by Reva Zerkalo

A woman I knew — I suppose I'd better mind my manners and give her a name. Ah! Yes, Reva Petrovna, that'll do. Reva Petrovna Zerkalo. Nice name. Anyway, I'm not sure why but she wanted to get famous on social media. No idea why, but a woman's foibles have to be entertained, don't you think? Otherwise there'll be all sorts of domestic repercussions. Well, I say I knew Reva Petrovna but it was a bit more than that. We were in a relationship of sorts. But isn't every human transaction a relationship? I digress. Here, Yakov Alexandrovich, let me top that up. Gherkin? They're good. Elvira Ivanovna up on the 17th floor gave them to me on my name day. Help yourself. Elvira Ivanovna lost one of her cats last week through defenestration. I'll tell you about this later. Reva Petrovna and me got pretty close, I think. Or maybe I'm imagining it. But the sex was amazing, and I couldn't have been imagining that because I had to throw away three sets of bedlinen. Maybe I'll fill you in on the details later, once we've polished off this bottle. Or maybe not. Time will tell and Sister Fate will decide.


No idea why she wanted to get famous on social media. It's all just a load of words and pictures of babies and breakfasts and look-at-me-me-me. Ghosts behind screens. Could be anyone. Who can tell? I advised her to give herself the surname ‘Zerkalo'. Mirror. And, Yakov Alexandrovich, it's all a question of self esteem. Look at us two. I look in your eyes and you look in mine. It's real. Or is it? Perhaps. So. So we are comrades in all three dimensions. I would have helped Reva Petrovna as a friend of course. Of course. You know me. We're brothers! I have a wide soul, as you know. But when someone's a girlfriend, you plough the extra hectare. Especially when you're in love. Or you think you think you are. Why is life so complicated?


So I said — What you need to do is have a Facebook account with posts that are a little bit different from the millions of humdrums. That way you'll attract interest! —  She got all flustered and flappy and wasn't sure how to do it, so I said — Don't worry, little pigeon, I'll write them for you. I'll find something unusual, little snippets of stories, I'll take some pictures to accompany them, and then you post them on Facebook. And… Hey Presto! You'll be the talk of the internet town. And then you will become a famous novelist. It's the only way, nowadays.


What are you thinking about, Yakov Alexandrovich? You look gloomy. What are your concerns? Have some more vodka. What's your opinion about the Russian absurdist poets? Khlebnikov, Zoshchenko, Kharms and the rest of the gang? You probably know them, crazy guys who met early deaths by their own hands or others'. Occupational hazard, I reckon. I took some absurdist pictures on my phone and sent them to the love of my life. Reva. Sweet, sweetheart Reva. She was so pretty.


One of the stories was ‘Poverty' by Zoshchenko. It's almost famous in its way. About electrification. Maybe you're too young to know, Yakov Alexandrovich, and all the history books have been changed and changed and changed again. Who knows what's true any more. I digress. Electification was a big thing in Russia in those days. It probably still is, judging by how often the lights conk out. Zoshchenko's story's about — in his usual roundabout way — how technical progress sheds light on poverty, but you perhaps know that. Or maybe not. And indeed it does. Fill mine up while you're at it.


To get to the point — I needed an image to go with ‘Poverty'. Now, I'd moved into this new house . You know this anyway because you're sitting at my kitchen table. I say it was new, but actually, as you can see, it's an old place. Some parts were tolerable, others were a mess. In fact, one bit, the toilet, was condemned by the surveyor as being unfit for human habitation. But I think he was exaggerating. He was probably angling for a bribe. Not that I cared. Why clutter your thoughts with such things when you can be thinking of The Bronze Horseman?


So everything was almost good. And I thought one of these days when I win the lotto and have a bit of money on me, I'll renovate. And that'll add a bit of value to the house. See! I'm thinking like an Englishman! You looked shocked, Yakov Alexandrovich. In actual fact, I am a man of this world. A man of this world. In
fact it was quite handy the house was in such a poor state because on the basis of this I knocked down the price and hey, hey, anyway — who needs a fancy toilet?

When you're a man living on your own, you're only in the damn closet for a few minutes a day. Close your eyes and imagine you're somewhere else, like in Sochi, basking on the white sand, if you must. And I tried for Reva Petrovna. I've made the living room comfy with bean bags to relax on in front of the stove. Once you've finished the gherkins, we can warm our bones, if you like, Yakov Alexandrovich. So I thought — Perfect! I'll take a picture of the bare lights, grimy glass and cobwebs in the toilet to go with ‘Poverty'. So desperate was I to help my dearest Reva Petrovna to establish her internet fame.


Anyway, to cut a short story shorter, she posted this photo on her Facebook. Look at it. Quite artistic, yes? Purely accidental. But anyway, it attracted interest. Flies to the sugar bowl, swarming. The next thing I knew she's telling me she's getting marriage proposals because her Facebook was so interesting. She didn't even deign to thank me. Pah! And she dumped me for one of the guys behind a screen. An American ex professor, as far as I understand. He's probably a tosser.


And there's me thinking — some guys want to marry Reva Petrovna because she's got a picture of my old toilet on her Facebook? Which just goes to show, if you want to keep your girlfriend, then make sure your toilet is brand spanking new.


There's some wilting dill in the fridge. And a beetroot. Supper, Yakov Alexandrovich? Then we can slump in front of the stove and think about life.