Life Miracle

Катя ИВАНОВА | Проза

(from the «God Forgotten Village» series)

«What an old fool I am, for not listening to my neighbor. We didn’t rebuild, or repair the stove while it was being repaired. It’s already the 30th of December, just a few days till New Year’s, and the stove is such an irritation, it smokes… it doesn’t want to light» said Natalia, almost in tears.

It’s a deep winter afternoon.

«Oh, I’m so stupid! How will I heat my cottage? With electricity? No heater would be enough for three large rooms, and the temperature outside is down to minus thirty» even louder wailed the middle-aged woman in a faded shawl and an old knitted vest, smearing soot across her face with dirty hands and wiping away her welling tears.

Natalia Ivanovna, a plump fifty five year old woman, only recently moved into the big solid wooden cottage, around early summer, which she inherited from a lonely distant relative. She retired and decided to move into a small village, in a cottage near the forest, not far from the highway.

She did a facelift of the cottage, spent the whole summer pottering around the garden. There was plenty of land around the freestanding cottage. Which helped her provide fruit, vegetables, pickles and, the most importantly, potatoes for her daughter’s family and herself. Now, there is no need to buy potatoes or cabbage at the store. We have our own, prepared, packed with love and put into a deep cellar.

She made acquaintances among the locals, which aren’t so many now. About thirty cottages in a «dying village». Although, many live here only in summer, moving back to city flats for winter. She decided to bring in some living things, to not have those good barns empty. She bought two young she-goats, eight hens, two rabbits (one buck and three does), to have both home raised milk and meat.

«Well, there’s definitely a need for a man’s strong hands… to light the stove, feed the animals in the barn, and the long winter evenings would not be so lonely» was echoing in her head even more. Since her husband died young, Natalia had not found her life partner. She sacrificed herself for work, career and raising her daughter.

She left her one-bedroom flat her daughter and two sons, recently abandoned by her husband: «Let her live with the boys in the flat, I will move to the village. I am tired of the busy city» thought the young retiree, planning her future life.

«Grandmother, may I come in?» — suddenly she heard the loud man’s voice saying.

Turning from the stove, she saw a tall man enter the cottage. He had a small beard, thick blond eyebrows, large dark eyes and wore a warm short jacket.

«My car stalled and my cell died… may I use your phone?»

«Grandmother yourself!» angrily responded Natalia.

«See, I’m busy with the stove. And you can’t call from here… no signal for cell phones.»

«I’m sorry I called you that. What should I do? I didn’t manage to reach the neighbouring village, it’s twelve kilometers away… my friends are waiting there for me. They’ll be worried about me.»
«They will worry, you say?» she asked again quietly,
«Here, take my cell phone, go outside, there you will find a tall ladder, climb it to the hayloft roof. Only there will you be able to catch a signal» she took an old cell phone off he shelf of a kitchen cupboard, and gave it to him with a dirty, sooty hand.
«Gross!» thought the guest, «Face covered with soot. A draggle-tail… Though maybe not, the place is clean.»
«Take it, take it, go climb up the ladder.»A few minutes passed. The man came back to the cottage.
«I called. Thank you» he put the phone on the kitchen table.
«How is it living here? It’s a small village. You don’t even lock the door, everyone can come in! Aren’t you afraid? The forest and the road are near. They will come in an hour… the repair recovery. I called my friends, so they wouldn’t worry… Maybe I can help you with something?»
«What should I be afraid of? Who cares? I have neither money nor jewels! The stove smokes, doesn’t want to light. I don’t know what to do.»
«Let me see! I need to thank you somehow for your help.»
«You know how to light a stove? Aren’t you from the city?»
«I know a little, I’ve worked as a builder my whole life, and still work.»

The man took off his jacket and approached  the stove. — «Please, step aside. I’ll do it myself…» —

After ten minutes, he lit the stove. The flames burned brightly, the birch wood was cracking, and the stove began to heat up and the heat went into the room.

«Thank you! And so cleverly done. It always heated well before, and today… it smokes, a wretched thing.»

«The stove needs to be cleaned, a lot of soot has accumulated in the chimney. On my way back from my friend’s, in a couple of days, I’ll come back and will clean your stove. I will bring a special agent, will pour it in there, and all the soot will exit through the chimney.»

«Thank you. Let’s have some tea. You probably froze out there? Let me wash my hands first…»

«Your face too» said the unexpected guest laughing, «Let me introduce myself – Gregory Stepanovich.»

«Natalia Ivanovna.» And only now the hostess looked into the mirror, «Oh my! The soot is all over me, my face is like that of Cinderella», she laughed.

«Now you are beautiful!», the man began to flirt.

«I am beautiful? I am retired. A hard worker, I worked as a saleswoman in a large store my entire life. This summer I moved to this village and into this house… I live here alone», said the hostess, pouring hot tea. «Have some jam, I made it myself. It’s pear with currants – my very own recipe.»

«And where is your «other half»?»

«He is long gone. He died when he was young. I didn’t marry and raised my daughter by myself. I left her my flat in the city and decided to live where there is some fresh air…»

«Such delicious tea. Thank you.»

«Of course it is. With goat milk and herbs…»

«I also live alone. My wife died. The children live in the regional centre… so, I’m going to celebrate the New Year with my old friends. Are your grandsons coming tomorrow?»

«No, they aren’t. About the third. The boys participate in various holiday concerts… They are musicians.» said the woman proudly.

«And I only see mine once a year. We call and skype each other once a month. They are busy.» replied Grigory with sadness in his voice.

«Have the emergency services arrived? They are probably waiting for you at the highway.»

«Do you want me to leave? I’m watching the time. Am I disturbing you?»

«I need to go to the barn, see the animals…It’s getting dark outside.»

«Well, then it’s time to say goodbye. I’m warm enough now. I’ll go to the car. Thanks for your hospitality.» reluctantly said the guest.

«Good bye! Have a good trip. And happy New Year’s eve!» silently answered Natalya Petrovna.

On the thirty-first of December at ten o’clock Natalia was lying on the couch in a new dress, with a beautiful hairdo and subtle make-up, watching a New Year’s concert.

«Dressed up, old fool, put on make-up… and now I’m waiting that maybe someone would join the party, somebody would show up… like a prince on a car, no, not a prince, a king. The fellow villagers have almost all congratulated me already… some champagne was drunk… now all of them are home, watching their TVs. And here I am alone… At least, my daughter and grandchildren could come, but no one comes visiting such a place in the middle of nowhere. It’s the first time I’m alone for New Year’s eve», she thought, glancing at the colourful garland on the fur-tree, and looking out the window from time to time.

The garden gate slammed. There was a knock at the door.

The woman reluctantly rose from the sofa and went to open the door:

«Who’s there?» she quietly asked.
«It’s Santa Claus! I came from the North to wish the hostess a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I brought some presents with me!», responded a loud male bass.
«Who the hell is this? Maybe Vaska, the drunkard… wants to get a drink?» — she thought, and opened the door.

Gregory Stepanovich entered the cottage dressed in a Santa Claus suit with a sack over his shoulder.

«Good evening, mam! Santa Claus has come to congratulate you and even brought you presents!» loudly said Grigory. «I thought that you’d be bored celebrating the New Year by yourself. And I want to keep you company.
«Seriously?!» said Natalia surprised, her eyebrows rose.
«Yes! I am your king and prince in a white car for this New Year’s night» the guest joked.
«What if you aren’t a king at all? Maybe an evil sorcerer, dressed like the Santa Claus?» the woman played.
«Are you afraid of me» Grigory asked surprisingly.
«I don’t know you at all…» she responded, hiding her eyes.
«Then get dressed, put on your coat, valenki, shawl and let’s go to my friends’! there’s a big party there. The car’s waiting at the gate.»
«But I don’t know anyone there! How can I go celebrate with people I don’t know?»
«You’ll get acquainted! Oh, I almost forgot about your present», — Gregory pulled a bottle of champagne, a box of chocolate and a bouquet of pink and white roses out of the sack.
«My God, how beautiful. They froze. Are they for me? I haven’t got flowers for ages. Thank you so much!», she braced the cold flowers. Her eyes shone and she touched the man’s cheek with her lips.
«So, my queen, what have you decided? Are we staying here or going to a boisterous ball at the other cottage?» said Santa Claus laughing. Then he stood on one knee, took the hand of his «sweetheart», pretending to kiss it.
«Okay, let’s go! At least once in a lifetime I’d feel like a queen!» said the happy woman laughing.
«Natalia Petrovna, allow me to care for you! I couldn’t find any peace since yesterday, your image stands before me… and the taste of your jam is still on my tongue.» Gregory slowly stood up and «kissed his Queen’s sweet lips.»


«My daughter, boys, let me introduce you to my good friend and helper GrigoryStepanovich», Natalia calmly addressed the entering guests.
«Wait, he’s going to with you, grandma?», shouted both of the grandsons at the same time.
«I will! I will! I will also help with the housework», answered Gregory Stepanovich laughing.

About the author:

Katya Ivanova,  pen-name Katya Ivanova. YekaterinaNikolayevnaZayats was born in 1962 in Kazakhstan. Currently lives in Troitsk, a city in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. She obtained her higher education in the Veterinary Research Institute of Troitsk. She is married, has two daughters and three grandchildren.

 At this point, the following books have been printed in Russia: «Romantic novels» and «Novels about Love» «Detectives, Mystery» (2014)

 «Love Has Passed», «Man’s Oriental Aroma», «What Happiness Is» tales for children by Omsk publishing house «KAN», «Childhood» stories for children and five e-books which are sold in various Internet stores (2015).

 My works are published in following magazines: «Czech Star», «Green Boulevard», «Three Wishes», «Russian Bell», «Sputnik», «Edge of Cities», «Bridge» etc.

Since November 2016 she has been a member of the International Writers’ Association.

She was nominated for the Author of the year award competition in 2016.

Рассказать о прочитанном в социальных сетях:

Подписка на обновления интернет-версии журнала «Российский колокол»:

Читатели @roskolokol
Подписка через почту

Введите ваш email: