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Reviving Anew and Much Stronger

Olya Amanova

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 Olya Amanova

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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It was not that his life was unsatisfying, but each day after day used to begin, continue and end exactly the same as the previous one... Maybe that's why Steven used to always forget the date?

- "What day is it, darling?" - he asked indifferently as always, fastening a tie in front of the mirror - as always unsuccessfully.

- “Friday, darling,” - Kate replied from the kitchen with the same information, as usual, already rustling towards him with her soft slippers. Something was wrong.

- "Aren’t you going to work?" - he looked suspiciously at her fluffy morning robe and her messy hair. – “Someone is not such an exemplary worker anymore, huh?” - he grinned and winked at his wife.

- "Oh, stop it." - she said wearily, adjusting his tie. – “It's just that in our company, exemplary workers are often given a day off before important conferences.”

The mirror informed Steven in time that he could not hide his astonished face and would not be able to do it anyway - Kate was already looking at him inquisitively, and he immediately took a defensive position:

- "And isn’t it normal not to inform me about important affairs when I have been talking about Harry’s upcoming birthday, which, I would like to note, will be next Saturday. Do you remember my friend Harry and his family?

- "Of course, I remember your friend. But is it normal to inform me so blatantly about the invitation at the last moment, when I’ve been talking all week about my conference, which, I’m asking you to note, will be held next Saturday?

Kate looked up from the mirror and peered at her husband’s face with a laugh. He sighed secretly in his heart - the storm passed. So, he could feel safe until the next evening, for sure. Although, it was impossible not to play along with the joke, so he collected all his pseudo-actor's skill into a fist and, having cast a dull look on his face, began to mutter, dusting invisible specks from his jacket:

- “It's a pity to upset the guys - the seats are already nailed down and the food is purchased. Well, that means that someone will get more...

- “Come on, you're not going to stay home because of me?”

"Bingo!" - Steven's self-exclaimed happily in his head.

- “And what do you suggest?” - an inventive husband was not letting go of his opinion. – “Should I have fun while you are working hard at work?”

- “I don’t see anything wrong in having fun with a friend.”

For a minute, Steven stood, looking at himself and Kate in the mirror. Time had changed them so much. This thought, which recently has been overtaking him so often in the most unexpected moments, almost led him away from the already nearly won victory.

- "Do you really think so?" - he finally broke the silence, having barely reached the boundary that if he crossed, he would clearly lose control of the situation. But he got used to dealing with such cases during the years of his marriage, so there were no problems.

- "Why not?" - she answered unconstrainedly, stepping out of the way and letting him pass to the front door. - "Go, or you'll be late for work."

- "See you in the evening, my dear!"

- “Have a nice day!”

She kissed him on the cheek, seeing him off. The same as always.

Steven loved his wife. At least, he always thought so. She was a reliable companion in life. She could finish his sentences. They rarely had quarrels. They have been living in perfect harmony for five years and no one seemed to think that anything could be different. And why?

The only thing that used to stress Steven out, was Adam Gosling - Kate's father. No, he lived separately, was independent financially and emotionally, did not require anything outrageous, and did not speak out against their marriage. On the contrary, he was quite respectful of Steven, who had a respectable job in an office. The only problem was that his work was clearly not the best.

Adam Gosling had a prosperous business. He was a successful private entrepreneur. What was everyone shutting their eyes on, including Kate? There was something more than just a legitimate business. Something for which entrepreneurship was only a cover, a means of money laundering. This question was never raised in the family, and Steven was grateful to the father-in-law for this - it was not necessary to involve him and his daughter in these dirty criminal activities.

Steven could close his eyes to all this and would do it if he hadn’t been noticing these scams with cars, money, which were coming and going devil knows where, especially when some of them, and a significant sum, suddenly became a gift to the couple on the anniversary of their wedding, a gift for New Year’s or for absolutely no reason. Something was preventing Steven from taking this money, but he was afraid of speaking to his relative.

It was not the first time that this question tormented him. He was trying to discuss it with Kate, but all was in vain. Additionally, there was something else that could not but cause stress. Something that was rising from within and was making him look at things that were surrounding him invariably every day from a new perspective.

- "How old are you, my friend?" - he asked himself sometimes, looking in the mirror, when he was sure that his wife would not hear him. In general, he had begun to talk to himself quite often lately and he was already worried.

He did not want to answer his own question honestly. Maybe he would even try to convince himself that he was a little less than thirty, but the shadows under his tired eyes and the skin around his neck were throwing a bitter truth in the face of their possessor: the line was crossed. Maybe even a large part of his life was behind him.

Having realized, in time, that he had been sitting several minutes, thinking about the unhappy distribution of his own affairs and completely forgetting about his work, Steven shook his head to dispel his depressive mood and concentrate, or at least pretend that he was sorting papers.

Finally, what if this all was a bluff? All these labels about those who were "over thirty"? Who needed this at all? Finally, who would dictate to an adult how to live and when to bury oneself?!

But an even harsher question - "What are you doing with your life?" – was bothering him incessantly. It invariably followed the question about his age. And Steven could not answer this question either telling the truth or lying. He didn’t know what to say or even lie to himself.

He wakes up in the morning. Kate fastens his tie and always kisses him the same way, always on the left cheek. He spends eight hours a day at work, turning off his whole personality and intellect. Then he comes home and receives a kiss on his right cheek, eats his supper and lies down on the sofa reading a book or watching a stupid TV show until he falls asleep to get up in the morning and again fasten a tie and get a kiss on the left cheek...

Could this continue until his death? Until his fingers get tired of fastening his tie, or his cheek gets tired of receiving its daily kiss?

"What do you miss?" - a new question used to come after these reflections. “In fact,” - he thought, - “He had everything he could dream about: work, home, prosperity, status and a loving wife. What else was there to dream about? About growth? About personality? But the stable career growth was already provided for years to come, and all the most comfortable conditions already existed for his personality. Did he need more?

Behind such philosophizing, Steven did not notice how the work day ended. Another useless grain of sand in the useless hourglass of life. "Paid eight hours, for which I have not done any good to anybody. Office rat. Good doggie." - he said sullenly to himself.

Kiss on the right cheek with the same pressure and smell of lipstick, as before. Supper. Quite a good one, although today it was worse than yesterday. And what was yesterday? "God, what am I spending my life on?"

TV until midnight. The long-awaited dream.

"Tomorrow everything will be different."

Tomorrow began quite soon. It seemed that the alarm clock rang as soon as he closed his eyes. Seven hours of sleep had flown by in an instant. "Is it that I can’t wait for the upcoming party?" - Steven was surprised and, as if waiting for some gift from fate, looked out into a suspiciously silent corridor (the bed was already empty and cold), and then to the kitchen.

- “There it is!” – a note was on the refrigerator:

- "I'll be home at five. Do not sit too long and, be kind, do not drink too much: it's bad for you! Breakfast is on the stove. With love, Kate."

- "Thank you!" - Steven replied to the note for some reason, and, becoming lost in thought, suddenly laughed to himself. - "Today will be completely different than yesterday."

Steven spent a good three hours searching for a nice gift in the local stores and decided to go with a book. A science-fiction novel about aliens. "Stupidity!" - he would proclaim arrogantly if he were here with his wife, but he was alone and something in his heart flashed when he saw the old writer’s familiar name on the bookshelf: back in school and in early university years he and Harry used to read a lot of this nonsense about aliens. So why not let an old friend feel young again on his birthday?

Paying, he involuntarily thought that he was buying this, because he himself would like to be given the same present. But his wife used to give him unnecessary gifts. She didn’t know his hobbies, maybe never was interested...

Actually, he didn’t know her hobbies too. This thought dawned on him already at the exit from the bookshop when he was taking a taxi (despite his wife's demands not to drink too much, he was not sure that he could resist the temptation. After all, she herself, said “to have fun with a friend”). They had not even gotten to know each other after having lived together happily for five years! What can be said about such life?

- "Where are we going, boss?" - the taxi driver asked tiredly, when Steven, having fallen into his thoughts again, didn’t answer for a long time.

He apologized and gave the driver the address and, clutching the book wrapped in shiny paper more tightly in his hands, tried again to get rid of the obsessive thoughts creeping into his head.

Despite the fact that it was relatively early, there were a lot of Harry's guests and they had already drunk a lot.

- "Do not get old in your heart, brother!" - Steven gave a present to his old friend without long reflection, hugging him and slapping him on the shoulder. After thinking, he added: "It doesn’t matter if half of your life is behind you..."

- "Do you know where to go?" - Harry laughed good-naturedly and finally looked at the gift. - "I cannot believe you still remember!"

- "Aren’t you glad?"

- “Are you kidding me?” - a friend called without waiting for an answer – “Let's get acquainted!”

- “Get acquainted?” - Steven did not understand.

Frustrated by his friend's incomprehension, Harry sighed in contrition and rolled his eyes pathetically. Steven barely held back his laughter - he had not been in the company of friends for so long. Kate was right – he needed to have fun.

- "You see, even though you are such an exemplary husband, it does not mean that we should all be like you." - Harry began to explain the course of his thoughts, he grabbed his friend by the shoulder and persistently dragged him into the living room. – “During this year I have met a lot of new acquaintances, so be kind, show yourself to people!”

- “Come on, you know, I'm not the soul of the company!" - Steven protested, but it was too late: the door to the crowded hall was shut, and there was no chance of escaping...

It seemed that Harry’s house itself was providing a mood for amusement: Steven had not been here since the last repair. A formerly wide space seemed to become even wider - this place was just designed for parties!

It got dark very fast. As fast as Steven managed to get drunk.

- “You are losing your grip, man!” – Steven’s friend could hardly shout over the rumbling music, drinking a lot without getting drunk. – “Do you know why?”

- “Why?” - Steven asked with a stumbling tongue.

- “You’ve outstayed your welcome, old man! You will become covered with moss in the blink of an eye this way!”

Steven suddenly felt offended. The old friend shoved him into the most painful place. He had already pulled himself together to say something offensive to his friend, but suddenly Harry was called by his friend and having crouched for a moment on the arm of the couch where Steven was sitting, he immediately rushed to answer.

He waved his hand after Harry with annoyance, Steven decided not to go for revenge and remained sitting on the couch. Moreover, it seemed that he would immediately fall flat as soon as he stood up. That's why he began to stare at the women and men all around him - everyone had their own company and friends. Steven had friends too, but with each passing year he had less and less in common with them. He had already "dropped out" of all possible clubs: fishermen's club, film club, in which, during his student years, it was always possible to find a couple of people for an entertaining movie showing. Even a club of book lovers, into which one day a classmate enrolled him for fun, and which, according to the degree of sadness reminded him of the cemetery, now seemed to live a more interesting and more meaningful life than he did.

Steven did not get acquainted with the guests. It seemed that he was already starting a chat, but as soon as he got drunk, everyone went to look for more interesting interlocutors. "The devil made me go without Kate! Now there's no one to talk to!" - Steven lamented to himself, helplessly shaking a half-empty bottle.

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