(Last week: Chartan rejects the overtures from a young female student.)
Chartan opened the apartment door slowly, anticipating a glare from Gina seated at the kitchen table. He was returning from his class an hour later than usual.
No one was at the table. He called his wife’s name. No response. It only took a few seconds to search their tiny living quarters to verify Gina was not home.
No note was taped to the refrigerator, their agreed upon message center. Where would a six-month pregnant woman go? He slumped down on the kitchen table chair facing the front door. The encounter with the strange student coupled with Gina’s unexplained absence had unsettled hm. His pulse was high, even his eyes itched.
At this very moment he had a vision of Brazil moving along a bombed out building in Kyiv in the dark, an M-16 pressed sideways to his waist. Chartan transferred the fear in Brazil’s eyes to his own which were now shut.
He opened his eyes in panic, his mouth agape.
“What’s wrong?” yelled Gina.
“A bad afternoon,” he replied. “Sorry.”
Gina took the chair across from her husband. “Tell me about it?” she asked as she put a bag of decaffeinated coffee on the table.
“I had a moment of failure in class, actually after class with a student, a young woman whom I assume was a student. She wanted to know about love and I couldn’t answer and still can’t answer.”
“Was she hitting on you?”
Chartan was struck by the awkwardness of the words Gina was using, although he knew her intention—he didn’t want to lose control of this exchange with his wife. She reached out quickly and grabbed his hand, knocking the bag over.
Chartan smiled at her. “I even thought about Brazil risking his life in Ukraine. “
“She was hitting on you!”
“I don’t know and I was certainly not interested if she were. But she scared me, enough for me to think she was evil.”
“Yes, that kind of strange evil. I’ve never known fear like the fear Brazil must have now. “He placed his hand over Gina’s.
“I misspoke about Brazil in class—and at this point I simply want to be a good husband and father. I should quit life restoration teaching until I get my calmness back. Do I make any sense?”
“You are trembling,” said Gina.
Chartan had tears in his eyes.
(Continued next Sunday)