As she opened the door her eyes widened and her mouth fell slightly agape. She held the door with one hand while the other pinched a headscarf about her neck.
"Ma'am, I’m here to ask about your husband."
The woman’s gaze narrowed and her jaw clenched shut. Her hand gripped the edge of the door a little tighter. Andrei could see spidery veins through the thin skin across her knuckles, turned white with effort. She wasn’t an old woman, but her age was quickly catching up.
"My husband is dead," she rasped. "What more is there to know?"
"That’s not true, ma’am, Dmitriy –"
"Dima died the moment he told me his intentions!"
Andrei didn’t know how to respond to the woman’s outburst. He opted not to speak.
The silence between them was heavy, full of the tension. It lasted a few moments like this, each person’s eyes locked upon the others'. Andrei did not know what secrets his eyes told, what emotions were laid bare in those so-called windows to the soul. In hers he could see only pain. No hatred: the harshness of her voice was only a front to hide her deep longing.
Her eyes fell to regard the insignia over Andrei's heart.
"He died in that moment," she whispered. "And so did you."
The door closed quietly, the heartbroken wife and mother retreating into her home. Andrei stood facing the smooth wood a few seconds more before leaving, turning his back for the last time on the first home he knew.