Search of The Lost, flash fiction by Daria Vorobeva at
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Search of The Lost

Search of The Lost

written by: Daria Vorobeva


A gallery of my dead relatives is greeting me each time I enter my family house in a village. In English, you would say that this village is located in the middle of nowhere but in Russian we say ‘in the ass of the world’ which I find more accurate. This is where my grandmother and her two brothers were born in a metal washbowl in the kitchen and, where their parents (and consequently more of my family) have died in beds, in which we still sleep when we come on summer holidays here. After each death, my grandma puts up more Orthodox icons and photos of the deceased in the glass cabinet. They are looking at how we eat, how my grandmother sleeps on a sofa with the TV turned on, how my mother video calls me because this is the only place where a mobile signal exists. I put a lot of effort into not looking at their old young and middle-aged faces.

Since my grandmother turned forty, securing a lot of space in a village cemetery has become her life goal – and for good reason. 15 years ago, her brother died from stomach and lung cancer before he hit fifty. Till the end, the only remedy that was helping him feel better was, ironically, cans of cheap beers and stinky cigarettes.

In November the ground is like a stone – you need twice as much time and men with shovels.

Going to the village for a funeral had two ways: either easy (4 hours from Moscow in a car) or complicated. My aunt was the only person in my family who knew how to drive. She was called Nadezhda which in Russian also means Hope.

Even though I am the older sister of my brothers, she always made me feel like I am a middle child she takes care of.

She left with the grandmother for a funeral first. Our shabby green car, probably manufactured by AvtoVAZ years before I was born, could barely start and warm up. You need to wait 20 minutes before you can get it to not freeze to a seat. Aunt Nadezhda and my grandma left late at night.

The others followed in the early morning, but I refused to go.

Bus-subway-train-bus-car, six hours in the cold, puking and shaking, the outdoor toilet where you freeze in a minute if you put your pants down, no shower, extreme heat from the Russian stove near the bed, having to be crammed in the two-room house with over thirty funeral guests and seven members of my own family, the dead great-uncle, the sobbing around me, the cries of my infant brother. The photos in the kitchen – back then, there were only three of those.

I wanted to save my sanity and play computer games the entire day.

(I have big questions for my parents because they left a 9-year-old child alone in Moscow).

Suddenly, while collecting eggs and milking cows in Happy Farm, I got a call from a family friend saying that some tragedy happened in the village and asking me if I would like to go there. Didn’t I say no already? Everyone left at 6 am. No, thank you, I’ll pass.

I spent days buying more chickens, eating wild strawberry jam that my mom, grandma, and my aunt had been canning the whole of August, and leaving the keyboard sticky, breadcrumbs all over the table.

A tragedy.

It is unusually sunny for November in Moscow, and I go outside with my godsister. We find a condom below the windows of our house. While we stare at it, she gives me a flower and tells me that it is for my aunt’s grave.


Back then I thought that she did not know what she meant and, anyway, I always thought that she was a bit stupid.

It turns out she just got THE NEWS before me.

In a couple of years, my mom gave birth to another boy and another brother of my grandma died, making her the oldest sister who had to bury most of her family. I decide to never have children.

The gallery grows and there are now more of them than of us.

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