the wind of change, be taken somewhere where I could feel and hear Misha once again…

Nevertheless Oren is a talented lad. And where does he demonstrate his talent? In a psychotherapist’s narrow office, under a concrete ceiling with imaginary stars.

Madhouse.

Oh, yes, we are in it.

— So, blonde, you’re going to black out now. Where is the promised fun? — asked Oren, after the last chord lingeringly sounded.

— Come on. — I enthusiastically got up from the desk, taking the bottle of cognac with me, and pulled Oren’s hand.

***

Ghosts, that had been disturbing the tranquility of sleeping patients until recently in the hospital, left it and the nights filled with shouts of patients awakening in sequence, running out of the wards screaming “O Lord!”, “Death, take me”, ” Down, devil!” become a thing of the past. Even the familiar old woman, who was often mourning the departure of the doll to a better world, accompanied by shouts, saying, “Breathe, my girl, breathe,” now quietly slept in her individual ward, paid for until her death.

Such changes happened thanks to the “ghost fighter”, who went on the war-path. He stayed in the shadows, like a real warrior, and, having fulfilled the mission entrusted to him, he often wandered around the building, watching over sleeping people. In a short period of his life, he was alone. This night gave him a girlfriend, once acquired, though not for a long time.

They scampered about quiet corridors and empty flights of stairs between floors. They pushed each other and laughed. They loved to have fun and loved the dark time, in their mutual opinion, there was something magical in it. They enjoyed a newfound friendship that could last for a very long time.

That last night, spent together, they weren’t aware of their actions, without in the least thinking that their loud laughter broke the tranquility of the hospital walls, and that devils could run to the shouts. Bursting into the canteen, “like-minded friends” went to the kitchen, fried pancakes and, after eating full, decided to take a walk. Together they imagined how, holding hands, they would dodder along the morning embankment wearing white pajamas. Their ultimate goal was the beach. They wanted to see the sunrise by the sea. In the morning it is calm and serene. And each of them supposed that they wouldn’t catch an opportunity to see the next sunrise over Israel. Each of them had their own reasons on this issue.

****

In order to get out, we had to get over the security post. It was located at the front door.

— They are sleeping. — Having stopped around the corner, Oren peeked out into the hall. — On the way, before getting into the doctor’s office, I still managed to put some soporific for the guards, — he added, turning around, and smiled slyly.

I had already been expecting the onset of the fourth stage and, accordingly, the final one, for a couple of hours. But still I was on my feet, albeit found it difficult. Apparently, my desire to get finally to the beach gave me strength. It is there that I will be able to leave all things and go to the place where my “invisible friend” lives, and we will return sometime together. To a new life. Well, if we don’t return, then, accordingly, we won’t return together. In precisely this way — extremes, there are two of them, either all or non.

Of course, I didn’t happen to throw a handful of pills into my mouth, maximum a couple of sleeping pills. But nevertheless I understood how they act, and, strangely, now they gave very poor effect. My mind was under control, the events fit into the framework of understanding, and life… well, it went on.

Something went wrong. Again. I should have thought about it, but far from it!

A few quick short-snorts from the bottle of cognac shook me up and gave me a better mood.

— We’ll crawl anyway, like soldiers on the floor, so that we wouldn’t be noticed, — I told Oren.

— Yes, we’ll crawl, as if bullets are whistling over our heads, — he said, inspired.

Oren, my soul mate, yet it was so funny and entertaining with him.

He lay down on the floor, covered with a thick carpet, setting his palms on it. He squinted his eyes and looked around being completely confident that he was the embodiment of the leader of the troops. Then he raised his fist and started giving signals of the Special Forces, showing that everything is clear and I should join him. How did I know the Special Forces signals? Who knows, the instructions Oren gave me were quite clear, and I lay down next to him, pressing my chin to the prickly pile of the carpet.

Oren showed that we should move ahead, and we crawled. I was slowed down only by the bottle with the remnants of cognac, which I was still holding, being afraid of leaving it on the battlefield. I was dragging it along, like a wounded comrade.

— I won’t leave you, we’ll arrive at our destination together! I shouted.

— Hush you. The goal is already close. — Oren continued crawling with all his seriousness, carefully moving his hands and legs, looking around, holding his head as low as possible, crouching fearfully being afraid to catch one of the passing bullets.

— Yes, Commander, yes sir! — I said in a half-whisper and snapped him a salute.

We crawled to the front glass door, through the door we could see the courtyard with the fence of bushes growing on the edges, lit by the early rays of the sun. My attempt to rise to my feet ended in failure. Muscular coordination was impaired, and, no sooner had I grabbed the handle of the door, I hit my forehead on the thick glass. The door opened from the impact, and I fell on the concrete porch behind it. I tried to get up, but failed to get the balance; I came a smasher down the stone steps of the stairs. Sharp pain hit the back of my head.

— Get up, soldier. — Oren picked me up, trying to take me up from the floor, made great efforts, and managed to put me on my feet.

— It seems my injuries are fatal, commander, — I could hardly speak, my head ached terribly, my vision could not be focused, and a warm viscous fluid ran along the neck on the right side.

Oren continued holding me and helped me over a few steps and sat me with my back to the front door, holding my head.

— Oh, my, blonde, I failed to keep an eye on you, — he said in his thin voice, watching me faint.

Light. Bright harsh light and snow-white walls which reflected this light.

— Oh hell, take my soul! -My own voice responded with ringing in the ears and a wild headache. Oh, hold on a sec! Why is there so much light in hell?

— Right there you would have been accepted for what you have done.

I glanced in the direction of that voice, well familiar to me — a dull, heavy voice.

— Dr. Sammy. And what are you doing here? — A handful of pills I’ve taken should have caused death. I clearly understood this and stayed in commission to meet a new world. But this world was quite familiar and habitual, and not at all new.

I was lying on a spacious hospital bed, covered with a white blanket to my chest with several small letters printed on it in rows in small letters, forming the name of the hospital. Of course, it is “Abarbanel”.

A thin intravenous line stretched from the vein on the back of my hand. Dr. Sammy was sitting near the bed, so full of thought. His open hospital gown couldn’t hide the bulging belly tightly wrapped by the blue shirt with the coming off buttons. He turned a sheet in the folder of papers and concentrated on reading a new one.

— Is this my track record of sins? — I blurted out, realizing that my plan had failed. It’s incredible, but it failed.

— No, Anna, this is the story of your illness, — He grinned depressingly and continued to look thoughtfully at the sheets on his lap.

The daylight was unbearably bright, reflecting from the doctor’s bald spot, and I closed my eyes for a few seconds.

— Will you write my sins off as illness and send me to heaven? I need to go to hell, only there. — I tried to get up, but the cutting pain in the neck area forced me to lie back on the pillow.

The doctor stopped his work with the study of the history of my illness (in his opinion, the illness), and turned his interested eyes on me.

— After all I didn’t die?

— No. You didn’t.

— It’s sad.

In some miraculous way (in this case, you can’t blame it all on anything else), my body could stand it. It wasn’t broken by an impressive cocktail of narcotic potent drugs, backed up with a bottle of cognac to be on the safe side.

— How do you feel? Can you talk to me? — The doctor asked, his intense look was running on me, inspecting me. How devil sick I got of this look, exploring me, like a lab rat. Oh, Oren also asked me not to mention the devils, but I didn’t mention, only thought, I hope, it doesn’t count.

— I’ve got a bad headache, but apart from that I’m fine. Can I have some water? My lips were dry, and my tongue seemed to stick to the palate when I moved it.

Doctor Sammy slowly closed the folder, put it on the bedside table and stood up. He went to the cooler that stood at the front door, and returned with a glass of water.

— Thank you, Doctor. — With the greed of a man who had been walking around the hot desert for days, I swallowed all the water from the plastic cup.

— Why did you arrange all this? Broke into my office, stole cognac… — He settled his ass on the edge of the bed and took the folder from the bedside table.

In bewilderment, I returned him the empty glass. I don’t deny, I’ve arranged it, but that was not only me who took part in all of this. And what about Oren, my soul mate for entertainment? Why didn’t he mention him?

— I just thought I wouldn’t come back here anymore. But your medicine, it works wonders.

— I understood everything, Anna. — He sat with one leg over the other, and he could hardly do that. He had short ones, or he still has them, I don’t know, and they were plump, but he managed to perform this action with relaxed gravitas. After all, he’s a man who has achieved great heights in the field of psychology. — Your “invisible friend”, who you were telling about, was he with you yesterday?

— Aha, what has my “invisible friend” to do with it? It was Oren.

The doctor started, frowned, squeezed the folder in his hands, and asked in a worried voice:

— Oren? Are you telling me that Oren was with you?

— Well, yes, that whimsical lad from the ward opposite the elevator.

— Anna, did you know him?

— We met here.

The doctor opened the folder; many pages were hiding a thin tablet. He took it out and laid it beside me.

— How many days, in your opinion, have you been here?

— I don’t remember. I tried to figure it out by sorting memorable events before answering him, but all that I saw was the frozen long straight line of the monitor. Asystole, that’s the scientific term. Full zero, that’s just great! No memories, explanations and considerations. There was no record in my memory of the exact number of days spent in this place. Except for one, initial record associated with it. I came here of my own will, stumbling across a familiar building, when I was wandering down the street, I thought: “Why shouldn’t I go to the doctor’s office, to listen to his scientifically based reasoning about life. Anyway there’s no place to go.”

Sudden clarity of memories… The memory began to recover. Then I told the doctor utter nonsense, imbued with arguments about the meaninglessness of everything that happens, about the days that I didn’t want to come, about the unwillingness to return home (and that’s all because I realized who my “invisible friend” was, although he didn’t support arguments by agreement, but I was sure I was in right), which, accordingly, urged Sammy to offer me a day or two of rest in an individual room here. And he took up my treatment, didn’t even demand money to pay for a privileged room on the top floor.

A few days ago, when he called me, I came to his office. Now I understand why he looked at me so strangely then. To his question about how I feel, I answered, that everything was fine, I was doing usual things — going to work, meeting my friends, yet for him I was here. Leaving the doctor, I suddenly felt bad on the porch of the hospital, everything around me disappeared for a few seconds. It was as if I left one reality and got into another.

Misha, what is present?

I didn’t want to go into these details then, and now he can no longer explain it to me. On the other hand, I think that I would still not be able to fully understand how he managed to get me out of here, leaving only the semblance of my presence for Dr. Sammy, the staff and the patients.

It’s just that everything is arranged so that those who live in the earthly world never find an answer to the question of how their world really works.

— A couple of weeks. You’ve been here for a couple of weeks. And as for Oren, are you sure that you met him in the hospital? — asked Dr. Sammy.

“Zactly! We were talking about my crazy, like-minded fellow.

— Yes. — There was no doubt about being acquainted with him. — Doctor, you ask strange questions, — I said reproachfully, raising my eyebrows.

— Strange? Do you know that Oren has been dead for half a year?

What a “turn”.

I felt a wave of goosebumps running through my body, small creeps running under my knees, I was able to feel the tube in my vein, a long tube. I looked at its mounting in horror. How come… My friend Oren is dead? Seriously?

— Anna, look at me, — the doctor called, forcing me to raise my eyes. — Oren was quite a character, and I’m very sorry for him, I tried to help him. You couldn’t meet him in our hospital.

— Stop kidding around with me, I tell you, we met here. There was no other place for me to know him. He played the piano for me, an imaginary piano in your office. And he said that his parents had left him, and also about ghosts. — I lowered my eyes, not having the slightest desire to look at Dr. Sammy.

— Oren suffered from schizophrenia, said that he could see ghosts and that he himself wanted to be one of them, in order to get rid of those ghosts from here. Parents put him to our hospital when he was twelve years old. He refused from treatment. Pestered the patients. At first he thought that he was in the sanatorium and that his parents would soon take him home. One night, about six months ago, he hanged himself on a tree in the courtyard. Made a rope of torn pieces of sheets and hanged himself.

I sighed sadly from sorrow for Oren’s soul. May his head was crazy, but apart from kindness and naivety I didn’t notice anything else in him. It is unfair, as for me, to play with the fate of people, good people. I know that it is impossible to understand the essence of the cosmic purpose, but it hurts when such a thing happens.

So, it’s like this. I decided that all this meaningless game with submission to the doctor’s opinion should be stopped. Otherwise it will never end.

It seems that everything is ravings of a madman, I don’t argue, but there are too many facts that indicate that I didn’t make up Misha’s story, but I really saw Oren the ghost.

— Listen, stop looking for the symptoms of insanity in me, — I addressed the doctor, beginning to say things that were supposed to shock him. — Oren could see devils and ghosts. Yes, it defies logic and scientific explanation. You can continue to assume that all this does not exist. I will not persuade you. Just I can say for sure that you, doctor, keep coming back to your memories of the nights spent in Ukraine. — It’s a pity, “my invisible friend” didn’t make even a casual mention of a couple of prostitutes’ names, then I you could deal the final blow with the doctor. — The seminar lasted a couple of days, and you stayed there for a week, you liked the Slavic harlots, didn’t you? And Nina, your neighbor, she welcomes you warmly in her bed. On Tuesdays most often. Everyone has their own vices, this is our essence, and I learned about yours thanks to someone who lives in a world that defies any logic you are used to.

My arguments made Dr. Sammy turn purple, his cheeks puffed out, and instead of his bald head you could easily imagine a tomato. Mr Sammy the tomato.

— Holy Moses!… — he gasped and, jumping up from the bed quickly headed for the exit, crossed the doorway with the door wide open and vanished out of sight.

— Say hi to Nina! — I screamed after him. Most likely, he didn’t hear it, but if he did, I would like to add some more, if he happens to come across these lines. It is unlikely, but “elephants might fly” in this life. I had no intention to offend him. This is true, but truth has to be faced up without offences.

Sagging down on the pillow, I felt the smooth surface of the tablet’s screen with my elbow.

The pictures of last night, flashing in black and white recording of surveillance cameras that were displayed on the screen, could amuse anyone. In Dr. Sammy’s office with twinkling eyes in a night shooting, I was sipping brandy, sprawled on a table, and talked to myself, addressing an empty chair. A few minutes later I got up, dragged my invisible companion (that is, Oren, who was sitting on the chair) and here we go. I ran down the corridors, stumbling on my own sluggishly moving legs, fell, but was tenaciously holding the bottle with the remnants of cognac. It’s even embarrassing to talk about cooking pancakes, you can imagine what it looked like from the side, let me not describe the details.

Of course, Dr. Sammy can be understood, after the things I saw you don’t have to be a psychiatrist as everything is clear with the main character of the night recording.

I pulled out the plastic dropper tube from the vein in the back of my hand. Pressed the puncture point with my finger, stopping the blood, and got up from the bed. I walked along the cold tiled floor with so much effort as if I hadn’t made a step for several days, and most likely that it was so. In the corridor I came across a couple of nurses. One ran by with a worried face, and the second passed by, not paying attention to the inhibited patient.

I limped to the elevator, straightened my pajamas, looking around warily, and pressed the button with the letter L (lobby). I put my hand on the wall next to the metal doors, waiting for the cabin to arrive.

But how come? All of it? Will it end as it is? Now I’ll produce a “profound idea” and tell those observers, creators, what-d’ye-call-them, everything I think about them. Let them make fun, considering me to be a nonentity living in a big anthill, but all the same — the wisest creators of all things wouldn’t you go to… to the place where they had come from, with their laws and rules. And what the… am I still walking along these corridors at all, when I shouldn’t be here? Oh, yes, according to my assumption — I should not, but according to your idea — I should be here.

I entered the elevator’s cabin; it gently dived, sliding down. I remembered Oren once again. I was already afraid of thinking about Misha. I was angry, I appealed to the remnants of self-control, its echoes were still present in my mind, but it seemed, only a few minutes left before losing them. Misha … “my invisible friend”, my darling, my husband from the past life, my angel, he… But how come! Why is it so!

— Still I thought about him. Heck! — I kicked the iron wall of the elevator cabin and clutched my head.

I must stop the flow of these thoughts, otherwise I will start sobbing here, in a cramped cabin, huddled into a corner, and they won’t be able to pull me out of here without a sedative injection. Oren, well, he could run up and say the expression “pin up blonde” so often used by him, accompanying his appearance by clapping hands. And this time I would take kindly to his appearance, I could hug him, looking for support. But he is a ghost, a stupid ghost who does what he wants and appears when he wants. I grinned bitterly. I know how to choose friends, indeed!

***

I went outside, sat on the top step of the concrete porch, and looked at the dark orange clouds colored by the rays of the sunset, floating from the sea. It makes no sense, I think, to describe my feelings, that figures that I was damn bad, oh, how bad. Neither patients nor visitors were seen in the hospital courtyard. Perhaps today is Sabbath. Even if it’s not Shabbat, there’s no difference.

A heavy door slammed behind my back, I knocked up against it with my forehead last or maybe not last night, I can’t say for sure. Then I heard the steps approaching me. “Dr. Sammy dared to continue our conversation”, I thought with a grin, not daring to look in his direction.

The man, who sat down next to me clicked a lighter, without saying a word and tobacco smell touched my face with white smoke.

— Can I have one? — I addressed him in an aloof manner, not taking my eyes off the sky, watching the movement of simple forms of clouds.

— Anna, I started to think I won’t find you. I had to get around the whole hospital. — His coarse voice made me shudder. It was painfully familiar timbre, low and calm.

My heart almost flew out of my chest because of overwhelming happiness, and I jerked off, and when I saw him, I froze petrified. Convulsive pain pierced me with dozens of knives. In front of me sat Michael. His look froze on me… a stranger’s look.

— I’ve got to talk to you, — he said, holding out a non-smoked cigarette.

Slowly dropping back to my place, I peeked at the face that was causing fiery memories and pulled the cigarette from his fingers. Why did he come? He could continue enjoying life, it paid off in spades.

— Misha left it for you in the hallway of my apartment. — Michael handed me a white postal envelope, held it for several seconds in an outstretched hand, waiting for me to take it. He put the envelope on the step at my feet not waiting for me to take it, then handed me the lighter. — I’m sorry, — he said comfortingly. — Listen, I hope you will certainly meet each other. Thank him from me, he helped me a lot. Can you imagine it, when I woke up on a yacht, everything seemed to have turned upside down… I’ve been there…

Disregarding Michael’s words, I lit the cigarette and was making a puff after a puff, breathing out the smoke, being afraid to turn my head to him. It was beyond my strength to look at him. And in general, I wanted him to shut up. Listening to his voice was unbearably painful.

— Anna, I really want to help you. If you are not ready to talk now, just in case, I will leave you my business card. — He put a white card on the envelope. — If you need anything, just call. On my mobile phone or to the office.

He got up, started going down the stairs, and then stopped. He paused for a couple of seconds. Yet he decided to return. He got down on his haunches in front of me, a step lower, and asked:

— Do you want to leave this place? Will you stay at my place?

His face was so close, I was looking at his lips being afraid to look into his eyes. How much I wanted at that second to fall on his neck, a warm big neck, and at least for a moment to imagine that it is he, Misha, in my arms. But there’s no point in all these ideas, no one can replace Misha. I shouldn’t indulge myself with a fantasy, that’s what I’ve been doing in recent years, that’s enough.

Nevertheless, a human can reconcile with many things, if not with everything, it only takes time. Several weeks will pass, and Michael will no longer cause me so violent emotions, only sometimes a feeling of sweet longing. Later, he will become a friend for me, then a close friend, and within a few months our friendship will grow into something more. I will see my older brother in him. The older brother, who I was supposed to have, but I didn’t — standing on his own two feet, the one who has time to build his life and provide assistance. He easily managed to solve not only his problems, but also the problems of all people close to him. How similar he is to my Misha, and not only in appearance. Michael will fulfill his promise, equally to Misha’s promise to him. From the beginning to the end.

Cold and absently, I shortly said “no” to Michael, willing to reject him. But as a person who doesn’t go back on his words, he could not do otherwise, his next act will be the birth of our relationship.

— Here’s the deal, I’ll go back to the car and wait half an hour. No, an hour’s better, and you think. Deal? — He touched my head and ran his hand through my hair, catching a disapproving look. He stood up with a distressed look, adding: — I’ll be waiting, just in case, — and left. He was going away from me in such a familiar measured walk, with his hands in the pockets of dark sports pants, his strong shoulders slouched. How much I loved to touch those shoulders.

He walked out of the open gates of the iron fence, waving the security guard sitting next to the entrance/exit control point, I looked right through him when he went outside, and got into a familiar car parked in front of the gate.

As soon as Michael had left, someone else decided to come.

— Pin up-blonde, I also want to tell you something. — Oren appeared in the rays of the sunset. — How’s your evening? Don’t you have a feeling of exciting changes?

I smiled involuntarily hearing his voice. He sat down next to me, on the place where Michael sat a couple of minutes ago. He took a deep breath, raising his head as if he could enjoy the fresh air entering his chest. In fact, it was only the anticipation of pleasure. He wasn’t wearing hospital pajamas, and his hair wasn’t disheveled, a neat short hairstyle framed his head. A white fitted cotton shirt tucked into skinny ripped jeans and black sneakers — in front of me was a stylish guy who follows the trends and takes care of himself.

— Where are you going? On a date?

— There will certainly be a date, but not today. I’m leaving, Anna. I can finally leave. All of this thanks to you and your angel, he helped me. I told you that he would help. He provided for everything.

Misha was able to help the crazy kid Oren, who was a lonely ghost. From now on, he is given a chance to start all over again. The bitterness and anger, provoked by the circumstances of this evening, faded for a while in comparison with the feeling of joy for my friend.

Oren looked at me sympathetically, got up and smoothed his hair slightly disheveled after the evening wind.

— When you meet him, give a big thank you from me. This big, — he tried to spread his hands as wide as possible. — Well, I’ve got long fingers, but my hands are short, there’s nothing to be done here. Tell him that.

Like Michael, he was convinced that our meeting with Misha would take place. Maybe I still don’t understand something, or they are saying so only to comfort me?

— Oren, it’s unlikely that he will return, — I said sadly.

— Here you start again. You believe him, he won’t fail. Look, I never doubted him at all. As soon as I saw him behind your back for the first time, I immediately understood everything. I was delighted. I will tell you more, I was waiting for him. And now…. — He got silent. His eyebrows lifted, and his lips pursed sadly; stretching out his long finger, he pointed to the envelope lying at my feet.

— Yes, I will read it, — I said, knowing in advance that the words left by Misha on paper would tear me apart, I won’t be able to stand it, give way to pain, start crying, fall into hysterics, like a sentimental girl. I hate sentimentality. I don’t want to realize that Misha is no longer with me.

Oren hit himself on the forehead and shook his head with an apologetic smile.

— I haven’t told you the most important thing. Just I want so much to go there, to live. But still, I’ll stay with you to tell you something. He warned me, said that you would be willing to commit suicide, so I changed your pills for vitamins. All of them are colorful, I made a little mistake, apparently, a couple of antidepressants remained. But how much fun we had, — he giggled embarrassedly, covering his mouth for a second.

Now everything became clear to me, the medicine of Israel did not work a wonder in this case. Someone else contributed to the incident, pushing my like-minded mate to another heroic act.

— You are a hero, Oren. — I got up, hugged him, so cold and fragile. He shyly hugged me back.

— Will you write about me? Then I will be an established hero. A real “ghosts fighter”. — He backed off a little, looking at me with his big prayerful eyes.

— I’ll try, but I’m not a writer. I don’t think that I’ll be able to give account of everything in a nice manner. — I undid the top button of his shirt and straightened the collar.

— You will, you will succeed in many ways. I saw your diary entries and left a couple of pages for you, in case you forget again what was happening to us. — He winked happily. — Listen, blonde, I wanted to come back so much, but I didn’t do anything for it to happen. I wandered sadly down the corridors, so lonely and lost. I drove off all the ghosts and remained alone. A dog, if I had tamed it, it could have become true to me, but I did what I did… I kicked it out, I could have a heart for it, but I chased it away. How surprised I was when I met you, you could see me. I had a friend, a true friend, and your angel, who helped and gave me a cue. It turned out I was wandering here for a good reason. I had a definite mission — not for the dead, but for the living. And I performed it without thinking, I just wanted to help. You’re good, tart tempered, but you’re good, I loved you. Your angel knew that I would be given the opportunity to return, but didn’t tell me about it. So, what I am all about. Don’t be resentful at the whole world, sooner or later everything will work out if you don’t give up and try to live here in this world. Life is hard, but how interesting it is. I tell you this. And no more mistakes, just go ahead.

I looked at Oren, a cranky lad, whose company scared me at the beginning, sometimes pissed me off, and I realized that in such a short time I had found time to love him, as well as he had.

— I’ve got to go, pin up-blonde. I feel, I feel. How good I feel, I’ve never felt so good. — He began to shift from one foot to another with impatience. — Goodbye and don’t be sad. Your angel… he’s having a hard time now, but he will cope with it and come back, he wants to get to you.

My heart clenched after Oren’s words and my pulse quickened with excitement. Misha, I can’t even imagine how he is now, how big his torment is. I was ready for everything to help him, I wanted to find him there, but he didn’t let me do it.

— Farewell, Oren. I will miss you, — I said, feeling hot tears coming to my eyes. — No, wait. — Still I decided to hold him, grabbed his hand. — Do you know where he is now?

— Yes, the devils whispered. He hasn’t been sent to hell yet. “They” want him to continue to obey orders. He is strong and learned a lot as he was an angel. He will find the way out, even if he goes to hell. I believe in him.

I opened my hand, and Oren, giving me a playful goodbye smile, ran to a tree that grew in the yard, surrounded by wooden benches decorated in bright colors. This was the very place where he met death six months ago, and now he was prepared to meet life there. His image began to dissolve in the air, becoming transparent, until it completely disappeared at the very trunk.

***

The letter written by Misha kept not only in my memory, I kept it nearby, in a separate pocket of my wallet. In the lines he’d left, he didn’t forget to call me once again stupid, referring to the deed, which he so prudently tried to prevent. He knew about the trait of my character to go to extremes and do everything in my own way, following raw guesses, with firm confidence in the correctness of my choice.

He asked me to convey his thanks to Oren, but I opened the envelope when he had already left. It’s a pity what can be said.

Leaving the letter on the bar table in Michael’s apartment before going to Eilat, Misha finally decided for himself that he would no longer follow orders — to take away the souls of people who, according to the creators, should become the next cogs in their universal mechanism design. This decision was promoted by a few days that he had spent in the human body, next to me.

On the way to Eilat, after I expressed my opinion about the “penguins”, he said: — What is that to you? Everyone has his own philosophy of life.

Misha’s philosophy was as follows — he didn’t care for all this philosophy. In any case, the centuries-old problems will not go anywhere, and people will not change, even if the Savior comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory(Matthew, 24:30). for the second time.Could it be that they just screw it up again? They will screw it up. And then they will wait for the third Savior. What for?

Why should efforts be made for them?

There are things that are meaningless to fight.

To hell with all this!

Is it really impossible to live in harmony with you and with the one who gives this harmony, enjoying the gift given to us, away from all this?

Oh, yes, of course not.

Everything had to fall into its former places, but I had already begun to return to the hospital and guess about everything, and Misha didn’t want to return to his world. As for the hospital, I wasn’t supposed to remember anything at all. My memories should have been erased, and Michael promised that he would continue playing the role of Misha for me after the seven days of my “invisible friend” that had been designated for him for staying on earth would end (I don’t know how he’d managed to get these seven days, he has his own methods).

Of course, our relationship with Michael wouldn’t have lasted long, they would have exhausted themselves (still Michael is not my Misha, who I felt strongly for), and the advice of my “invisible friend” would have pushed me to the accomplishment of what we had long planned.

What’s the problem to quit? We were going to go to Thailand or to the Maldives, to buy a house by the sea, live a measured life and take it easy. I would teach you how to play poker. I’d teach you to play poker, definitely you would never be out of money. What are you waiting for?

There were no barriers for the implementation of our plans I was just waiting for him. My reason understood that it was inane and stupid, but my heart felt something different. I’ve always felt, continued playing life, but did not really live in it.

Sitting on the porch of the hospital I was holding the letter in my shaking hands and reading the words Misha had left for me. I couldn’t hold tears, they were running down my cheeks one by one, dropping from the chin. I had never experienced so much pain, and I knew that this pain would not pass off until Misha returned to my world. In his words, he called me to continue life, regardless of the circumstances, and asked me to wait.

I’ll take care of you, baby.

And he did take care of me. His care was felt even after he’d left.

Misha and I couldn’t share the following days, as it turned out, they were intended only for me. I visited new cities and countries, and wherever I was, I looked at the sky, imagining that my Misha was in heaven and not in hell. Of course, I know that heaven is not in the sky, but heaven is associated with something sublime and pure. He couldn’t go back to hell, I denied it, because sending people like him there, you will agree with me — is an absurd misunderstanding. So absurd that it does’nt fit into all existing rules and laws.

On the other hand, absurd is absurd.

But in spite of everything, I raised my eyes to the morning sky that was swaying a little with my hammock, fixed on the wooden beams of the porch of a house on the water, when having rest in the Maldives. Or to the sky, pervaded by living and perhaps already long dead stars, standing on the balcony of a castle hotel in England, sipping red wine. Or to the sunset sky with clouds floating over it above the horizon, when I was in Thailand on the Andaman Sea coast, surrounded by untouched nature, and I understood that everything I had I received thanks to Misha, but now I would change every day of my carefree day life for… Well, everything is clear what for. I missed him to the point of insanity, he was my obsession, but still he was real.

I’ve got to move on. He asked me about it.

I didn’t return to Israel, I went to Siberia. Thanks to Misha’s agreement with Michael (he did it right after all, having given me time to think, in less than an hour I got into his car) I didn’t need money, and I fulfilled the last instruction that Misha mentioned in the letter. After exhausting daily workouts, which lasted almost a year, I made an entrance on stage of the Opera and Ballet Theater, meanwhile still had time to fulfill Oren’s request — I wrote about him, as well as about all of us.

Oren, my ghostly friend… how much he wanted to live.

How much Misha wanted to live.

How much I wanted to live with Misha.

We were united by the desire to live, but not in the world called: “It must be so”, but in the world called — “I want it so”.

I used to wake up at night, fidgeting with my palms on an empty bed, somewhere on the verge of sleep and reality, yet feeling him close by me. I was afraid to open my eyes, because this line immediately got blurred.

I am with you, baby. I have always been and will be with you, wherever I am.

Sentimental nonsense? Maybe. Nevertheless, I believed that these words, addressed to me by Misha, were breaking through the line separating our worlds.

Sometimes I got up before dawn, went to the kitchen. No more cigarettes (an unnecessary habit that should have been broken a long time ago), only tea with biscuits. I sat down at the kitchen table opposite the window, watching the snow fall swirling behind the glass. Misha could come to me, hug me, saying: “Anna, why are you sitting here? I can’t sleep without you. Come with me”, and I would have followed him anywhere.

Is it so difficult?!

Week after week turned into months, but the thing that we both wanted, did not happen. Morning, morning after the morning, the new morning, the next morning…

Total crap.

Misha. He was so close. For real. In my hands. What for? To disappear? I seemed to have been teased, laughed at, and then put in my place. Like, here’s your place, where it used to be. Go on, live on, do something. As Oren said, quoting Dr. Sammy: “Our life consists of the usual (I would add for myself — ordinary) things”. Eat, sleep, meet with your friends, spend money on shoes, bags, dresses — junk. Dance.

I liked to dance. And I danced, but on a different stage, and for other spectators. They thought I was talented.

I thought a few years ago — my “invisible friend” had pushed me to taking pills, thus cutting our connection, made me live the wrong life, not the one I wanted. He refused from our friendship. And didn’t even explain the true motives of his act. Now I think that he was just following another order. Those who gave orders could well decide that our connection with him should be stopped.

But… it’s useless. I can play with my memory by all means, there will still remain feelings. I will always feel him, on a subconscious level.

Who are we? And why are we so connected? Who is each of us?

It was not given to me to understand the idea of the creators. All that remains is to wait, obediently continuing to live on and to dance, experiencing the emptiness and pain of loss.

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