Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Red, then orange

[Silence.] [A week later the village was evacuated.] [She starts crying.] [She is silent.] [Silent.] [Silent.] [Long silence.] [She is silent for a long time.] [She is silent.] [She becomes incomprehensible.] [She has trouble breathing.] [She is silent for a long time.] [She stands up, goes over to the window.]

[Starts crying.] [Cheers up suddenly.] [Starts crying.] [Starts crying.]

[Communist youth league.] [Silent.] [Closes his eyes.] [Laughs.] [Laughs.] [Laughs.] [Starts singing.] [Suddenly serious.] [in Moscow] [Starts crying.] [Starts crying.] [Cries.] [Cries.] [Cries.] [Cries.]

[Breaks into tears and completely stops talking.] [Silent. Then cries for a long time.] [Silent again.] [Silent.] [But she adds a bit more.] [She smiles suddenly.] [When we’re saying goodbye, she says some more.] [This effect occurred throughout the region and was presumably caused by toxic radiation.] [Stops.] [Tries not to cry.] [Cries.] [Tries again not to cry.] [Breaks down, Cries.] [The year of Stalin’s Great Terror.] [Silent. Smokes.] [Stops.] [Continues.] [Stops.]

[Laughs.] [Stops short, I can see she doesn’t want to talk.] [Either she’s listening to herself, or arguing with herself.] [After a pause.]

[Silent for a while.] [Laughs suddenly.] [Serious now.] [Silent.] [There’s a long pause in the conversation.] [Stops.] [a space launch center.] [He thinks.] [He is silent.] [Becomes upset.]

[In the days after the accident the pines and evergreens around the reactor turned red, then orange.] [He is in despair, then silent.]

[Valery] [head of the commissioned Chernobyl investigation who actually hanged himself in 1988, on the two-year anniversary of the explosion]

[She is silent.] [Stops.] [as does Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons] [Smiles.] [Cries.] [Takes a break.] [Laughs.] [Laughs.] [Laughs.]

[As he talks he spreads photographs on the table, chair, windowsills: giant sunflowers the size of carriage wheels, a sparrow’s nest in an empty village, a lonely village cemetery with a sign that says, “High radiation. Do not enter.” A baby carriage in the yard of an abandoned house, the windows are boarded up, and in the carriage sits a crow, as if it’s guarding its nest. The ancient sight of cranes over a field that’s gone wild.] [points to the photographs.] [Points again to the photographs.] [Calms down a little.] [Boris] [Gets upset again.] [Silent.] [Goes on for some time but it is impossible to understand what he’s saying.] [Considers this.]

[Thinks.] [Quiet.] [Leonid] [a city in the Southern Urals near the Mayak weapons facility, contaminated and largely evacuated after a nuclear waste tank exploded in 1957] [Silent.] [Extended silence.] [Thinks.] [1986]

[She is silent for a long time.] [Suddenly she smiles.] [She is silent.] [She is silent again.] [Stops.] [Quietly.] [We drink tea and she shows me the family photographs, the wedding photographs. And then, as I’m getting up to go, she stops me.]

-Complete author inserts in monologues from Voices from Chernobyl

1 comment:

Ron. said...

Heartbreaking, terrifying testimony. What you've done here makes it more so, if that's possible.

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