Anya had cancer. That was the talk of the whole building. She was ill and would die. But her health never grew worse and she never showed any obvious signs of the disease. Then she suddenly died, without any forewarning. No one expected it to happen like that. Anya and Anya’s mother and father all got cancer in the same year. Her father was diagnosed first, her mother some weeks later. Then Anya had similar symptoms and the pain was almost the same, but her parents weren’t brave enough to take her to the doctor. They didn’t bring the subject up or discuss it. It was all more than they could bear. They preferred not to know for certain, and until they died they acted as if everything was normal. That was in the same year too, a few days apart from each other. Before they died they sent Anya to her mother’s brother. Then they died at home and Anya survived. Her mother died first, and her father realised he would follow her soon, very soon, and so he didn’t have her buried. He remained lying beside her dead body and that’s how they found him.
Everyone in the building shared this story and knew that Anya’s uncle had volunteered to bring her up. He was a bachelor and Anya’s father was a close friend of his, a friend since childhood. So Anya’s uncle loved her doubly, since she was the daughter of a lifelong friend and his sister’s daughter. So he was willing to do anything to make sure she didn’t come to any harm. He was short and looked like a prehistoric form of human. He spent most of his time making up new fighting methods and combat tricks that could paralyse you, either temporarily or permanently, or that could put you into a highly emotional state – make you laugh or weep hysterically, for example, shock you or terrify you, or whatever. Sometimes courts or police stations would call him in to help them extract confessions from suspects or to uncover the truth. All he had to do was touch the person on the neck or between the eyes. On one occasion a judge asked him to do it in court. It was a complicated case and three judges had already worked on it, one after the other. In the end the court decided to settle the matter once and for all, so they summoned Anya’s uncle. The next day his picture was in all the newspapers, which claimed that he was a hero, and he won great respect in our neighbourhood, as though he were an astronomer or a philosopher.
Anya told me he had discovered a way of shaking your hand that could make you freeze like a statue and a way of making you feel pain somewhere in your body whenever you blinked. The pain would turn up in a different place every time. Another of his tricks, she said, was to put pressure on a spot behind your ear and make you lose your hearing in both your ears. Or he could touch a vein in your neck and make you laugh uncontrollably. He was working on a way to stop you breathing until he came and reversed the process, she said.
All these stories about him fascinated me, but we never saw him get into a fight with anyone, except once when he went downstairs and stood outside the building. We realised that something was going to happen because her uncle rarely appeared in public. Then a massive man turned up who we had never seen before. He had obviously come to pick a fight with Anya’s uncle, or someone had sent him to take revenge on him for some reason. He spoke with Anya’s uncle for some time, and then we saw Anya’s uncle suddenly put his hand on the man’s shoulder and then push him with his other hand. The man collapsed in a heap on the ground like one of those cardboard boxes that fridges come in. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. We expected the man to get up and pounce on Anya’s uncle, because the fall hadn’t done him any harm. But he just lay on the ground and, instead of getting up, he burst into tears like a child. We started laughing at him. Anya’s uncle left him like that and went upstairs to his flat. Some people tried to help the man get up, but Anya’s uncle had put him in a state that meant the more you touched him, the more he cried. Although the people in our building had great respect for her uncle, they kept gossiping about Anya and him. They said that Anya developed cancer in the same year that her mother and father were diagnosed with the disease, that her health was bound to deteriorate and she could die any day. The reason her uncle was always so miserable and nervous was because he was unable to do anything for her, despite his extraordinary ability to mess with people’s nervous systems. I had another theory, another story that was completely different – that Anya had cancer because of me.
Sunday 10 August
It was Sunday 10 August when she breathed her last – the hottest day of the year. It happened at noon, the time of day when death can most easily catch people unawares. No one else in the building had an inkling. But on the previous day she told me and Kalashnikov Roses that she was going to die tomorrow. OK, she told Kalashnikov Roses in a whisper while they were hugging and I was standing close by. I had a feeling she was talking about something important that was private to them, so I moved closer and heard everything. Kalashnikov Roses was upset. He tried to break free from her arms, which were around his neck.
‘When are you going to stop this nonsense?’ he asked.
‘Tomorrow,’ she replied with a cold smile, as if her heart had stopped beating.
‘That’s very hard on me,’ he said, choking on the words.
‘I’m sorry, my dear, but that’s what’s going to happen,’ she said.
She lived on the third floor and her flat overlooked the right-hand part of the car park at the back of the building. Our flat was on the first floor, in the middle, right on the main street. The residents’ committee had decided to repair the facade in stages, so it was a building site along the right half at the back. They put up scaffolding all around.
Kalashnikov Roses wasn’t from our neighbourhood, but he didn’t go home after work that day. Instead, he slept on a scaffolding platform on the fourth floor, where he could look down directly into Anya’s bedroom. I think he stayed up late because when I went down to the car park in the morning to see whether Anya had died, as she had said she would, he was still fast asleep. If he had made the slightest movement, even if he had raised his hand to wipe away his tears, he could have fallen to the ground and been smashed to pieces. So he couldn’t even cry. He just lay rigid on his right side and looked straight down at her room. He didn’t care about the numbness that gradually started to creep up and down his body, starting from the top of his thighs. If that had happened to me, I’d have panicked and groaned for help, but Kalashnikov Roses was made of completely different stuff. In the end he closed his eyes and went to sleep. I slept too that night: I cried for a while but in a muffled way so that my father wouldn’t notice. I only stopped when I remembered that on two previous occasions Anya had said she was going to die, but it hadn’t happened. When I went down to the car park at the back of the building the following morning to see if there was any sign she had died, it was about seven o’clock. When I looked at her flat I couldn’t believe my eyes. Anya was sitting on the balcony reading one of those books that promise to teach you everything quickly, as if they’re saying something to the effect of ‘Your life will be short’. The book was called How to Boost Your Self-Confidence in Ten Days. I stood under her balcony such that I, her line of sight and her book were all in a straight line. I looked at her for a while and then mouthed the words ‘Bitch! Whore!’ I don’t know how many times I mouthed it, maybe ten. I wanted her to see me saying it, but Anya didn’t give me a single glance. I thought of shouting out ‘Bitch! Whore!’ at the top of my voice and then running away so that Kalashnikov Roses wouldn’t see me if he woke up. But I went back home instead. As I slammed the door behind me, I could hear my father in the kitchen making his coffee and saying, ‘Dog! Pimp!’ I thought that if only I could get to sleep for five minutes I would surely dream of Anya, but I didn’t know that she was sitting on the balcony because she was waiting for Kalashnikov Roses to wake up and tell her about the dream he had seen her in. When he lay down on the scaffolding platform, the last thing he said to her was: ‘I’ll dream about you, and in the morning I’ll tell you the dream.’ So when I went down to the car park I thought Kalashnikov was asleep, fast asleep. But in fact he wasn’t: he was just pretending to be asleep. He had his eyes closed just so, and was waiting for me to whistle to give him the secret signal, and then he would know I was going to tell him my dream about Anya. That was because Kalashnikov Roses couldn’t have dreams himself, so he had to dream through me. So when I went down and mouthed insults at Anya, he was awake.
‘I was aware of you when you came into the car park, but you didn’t whistle. I don’t know what you did in the car park,’ he told me later.
Of course I didn’t tell him I’d stood there and mouthed ‘Bitch! Whore!’ to Anya maybe ten times. But anyway, when I went upstairs to our flat, I went into my bedroom and closed my eyes to go to sleep. I decided that this time I wouldn’t tell my dream to Kalashnikov Roses, but to Anya. I would tell her everything – that Kalashnikov had never dreamt of her because he couldn’t dream in the first place, and that all the dreams he had told her about were dreams that I had dreamt, not him, and that he had paid me money for this, and I had kept it in a money box, and every banknote had his signature on it, which was a condition I had set because I didn’t completely trust him and thought that one day he would hurt me in some way. So I had prepared myself to hurt him and hurt Anya too, even if me hurting her was the last thing that happened to her before she died, because now I was fed up, because Kalashnikov Roses was telling her my dreams in all their detail. He hadn’t changed anything.
‘Your dreams are wonderful,’ he told me. ‘There’s nothing unnecessary in them, and nothing missing either. They show how much I love Anya. It’s not you who dreams them, you know. It’s me. But I do it through you.’
Sometimes this would annoy me, but for each dream he paid me well from his job at the workshop. Once I tried to cheat him by making up a dream, just to make more money, but he caught me out.
‘I could easily tell,’ he said. ‘I know you did that because you want more money. From now on, I’ll raise the rate for each dream to half my weekly wages.’
Anya told me that his dreams showed how deeply he loved her and that they meant Anya would be his only love. It hurt when I heard that. I resented it, my veins throbbed, I sweated and I wanted to tell her that she was talking about me. But then I would have a nosebleed and when that happened, she and Kalashnikov Roses would make fun of me.
‘Look how embarrassed he is. It’s like we were talking about him,’ she would say.
Sometimes they would speak in great detail about every dream and analyse every detail. Anya found that touching. Her eyes would tear up and she would kiss him on the lips.
My father and all the other people in the building loved Kalashnikov. They said he was very polite despite his rather disturbing name. Maybe it was because he was an orphan, or almost an orphan. In the final days of the war, his mother was on her way to fill two jerrycans with water when a bullet grazed her head. She didn’t die, but when she got home she was so frightened she forgot who she was. Her memory started to gradually drain away as her children looked on and in the end she could no longer tell what was what in the house. She looked at Kalashnikov Roses and his brothers and sisters and said, ‘Who are you, and where am I?’ That frightened them. She opened the door and walked out, and all they could do was watch and cry. That was the last they saw of her.
At the time Kalashnikov had gone out into the street crying. A gunman came up to him and loaded his Kalashnikov. He handed the rifle to him and said, ‘Here, let rip with this!’ So Kalashnikov picked up the rifle and fired in the air. There happened to be a press photographer with the gunman, but he didn’t write a word about Kalashnikov’s mother. He took a picture of Kalashnikov shooting and wrote a story about children carrying guns. Kalashnikov Roses had honey-coloured eyes and they were still full of tears at the time. In the picture they seemed to glisten, which made him look more compelling. Anya loved his eyes in the picture. Whenever he kissed Anya, his eyes teared up a little, and she liked that too. Kalashnikov Roses told me it would have been easier if the bullet had gone right into his mother’s head and he hadn’t seen her leave home in that state. Ever since that day he hadn’t been able to dream properly. ‘Nothing happens in my dreams,’ he said. ‘I can’t see anything or hear anything. Only one thing happens in my dreams – I feel I’m waiting for someone.’
I don’t know how long I slept, but as expected, I saw Anya in a dream. She wasn’t in my dream, but in another dream alongside my dream. It was someone else’s dream, but I could see everything that was happening in it. In fact my dream not only ran in parallel with that dream, but with dozens of other dreams too. The dreams were packed together like coloured soap bubbles. I realised straight away that everyone who loved Anya was there, each with their dream, and I could see what they were dreaming about her. Some of the dreams were far nicer than my dream. I wanted to be part of them, or to push aside the people who were dreaming them and take their place. I also saw people I hadn’t expected. My father was among them, which made me feel embarrassed. I hadn’t known he had feelings for Anya, or had even thought about her. It was frightening to discover that, but I was really shocked when I saw Kalashnikov. His dream was right behind my dream, and when I turned around and saw him I felt like someone who suddenly faces a nightmare.
‘What are you doing here?’ I asked him nervously. ‘You’re impossible to deal with. Have you forgotten that you can’t dream? Wait for me on the scaffolding and I’ll tell you everything that happens.’
But because Kalashnikov couldn’t see or hear anything in his dreams, I didn’t exist as far as he was concerned, neither I nor other people’s dreams, which made him relaxed and calm. He just clung to his love for Anya and his sense that she would come to him from other people’s dreams and move into his dream. I knew that Anya came and went from one dream to another, like a light moving from window to window, and if she saw him she wouldn’t come near my dream, but would go straight to his. I tried to gouge out his dream with my finger to make it disappear, but I was certain I wouldn’t be able to do it without breaking the membrane around my own dream, and then I would disappear too, along with him. But it was the only solution since I realised that Kalashnikov wasn’t really incapable of dreaming, but was instead waiting patiently for Anya to come to him. I stuck my finger out and advanced towards his dream, but I fell on the ground after two or maybe three steps. When I stood up and tried again, I fell down once more. That’s because at that very moment my father was shaking me by the ankle.
‘Anya seems to have died,’ he whispered, as if revealing a secret.
The whole building soon found out that Anya was dead. From her uncle. He carried her in his arms like someone carrying a drowned person. He went up and down from floor to floor asking for help. He was barefoot and in such a state of shock that he couldn’t find his way to the entrance of the building. Sometimes we heard him saying, ‘Please call an ambulance,’ but none of the neighbours reacted. They realised that Anya was dead and they were frightened of him. They locked their doors and stayed inside. In the end he sat down on the stairs, hugging Anya and out of breath. He was so tired he could no longer carry her back home. My father had his hand on my mouth and was watching through the spyhole in the door.
‘He’s sitting on the stairs,’ he said.
I was frightened too, so I didn’t try to move my father’s hand. In the end we heard him going up to the third floor. Even so, none of the neighbours came out of their flats. Everyone decided to pay their respects on the following day. By then her uncle would have got over the shock and calmed down. They were worried that if they went upstairs to offer their condolences, shake his hand, for example, or embrace him, he might touch a nerve in their bodies by mistake and something would go wrong that might be disastrous. Or it might just be something simple, like spending the rest of your life with an itch in your nose.
Our flat was one of the flats that her uncle had kicked during his bout of delirium, right after my father told me that Anya had apparently died. When my father said that, I didn’t wake up immediately: I was trying my hardest to get into Kalashnikov’s dream and gouge him out with my finger, like removing an egg yolk. But I could hear loud knocking on the front door. I didn’t know it was her uncle. It felt like he was kicking me and not the door. I jumped up from where I was asleep on the floor, stared at my father and said, ‘What’s that?’ But my father put his hand over my mouth so that I wouldn’t make a sound or cry.
‘Shhh,’ he whispered. ‘Anya’s uncle is in a disturbed state of mind. He doesn’t even know where the front door of the building is. He went up on the roof and tried to jump down to the street with her. The people in the building opposite shouted at him from their balconies and told him to get down. “The door’s downstairs, take the stairs,” they said. But he was so upset that after going down a few floors he lost his way, went upstairs again and started kicking on people’s doors, but no one responded.’
After my father had checked that Anya’s uncle had taken her back to their flat, I opened the door and went downstairs to the car park as fast as I could.
‘He’s gone upstairs,’ my father said. ‘Maybe he’s trying to bring her back from the dead. Let’s wait. Maybe Anya isn’t quite dead yet. Don’t go out now.’
I paid no attention. I was longing to see her, but I was worried her uncle might still be seriously distraught. He might grab me, for example, in a way that would kill off my love for Anya, or make me uncertain that she had ever existed.
Unexpectedly and without any of us noticing, he left the building with her body late in the evening. I wasn’t going to see her funeral or find out where she was buried. If I had known this I might have gone up to her flat and asked her uncle to touch me in such a way that killed off my love for Anya or, in the worst-case scenario, made me uncertain whether she had ever existed. But I ran down to the car park instead, as fast as I could, to check on Kalashnikov. When he humiliated me in front of the other kids in the building, sometimes I would cry and tell him his love for Anya wasn’t genuine.
‘When Anya dies, we’ll find out who really loves her,’ I would say.
This time I found he’d climbed down the scaffolding and was sitting under her balcony. He wasn’t upset or in tears, but his face seemed to have aged ten years. Some of his hair had even turned grey. As soon as he saw me, he asked in a broken voice why I was late. He said he had had a strong sense that I was going to dream about Anya. That threw me and I lied. I didn’t just tell him that I hadn’t dreamt of Anya. I also hid from him the fact that I had dreamt of him and had tried to come between them.
‘I didn’t see her,’ I said. ‘It was a long, complicated dream. I didn’t understand any of it. Then my father woke me up and told me Anya was dead.’
Kalashnikov Roses stared into my face.
‘What’s up?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. Nothing about your face suggests you’re upset about her death,’ he replied. That was true. I thought that maybe I was sad but didn’t know it yet. What I knew for sure was that I was confused and felt guilty because I thought I had caused her death.
I didn’t know that Kalashnikov Roses would start dreaming again after Anya died, or that I wouldn’t dream about her again after that dream. She moved from my dreams to Kalashnikov’s dreams, and he would dream about her often, every day in fact. In those dreams she would know everything that had happened to him throughout the day, as if she had lived through it with him, moment by moment. That would make him delirious. Anyway, I would only see him again on one occasion after that. All I know is that after she died she didn’t reappear in my dreams.
Whenever I felt I was going to dream about Anya, I would do everything in my power to close my eyes and try to sleep, but to no avail. Sometimes that would happen on my way back from school. I would suddenly stop, lie on the pavement and shut my eyes to go to sleep. That surprised the passers-by and made them curious. A foreign photographer even took a picture of me and published it with an article on meningitis and vaccines for children. But Anya wouldn’t appear in my dreams and I felt she was humiliating me. In the end I no longer went to sleep for fear I would wake up frustrated and upset that she hadn’t appeared without me understanding the reason. At school I lost my temper with the other kids and became so cranky that everyone avoided me.
I saw Kalashnikov only once after Anya died, when he came to my school during the 12.30 break and stood at the gate. The janitor thought he was the new boy coming to collect the rubbish and told him to come back in two hours. But Kalashnikov waved at me and said he was a friend of mine and wanted to talk to me about something urgently. That was five or six weeks after Anya died. I was amazed at the state he was in. If you’d seen him you’d have thought straight away that he was well on his way to becoming a down-and-out. But he smiled as soon as he saw me. He was moved and there were tears in his eyes. Embarrassed, I went up to him and tried to hide my own emotions.
‘What do you want?’ I said. ‘I haven’t been seeing Anya in my dreams since she died.’
‘There’s no need for that,’ he said with a smile. ‘She appears in mine every day.’
But I thought Kalashnikov was talking nonsense. He had more grey hair and when he spoke, bubbles of saliva came out of his mouth and gathered on his lip in the corner before bursting. It was embarrassing to be having a conversation with him in front of the other kids. He told me he was now living on sleeping pills and he asked me to lend him some money.
‘We could come to visit you in a dream if you want, like in the old days,’ he said. I had the impression he felt sorry for me. He reached out over the wall to touch my head but I backed away. I told him I would pay back all the money he had given me for the dreams. He could meet me in the car park after school and I’d give him the money box.
In the car park he told me that Anya came to him in his dreams every night. Although he enjoyed it, it did confuse him. He felt it was a figment of his imagination and there was something wrong with his mind.
‘Even if I loved her that much, it doesn’t make sense to dream about her every day,’ he said.
It couldn’t just be a matter of dreams. There was something inexplicable about it, something deeper, that went further.
‘All you can do is assure me that it’s not just a matter of dreams and that Anya lives with me in this life during the day, and then she lives with me in a parallel life during the night,’ he said.
‘Me? Why bring me into it?’ I asked, pretending not to care.
‘She told me you made a wish that she would get this disease, that you did that after you saw her kissing me in the junk room,’ he said. ‘Is that true? If it’s true then it’s not just a matter of dreams.’
I felt my blood was boiling then. It was clear that something really unusual was going on between him and Anya. Exceptional. Maybe she didn’t just appear in his dreams, but they went off to a parallel life together every night. But I saw it as my chance to get revenge for everything they had done to me. I remembered how they had made me scrape up the shit in front of Anya’s flat and how he would lie in wait for me to extort my dreams in exchange for a little money, and how they made me come along with Kalashnikov when he was meeting her, as if I were their pet dog. Now I wanted to pounce on him and punch him, and send him back to Anya in pieces.
‘No. That’s not true,’ I said. ‘I didn’t wish anything on Anya. Anya was ill before. She got the disease in the same year as her mother and father. The whole building knows that. Ask them.’
Kalashnikov Roses was looking at the money box and tossing it from hand to hand.
‘She also told me that the day she died you saw her in a dream, and you saw me too, but you tried to come between us,’ he continued. ‘But I don’t know. Maybe I can’t see her in my dreams and it’s my mind that’s inventing the whole story. In the end you aren’t bold enough to have done that. But I don’t know. Maybe you told her that. Or maybe my mother’s the reason. If someone goes mad, they take with them at least one member of their family too.’
As he said this I was thinking about one thing – asking if I sometimes appeared in his dreams with him and Anya. But he turned and walked away without saying another word.
‘What? Don’t you believe me?’ I said, but he didn’t answer. That was the last time I saw him. I didn’t know that a few days later he would decide to hole up in one of the buildings abandoned because of the war, swallow a bottle of sleeping pills, and go into a coma for weeks until his body dried up and he died. I saw his picture in the newspaper. They found him while they were laying explosives in the building to prepare it for demolition. They placed an advert asking anyone who recognised him to pick up the body from the morgue in the government hospital. Then Anya’s uncle turned up and took his body away. With Kalashnikov’s death, I hoped that Anya would reappear in my dreams, but it didn’t happen.
The Police Station
When Kalashnikov appeared and told me that Anya said I had laid a curse on her, I felt I had caused her death. So I went to the police station and went up to the policeman standing by the door.
‘I want to confess,’ I said.
‘Confess what?’ he asked.
‘I killed a girl called Anya. She was fourteen years old.’
I was held for questioning, but less than forty-eight hours later they released me. It wasn’t easy. The sergeant flew into a rage and decided to teach me a lesson. It’s not that he slapped me in the face, for example, or hung me upside down till my guts fell out of my mouth. He told me he could have done all that to me, but he had found a better method. He was meant to go to hospital to see his wife give birth to their first child. But when the policeman told the sergeant that someone had come to confess to killing a child, he had to stay in the station. In the morning he had Anya’s medical file in front of him.
‘The papers here say that Anya died of the disease she had. But if you insist you killed her and you want to be punished, then that’s no problem as far as I’m concerned. But first, tell me, do you feel any remorse for what you did?’ he said.
‘Yes, I am remorseful,’ I said.
‘Why haven’t I seen you crying then?’
‘I don’t know. I haven’t cried since she died. I don’t know why.’
‘You’re meant to have tears, and lots of them too. Because you need tears now. They’re the only thing that’s going to get you out of this police station.’
On the morning of the next day the sergeant made me clean the bathroom in the police station – the toilets, the basin, the tiles on the floor and the walls, and even the policemen’s boots.
‘I gather you have no problem scraping up shit,’ he said.
When he waved his hand, Tuxedo appeared. I couldn’t control myself. Tears streamed from my eyes. Tuxedo looked at me and then went into the bathroom. After that the sergeant said, ‘Now we’ve made a start. Now I want you to cry and never stop crying. Can you see the bathroom? I want you to wash it with your tears, not with water.’
I don’t know how many hours that took me. I had to keep crying but in the end, after the sergeant went off to hospital, one of the policemen took pity on me.
‘Use water,’ he said. ‘But hurry up before the sergeant comes back.’
When I left the station on the evening of the second day, my eyes were red and swollen and painful from all the crying. But I thought that even if I went blind I deserved what had happened to me. Because Anya had died because of me. Because I had wished cancer upon her, and then she had got it. It all happened the first time I tried to kiss her. She was two years older than me, and she hadn’t yet met Kalashnikov Roses.
‘OK,’ she said, ‘but do it like a man. If you know how to kiss me, I’ll let you kiss me every day.’
When she said that, the first thing I thought of was a kissing scene in the whisky advert. Anya took me to the junk room on the third floor of the building. In the junk room you could hide without anyone seeing you. You could squeeze in between the piles of unwanted furniture and boxes and so on. There was space for two people, but only in a sitting position. You found yourself surrounded by all kinds of discarded things – kitchen stuff, broken toys, old chairs and other clutter. Anya was a little taller than me, maybe an inch. She leaned towards me and said, ‘Now I’m going to shut my eyes and you kiss me. OK? Shut your eyes as you do it. It’s better that way.’
‘OK,’ I said. I shut my eyes but Anya kept hers open. I was very embarrassed at the time. I know that. So much so that I felt my blood pumping right through my body and gathering in all the veins in my face. As I put my lips close to her cheek, my nose started bleeding. She clasped her hand to her chest, pushed me away and moved back a little.
‘Your nose is bleeding,’ she said. I put my hand on my nose to check. There really was blood. It had stained my fingers and my sweater. I’d never had a nosebleed before. It felt as if the temperature of my body had fallen, and I started to shake, thinking it meant I was going to die. I thought I would fall down, my blood would drain out among the clutter and I would breathe my last.
‘Tell my father,’ I said in a panic.
‘There’s no need for that. Go downstairs, wash your nose and lie down a while till the bleeding stops,’ she said, shaking her head coldly. She dragged me out of the junk room by the arm and escorted me to the top of the stairs. I went downstairs, into our flat, entered the bathroom, washed and then lay down on the sofa, maybe for half an hour. I went back up to the junk room as soon as the bleeding stopped. Anya wasn’t there any longer. I waited maybe an hour, but she didn’t come back.
That was my problem with Anya. Whenever we were alone together I was so embarrassed that blood immediately started running out of my nose. It didn’t just run: it poured out in two wide streams, and without warning too.