Alena silently stared at Kirill’s outstretched hand before lowering her gaze once again. Crouching down, Kirill examined her drawing
- What are you making?
Alena hesitated before finally responding, “a lotus.”
- A what?
- It’s a flower that halmeoni always talks about. She says that it brings good fortune. But it can only blossom in the garden of a kind soul.
- Who’s halmeoni?
- She’s the oemma of oemma of course!
Kirill scratched his head, as Fedir muffled a snicker. Alena grew more and more frustrated and finally burst out:
- All boys and girls have an oemma! Don’t you know anything!?
Fedir burst out laughing, and Alena turned bright red as she stared at the ground with even greater intensity. Bewildered, Kirill quietly watched her.
Alena was a small girl with short black hair that barely came down to her ears, giving her a somewhat boyish look. However, a long green skirt and pink blouse tied off with a big red bow cleared up any doubts.
Alena picked up her stick and returned to her drawing. Grinning, Fedir shook his head.
- She was talking about ‘mothers’, you dummy!
- What? That can’t be right… What about ‘halmoeni’?
- That must mean ‘babushka’. And you say that you’re smarter than me?
Kirill sighed and glanced upwards. Then he picked himself up and turned to Fedir.
- If I said it then it must be true. Come on, Cossack! We better hurry if we want to find the tiger before dark.
As they headed off, Alena called to them:
-Where are you two going? Aren’t you too young to go off looking for wild animals by yourselves?
Kirill turned around and stared at this shy little girl with her other-worldly drawings, her funny words, her weird mannerisms and her condescending questions.
- My father was murdered, and the savage beast that killed him is still out there. And yet a whole month has passed, and no one has done a thing about it. So I’m going into the forest to find this tiger myself. What kind of son would I be if I did otherwise?
Alena nodded and looking him straight in the eyes, replied:
- I want to come too.
To see the next chapter click here.
- Carlos de la Gringa