Choice

Choice

The lesson will end in 3 minutes, as well as mathematics test. A teacher with a stern face paced between the tables, looking into students’ notebooks, and students with trembling fingers tried to finish writing the last formulas. At sixteen many think that the future depends on the annual test.

His paper was covered with slant rows of numbers, but his thoughts were about other things…  namely about other person, a girl. The whole past year was dedicated to her, to her desires and caprices. And it was the happiest year of his life. Of course, a little time left for school, but who needs this math in a small semi-abandoned town, lost in the middle of a huge country? Nobody! And yet, trying to recall what was briefly heard in the classroom, he wanted to write at least something more. “Vaaania …” Nastia whispered in his right ear from the back row: “So there should be cos2α or cos2β?» “Second one,” he said at random and tried to focus on his task. “Vaaaania, but plus or minus?” Before he could open his mouth, the bell rang.

***

“Gather your things and I don’t want to see your face again!” the voice of Tamara Sergeevna sounded adamant: “My daughter deserves a better man than you!” What was he to answer if even the old car that he had used for illegal taxi services was borrowed from Nastia’s father? And Nastia was silently standing at the far end of the corridor, frowning. After high school, she has changed a lot: slimed down, got a fashionable hairstyle and wardrobe (for a small but steady Vania’s income). Men in the gym, where she recently got a job, paid her more and more attention. She grew up in her own eyes, but Vanya… Vanya kept working as a taxi driver and refused to move on.

When the door was loudly shut behind him, he didn’t know where to go. His parents died long ago, he had no other relatives. And now he was standing alone on the stairs, twenty years old young man with no education or even hopes for it, unsociable and taciturn guy with no special talents. Where should he go? Where will he live?

***

Investigating officer kept asking those inappropriate questions: why he took the money? Who helped him? Where is he hiding the loot? But he didn’t take anything! Just several months as a security guard in all-day store, and there was this absurd interrogation about some shortage. Yes, he does not have his own home. Yes, he was starving some time ago. Yes, he would like to have a better life. No, he didn’t take the money, he had never laid his eyes on it! Honestly.

Closing a big white folder, investigating officer sighed affectedly. Of course, he knew that the boy was innocent, but he was the ideal candidate for the investigator’s main mission. How many of these guys he recruited recently?  He stopped counting already. The country needs them, those lost, desperate young men, those that have nowhere to go and nothing to lose. The ones who no one will remember and no one will mourn. Tapping a pen on the table and feigning hesitation, the investigator said: “I must admit that your case is hopeless. You will spend many years behind bars, most likely be infected with tuberculosis, and dishonored for the whole your future life. But…” here the investigator made a long pause, pointedly looked at the young man and continued “…but you have a choice…”

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