Daniel’s mom placed a small bowl filled with apple preserves on the table. He took a spoonful and bit his bread. His two brothers, Anton and David, grabbed the seats across the table on each side of Daniel. Their sister, Diana, sat at the piano. She wore a house dress like her mother. Diana’s fingers stalled on the piano keys when the commotion started in the kitchen.
Sweat rose through my pores and gathered in tiny drops on my forehead. The father, whom I learned to call, дядя or uncle, entered the kitchen.
“чай будешь?” Daniel’s mother said.
“Да.” I responded as the words left her lips.
An old lady entered the room and sat down at the far end of the table. The room filled seamlessly as the seasons change. The mother never called for anyone but everyone gathered like when the birds migrate South.
Daniel’s mother placed the tea in front of me. Meanwhile, Uncle circled the table and opened the fridge. He handed a small jar of honey over the refrigerator door; his head still inside. I took the jar and placed it in the center of the table. David unscrewed the cap and placed the jar next to my tea.
The three boys ate the hot soup. As I looked at my plate, I imagined the splashing water of a bathtub.
Diana stood behind – maybe if the sun left, her eyes would glow from the corner of the room. She weaved through her mother and father and peaked at the food on the table.
The window was closed and the hot day elevated the heat in the room. Cars sprinted home below the two-story apartment building.
“Где ваши родители работают?” grandma asked.
I looked across the table at Daniel. In between slurps from his soup, he said: “She wants to know where your parents work.”
“Well, my mom works in a factory — my father does too.” I said.
He told grandma and she nodded uninterestingly.
Diana sat at the table in the last vacant seat. Their mom continued to set fruits from the dacha in the empty spots on the table.
The family talked and I tried to understand. I looked out the window and the sun sat on the roof across the street. The roofs reflected the orange fading light. In the foreground to two small wings fluttered. A butterfly was perched between the two windows. It flew against the glass.
The less I understood the Russian conversation, the more I watched the butterfly. I felt full and tired. The butterfly strained still, and I wanted to save the creature. I held the key to its survival, but I was unsure. After all, the butterfly was born in the window. Maybe it was meant to stay.