“So what are we going to do today?”
Benny’s bubbly tone raged through my ears as surely as a hangover. Groaning, bearing the led full of last night’s slush, I cradled my throbbing self under cosy duvet, revelling in the fresh smell of cotton, felt-material crunching under my fingers.
“Well, you will be interested in what we have to see today. It’s dark- but it’s, umm, jam-packed with history.”
“Jam-packed? Why are we so English?” I groaned again. “What time is it?”
“Late enough, Agnetha.”
“I don’t wanna get up…”
“Well, suit yourself. We’ll be out of the hotel in no time, and you can just be the thing left behind.”
My head shot up.
“Benny! Don’t you dare leave me here.”
I managed to jump out of bed, trying not to sound like I was beginning to regress into a moaning child.
“Now, Ben…” It was my mother, already dressed and smelling of spiced perfume, as she wandered around the room in a drooping cream fleece, her dark shoes kicking up the hems of the black trousers that would flap about her ankles. I watched her as she proceeded to leave all the addressing of my brother to me. He bobbed about the room excitably; and quickly I made sure that my duvet was tucked up to my chin.
“Ben, if you would like to come along yourself,” she told him eventually, “please get ready. Come on.”
He giggled and waddled out of the door. It was this to which my mother and I gave our trademark glance, similar genetics seeping through our barrier, before I headed out of bed and over to my suitcase, where a pile of clothes were waiting, having been gathered together the previous evening by me.
Twenty minutes later, dressed in warm black and with a string of pearls adorning the space of my clavicle and makeup neat across my face, I left the room obediently behind my mother, in spite of the awkward audacity that crackled between us. I’d even chosen to look at my decorated best with a hair-clip fighting the waves of my locks, a crumbling shell indeed; but I did feel like a walking omen of death with my cloak of darkness. That was who I had become now.
After we had breakfasted in usual place, my mother herded us outwards. It was the middle of the morning, and the pall above us hung light, but not in any shade of colour, but in bland whiteness instead. Here and there a flake tumbled down, in spite of the settled sky.
Onwards we trudged.
On the exterior land of the hotel, something caught my eye. It gave off little presence, but still I felt the urge to study the shape for a minute. My detailed eye had won against my command again.
I studied the peaks and troughs of the hotel’s faux-grass monument before heading off after my mother and brother, who had already abandoned me to race on ahead. Two like minds, they wouldn’t have noticed if I had vanished into the lawn sculpture.
“Come along, Agnetha,” my mother said without taking note of how far behind I had actually become.
In spite of what might have been a cold wind, my mother was determined to walk to our destination once again.
“Where are we going?” chortled Benny.
She turned and gave him a secretive grin just to tease the boy. And that was how the passage continued as we walked for the next five minutes, before turning into a courtyard, stone paving and all.
“If this is what I think it is...” I grumbled to myself, conjuring up images of re-enactments and silken tales.
“It’s something I think you’ll like,” she declared.
However, she swept her hands upwards, indicating an obelisk that blazoned against the no-tone background: a tower standing in firm steps.
My heart began to speed up.
“It’s not a national tower, but Moscovians are proud of all their decorations and landmarks with tradition.”
“And history?” I added. She did love history too much.
“Yes, Agnetha, but you don’t have to pay some attention to that.”
“Good,” Benny and I chorused.
The courtyard that we were standing in comprised of three close walls; two of open shops and one that bore the sky-shaper. Looking outwards, I gazed across the road we had meandered along. It was strangely empty. When my view settled on the shape opposite the tower, I suddenly knew why. When there is the aura of death, society will run. And nothing stinks of death more than an old church-and-graveyard combination.
No wonder I found it appealing!
“Agnetha? Please don’t you linger longer. Welcome to the piece of Kazimir‘s Bell Tower.”