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Dostoevsky's Streets

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was one of Russia’s most famous authors. He wrote Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Notes from the Underground among many other stories and novels. He was hailed as one of the most influential writers of the 19th century due to his ability to portray human psychology in extraordinary ways. Dostoevsky spent most of his adult life in St. Petersburg, then the capital of Russia, and the city features prominently in many of his writings. This piece stylistically mimics some of his earlier works. The use of the first name and patronymic was much more common in 19th century Russia than it is today, even among close friends and family.

Written October 2017

I ran away tonight, Fyodor Mikhailovich, I ran away. Out into the dark, cold streets, freshly cleaned with yet another October rain, I ran away into the arms of our Petersburg, yours and mine. He was good to me, dear Fyodor Mikhailovich, he was so good to me, can you believe he led me straight to you? Yes, I found you, your cold stone statue, where you so silently, deliberately sit on your perch, forever watching, forever commiserating, forever lending us your spirit for the ages. Yes, there you sat, Fyodor Mikhailovich, and do you know they still bring you flowers even over a hundred years after you took your last glance at these streets? Purple and white carnations, wilted and wet, and some pink shriveled roses too, strewn on the cold stone at your feet. You see how we cannot forget? No, you taught us not to forget, you taught us to create and form eternity with words, written like these, never to forget.

I could have stayed staring at you all night, Fyodor Mikhailovich, I could honestly have stayed all night. I saw my anguish reflected in your vacant eyes and in your pensive mouth, my pain. I saw in your hands the wounds of my soul and in your bent shoulders, my burdens. You were my reflection, sitting there on your stone perch, a mirror to my soul, and I could only truly feel the depths when I looked at you. But for fear of man I couldn’t stay, yes with shame I admit it’s true, for laying purple and white carnations at your feet is one thing, but to stare all night at your image? No, I couldn’t stay, the tears would have started to flow, and I cannot say you would approve, Fyodor Mikhailovich, of my womanly proclivity to weep. No, I dragged myself away and pushed into the shadows, in search for yet darker and darker places, and we both know in the offer of hiding, our Petersburg will never disappoint.

I got lost on your streets, Fyodor Mikhailovich, I got lost and I desperately hoped beyond hope I would never be found. Friendless, childless, without lovers or love, I walked your streets and descended down in the lonely places, the places in every soul that no other human being can ever go but God. Yes, down, down, down, to places you tried to tell us about but we wouldn’t listen. I don’t think my existential loneliness would impress you, dear Fyodor Mikhailovich, no not at all, but my comfort was that even if I could not impress you, at least we could have an understanding. If only I could sit in your parlor and watch your pen move on paper, if only I could hear the scratch, scratch, scratch of the inked words flowing from your soul, I think I could bear this ache so much better, dear Fyodor Mikhailovich. But we have not this privilege, all we have are these dark wet streets to walk, so that’s what we shall do, you and me, walk and walk and walk until the pain somehow dissipates, until it ebbs away into the dark pavement beneath our feet.

I found my way home, dear Fyodor Mikhailovich, yes I found my way home as we both knew I would. I did not stay lost because you guided me back, and I could not deny your gentle push to return to the light and warmth that awaited me. I came back because I had to write, write these very words, I had to honor your companionship on this dark, cold night. I know I could never attain your genius, but somehow in the depths of my soul I feel the slightest upward turn of your pensive mouth, Fyodor Mikhailovich, as you look on me with your fatherly encouragement. Never stop writing this eternity, you tell me, never stop finding yourself in these words and inking your soul on this page. I am your fellow traveler, and my streets, my Petersburg—all is yours to craft and create the yet unwritten future that awaits us.

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