27 April

ONCE... in a Music Hall. This is a big venue.  For 1500 people.  It’s St. Petersburg.  A thousand are mates.  There is a security guy at the make-up room.  “I’m sorry, not now please. They’ll come to the foyer in half an hour.”  But somebody breaks through with thanks and chatting.  We all sneak away to my place.

It is impossible to get to sleep after the performance.  We find a HUGE JIGSAW PUZZLE in a bag with no sample picture.  About three in the morning we realise we’re putting together the “ONCE...“  My plane leaves at 5.  I fall asleep in a bath.  Styck wakes me up with a coffee of meaningless strength.  I sleep in a car, in the plane and in the train too.  At the station called Eisenach a girl of about thirteen gets into the carriage.

With prominent cheek-bones, with broad shoulders.  She moves precisely, setting herself at once in the sitting pose.  She places her arm over her bag at the same time.  Her face turns to the window.  Then she bends her head, stretches her arms forward, makes fists.  She unpacks her bag and starts to eat.  A yoghurt, a small sandwich with sausage, a whole long cucumber.  All had been wrapped by herself, I am certain.  She doesn’t look at the food, rather out the window.  She turns around once to look at me and I am not quick enough to look away.  We look at one another.  I move myself to the carriage doors – stretch my legs, twist my ass a bit, crack my bones, smile and return to my seat. She stops me in the aisle with a  glance and a question.

“Are you a gymnast?”
“No.  A dancer.”
“And I’m a gymnast.”
“I see.”
“You see what?”
“I mean - it’s clear.” (Shit, what nonsense do I talk?)
“What is clear?”
“Your shoulders.”

We burst out laughing. The Spring has come and the Death has struck.

“I like the horizontal bar.”

I am in the aisle. The whole train is looking at me.

“Where do you go?”
"To Leipzig, change for Dresden. A training and exhibition program in a quad.”
“And I’m going to Dresden.”

I lean against the next seat.  We are in rhythm.  She drives the conversation and defines the pauses.  She gets herself a bun, half to be precise.  Another half she offers to me.  I refuse but offer to bring a coffee.  She refuses in turn.  I tell her about the embracing cats on a roof: “If I had two dead rats, I’d give you one!”

She giggles abruptly and gives a thumbs up sign.  The whole train is thinking this is not good.

“Do you like music?”
“I dance with it.”
“So do I.  But the trainer plays what he wants.”
“How long have you been training for?”
“Since seven.  I’m fourteen now.  Cool jeans.”

She knows everything, I think to myself.  Everything is allowed.

“And how long yet?”
“Till eighteen.  Then – as a trainer.  They asked for me in Bratislava.”

We get out of the train in Dresden, easy and simultaneously.  Nobody looks for her.  She lays the bag on her other shoulder.  One more second and we would go together.  She punches my breast:

“And you.”

She raises her fist, does not turn around.

I am spinning a while trying to light a cigarette. As I glance up again our (our?) train is moving fast and somehow in the opposite direction...  What did Einstein say? “Looking at the train passing by, it’s impossible to say where its head is.”   Can it be, it just returns with vast speed?

I yawn at the square, thinking I’ve gone deaf but nothing has happened.  It’s the autos that are silent here.

ONCE, St. Petersburg, April 2006. Alexey Merkushev. Photo - Anna Bogodist
After all. Photo - Elena Iarovaia
ONCE, St. Petersburg, April 2006. Elena Iarovaia.  Photo - V. Shesterikov
A King. Photo - Elena Iarovaia
ONCE, St. Petersburg, April 2006. Me and I. Photo - K. Belyaev
ONCE, Puzzle. Photo - Elena Iarovaia
A salty way... Photo - Elena Iarovaia
ONCE, St. Petersburg, April 2006. Tanya Khabarova. Photo - V. Shesterikov
We are coming. Photo - A. Khokhlova
We are leaving. Photo - A. Khokhlova

Original text: Anton Adasinsky

Photos: Elena Iarovaia, Anna Bogodist, Anna Khokhlova, V. Shesterikov, K. Belyaev
English text editor: Jennifer Williams
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