Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Daily Sketches. #19 Disappointment (Excerpt)

Pastry from my childhood (source)

I was on fire with writing today and wrote not only two sketches to catch up with the link-up, but also a sketch for tomorrow's topic, since I plan to be out all day tomorrow. Here it goes.

Write about a disappointment. Were you the one who felt it, or was it someone you cared about who was disappointed? How did it make you feel?

As the school year progressed, Tanya continued coming back to return books that she borrowed from Marusya’s home library and to find new books to read. It sort of became their weekly hang out, and Marusya was secretly pleased that she, though unintentionally, was able to brake her friend’s hermit habit to stay home after school. A few times, they even went to that little café Marusya was talking about. She now had more pocket money than she knew what to do with as she wrote a couple of more articles, and the sum she received in the mail was already over ten rubles which was about a tenth part of her mother’s modest monthly salary. Marusya eventually learned that it was not even nearly enough to purchase binoculars or a compass, not the real thing anyway, and she would have to write many, very many articles to get to the point when she would be able to afford them. It seemed way too much work and discipline – not the writing part, but the strategical savings part. She felt that she did not have any patience for that. So she decided to spend her earned money which was not called “salary”, by the way, but “royalties” as she learned from the editor. Royalties! It sounded way better than the more prosaic salary. Anyone could make a salary. Royalties sounded much more special and even extravagant. No one in her family ever had royalties, that Marusya knew for sure. She decided that it would be only right to spend her royalties in a royal way, so she invited Tanya for a little celebration in the café near their courtyard, just across the street, where both girls picked every pastry their hearts desired. Now that was a celebration!
"I just love this cafe, I will also bring Sara here," said Marusya. 
“What do you even find interesting about that Sara?” said Tanya, and Marusya detected a trace of hurt feelings in her voice.
Tanya was jealous. Obviously, she was, even though she did not want to admit it no matter how hard Marusya tried to get her to admit it.
“You just don’t like her because I like her.”
“It’s not true, Marusya. Say that you don’t actually think that.”
Marusya felt bad that she had poked at her friend’s feelings.
“Sorry. I did not meant it, of course. I’m just teasing.”
It was partly the truth, at least as much as Marusya was able to be truthful at this moment, finding herself in this strange triangular situation.
“But how can you even decide that you don’t like someone if you have never met the person?”
“I saw her. She was in the grocery store the other day.”
“You did not tell me about that.”
“Well you just keep going on and on about her, I felt like it was pointless.”
“So what did you see?”
Tanya moved her mouth left to right, and left again – she always did that when she felt unsure of herself, but at the same time unable to keep silent about whatever bugged her.
“Well, it’s just that she is so proud …”
“How is that a bad thing? Why does everyone tell us that pride is something to be avoided by any means?”
Marusya felt annoyed with her friend who seemed to be much less progressive thinking than Marusya expected of her. How can you read all those books and not realize that the world is moved forward by self-confident people?
A long pause hung in the air, and the pastries suddenly tasted sour.
“I’m sorry, Tanya. I did not mean to snap at you. It’s just that self-confidence is a good thing. Don’t you see it? If I was not self-confident even just a little bit, I would never be able to submit my articles to the newspaper. And now look, I’ve published three of them, and it is not the end – it’s only a beginning.”
“I know, Marusya. I really like it that you write your articles. You are very good with words, and you have a lot to say. I admire you. I wish I could be more like you.”
That was something Marusya never expected to hear from anyone, and especially from her best friend. So while Marusya was looking up to Sara, Tanya was looking up to her, Marusya? Really?
“Really, I mean it. And about Sara… I understand that she is fun and very creative. I believe you. I read her articles, and I agree – she has a gift. She is also a good writer.”
“Then what bothers you?”
“I think you are right about the self-confidence thing. But Sara seems not simply confident, but rather overly pleased with herself.”
“What do you mean?”
“Marusya, you are so naïve sometimes,” said Tanya shaking her head, as if suddenly she became ten, or even twenty years older and had all the wisdom of the world at her disposal.
Marusya hated when people called her naïve. What did it even mean? Did it mean she was stupid? But obviously, she was not. She was one of the best students in her class and got the advanced assignments at math tests. They wouldn’t give her the most difficult tasks to solve if she was stupid. And yet, people called her naïve, and nobody calls Matveika naïve, or even Tanya – Marusya has never heard that someone sighed and said about her friend, “Oh she is so naïve.” And Tanya was barely able to pass regular math tests.
The next day Marusya met with her new friend Sara whom she met at the weekly youth journalists meetings. She still had some royalties left, so she figured she’d treat Sara to a pastry in the little café.
“Mmm, try this one, Marusya!”
“Yeah, this is one of my favorite too.”
They let each other bite into each other’s pastries and cakes and giggled. Marusya seemed to giggle a lot when she was with Sara. Unlike when she was with Tanya, they did not discuss such delicate matters as self-confidence or jealousy. Sara traveled all over the country and even visited a couple of foreign countries. She knew so many stories and knew how to tell them in a very engaging way. Sara often seemed older than she actually was. She was tall too, and looked and behaved differently from other girls of her age – more mature, more experienced, and definitely more confident.
“Did you finish your next article, Marusya?”
“I almost did. I think I’ll probably take another week to write that one. I feel it needs time. I’m really nervous about it. It’s kind of personal. It means a lot to me.”
“Well, I completed mine and am ready to submit it tomorrow.”
Marusya thought about what Tanya said earlier – at this moment, Sara sure looked very pleased with herself.

“I never want to be a writer! Never! Ever!”
Marusya cried out loud as soon as she entered her apartment. The folder with her writing notebook and pens flew in the air and fell on the floor as a star fall of pens, pencils, erasers and dozens of other small objects that can be found in any twelve year old girl’s folder.
“What happened? Don’t scare us,” said mama.
“I thought we were friends! I thought she was my friend!”
“Who? Tanya?”
“No, not Tanya, mama – Sara!”
“Well, what happened, can you just calm down and tell us what happened?” mama held her shoulders and walked her to the sofa in the living room.
“Misha, bring her a glass of water,” she commanded to Marusya’s dad.
Surrounded by her parents and familiar things in the small, but cozy living room, Marusya calmed down, stopped crying, and only her shoulders shivered a little. She had a full glass of water before she was able to tell what happened to her that memorable day. Here is the story Marusya told her family.
Apparently, Marusya was working on a piece that was especially dear to her. She was writing about being a girl who had to go to school every day, wear a uniform and basically pretend that she is someone else all day long, day after day. She was writing about school teachers, even though they were mostly nice people, who probably have families and kids of their own, but who don’t usually seem to be interested in what they were teaching, and sometimes would just ask students to read pages of the text book in a classroom, and then complete a test, and that was all. Marusya felt like something was missing in most of her school days, and she knew that it had something to do with the physics teacher in the beginning of the school year who left so abruptly, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it yet. So she shared her thoughts with her new friend who seemed to be such a bright girl and a really good writer, and also had an original perspective on things because she traveled a lot and lived in a few other cities. Her friend seemed to be very interesting in Marusya’s ideas and complimented her on them. She seemed to be sincere, you know, like a true friend. Yet when Marusya told her that she would take an additional week to complete her new article, the first thing she had done was run with Marusya’s ideas, writing an article in which she exposed all the thoughts Marusya discussed with her, as though they were her own. She did it well, oh yes, she did it so well that the editor immediately accepted her submission and even was talking about awarding Sara as a rising star of their youth journalists group.
“What did you say? Did you say anything?” asked papa.
“I did not. I could not. I was just… so shocked,” said Marusya, and her voice trembled a bit. A few teardrops rushed down her cheeks.
“Go to bed, little one,” said mama. “Things always look brighter in the morning.”
Marusya couldn’t sleep that night. She tossed and turned, and cried a bit more. And when the morning arrived, things did not start looking brighter. Her family was already out – both mama and papa left at seven, when she was just waking up. Matveika got up as late as he could, usually when Marusya was out the door.
On the way to school, she couldn’t help but telling all that happened the night before to Tanya.
“I guess you were right about Sara. She actually did look really pleased with herself.”
“Did she say anything?” asked Tanya, settling eyeglasses on her nose.
“Not really. Nothing significant anyway.”
“And you?”
“No, I didn’t say anything.”
They paused.
“I don’t think I’ll ever want to write again,” said Marusya.
“Don’t be silly,” said Tanya. “Maybe you’ll never write for the youth journalist group. But you sure have more than enough to write about friendship, and honesty, and self-confidence.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your idea was great, Marusya. It was so great that not only did Sara steal it from you, but the editor wanted to award it.”
“I guess… I did not think about it this way.”
“And there is something else too.”
Tanya fiddled with her glasses frame again.
“Now you are nobody’s fool.”


  1. I'm glad you were on fire and I could read more about the friends. The image of the pastry turning sour-I could taste it.

  2. Friends ... a topic I'm not quite ready to write about yet. But I really enjoyed reading this tale. It warms me inside.