Two doubled sets of eyes peered across the kitchen table into a dingy mirror. The pair of eyes framed with wire-rimmed spectacles belonged to me, and the pair ensconced in rhine-stoned plastic cats-eyes floating above mine, to Tanya. I leaned gingerly against the spine of the office chair my friend had wheeled into the kitchen. Because Tanya was standing behind the chair, her body was invisible, and her head hovered above mine in the mirror as if she were about to turn Cheshire Cat and disappear on me.
Gripping a strand of hair in her left hand, she held a piece of tin foil under
it and slathered a chalky, slimy paste onto my hair, then scrunched the foil around
the pasty strands. "You get to do me next, devchonka," she announced brightly.
"But," I protested, "I've never done it before... What if I mess
"That's nothing," she said, grabbing another hank of hair with her sinewy fingers. "Did I ever tell you the story about
the time I botched Irina Ivanovna's hair, when she was my boss?"
"Nyet," I murmured encouragingly.
Tanya lifted one of the mis-matched glasses from the table in front of us and
sipped the burgundy liquid. "Ah...," she said. "This tastes just
like Kagor. You try it. It's my favorite wine that I've found here,
it's like communion wine. You would like that, you know," she said,
poking fun at my church-going habit.
I took the glass she offered, and sniffed. "Kagor," I mused. "Remember how cheap it was at the market, though you had to be careful about the fakes. I liked Kagor even
better than Kinsmarauli, which gave me a horrible migraine once.It was Galya's favorite, though."
Now that we had agreed upon the wine, Tanya continued her story.
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