Summer 1995 • Vol. XVII No. 3/4 European VoicesJuly 1, 1995 |

Mortal Sin

Stay. Over there," said Sylvia Solomonovna. "Keep an eye on the bags." And she went to stand on line for their tickets. Polina remained under a giant electric departure schedule, as she had been told. Many cities on the board she had never even heard of. Theirs was a very vast country. People from all over that vast country were churning around her. Men with faces dark and shiny like the side of a copper samovar, wearing embroidered squares on their heads and black suits, wrinkled and nearly white from all the dust on them. Uniformed soldiers on leave, traveling in groups. Russian peasants—or maybe not Russian, who could tell? Cardboard suitcases tied up with rope. Canvas bags, with something hard and angular jutting out. Soldiers' khaki knapsacks. All of it extremely heavy, pulling arms out of their sockets, legs buckling under the weight, the sharp objects inside the bags pressing into ribs. The shuffling of feet. The line waiting for taxis, as long as the one at Lenin's Tom

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Alexei Bayer was born in Moscow and lives in New York. His short stories have appeared in New England Review and Readings/Chtenia, among other journals. A collection titled Eurotrash was published in a Russian translation in 2004. He translates Russian literature into English and writes fiction, as well as articles on economics, business, and finance, in both languages.    

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Stay. Over there," said Sylvia Solomonovna. "Keep an eye on the bags." And she went to stand on line for their tickets. Polina remained under a giant electric departure schedule, […]

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