”I wish you wouldn’t always spring these things on me at the very last moment.” Rita said an honest twinge of regret in her voice.
“Oh, you know how it is. You find out that the world is going to end and you just have to do something about it.” Vladimir said, sounding so much like a suffering, misunderstood artist that I smiled in spite of myself.
Rita was driving us through the streets of St Petersburg in her Mini. The sight of Vladimir and Rita packing themselves in was something to see. But once Rita had started the car there was nothing else to do but hold on for dear life. There is no other word to accurately describe Rita’s driving style but reckless. We barrelled through alleys and small roads, apparently avoiding all the tourist attractions while Rita berated her brother.
“Don’t you start with that again. It’s your own fault that you’re no longer talking to White. If he sent the letter to you directly, we wouldn’t be in such a hurry and I wouldn’t have to shut my shop down.”
Vladimir opened his mouth to retort but seemed to think better of it and instead seemed to shrink in his seat and said “I’m sorry, Rita.”
I felt uncomfortable and not only because I was leaning my chin on my knees due to the lack of room in the back seat. I tried looking out of the window but saw an old man shaking his fist after us, because Rita just barely missed him. I decided it would be safer – and less vomit inducing – to just focus my gaze on a spot in the ceiling.
“Where are we going again?”
“Harbour.” Rita snapped slamming her fist on the horn as the car jostled. I focused on focusing my gaze on the ceiling.
“Rita has a plane in the harbour we can use to get to White.” Vladimir said in a conversational tone that made me want to slap him. It was as if he didn’t realize how close to death we were every second Rita spent behind the wheel.
“Mmhhmmm.” I mumbled through clenched teeth.
“Rita, I think you may want to stop soon. Our little friend is having a reaction to your driving.” Vladimir said with a voice that was equal parts concern and amusement.
I remained in the car for several minutes, gathering myself while Rita and Vladimir stood outside, joking and laughing. For the first time since I found the hidden stash of documents I wondered if I would survive this adventure.
Vladimir poked his head in the front passenger window. “Are you coming?”
“I don’t think I can do this.” I said weakly, pinching the bridge of my nose.
He was quiet for a while. “All right. Should I call you a cab or will you manage?”
“What? Just like that?”
“You say you want out, you get out. Better here than on the island.” He said shrugging his shoulders as if none of it mattered.
“Look. This life… It is a sacrifice. If you do not want to make that sacrifice, I understand. Neither I nor Rita nor anyone else will try to talk you into it, let alone force you.”
“But… You need me.”
“So I have to go.”
“No. We have done without you for many years up to now, it is a fact that we can do without you. It will be more difficult, that is for sure. Lou may get shot after all. But we will manage. It is up to you.” With that he left
Vladimir and Rita walked into a shed. Rita said something, looking concerned and Vladimir waved her question away. I watched them load their hands with rope and tools and other miscellaneous stuff that seems to always come in handy.
“You made the right decision. I always told Helmi that this life was not for her.” Ukko muttered from inside the bag he was stuffed in.
I thought about Gammie. The life of sacrifice she lead, never able to tell the people she loved why they were the ones to suffer. And still she did it, risking life and limb in the process. And what did it give her? Indeed.
My eyes slid onto a first aid kit Rita had loaded on Vladimir’s arms. She was going through the contents, obviously checking that they were sufficient. And something clicked within me. My drifting life, Gammie’s tender words and the gift she left me. She knew I could handle it. She knew I could take her place in the Order. And despite my own misapprehensions I couldn’t deny it; I wanted to be like her.
As I ran to Rita’s welcoming arms, Gammie’s great leather coat flaring out behind me, Gammie’s bowling bag bouncing on my shoulder, Ukko shouting to get heard (“You can do so much better!”), I knew this was the right thing to do.
So that’s the previously written ones. Leave a comment if you want to leave a writing prompt and the next installment will appear two weeks from now.