The man is her sister’s husband; the sister has died.
See how quickly a story complicates.
The young woman and the widower are looking at back to the port having boarded the last boat out of Odessa.
It seems every story about a boat is the story of the last boat.
The young woman knows she is not beautiful like her wild-haired sister who died from the flu. Last year she marched with other students in the streets of Odessa chanting for the Bolsheviks. But here she is on the Black Sea holding her sister’s baby and her sister’s husband is saying, “Soon we will be in Constantinople.” She leans to kiss the child’s dark head of curls.
Many boats and countries later, she will say that all of the sisters loved Joseph.
But who has asked for an explanation?
She will also say, “Odessa, that was a city to be a student in then. Sometimes my dearest friend and I used our dinner money to buy tickets to stand at the back at the Opera. We could not believe our luck.”
But that is a different story. Not every story is a story about love.
Victoria Redel is the author of the novels The Border of Truth and Loverboy and the short story collection Where The Road Bottoms Out. Swoon is her most recent collection of poems.