An old man heard babies squeaking from underground. Grabbing the shovel, he could not believe it –
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An old man heard babies squeaking from underground. Grabbing the shovel, he could not believe it

Constantine Sergeivich was a widower when he buried his wife, Abdakio Nicolevnu. The ground literally fell from under his feet; he was left alone. [Music] All his life, he and his wife lived for themselves.

She didn’t want to fall out of life and be bound hand and foot; she was afraid of responsibility. She told him, “Was it wrong to enjoy each other’s company, to travel, to visit new places?”

They were easygoing and visited different cities with full immersion, which meant renting a flat and starting to live there. Sometimes a couple of months were enough; more often they stayed for half a year. In a couple of places, they even stayed for two years once. Could they afford this kind of entertainment if they were burdened with children? Of course not; kids need school; they have friends. No one agreed to lug around the country following a crazy mom and dad.

Still, somewhere after 35, Constantine insisted that he and his wife get a checkup from a doctor. They both underwent tests, and she met him at the door of the clinic in tears, with shaking hands clutching a file. “You know, Costa, I want you to tell you that you can be absolutely free. I just don’t have the right,” she said, almost stammering through her sobs.

“What’s wrong?” Constantine didn’t understand.

“I can’t give you a baby,” she mouthed and turned away.

“Let it go,” said Constantine. He put his arms around his wife’s shoulders, and they didn’t return to the conversation. They simply lived and enjoyed life.

When Abdokney was just a few years away from retirement, she suddenly started coughing. Constantine was always very sensitive about her health, and after that checkup, probably a simple allergy, maybe the flat they rented this time had a cat or a dog around, although she hadn’t noticed her having any allergies to animals before.

They were back in their hometown, at their home, where no one kept any animals. And if Abdokney kept coughing, Constantine Sergeivich insisted on a visit to the hospital. The doctor shook his head and held his hands apart. There was nothing they could do. How could it be? It’s just a cough. Abdokia blinked her eyes incomprehensively, and two weeks later, she was gone. Sarcoma; it’s always a verdict. They had caught it too late, and it had developed too quickly.

After the funeral, Costa sat alone at home, not knowing what to do next or how to live. He had no one and nothing left. What kind of journeys could he take now? What did he need them for now? He was much older than Abdokney, so he was already retired. Now only a lonely retirement. He just didn’t want to live anymore.

A few days later, he was going through the papers and suddenly found the same yellow folder Abdokia had clutched in her hands when she found out she couldn’t be a mother. He hadn’t even looked inside. It was strange that she kept it; after all, it was clear she could have thrown those tests away. For the sake of curiosity, though, Constantine looked inside. To say he was shocked was not to say anything. It wasn’t Abdokia who was barren; it was him.

At first, he felt bitterly resentful of her. What a liar, what an actress! How thoughtfully she played everything and wept so naturally. Then came the realization that Abdokia had laid her whole life, her right to be a mother, on the altar of his happiness and marital well-being. If only she had spoken to him, then maybe they would have found another solution. After all, they could adopt, they could try artificial insemination. And only later, Constantine realized that it couldn’t have been any other way. It would be nothing artificial, and no adoption if Abdokia had not wanted to have children for a long time before the checkup. She had seized on the results as an opportunity to rid herself of the problem. So, she was driven by selfishness.

“You cannot go against nature, against her nature,” for which, if Abdokia was punished by God and diagnosed with a fatal illness. When Constantine realized it, he forgave her.

Now he went to her cemetery every day, watered the flowers, wiped the monument. He found a strange pleasure in this. For hours, he would sit on the bench and talk to her. At first, Constantine Sergeivich thought he was talking to Abdokia, but then he realized he was talking to himself. It was only at that moment that he seemed to let go. He stopped being sad, stopped pining. He simply accepted reality as it was. He realized that he was actually happy. He was happy with what he had.

One day, he took another stroll to the cemetery. Now, he no longer lingered at Abdokia’s grave, walking in there like a museum. He was viewing the monuments and reading the tombstones, imagining what these people might have been like. Constantine Sergeivich had no friends alive, and all his friends were here.

Now, that day, he stopped by one of the fresh graves. Usually, they were littered with wreaths from relatives and grieving friends, but this one had nothing on it. Just some flaccid tulip, a wooden cross, and a name and a surname inscribed in pencil. Not even a date.

“Clavdea Terranova,” he read.

“Hello, Clavdea. I wonder who you are, how old you were. Welcome to our graveyard, new friend,” thought Constantine to himself.

Suddenly, he heard a sound, a squeak from the ground. At first, he didn’t understand what it was and where it came from. Maybe a kitten? Constantine looked around, but no one was there. The squeak came directly from under the ground, from that very fresh grave. Looking around again, he saw an abandoned or forgotten shovel nearby. The man grabbed it and started digging up the grave. The squeaking sounded louder and louder; it had already turned into wailing.

The crying was obviously a child.

“Who are you, Clavdia?” Constantine thought, “Who would bury a child alive?”

Having dug out the coffin, Constantine threw back the lid. The picture he saw was horrible. In the coffin was the old woman; obviously, it was Clavdia. And lying on either side were two newborn babies, a boy and a girl. The boy was barely breathing, and the girl was crying. Girls are always the survivors, fighting to the end to survive, all for the sake of the continuation of the human race.

Constantine went to the police; the children were taken temporarily to a shelter. The old woman in the coffin turned out to be Claudia Terkanova. She was quite well-known in the neighborhood. The policeman confirmed that she had recently passed away. But what about the children?

The thing is, Claudia was known for her granddaughter. She raised Milana on her own. Clavdia’s daughter passed away in childbirth, and the girl had no father. It was a hell

of a family. Everyone thought Claudia would send her to an orphanage, but instead, she took Milana in and raised her on her own as best she could. Milana became an exact copy of her mother, not only in appearance but behavior. Pretty soon, she was going out with boys and men.

Milana became pregnant, and Claudia was having a hard time with her second failure in raising the girl. She was already sick, and Claudia died. Milana was home at that time, and suddenly her water broke just as Claudia passed away. Milana gave birth to twins. What was she going to do with them? She didn’t need them, and then her grandmother relieved her of her responsibilities. Milana didn’t have much money, and she barely had enough for the cheapest coffin and diggers. That’s why there was only one tulip on the grave on the day of the funeral. Milana had the cleverest idea on how to get rid of the children unobtrusively: she put them there, and they were buried on the same day with her grandma.

Milana rushed to Moscow for a new life. Constantine Sergeivich couldn’t comprehend what had happened. He couldn’t forget the twins and kept visiting them in the orphanage. One day, the nurse asked, “Why don’t you just take them?” She gave a voice to thoughts that had been going through Constantine’s mind for a long time. After a checkup to make sure he was healthy enough to raise the children, Constantine took custody.

The only strange thing was that his barrenness was not confirmed; he was doing just fine. Apparently, the mystery would remain in his past life with Abdokia. Maybe it was a doctor’s mistake, maybe some kind of game she played. Constantine thought no more about it. Now he had two beautiful children.

Milana never appeared in his life, and Constantine stopped going to the cemetery. Now he walked to the children’s playground.

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