“She lives in a bathroom.”
“Yes, she is sensitive about it. Don’t mention it.” He knocks
M’s friend opens the door to the bathroom. She smiles. She has a blueish-purple face and hair made of frozen fireworks. It takes a moment for me to realize it isn’t a necklace she is wearing. She smiles anyways.
“Hello, I’m Y.”
M and Y exchange a hug.
M nudges me. “Take off your shoes.” I do. “Follow me,” he says. I do. In the corner there is a sink. M washes his hands and indicates that I should do the same. I do. Y makes some tea. M takes a seat on the toilet and I half sit on the edge of the bathtub.
Y looks at me. “So, why would you come to Russia?”
I sigh, this being the hundredth time I’ve been asked.
“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” I say.
“It is the third English phrase we learn in school,” she says, without irony. “First we learn hello, how are you. Then where are you from. Then, why would you come to Russia.”
She sips her tea.
A silence follows. I spend it staring at the noose around her neck. She spends it noticing.
“I tried to hang myself,” she answers the question my eyes asked.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say and try to hide inside my cup of tea.
“It is okay. My Babushka found me and cut me down. Then, she spell the rope.” Y chews on the inside of her lip and looks at M “Spell? Is that correct?”
“I think you mean cursed,” M tells her.
“What is the difference?”
“Cursed is a bad spell.”
Y smiles. “Ah. Yes, this was a bad thing. Cursed, then. She cursed the rope so that it will strangle me if I try to take it off. So, the only way to kill myself would be to decide not to.”
“That sucks,” is the least lame response I can muster.
“Yes. My Babushka believes that contraception?”
“Contradiction,” M corrects her
“Ah, yes, contradiction. My Babushka believes contradiction is the first step on the road to enlightenment.”
She lifts the cup to her lips, they are the color of snow-dust on ice.
I realize I really have to pee. I can hold it.