( Russia, 1990s)
( Photo by Vyacheslav Yatchenko )
“I’ve got a present for you from grandma,” – dad just came back from a small coal-mining town in Ukraine, where his parents lived. “Should we meet tomorrow under the big clock at the metro station?”
“What time, dad?” – I felt very excited, anticipating my present.
“I have drinks after work tomorrow, so might not be able to drop it off before 8 pm. Should we make it 8.10 pm?”
“That sounds great. Looking forward to seeing you there by the big clock.”
Next day I could not wait to see my dad and get my present. I put my clothes on and rushed out of the house before eight pm. It was dark outside. I got to the metro station in five minutes. The clock struck eight pm.
There were quite a few people by the big clock. Three young ladies in mini-skirts were leisurely smoking cigarettes. I moved away from them to avoid breathing in smoke. A young couple were hugging and kissing each other on the only bench in the metro-station. I stood next to a middle-aged woman with two big bags full of groceries. She looked very tired, with black mascara circles around her eyes and bright red lipstick.
One minute past eight. A crowd of people got off the train and went to the exit. I was trying to find my dad in a crowd of tired faces.
“How much?” – a young stranger with tinted glasses approached me.
“What?” – his voice gave me a start.
“How much?” – he repeated his question.
“How much of what?” – I felt puzzled.
“Sorry…” – he quickly disappeared in a crowd.
Two minutes past eight. A group of laughing youngsters passed me on their way out.
Three minutes past eight. A drunk middle-aged man was slowly walking towards the exit. A middle-aged woman, standing next to me, started waving to him. Staggering on his unruly legs, he approached us and suddenly fell on me, grabbing onto my shoulders. A strong smell of alcohol almost knocked me out. I tried to free myself, while middle-aged woman helped him back onto his feet.
Four minutes past eight. At last I managed to get away from this drunk. A middle-aged woman helped him onto his feet and started leading him towards the exit, pulling two heavy bags behind.
Five minutes past eight. A young lady came towards me.
“Would you like a cigarette?”
“No, thanks, I do not smoke.”
“What about a kiss?”
“What?” – I shrank back from her. She giggled and left.
Six minutes past eight. Another crowd of people got off the train, but I still could not see my dad.
Seven minutes past eight. An old man approached me.
“Are you my girlfriend?” – he gave me a wink.
I did not know what to say. He laughed and sat on the bench.
Eight minutes past eight. It felt like the clock’s arm was hardly moving around.
Nine minutes past eight.
“What are you doing here, bitch?” – a big guy with a bulldog face advanced towards me.
“Wwwwaiting for my daddddddy.” – I stammered out moving backwards towards the wall.
“Wwwaiting for dadddddddy?” – he laughed. “I give you one minute. Scram!” – he spitted out and turned away.
Ten minutes past eight. I was slowly moving backwards to the exit, looking at the big clock.
“How are you, my little princess?” – dad’s kind smile suddenly appeared in front of me. He put a bag with a big parcel on the floor and tried to give me a hug.
“Don’t hug me!” – I screamed in terror. “Or they might think you are my client!!!”
“What’s wrong with you, honey? Have you been watching horror movies?”
“No, dad. I’ve just been waiting for you by this clock for ten minutes!!!”
( Photo by Bondarchuk )