Dusk in Kalevia: Epilogue
A download of this chapter is available in Sparkler Monthly Issue #021!
Vesa Uusitalo sipped his glass of wine on the balcony of the Kalevian consulate.
The party was in full swing inside; diplomats from a number of countries mingled and traded news within the confines of their respective alliances. The event at the embassy was ostensibly to celebrate passage of the Openness Pact between Finland and Kalevia, that last tricky bit of diplomacy preceding the retirement of his father. He wondered if the new Communist administration in Kalevia would carry on the liberalization that Chairman Uusitalo had been known for. Vesa was optimistic. He stared up at the purple sky and took another swallow of the Gewürtztraminer.
When he’d been awarded the Consular post at the Kalevian embassy in Helsinki so soon after university, Vesa had been overjoyed. After his father had shipped him off to Moscow for boarding school following that fateful winter, he’d developed an intense interest in international relations. The world was bigger than just Kalevia–once he did not feel confined by its language and borders, he stopped seeing his birthplace as his prison. Things were going well; he could see a career for himself here.
There were also, if he was completely honest with himself, other motivations as well.
The noise of the party swelled as someone opened the double doors to the balcony. “We’ve been looking for you!”
Vesa turned. It was His Excellency the Kalevian ambassador–a ruddy, portly gentleman who had been nothing but kind to Vesa since his assignment here. Vesa would have suspected that his family heritage had something to do with it, except that Kamarov’s good nature seemed to extend to just about everyone.
“Why are you hiding out here?” He joined Vesa at the railing, smelling strongly of the cup of Akvavit in his hand. His face glowed even more brightly than usual.
“Just wanted some air. It’s a nice night.”
“Warm for this time of year.” Kamarov took another swig of liquor.
“I should probably get back in there, eh?”
“Well, there’s someone I’d like you to meet–a member of the press corps. She’s been saying she wants to do an interview.”
“With me? I just got here, so what could I possibly have to say?” Vesa laughed. A tray of gravlax canapés floated by and he selected one absentmindedly to pop into his mouth.
“She’s spent time in Kalevia and she–oh, there she is.” Komarov waved, and Vesa turned to follow the direction of his greeting.
A woman in a simple gray suit walked toward them, the long cut of her blazer and wide-legged pants serving to accentuate her considerable height. Her gait was masculine and purposeful, and before she waved back, Vesa already had begun to feel an inkling of recognition.
“Vesa Uusitalo, the ambassador said, “This is Kaija Karhunen. Correspondent for the Helsinki Dispatch.”
“It’s been a long time.” Kaija extended her hand. One side of her mouth was turned up in that little half-smile that Vesa still recalled with painful clarity.
Vesa tried to say something, but the words would not come. He just accepted the handshake and nodded, staring into her face, marveling at how little it had changed.
The ambassador cleared his throat. “You know each other?”
Kaija’s voice was hoarse. “We’ve met.”
It was ten o’clock, and the sun hung low behind the pines. Zophiel stretched on the boards of the dock and listened to the water lapping at the pipes below him, enjoying the pleasant exhaustion of a long summer day.
It was times like these that he felt most comfortable in his human body, his senses filled by the world around him. He closed his eyes and drank in the smell of the lake. If he had to choose one scent to represent his time on earth, this tang of freshwater muck and old leaves seemed fitting–it was not a sweet smell, but a good one.
Had he ever known a time such as this? Toivo had long since faded from the memories of the people in Kalevia, but perhaps something of him remained, the last vestiges of the man they had dreamed up still lingering in Zophiel’s appearance. Zophiel had no idea how long this could go on; he knew that elsewhere, nations brooded, threatening each other with launch codes and blue jeans, but for now, he had obtained a precious equilibrium in this tiny cabin just over the Finnish border.
When the long shadows of evening reached the dock and fell across Zophiel’s body, he shivered and sat up. The wind had already begun to develop an evening chill. He looked back toward the shore and up the mossy stone steps sunk into the bank, where the old summer cabin stood dark under the trees. As he watched, almost as if in reply, a light turned on in the window.
He closed his eyes again, listened for the opening and closing of the door, the soft sound of feet descending the steps and venturing out onto the dock. Even before he felt the hand on his shoulder, Zophiel could feel Solas standing over him.
“Supper,” said the Darkness, stooping to run fingers through Zophiel’s hair.
For now, there was peace.
Waters seek a quiet haven
After running long in rivers;
Fire subsides and sinks in slumber
At the dawning of the morning
Therefore I should end my singing,
As my song is growing weary,
For the pleasure of the evening,
For the joy of morn arising.
– The Kalevala
The complete ebook and paperback of this novel will contain another post-epilogue story about Toivo and Demyan. Coming in May 2015!
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