A Russian Summer

by James Keogh


I entered the university despite my poor record at studying, I nevertheless passed the entrance examination. I was back in our Moscow apartment and nothing ostensibly had changed, my mother lived her same detached life apart from me, and my father was not usually at home. It was really the only difference from before, I did not see very much of him. Of course, I had changed, grown up a little, my childhood had finished that summer with Konstantin.

It was one evening in Moscow when by chance I bumped into Vyacheslav, he appeared unchanged, but told me his life had in fact moved on. No longer a hussar he was in the civil service and had got married. When he inquired as to whether I had seen Madame Levitsky, I immediately recognised his familiar way of imparting information in a convoluted fashion.

"What Madame Levitsky?" I asked.

"You can't have forgotten her already. The delightful Princess Anoushka, with whom we were all in love."

"She is married?"

"Not in any church. No, it is the name she uses. I thought surely your father would have said."

And that was how I discovered Princess Anoushka was still my father's mistress. He spent much of his time with her in Saint Petersburg, if my mother was aware of this, and I am sure she was, she had said nothing to me.

I asked after the others, in particular Konstantin, but he had no news other than he believed Konstantin had gone with the regiment to the Crimea to fight the Turks. I never saw Konstantin again after that summer, it was as he had said, our destiny. I would never forget him, not for my whole life, he was my first love.

I did not intrude into my father's life until some years later when he entrusted the management of the wallpaper factory to me. This was shortly before his death and it was at that instance I discovered I had a younger brother. Madame Levitsky, Princess Anoushka, had given birth to a son by my father, she had died in childbirth and the boy was in the care of the now very elderly Princess Agnia, who still resided in the country lodge.

It was circumstances, or destiny if you prefer, which led me back to install myself where everything had begun, and from where I could oversee the factory. It was there I first laid eyes on my little brother, he was five years old, and it was there I renewed my friendship with my adopted brother, Spartak, who was now seventeen, and whose beautiful smile always reminded me of the Princess.

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