DOS & DON'TS
Early in the war in Moscow there lived a woman who didn’t love her husband very much. He was a pilot, and they got along somehow, but when the war began he went off to serve at a base near Moscow. This woman, Lida, would visit him at the airfield; one time she got there and was told that her husband’s plane had been shot down not far from the airfield, and that the funeral was the next day.
Lida attended the funeral, where she saw three closed coffins, and then returned to her room to find a draft notice for a brigade digging anti-tank ditches outside the city, and off she went to dig. It was autumn before she finally returned, and she began to notice that she was being followed by a very strange-looking young man: He looked thin, pale, and sad. Lida would see him on the street and in the store where she bought potatoes with her ration card. One night her doorbell rang and there he was. “Lida, don’t you recognize me?” said the man. “I’m your husband.” He hadn’t been buried at all, it turned out, they had buried some dirt instead, whereas he’d been caught by an air cushion after his plane was shot down and deposited in a tree, and after climbing down decided not to go back to fighting anymore.
Lida didn’t ask how he survived these past two and a half monthshe told her he’d found some clothes in an abandoned buildingand they began living together again. Lida was nervous the neighbors might notice, but they never did.
Then one day her husband said that winter was coming soon and they should go right away and bury the flight suit he’d left in the forest.
Lida borrowed a small shovel from the superintendent and off they went to the forest. They had to take a tram to the Sokolniki station, then walk for a while alongside a brook into the forest. No one stopped them and finally toward evening they reached a wide field, and at the edge of it a large pit. It was growing dark already. Her husband told Lida that he was out of strength but it was important that they cover up the pit, since he remembered now that he’d thrown his suit down there.
Lida looked into the pit and saw that, indeed, something resembling a flight suit lay at the bottom. She began throwing dirt on top of it, while her husband kept hurrying her, saying it was already getting dark. She shoveled dirt into the pit for three hours, and then, looking up, saw that her husband was gone.
Lida was frightened. She began searching for him, running around, then almost fell into the pit and saw that, at the bottom, the flight suit was moving. She ran away. It was completely dark now in the forest, yet somehow Lida made it out and emerged at her tram stop as the sun was coming up. She rode home and once she got there finally she fell asleep.
And in her dreams her husband came to her and said: “Thank you, Lida, for burying me.”
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