The Russian Friend (Flash Fiction #39)

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

Lia is a new part time hire at Ivy Learning Center, which has many overqualified full time and part time teachers to tutor local kids–mainly from the surrounding middle schools and high schools. Summer is usually the busy time when anxious parents want to push their kids on SAT training (a kind of scholarly aptitude test for college admission purposes in America), English improvement, and extra classes on math, physics, and chemistry etc.

Lia is an adjunct professor on Asian Studies at a local university. She is underpaid and has to look for other jobs to supplement her meager income. At Ivy Learning Center, she teaches English vocabulary, reading, and grammar.

“Lia, Dimitri came here looking for you yesterday but you were not here.” Ivy says to Lia. Ivy and her husband Tom Tsai are the owner of the Ivy Learning Center, which located at the corner of a popular plaza. The plaza is owned by members of a Russian immigrant family who have several similar properties across New Jersey. The owner or owners never show up, but the hired manager and the maintenance crew of several Russian immigrants make their appearances from time to time. Dimitri is one of them.

“Oh, really? Dimitri is really nice, isn’t he?” Lia says.

“Lia, it is not my business, but I have to warn you that you don’t want to mislead people.” Ivy says.

“Mislead? Of course not. I talked with Dimitri when he came to fix the air conditioning control. I just talked with him about Alexander Kerensky and February Revolution. You know I wrote a thesis on that in college.” Lia says.

“Lia, you know, a nerdy academic woman like you can be very naive about social interactions. Dimitri is probably interpreting it as a sign that you are interested in him.” Ivy says.

“That’s ludicrous. Dimitri is married and I am married. I can’t believe this. Can’t a woman and a man just talk without raising this kind of suspicion? It’s just a talk. I used to be interested in Russian politics and Russian literature.” Lia says.

“People don’t just talk. People talk for a purpose. Your genuine interest and curiosity in politics or literature can be interpreted as a prelude for something else. You have to be careful not to mislead others. Dimitri is a simple guy…” Ivy says.

“Oh, you are right. Did I mislead him? What am I going to do? Should I call him to explain the possible misunderstanding? Or should I write him a letter? He is such a nice guy and I hope he won’t hate me or something. I need to say something diplomatic. What do you think I should do? Ivy, you are skilled in dealing with people…” Lia is quite frustrated.

“Don’t worry, Lia. I already took care of it for you and you need to thank me for it. He will definitely not hate you, probably a little afraid of you.” Ivy says with a shrewd smile.

“What did you do? Afraid of me?” Lia is puzzled.

“I told Dimitri that real Asian women are more aggressive than Russian women. And you are even more crazy than other Asian women. You can be Glenn Close from ‘Fatal Attraction’. You know the movie, in which Glenn Close stabs Michael Douglas? At the slightest provocation, you can become Glenn Close, who wants to control the man, who wants to break his family with a knife and a gun. Dimitri was so frightened by such a picture of you that when he left, he thanked me for giving him such a good warning.” Ivy says triumphantly.

“Oh, well.” Lia murmurs and she doesn’t know what to say–to thank Ivy for her help or to scream at Ivy for ruining her reputation.

23 thoughts on “The Russian Friend (Flash Fiction #39)

    1. LOL. That’s so true. We can always identify those among us who are born politicians and who do every tiny little thing for a purpose. I know one of them (my relative actually) who was half mad when she hit middle-age. I guess she just calculates too much and her mind went crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s a nice story, may be Ivy had to intervene to make her work place more professional and Lia too agreed with Ivy politely and of course Damitri too. Good conclusion.

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    1. Thank you, Samsahana. What a praise and you’ve made my day. Love your comments always. You are such a delight. As you pointed out, more than one intelligent woman can fall into this trap of being too curious and being too eager to communicate. Unfortunately the social settings and cultural norms are established against women’s desire to explore. So as women, we need to know how to navigate our surroundings and avoid pitfalls.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with you. People like Ivy try to protect the community (and her business) in her own way and they tend to do things that I don’t really approve of. Telling the truth will hurt and be awkward for a while, but it is the best way. I know some people will do everything to avoid being awkward, but that’s just not right. Awkwardness is part of our life and it should be accepted as a normal thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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