I met Vasilisa about four months ago on a stupid dating app for lesbians. It’s not necessarily used for that purpose, but it’s something to do while I juggle work, Liza’s constant bitching and the bitterness I harbored toward Katie. That’s what I’m best at. Distracting myself. Honestly though, I never thought I’d get acquainted with someone actually worth meeting.
Vasha is from Siberia, Russia and resides in the smaller town of Tobolsk. It’s cold, dreary and miserable even when the sun is out. Vasha says the sun mocks her as it shines bright in the sky, but never warms her pale skin. I wish I could let her borrow Arizona’s sun. I’m sure we could all use a break from heat stroke out here.
I didn’t respond to the message right away. She always bums me out, leaving me hanging for days before popping back up. We’ve been friends for a minute, now, but I always feel something else when I talk to her. Something I’m afraid to explore.
I thought this over on the twenty minute bus ride back to my place. I know she drinks and gets herself into trouble often, but I don’t know the full extent. Despite how close we’ve gotten, Vasha tends to avoid talking about the negative aspects of her life. When we get a consistent conversation going, it usually revolves around our favorite movies and different music we’ve discovered recently. We’ve got similar taste and she’s helped me grow my Spotify list by at least a couple hundred songs since we met.
I wish I could figure out the tingling in the back of my neck every time she smiles during our video chats. My heart races when I see Vasha’s name pop up in my notification list, and her voice has this way of making me fidget anxiously. I can’t explain it, but I’ve often just thought it’s because we have an eerily strong connection. Vasilisa feels it when I’m going through something, and always makes it a point to ask if I’m doing alright when we chat next. It’s strange to say the least, but I like it.
I just wish I didn’t feel it when she’s having a rough time too, because she has more of those than good times it seems.
Liza and Max are fighting again, I can hear them before I even approach the door. I’ve really got to get my shit together so I can beat it. Normally I’d break it up, but I’m not in the mood tonight. Besides, if Liza notices me she’s bound to ask questions. I eased inside and quickly made my way into my room undetected. Whew! As I closed the door, I felt my phone vibrate again. I know it’s Vasilisa before I even pull it out and grin stupidly.
SMS: Can you Skype? I want to see you.
My heart does that flutter thing again, and before I know it, I’m logging into my Skype account from the laptop I bought myself in Texas four years ago. Back when I was serious about my life, instead of just blundering around like I am now. As the pixels start piecing together the video, I took a deep breath to try and calm the hammering of my heart.
“Privet!” I made myself comfortable in bed by scooting against the headboard and smiled openly at my friend.
“Privet, detka.” Vasha waved enthusiastically and slid into her office chair leisurely.
I say hi and she says hello baby in Russian.
Why does she do that? It drives me crazy. Here in America, we don’t really throw that term around loosely but then again Vasha doesn’t seem like she does either.
It baffled me, but in the smallest of ways. I really didn’t mind, I just tried to hide my blush as per usual. Vasilisa is twenty six, one year my senior. Naturally dirty blonde, but despised the color so her short hair is dyed jet black. Soft bangs fell just above her light brows, and two striking green eyes twinkled mischievously at me. That’s the thing about this girl...she hardly smiles, but her large eyes tell all. She’s one big kid and I love her for it.
Since she doesn’t speak English, we correspond in Russian while Skyping. My mom is from Kiev, Ukraine. She taught us some Russian at home, and I’m pretty comfortable speaking it. I watched her carefully. She’s drinking coffee and stroking her black cat, Ember. I remember how she found him walking home from work one evening. He wouldn’t stop following her, and she felt bad at the idea of shooing him away. Vasha is a fairly unlucky person and feared him mildly, but Ember kept walking at her heels and mewing affectionately so she took him in. I gave him his name, as she was clueless for what to do with him. Once you name an animal, it’s over. She’d laughed, and declared he’d be staying. They’ve been best friends ever since.
“What did you do today?” She asked in her soft voice. I always thought her mannerisms were so gentle compared to her hard, elfish demeanor. Rubbing her hands together, she waited for my response intently.
“Oh, you know nothing special. I worked for a few this morning. Then I went over to Katie’s later on. You?” I was hoping Vasha would let it slide. She was always teasing me about going back to my EX. This time though, she leaned back in her black mesh office chair and crossed her thin arms over her chest. I could make out her Japanese tattoo. I asked her a hundred times what it meant, and she always brushed me off and changed the subject. I figured she’d tell me when she was ready.
“Do you love her?” a touch of jealousy was laced in her question and it made me blink in confusion.
I felt this overwhelming compulsion to reassure her, but we were just friends. That’s all we’d ever be. So why did I feel like that explanation wasn’t good enough?
What the hell was going on with me?
“It’s complicated.” I explained finally, intertwining my fingers and looking away to avoid her intense gaze. I caught her resting her chin on her palm and looking at me expectantly from my peripheral vision. “I don’t know how I feel, Vasha. I hate her. She really fucked me up, but she gives me consistency.”
“You mean sex?” Her lips twisted into this odd smile. The kind that lets you know the other person isn't really amused, but is waiting for you to slip up so they can pounce. “You still fuck her, Francine?”
“Um...” getting more uncomfortable by the second, I prayed something would save me from this insanely awkward conversation. I think God was feeling the same way, because just then Liza started banging on my bedroom door.
“Hey Ceen, can we go for a walk? Please? I don't want to be here right now." I could tell she’d been crying and felt my heart pang. Vasha looked at me quizzically as she took a sip from her clear glass. I explained I needed to go, and she gave me a toothy grin once she'd set the cup down.
God she had a beautiful smile. Wide, with perfectly straight white teeth all except her left canine which was a little higher than the rest. I knew she was self conscience of it, but I found it endearing. People's unique "flaws" make them that much more beautiful in my opinion.
“Alright, I'll let you escape for now. This isn’t over though detka, and don't think I'll forget the topic." She playfully warned in Russian, and waved before disconnecting the Skype call. I let out an exaggerated breath as I shut my laptop and leapt off the bed to find a decently thin jacket to wear out.
Liza and I wound up driving five minutes to the smallish park across the street. It's not busy except for the weekends, so I wasn't surprised to find it totally dead as we trudged over. We walked until we reached the swings, and I watched her sink into the sand right beside them. She was silent for several seconds before letting out a long, depressing sigh. My best friend's curly red hair blew gently in the wind as she opened her mouth to speak. I caught the scoff, and wished I could take all her pain away.
“Max wants to call the engagement off.” Liza's voice was monotone, almost dead. I sat next to her gingerly, hugging my knees to my chest as I glanced over. Her facial expression wasn't readable, and that's how I knew she was really fucked up right now.
“Are you ok?” It’s a stupid question, of course she isn’t but I’m not sure what else to say.
“I don’t know, dude. You ever just wonder if people aren’t meant to be with other people? We bring out the worst in each other. I wish I could just turn all emotion off and enjoy hot sex with strangers.” She threw her head back and giggled sarcastically. Thinking about what she said, Vasha’s rare smile popped into my head. I’d like to turn the peculiar feelings I'm having for her off, but if they did I’m afraid I’d feel numb again.
Empty. Like I felt before I met her.
I'm not the best at following my own Romantic advice, but that didn't mean I couldn't offer some words of encouragement. Digging a finger into the sand, I licked my lips and hummed.
"The wrong person'll make you feel that way. Listen, you deserve better than that asshole. I keep telling you and you never get it. If he leaves, he's doing you a solid. Trust me on this dude."
"So why do you keep going back to Katie?" Liza challenged with hesitation. My eyes widened for a second, then I shook my head and brought myself to look at her with a frown.
"Good point. Relationships are complicated, even when they end. Sometimes it's hard to let go I guess, huh?"
"I think we know better than anyone." Liza giggled and nudged me in the ribs teasingly. I chuckled, and then we both burst into high pitched laughter. It's always so ironic how the most messed up shit is hilarious to laugh at in hindsight. What are we thinking, anyway? Staying around people who treat us like shit.
“Hey!” I tried to make myself sound chipper as I wiped the giddy tears away from my eyes. “Let’s go see that movie you were talking about earlier. They’ve always got late showings and I'll probably knee Max in the balls if I have to see him any time soon.”
“Awesome, and yeah please don't. We still have to live with him until he figures out where he's going, 'cause I'm not moving out. Fuck that!” She exclaimed matter of factly as she rose to her feet.
Looking at Liza on our way back to her car, I felt a twinge of sadness. She wasted her youth having children with the wrong men and getting into relationships with shady people. She deserves better, I just don’t think she knows that. Despite my horrid realization, the only thing I could think of during the ride to our local Harkins was how I couldn’t wait to Skype Vasha again.
Even if the conversation took another weird turn.