"Julia Voznesenskaya . . . [writes] about our life after death, the knowledge of which is kept by the patristic experience and the Tradition of the Orthodox Church." — Olga Golosova
Why couldn't I stay in one place?
We were living well, and we didn't have anything to be upset about. Our house was strong, none of the hermits had one like it. With a roof and a door!
I am not kidding. After all, we brought two long sticks with us from the stretcher, so we used them instead of beams, and put a huge flat slab on top. Four stretcher boards served us as the door: we blocked the entrance with them from the inside and a heavy stone was rolled over them. Complete safety! A couple of times soul-eaters came to us, but we kept a pile of stones in store in our house just in case. We easily drove them away.
The house was small. Only two people could sit or lie down, and if we wanted to walk or stand, we would get out of the house and walk nearby the rock. We didn't go far, we were afraid. Lop-eared always tried to hold on to my hand.
The two of us felt good and calm.
Lop-eared was always either silent, or complaining about his fate. I didn't really listen to him: the wolf has only one song, and Lop-eared stole it. I told him so. Then he kept pestering me: “What is a song? What is a wolf?" As if I knew. People say that, that's all.
The main thing is that he was kind, this silly man, and I trusted him. You can't trust anyone. But one could trust him. I knew that he would rather let himself be devoured alive than betray me. That's what Lop-eared was like. Cowardly but loyal.
We started to gain weight. Every day the white bird brought us bread, and we ate it together — a whole piece of bread for two! Lop-eared's lips began to appear, beforehand there was just one slit instead of a mouth. Even his ears began to protrude less. Maybe that's why I suddenly wanted to go somewhere, because our strength increased? We became much lighter, almost grayish. It was very beautiful. Lop-eared told me so:
"You look nice too. If you would just whine less, you would be the best person ever."
"But I'm very unhappy! You know that no one is more miserable than me."
"What about the people the soul-eaters ate, are they happier than you?"
"Yes. They've already been eaten. They don't have to be afraid."
"You're crazy. Do you really like being unhappy?"
"Of course! Don't you feel sorry for me?"
"You already feel very sorry for yourself. Think for a minute: why should I do any extra work for you?"
He was offended and fell silent. He was often offended. I think he was very young. Even though he was taller than me, in mind he was nothing more than a boy. I was older than him. He understood this and almost always obeyed. Except once, when I told him that we needed to leave the house, take the boards with us, and move on.
"Where? Go where? You're completely stupid if you're talking like that. We will be eaten on the way. Such a house, such walls, a door, a roof — what else do you want? And the bread? We will go to another place, and in another place, perhaps, there will be no bread, eh?"
What a nightmare! Lop-eared had never spoken so many words in a row before. I realized that he would do very badly if we left our house to go no one knows where, and I decided to stay.
"Calm down! We won't go anywhere if you don't want to."
He seemed to have calmed down, he just fumbled for a long time in his corner and grumbled: "Going somewhere ... so we can get eaten ... What was she thinking!"
But some time passed, and I came up with a plan, which I decided not to tell Lop-eared about yet. I began to put aside half of our bread to take on the road.
Lop-eared did not understand why I was doing this, and if he found the hidden bread, he immediately ate it. He even got happy and treated me: "Look what I found!" I realized that this would not work.
I was always the one to meet the white bird with the bread. I learned to sense when it would arrive. And so, picking up the bread, I hid half of it on the roof of our house.
The next day I put the whole piece of bread on the roof and fed the half-piece to Lop-eared. He always walked around with his head hanging, so he did not notice the wealth accumulating on the roof — seven loaves of bread!
And I managed to do something else.
I tried to notice where the bird with the bread came from. I collected stones and laid out an arrow out of them with a point in that direction. I checked it several times, and it turned out that it accurately pointed to the place the white bird comes from. Then I already knew what to do in order not to get lost.
And so, when my preparations were over, I said to Lop-eared:
"That's all. We're leaving today."
"I will not go! I won't!"
"You’ll come. You will be done for if you stay here alone without me."
"Yes, I will be done for."
"That's why you have to come with me."
"No, that's why you have to stay with me."
Time to start over!
I just got out of the house and started destroying it. Lop-eared screamed and cried terribly, seeing me break the roof, and then the door. He was not comforted even when I showed him the bread I had saved. I loaded him with boards and stretcher handles, and I stacked all seven loaves in a pile on myself: I could not have entrusted the bread to him, he would have devoured it.
It was also dangerous to entrust the boards to him, because he could lose or throw them away. But I decided I would just watch him more closely on the road.
At least he won't chew the boards.
The bird flew in, circled over us and dropped the bread. It flew away again in the direction where the arrow I laid out was pointing. Then it disappeared behind the clouds, but I noticed a rock in the distance, above which it disappeared. I tried to remember it well so I wouldn't get lost. After that, all that was left was to set out, which I did. Lop-eared followed me, groaning and complaining.
It didn't go very well at first. We had only gone half of the way to the marked rock, when three starving people crawled out of a pit. They shouted for us to give them the bread, like good people.
"No, no!" Lop-eared yelled. "This is our bread!"
He dropped the boards, grabbed a stick and prepared to fight.
"Stop!" I told him sternly. "There are three of them and they are hungry. The hungry man is always stronger. We will give them bread and move on."
"Just like that?" one of them couldn't believe his ears. "You'll give away your bread on your OWN?"
"Well, yes. What else can we do? We will give you bread so that you do not take it away from us by force. Do you understand? Here, take it."
I put three loaves on the ground. They were terribly hungry, and threw themselves at the bread, completely forgetting about us. I grabbed Lop-eared by the hand and dragged him away. That's why our boards disappeared, there was no time to pick them up. There was only one stick left in Lop-eared's hands. Well, that was good, at any rate, we have a weapon...
When we ran back to a safe distance and looked around, we saw that we were running in vain: those three were sitting, buried in the bread, and did not look at each other, let alone us.
"Should I go back and get the boards?" Lop-eared asked sadly.
"Oh, those! We will find others," I said, so that he would not be very worried.
But he wasn't worried. He immediately forgot about them as soon as he turned away. He began to beg for bread:
"You'll give it to strangers, but you're too stingy to give me any!"
I had to give him a piece. And after that another one, as usual. He cannot stop until everything is gone. We had only three loaves of bread left for the road, and we had barely moved away from home.
But if it doesn't work out, it just doesn't work out.
As soon as we forgot about those three, an old lady met us. She walked, just putting one foot in front of the other, all kind of hunchbacked, and her face was young. Only it was so unhappy and sad that I didn't even want to look at it.
When she caught up with us, she quietly asked:
"Where is the road to the Lake of Despair?"
"Why do you need to go there?"
"I would like to fall asleep ... It's been very hard for me."
I silently handed her the bread. Lop-eared didn't say anything to me — that means even he felt sorry for her ... The bread should help her, because she did not take it away, but received it as a gift.
We met other people, and all of them were starving, thinner than Lop-Eared! To each one piece, to each one piece ... Anyway, when we were finally coming close to the rock, we had only half a loaf of bread left, and we ate it. We sat down by the rock with our backs to each other, so as not to become easy prey for someone, and fell asleep. Because we were very tired.
I woke up from the smell of fresh bread.
I thought it was a dream. I opened my eyes and saw: there was bread in front of me, and above us the white bird was circling and not flying away. It circled like that while I woke up Lop-eared and while we were eating half the loaf of bread. I saved the other half, because I'm thrifty!
Then we got up to go further, and the white bird seemed to understand: it flew forward. We followed it and noticed the rock ahead, behind which it disappeared.
So, from bread to bread, from rock to rock, I and my friend Lop-eared reached the sea. The sea!
At first the wind became kind of unfamiliar, wet, or something ... Then, instead of the boring dreary itch, we heard the following: ush-sh-sh ... ush-sh-sh ... ush-sh-sh ... And then we went through mountains of sand. They weren't tall, but it was difficult to walk, our feet got stuck. Then we climbed one hill, looked ahead, and there was water. A lot of water! I remembered:
"Do you know what this is, Lop-eared?"
"Yes, but what is it called?"
"You tell me!"
"It's called the sea!"
"The sea ... I know, the sea must be blue!"
"The blue sea ... how strange!"
"Don't you see? It is gray, like you and me. And then you go making up 'blue'... What is blue?"
"I don't know…"
"Then shut up!"
"I'll be quiet. Just don't leave me here alone. Don't be angry at me."
Come on! Well, what did I expect? We did not drink from the sea; we were afraid. But we came close to it and began to wash. We hadn't bathed for a long time. We liked it. We washed ourselves well! Lop-eared looked even better after washing.
“You look like a bunny now,” I told him.
"What is that? he asked suspiciously.
"A bunny? Well, it's gray, with ears."
"Does it bite?"
"Fine, I'll look like it, then."
And then we saw a big city near the sea and went to it. We reached it soon, because we liked it very much from a distance. It was just as nice up close. In the city there were houses more beautiful than camp barracks and even more beautiful than our house. They had many windows, doors and other things... they're called balconies. They're also beautiful, and made of iron! We entered this city and began to live in it.
The people in the city were good. They almost never fought with each other, only when someone made a scene. True, they often made a scene.
But even so, they almost never attacked anyone without a reason, and almost never attacked strangers. Most importantly, no one ate their own. The very masters that committed atrocities in our camp also flew here and carried away some of them in their claws. But that someone would be eaten in front of everybody — no, that never happened. In general, even Lop-eared agreed that it was a good idea for us to come here.
We even got a house, a very cool house.
There are a lot of empty houses here. You can take whichever one you want — no one cares. So we looked at one of them and took it. It had a real iron roof, windows, and inside there was a table and two of those things that people sit on. It was great! At first, Lop-eared and I did nothing but sit on them. The legs are very comfortable, and you can put your hands on the table. We sit, look at each other and calm down.
Nobody bothered us. Sometimes one of the townspeople will look through the window, see us, swear, and leave. We were not very afraid of them: we were stronger, and we had a stick. And also those things that people sit on. You can defend yourself with them too, I immediately realized that.
"Will we always live here?" Lop-eared asked me.
“We’ll see,” I replied. But I myself thought that we could not find a better place.
We often went to the sea to look at it. We sat down next to the shore and looked at it.
That white bird that carries bread saw us here and began to bring bread here. It flew in from across the sea, and then flew back again. I knew that one bread is one day. I told that to Lop-eared. He, as always, did not understand anything, and only said, "How smart you are!"
It's good to be smart, even he understood that.
But the people in the city were all stupid. And everyone swore.
You walk down the street, and someone is walking towards you.
You don't even need to look at him, and he'll start yelling:
"Why are you walking down my street? Just wait till I punch your face!"
But I’m smart, I don’t go out into the street without a stick. I shake the stick at him, and he falls behind. Among themselves, however, they fought all the time. They would stand face to face and begin:
"What do you think you're doing, sneaking up on me?"
"What do you think you're doing by picking on me?"
They grab each other and fight, with pieces flying. They are both nuts. I would immediately run away from such people, and Lop-eared did not like to walk the streets at all. He was afraid. But it was still a good city. Maybe we would have stayed here if it hadn't been for the dam.
From the place where we met the bird with bread every day, the whole long coast of the sea was visible. There was nothing on one side, only lots of sand. But on the other side, we saw people doing something on the shore and in the sea every day. I became curious.
“Let's go and see,” I said to Lopoukhoy one day.
"No!" he whined out of habit. "There are people there!" But I persuaded him, and we went.
We approached and saw that something was being built on the shore. And again the guard soul-eaters with truncheons were controlling everything. Ugh, we were in trouble! We were quickly seized and forced to carry stones.
"It's all your fault ... It would be better if I stayed at home! Let you go to work alone!" Lop-eared grumbled.
And at first I liked the work. We took square stones from the shore and carried them directly into the sea, and there we laid them in such a wall, it's called a dam. It was cool: there was water all around, and there was a wall right in it. You can walk along it as if along the sea. I love it when people build. All sorts of different things come out of that — houses, roads, this dam . . . It is a very good thing.
I did learn one interesting thing. When you carry a stone to the very end of the dam, and there are already other stones, you just put it on top and that's it. But if all the stones are laid on top, then the others must be put on the bottom of the sea. Thus we would go with stones in our hands and put them where they belonged. The soul-eaters stood above the water and showed us where to put them with sticks. But we worked underwater. And nothing happened to us! It was dark in the water, but still the wall and stones could be seen. At first Lop-eared and I were afraid to go under the water, but then it was fine, we got used to it. I even liked it: you work, and at the same time you drink and swim. Awesome!
When the soul-eaters ordered everyone to sit down and rest, the builders sat down in a long, long line along the shore.
It was organized that way so they wouldn't fight and swear at each other during the break. But all the same, they did not succeed. Someone was sure to sit too close to their neighbor, and swearing began, and then a fight. Lop-eared and I always sat apart from everyone. It was too bad that I couldn't go up to anyone and talk to them. I can't hold a conversation with Lop-eared, after all.
Then something else happened. When our dam was ready, we were ordered to destroy it.
I thought we had built something wrong.
Well, we needed to fix it. We removed the stones from above, took them out of the water and carried them to the shore. Then other builders piled them up in large heaps. Fine.
We dismantled the entire dam, and then we were ordered to build it again — everything just as it had been. What a nightmare! I couldn't resist, I went up to one man and asked:
"Now we're building the dam, and then what?"
"You don't know already, you wretch? Are you kidding me? Just wait till I engrain it into you!"
"I have a stick — see? You had better tell me, what are we going to do next?"
"Dismantle it, that's what, idiot!"
I felt like I was suddenly struck in the head. Everything was so nice before! Our house was nice, with a roof and windows, and there was a table and two things to sit on in it. The bird brought us bread every day. And the work was so useful, we were building a dam in the sea. And there were two of us, me and Lop-eared. Suddenly everything repulsed me: I cannot build and destroy the same thing endlessly! I can’t, I don’t want to, and that's it!
“We're going to leave.” I told Lop-eared.
At first he whimpered and tried to fight:
"Go ahead! Leave me alone ... I'll find myself a different hussy!"
How does he know such words? He paused, and then he said thoughtfully:
"But they won't give bread to anyone else..."
I was blown away! That big-eared dummy! In the end he calmed down, became quiet and muttered from the corner:
"When will we go?"
"Tomorrow. The bird will bring bread, we will eat it, and then we will follow the bird."
"How can we follow it? It flies over the sea!"
"We will go by sea."
"We'll be right on the water, then. But the sea is bare, they will see us! We will be caught and beaten, or we will be given to the masters."
"Don't be afraid, they won't see us. We will go along the bottom of the sea."
"We'll get lost. It's dark down there."
"We won't get lost. It doesn't matter where we go, as long as we get away from here."
Here I was very surprised by my Lop-eared, really surprised! He suddenly said:
"But the bread will get wet in the water. It's wet."
"So we'll eat it!"
"That won't work. We have a lot of bread. We won't be able to eat it all right away."
"How do we have a lot of bread?"
"I hid some pieces. I knew that you were stupid and would want to go somewhere again. I don't get any rest from you! And on the way you will distribute our bread to everyone. I know you well. So I gathered little pieces of the bread. They are hidden in the house."
Once more I was blown away! Well, he definitely succeeded in surprising me. That's what you call cunning! We came home from work, and he showed me an old mat in the corner, and under it there was a pile of small, dry pieces of bread. They're called croutons. And they were very delicious — amazing!
"So do we leave them here?" he asked, sending a piece into his mouth.
I took the thing that people sit on, turned it over, and it became a thing that people carry stuff with. I put all the pieces on it and put it on the table.
"Don't touch it, otherwise you will overeat before the road, and I'll have to leave you here alone."
It worked. He did not take a piece of the bread, only whimpered, looking at the table. And I had a plan how to make sure that the people from the dam did not chase us when we went to the bottom of the sea. I was afraid that the soul-eaters would send them in pursuit of us.
The next day we went to the sea early. People had already raced to the dam, but the soul-eaters had not yet appeared. They always came later. I stood at the beginning of the dam and shouted:
"Who wants bread? Come get it!"
At first, no one believed it. Then one came up, looked at me, and then rushed at me with his fists:
"Bread, you say? I'll show you what happens when you maltreat others! I'll break you of giving out stones as bread!"
"Just try it! Take a piece, don't be afraid."
He reached out and took it. His eyes rolled into his head. He swallowed the crackers at once, and then grabbed my stretcher with bread and rushed to run along the shore. And then all the others, screaming, rushed after him. That's okay. That's what I intended to happen.
I grabbed Lop-eared by the hand and dragged him to the place where we always waited for our bird. We were just in time, it was already circling over the coast.
And then a good thing happened: instead of one loaf of bread, the bird threw down two. We began to eat quickly, and it circled above us and did not fly away until we had finished eating everything and gone down to the water.
We joined hands and went into the water. Lop-eared, of course, was sobbing a little. But soon I couldn't hear it, because the water covered our heads.
We walked along a sandy gray bottom. There was dark water all around. A white cross floated above our heads, above the water. It was our bird flying, showing us the way.
We walked along the bottom of the sea for a very long and very difficult time. It was dark, dreary and dull. The silence was dead. In general, it was a nightmare. I felt worse than Lop-eared. I saw that he was making mournful faces as he walked, wiggling his lips, grumbling and complaining. It was easier for him to walk that way. He didn't realize that I couldn't hear him in the water.
For a long time we walked in complete darkness, but I still walked and dragged Lop-eared by the hand. Then a white spark appeared above us again, and then a white cross.
Our bird did not leave us. That means that we didn’t get lost in the dark, we walked straight the whole time.
Towards the end of the journey, my legs began to give way. I took every step with difficulty and almost fell over. But it was already clear that there was not long to go. The water turned gray, and the cross overhead turned into a bird again.
And so our heads, first his, then mine, stuck out of the water. But what was happening around us! Huge waves ran from behind, overwhelmed us, and then threw us onto the rocky bottom. The noise was brutal, my head was already buzzing.
Suddenly I was covered by a particularly high wave and was torn away from Lop-eared.
"Hold on and come ashore!" I managed to shout to him. Then my head bounced against the stones, and what happened next, I no longer remember.
Chapter 9 — Coming soon . . .
Source: Мои посмертные приключения (Russian)
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