The familiar smell of cheap rum filled the one roomed house. Valentine and Valeria knew their father was home. He was drunk as usual. Anna, the mother served him the last cup of porridge. Far above the village of Salsk, the full moon watched the little hut with great agony.
Valentine was a boy of six and Valeria was a girl of ten. They never had a good fortune, though they have seen great fortunes materializing in front of them as children of rich parents. Valentine’s only possession was a wooden doll of a sailor who had traveled all the seven seas. He inherited the doll from his sister Valeria, when the parents told her she was too old to play with toys.
Anna has made a swing on the courtyard. She would swing the children up to heaven and then catch them down at earth. Anna would let them paint the back wall of the house with mud and water and later would ask them clean the wall, so that they could paint again the next day. These were their little perks of being poor.
Anton, their father was a laborer. The war gave him bread and when the war ended, he became poor. “Wars create martyrs, so does peace”, he tells the children during their Sunday walk to the lake that had huge frogs.
Anna warns the children often about the man on the corner of the street. Boris, was told to be a merchant of children. “He snatches children for work”, tells Anna.
Anna poured the little porridge that was left to Anton’s cup. She went to the children and asked them to go to bed. She prepared them a bed on one end of the room. She gave Valentine, the wooden doll of the sailor to hold while sleeping.
“Are they asleep?”, asked Anton.
“They are.”, replied Anna.
“We should agree upon what we have discussed yesterday. I find no other way. We have no money.”
“But Valeria is just ten.”
“The orphanage will take care of her. She might even get schooling.”
Anna stared at the moon outside the window. The moon wasn’t white. She lowered the kerosene lamp and went to bed along with her husband.
The next morning they woke up to find a small bundle of cash on the children’s bed. Valentine wasn’t there; the wooden doll of the sailor who had traveled all the seven seas wasn’t there. It was just the full moon who had watched him walking out of the house last night, to Boris, the man on the corner of the street.