A/N: This short story was written for my Advanced Creative Writing class last semester. I'm actually quite fond of this one :)
By the Way, the translation for the title can be found at the very bottom of the fic.
По Желание (коммунистической) звезды *
He only needed two hundred bucks, that's all – nothing too outrageous. If he was really being honest with himself, two hundred was barely enough, and he was being courteous by only planning to take two hundred. Really, what are a couple double-zeroes to someone with a steady income and a fun allergy? Nothing, he reasoned.
So, with a brash inhale in preparation, Hudson smashed his gloved hand into the small window separating the inside of his sister's tiny home from the frozen street outside. Grinning at his undamaged hand, Hudson slid his wrist through the newly mangled glass and unlocked the ivory-painted oak door beside it. He retracted his hand carefully and let himself in, humming a Macklemore hit as he strolled casually through the entryway. Had Haven, his elder and rather cranky sister, been home at the time of his breaking-and-entering, he'd probably be sulking in the back of a cop car right now. Haven would just love to see that.
Hudson sauntered straight to the bedroom, knowing everything in the living room and kitchen were cheap and would garner nothing from pawning. A quick sift through Haven's jewelry box and locating any stashed cash would do the trick. The wayward teen stepped hesitantly into the bedroom containing such things, eyes calculating every piece of furniture and shadowed space for its potential to hide things. Since the jewelry box is on the dresser, the boy figured, I'll start by looking in the dresser – two birds, one stone or some shit.
He rifled through the small box, disappointed by the jumbled pile of costume jewelry. He knew for a fact that Haven had a few trinkets made of real gems, bequeathed to her by their recently deceased grandmother. Hudson tapped at the base and top of the small wooden box, grinning when he felt a secret compartment. Haven thought she was so smart.
The secret hatch opened easily once he found it, several pairs of earrings and rings falling onto the dresser top. Hudson swept two sets diamond studs and a topaz-encrusted ring into the pocket of his sagging black jeans. He set the rest of the jewels back into the compartment and placed the box back how he found it. Next, Hudson sifted through every chestnut drawer in search of hidden money, once having to use one of those ornate hair-chopsticks so that he could check through Haven's underwear drawer without having to touch anything.
Scowling at the lack of dough in the dresser, the boy moved on to the closet. He doubted anything could be stashed there due to the mass of shoes monopolizing the small floor space. He looked anyway though, just in case, and behind the clothes and on the shelf above. Just as he thought, however, there was nada. As Hudson searched the rest of the room meticulously, even swiping a hand under the floored mattress and behind anything against a wall, his frustration grew. He knew Haven had money hidden. When she still lived at home, she would keep some in a pair of ugly holiday socks, and he would steal some every once in a while. How dare she get better at hiding things!
In his anger, Hudson punched the wall next a large hanging mirror by the closet, creating a dent and causing the mirror to crash to the ground. He jumped back, hissing out expletives at the shattered glass that now covered the worn hardwood floor. The mutters ceased, however, when he saw that the mirror pieces weren't reflecting the lavender wall, but rather a wooden square. He looked back up at the place the mirror used to be and stared at the random…crawlspace? A wicked grin crossed his features.
The wooden board was somewhat stuck, so Hudson had to use a large kitchen knife to try and pry it open. The act bent the knife some, but the board popped out and landed on the mirror bits, crushing them further. Hudson stuck his arm into the crawlspace, feeling around for any objects that could contain cash. Finally he felt something cold and hard to the far right and shoved his whole arm through, grabbing the apparently rectangular-shaped thing from its other side and sliding it towards the entrance of the hole.
With both hands, Hudson took the thing, now identified as a large toolbox, from the crawlspace opening and set it down on the bed. He unlatched the top, taking out the tray of actual tools from the top and smiled at the felt bag and metal lockbox at the bottom. He pulled the ribbon the bag and dumped wads of cash onto the dark blue comforter, fighting the urge to laugh maniacally at his find. He counted it real quickly and was ecstatic at the total: $390 dollars.
Hudson pocketed his desired amount then returned the leftover $190 to the felt sack and then picked up the metal lockbox. It was shaped like a small treasure chest but painted gray-blue and was sealed with a thick bronze lock inscribed with a hammer and sickle. Wait, was Haven secretly a Commie? It wouldn't surprise him, since she's so anal about everything. He inspected the lock and determined that it would not be opening without its key. Where could that be?
"What the hell are you doing?" A voice shouted from the doorway. Hudson whipped around, wide eyed, and found his elder sister staring judgmentally at him. She still wearing the uniform from the diner where she waitressed, still had her purse over her shoulder, and was pointing a small handgun at her little brother.
"Dude, don't point that thing at me!" Hudson cried, too freaked out to even make a joke about the potential innuendo in his words. Haven let the hand holding the firearm fall to her side but her furious expression did not dissipate.
"You broke into my house and are stealing my shit? What is wrong with you, Hudson?" Haven shouted, charging forward and throwing her hands into the boy's pockets, taking back the money and jewelry he'd put there.
"Step off me, Have'," Hudson protested, shoving the young woman a couple feet back. She scoffed at him and placed her gun in her purse, exchanging it for her cellphone. She dialed the first two digits of 911 before Hudson snatched the plastic device from her. "Are you trying to call the police on me?"
"Um, yeah! You can't just commit crimes and expect not to pay for them, Hudson! God, you're still such a selfish little brat. You were taking money for drugs again, weren't you?" She accused, swatting her junior in the chest with her purse. He winced before frowning at her. Haven cut him off before he could protest, however, "Stop screwing up your life, Hudson. Even better, stop trying to drag me down with you. Get out of my house."
Hudson glared her for dismissing him, standing stock still as she put the nearly-stolen goods, her purse down on the bed, and then crouched down to pick up mirror shards. Several growled insults left his mouth as he stormed off, exiting the small dwelling and picked up the bike he'd discarded out front. Fuck her and her stupid metal chest, he thought as he pedaled his way home.
(Two Days Later)
The Commie lock would not leave Hudson's mind. He's seen it before, but he just had no idea where. Like, of course he's seen it before in school and stuff – it's a pretty iconic symbol – but there was something about it being etched into bronze that rang a bell with him. He didn't think he knew any Commies, but if he did then they were probably old. Who did he know that was old? His grandparents on his father's side were like hippies or something. The only old person he knew that could be at least semi-versed in Soviet culture was his grandma Kate, the one who left Haven the precious jewels. She was, however, dead, so he couldn't really ask her about it.
Hold it. That's it. Grandma Kate had only written Hudson down in her will to bequeath two things: a small sum of money (that was quickly blown on, Haven guessed it, inebriates) and a bronze key with the Soviet emblem molded onto its base. Crud, what did he do with that key? He remembered being affronted by his miniscule inheritance and thought the key was a worthless, a fluke in the will or Grandma Kate's mental stability. Surely he didn't throw the key away?
Hudson overturned his whole bedroom looking for that damn key. Clothes littered the floor, his mattress was against the wall, his closest was emptied, and every piece of furniture was looked behind or under. One would think that someone had let an angry bear loose in the boy's chamber. Frustrated and discouraged, Hudson moved on to the other rooms of his home. He ransacked the living room, almost leaving it in the shape of his own room before deciding to put everything back neatly so that his parents didn't bitch at him. The key was nowhere to be found.
Hudson retreated back to his room, slamming his door shut and flopping down on a pile of (hopefully clean) clothes. Maybe he did just toss the stupid key in the bin. A metaphorical light bulb flashed frantically above his head, his eyes gleaming at the sudden idea he was struck with. The teen scrambled on all fours over to the small trash can he kept next to his desk. Choosing not to think about the fact that he was literally digging through the trash, Hudson dug through the trash. And there, at the bottom of the plastic can next to a dried up wad of chewing gum, was the bronze Commie key.
Hudson whooped aloud, jumping around the cluttered space and high-fiving every face on the posters taped all over his walls. He nearly banged his head on his desk after tripping on a cord, but he didn't and he found the key and he was awesome and that's all that matters.
Now that he had the key, however, what was he going to do with it? He couldn't bust into Haven's place again, for a while anyway, and she doesn't exactly invite him over. The thought made him sick to his stomach, but he concluded that he would just have to call Haven and ask to see her. He swallowed imaginary bile and plucked his phone from his back pocket, opening a message to "Spawn of Satan," as Haven is labeled in his Contacts.
"Hey…can u come over? & bring that lockbox." Hitting Send might have been the hardest thing he'd ever done.
Two hours and a heated text exchange later, Haven walked into her old family home and back to her delinquent brother's room. It looked positively trashed, but he lazed on his messy bed without a care in the world. He looked up at the again uniform-clad woman and smiled at the metal contraption she had in her arms.
"Where's Grandma Kate's key?" She inquired, not one to beat around the bush. Hesitantly, she made her way to the bed and sat down besides Hudson. He sat up and held out a small bronze key bearing the Communist insignia, just as he swore. She sighed then snatched the item, bringing it to the lock on her box.
"Hey now! It's my key, I get to unlock it!" Hudson protested, grabbing the key back.
"Yeah, and it's my box, so I get to unlock it," Haven snapped back. When Hudson didn't relinquish the key back to her, she rolled her eyes. "Okay, we'll do it together. Here," she held out her hand to him. Hudson tentatively placed his hand in hers; the two twisted their fingers so that they were each holding half the key. They pushed it into the heavy lock and turned, rewarded by a satisfying click.
Haven took her hand away from Hudson's and placed it on the lid of that box. Hudson slid his key out of the lock and returned it to his pocket. The siblings peered at each other, both hoping that whatever was inside the lockbox was worth them working together for. Finally each pair of eyes fell to said box, and Haven lifted the top.
Inside laid five items: an envelope, a wax sealer, a mixed tape, a birth certificate, and…a gun? Haven nearly dropped the box, surprised by finding out that she'd inherited a freaking gun. Hudson picked up the hunk of black metal, inspecting. He concluded that it was a TT-33, an out-of-production Russian semi-automatic pistol; he knew this because his best friend, Trey, was a mega gun-enthusiast and had shown Hudson just about every gun in the universe, he was sure.
Haven ignored her brother-turned-gun-examiner and picked up the wax sealer and mixed tape. The sealer bore a crescent moon and star and was stained gold, and the tape read, "To K, love G." It must have meant that the tape was given to Grandma Kate by her husband, George, who had died before Haven was born. She set the two items back into the box in return for the birth certificate. Hudson glanced up and saw what his sister was holding, putting down the gun to look at the paper, too. Each of their eyes widened at the information presented.
"So…Grandma Kate was actually born in Soviet Russia and her real name is Yekaterina Surikov. That's…nice?" Haven wondered. Hudson shrugged; neither sibling quite knew what to think about this new development. I guess Grandma Kate really is a Commie, Hudson thought. Haven placed the sheet back into box and got the envelope instead. Upon turning it over, they saw that it was addressed to the both of them. Haven tore open the top and started to read the letter aloud.
"My dearest grandbabies, I wonder how long it took you two to be able to open this." Haven and Hudson glanced at each other sourly before the former continued, "I'm sure that you're surprised to learn about your heritage, especially this way. I apologize for not being able to share it with you before, but it was better for everyone that no one find out the truth until after my death. The truth is this: My name is Yekaterina Surikov of Soviet Russia, and I have been AWOL from Russian intelligence since 1982."
Haven stopped, balking at the stationery. Hudson brought his hands up to the side of his head and began to shake them while making explosion sounds. A few moments later, Haven broke from her shock and cleared her throat, resuming her dictation.
"Yes, I know, I wouldn't have expected me to be KGB either. However, it is true, and that was precisely why I was chosen to go overseas and assimilate into American culture as a sleeper agent in New York City. I do not know if they ever chose to activate me, because something amazing happened: your grandfather.
"The connection was instantaneous, beautiful, and a little frightening. While we sleepers were encouraged to choose significant others and create families to make our cover look even more believable, they were supposed to be completely falsified from our point of view. Yet there I was, suddenly head over heels for this American man and I felt like I was betraying my country. I knew I had to decide: my country or George. Obviously you know which I chose. We ran away and eloped here, in Buffalo, and had a gorgeous baby – your mother. For so long I worried that the Soviets would come looking for me, punish me and my family for my treason, but they never came. Then the Union disbanded and I felt that my fear was no longer needed. And then I was gifted with two amazing grandchildren. I was the one who picked your names, you know. Your mother was out of her mind with anxiety over names, so I named you after where I met George and where my meeting place with my KGB handler was: The Hudson Haven, a flower shop by the river.
"I still miss Mother Russia, I must confess. Not many think so, but it truly is a wonderful country. It is my hope that you two visit there one day, hopefully together. You two have never gotten along, and it was my wish that by tricking you into discovering this together, you might bond over it. In fact, if you look inside the magazine of my gun (don't worry, I've never used it) and inside the Russian doll I gave your mother, both of my wishes may come true. I love you both, Grandma Kate."
Haven took a breath, her vocal chords worn out from reciting the lengthy letter, and then turned towards her brother. Hudson picked the gun back up and unloaded the magazine, fishing out two rolled up slips of paper. He unrolled the long half-sheets and gaped at them before moving to show Haven. Her jaw dropped when she saw that it was two plane tickets for a round trip to Russia. Suddenly she frowned.
"But we don't have passports. We can't afford passports," she amended.
"…check the doll?" Hudson suggested, grabbing his sister's arm and pulling her to a stand with him. She followed the younger boy to their mother's cluttered chambers and watched as Hudson moved the navy sweater covering up a foot-and-a-half matryoshka doll. He uncapped the wooden woman to reveal a slighter smaller model inside. He plucked a total of five models before, on the sixth, a whole body came up as well. Haven took the doll, this one the size of a hotdog, and inspected it. The painted lady seemed didn't seem to be special, until Hudson tipped the doll upside-down to reveal a bronze keyhole. The siblings grinned at each other as the junior got out the magic key.
The base of the doll opened like a door and out fell a wad of cash. Haven swooped and picked it up. She raised an eyebrow at the Post-It attached that read, "Passport money. Not for anything else, Hudson!" The boy blushed when he also caught a glimpse.
"So…we goin' to Russia, da?" Hudson smirked, eyes ablaze with excitement. Haven returned his gaze and, for the first time in a long time, smiled warmly down at her little brother.
* Wish Upon a (Communist) Star
I hope you enjoyed! Reviews would be awesome :)