By Michael C. White
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She drove over a cattle guard, then up a bumpy incline. The washboard road kicked up stones against the car’s undercarriage, the pinging sounding eerily as if someone were shooting at her. When the road leveled off, it appeared headed straight for a windbreak of cottonwoods off in the wavy distance. In the shelter of the trees stood a weather-beaten barn and several outbuildings, a windmill listing precariously, a small white farmhouse. That had to be her place, Elizabeth thought. She wondered if the old woman would look anything like the person in the newspaper photos.
The cool air from the Dnieper was wafting into the room, and from the apartment below ours drifted the wistful cello notes of the music student who lived there. Mostly, though, what I remembered of that morning was the feeling, that strange and altogether wondrous sensation somewhere deep down inside a woman when she feels—no, when she knows—she is carrying life within her. I lay very still, feeling that life beginning in me, taking hold, filling me, knowing already that I loved the tiny creature that was sharing my body, loved it with all my heart and soul, loved it so much that the tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to something hauntingly beautiful by Rachmaninoff.
Yeltsin standing on a tank, defying the military. Nuclear missiles for sale on the black market. Old women waiting in long lines to pawn silverware so they could buy a little food. Some story hidden since the war just coming to light—like the one about Hitler’s skull suddenly turning up in Moscow. Revelations and scandals and long-buried secrets unearthed. In short, a journalist’s dream. At a cocktail party Elizabeth had attended at the American ambassador’s residence, the buzz was all about whether Gorbachev would resign peacefully in favor of Yeltsin or if there would be actual civil war.