The Heat Of Arkhangelsk. Part 1. Chapter 2.

“So what do I do with you, Philimonova? Not only did you fail to show up at work for three days, you haven’t accomplished your task! When were you asked to go to the revenue? On Monday! What is the day today? Friday!”
Olive, with the air of a guilty schoolgirl, wearing a threadbare sports coat, her rusty-colored hair clumped in an unkempt ponytail, stood before the desk of Manager Elagin. The shiner gotten the day before was plastered with tinting cream which made Olive’s appearance even more untidy.
“You’ve got complained on by the accountants and the legal department, too! Look, Philimonova, you had better give notice. I don’t want a messenger like you.”
“But it’s not my fault, I’ve been to the revenue, it’s congested! I couldn’t make it…” mumbled Olive about to cry.
“Don’t hem and haw! Why did everyone else make it, but you didn’t, tell me, please? Why do the important documents look like they’ve been in your ass?” Elagin shook angrily the dirty pile of crumpled papers. “Who on Earth will register them now? Were you drunk or what? Couldn’t stand on your feet? I’ll sack you for drinking at work, and that’s the end of it!”
Meanwhile the door opened, and Yana, carrying a cup of coffee on a tray, entered Elagin’s room.
“Thank you, darl, thank you, my beauty!” and, as he cast a wrathful look at Oliva, snarled out: “You go! I want your notice back in five minutes!”
“Forgive me, Mr Elagin, but Olya’s not at fault,” Yana interceded for her friend, “Yesterday she got beaten and the documents were taken away from her and thrown into a puddle.”
“Did you see who had done it?”
“N-no, but–”
“How can you assert it, since you didn’t?”
“But you casn see the bruise…”
“What about the bruise? She might have had a drunken fight, mightn’t she? Alright,” Elagin slapped the desk, to indicate that the coversation was at an end, “Tell her to write an explanatory letter. Then we will see.”
Oliva returned to her cell and gave a loose to her tears. She sat on her tattered chair (the messengers’ room was unprovided with a desk) and began to think where to start writing her explanatory. What was she to write about? Being beaten up by her ex-classmates? The important documents thrown into the puddle? Suffering the humiliation over again…
The cell door opened and let in Yana carrying a pen and a sheet of paper.
“Here,” she handed Olive the pen and paper. “Write, it’s alright. You just calm down first. There’s no use crying over spilt milk.”
“Bastards!” bawled Oliva through her sobs, “Been giving me a hard time for eleven fucking years… Had tought it would have been over after finishing school… But no such luck…”
“That’s true,” Yana sighed. “But it’s totally your fault. You’ve shown yourself a pushover. Besides, the way you dress – pardon me! A homeless bum could dress better. It might be ok somewhere in a rural area. But here, in Moscow…
“It’s easy for you to say,” Olive retorted, “What kind of clothes would I buy on the money I earn? It’s scarcely enough for food. As for my parents, you know… Dad is an alcoholic, and mother…”
“So what? Sounds like mine in the president. Anyway I try to meet some kind of standards…”
“It’s all very well for you to meet the standards, things come easy to you with your appearance.”
In frustration, Olive went to the window, wiping her eyes swollen with tears.
“Wish I should go so far away… Somewhere no one knows me.”
“Where to? Abroad?” Yana said with a sceptic smirk.
“Why abroad? No, just to another town. Even a small, rural one… At least I wouldn’t be pushed around there, like I am here.”
“You’ll be pushed around everywhere. You can’t escape from yourself.”
“Why not?” muttered Olive with a vague hope in her voice, “Maybe I was born in the wrong place. Wish I could wake up in a different place among different people… Away from those assholes…”
“Oh yeah, like Alice in Wonderland. Or Dorothy in Emerald city!”
“Yes. Why not?”
Yana rose and moved towards the door.
“Because you are living in fairyland, honey. Have a reality check – it’s every man for himself now. Only the fit survive,” she grated harshly, “it’s time to wake up.”

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