Christian Short Stories

Prekrasnaya Devushka
By Web Ruble

Web writes: "As a former newspaper reporter and the only son of hard-working parents who were always terribly busy, I have dear but seemingly insignificant memories I can't explain."

She was a little, cow-tending tot, and I honor her memory. But who was she? Among family and friends, only God knows.

I remember holding my father’s hand some seven decades ago -- a rare moment I always cherished – as we walked south on 32nd toward Emerson.

A balmy late August afternoon ‘twas.

We trekked past two vacant lots that five years later would sport new war-time housing, and we approached the well-established stucco house where an older red-headed boy lived.

I liked him. He was kind. Sort of athletic. I remember him kicking a football in that double-lot hay field that bordered the property of my “gwamma” (grandmother). But I seldom was able to talk to him.

Beyond his stucco house was another field. Squatting like a sod hut in the lot’s center was a humble shack housing a Russian family.

Out in the surrounding hay was a cow tended by a little, blond, round-faced Russian girl.

Dad and I stopped there our street walk, short of Emerson and opposite the Russian farm house. My father plucked two straws of hay, inserted them in my mouth. He pulled on the ends, shredding the hay heads to fill my mouth with grass seed.

I bawled. Crying I ran back to my gwamma’s. My semi-disgusted, laughing father said, “Stop . . . see that little girl out there in the field? She’s waving to you. Wave back.”

Well, I didn’t. Still crying, I kept running. Back to my gwamma’s house, and told my mum.

- - -

Later when alone with my gwamma, I told her about the little girl in the hay field up the street and said I liked her. And that I did a bad thing by running away crying and not waving back.

“Hurrumph,” said Gwamma. “They are Russians. Sacks tied in the middle. That’s what they are. And they have a cow there. This is in the city and we are not supposed to have cows.”

Gwamma should know. She was from a farm in Maryland and liked farm animals.

I was dismayed. Almost in tears.

Finally, I said, “But sacks tied in the middle? That little girl didn’t look like that.” (If I remember rightly -- it has now been about 70 years -- the little girl was charming and friendly. She was always smiling despite the relative squalor.) And I was impressed with that -- even though I was but a 4-year child.

“Russians. They always look like sacks tied in the middle,” again said my Gwamma, who seldom had poor-image things to say about neighbors. That’s why her reference to the local Rus peasants had me in near emotional tatters.

I had walked up the street several times and seen the little girl. She was always friendly. Waving. (A prekrasnaya devushka).

Two years later, I saw that the house was gone. So was the little girl and the Russian family. Gwamma explained that the city forced the family to move, because they insisted on keeping a farm animal or two.

I never learned the little girl’s given name, nor her surname. Moreover, I never saw her again. That was – oh -- so many years ago. A very forgettable, insignificant event ‘twas, indeed. No doubt all of us have similar shadows of memory of insignificant events. Why this one sticks in my mind I don’t know. Nevertheless, I have always wondered who she was, and what ever happened to her. Apparently she impressed me enough for me to remember.

To this day, I once in a while still say a prayer for the person who was that little girl, thanking God for putting her in my less-than-shining path. And I ask Jesus to protect her.

I still wonder whence she came and why she impressed me so. I told a minister about it once, and he said that both -- the little girl and the impact she had on me -- were meant to be.

God works in mysterious ways, he said. God put her in my now more-illuminating path for a reason.

(© 2011 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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