THE VOICES…

It was a sharp fall of snow, biting, cutting. She wanted to steal inside the house across the street, to warm by the fire, to eat from the soup on the stove – but the voices said no. She was a Russian spy and that house was no longer her home, but the house of the enemy. Her mission, they said, was to take the pistol and fire at anyone who might enter or leave it.

It was hard to see in the driving snow but she fired and fired until the ground around her was full of shell casings.

In the morning her parents found her, surrounded not by casings but by pellets of medication not taken. There was no Cossack hat or thick fur coat that the spy agency voices had insisted she wear last night. No, Anna was in her pajamas, her body and naked feet sealed by ice into the bush from a mad rainfall overnight.

Her parents pulled and struggled to get her frozen body free. She was a good little girl, they cried, and had probably done as the voices had told her to do. It was just so sad that they hadn’t found her wandering aimlessly outside, too bad that they didn’t get to talk to her first…

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