Why Marakulin and Glotov were friends: A Sisters of the Cross excerpt

“It was not because their duties brought them close together that Marakulin and Glotov were friends.”

Today we are happy to present an excerpt, initially posted by LitHub, of Sisters of the Cross, by Alexei Remizov and translated by Roger Keys and Brian Murphy.

The following is from Alexei Remizov’s novel, Sisters of the Cross. When Piotr Alekseevich Marakulin loses his job his change of status brings him into contact with a number of women—the titular “sisters of the cross”—whose sufferings will lead him to question the ultimate meaning of the universe. Alexei Remizov was a Russian novelist and short-story writer known for his unique style, which blends a popular Russian idiom with the language of old Russian folklore

It was not because their duties brought them close together that Marakulin and Glotov were friends. Neither of them could manage without the other: Piotr Alekseevich gave out the payment slips, Aleksandr Ivanovich was the cashier. The order in which they worked was as follows: Marakulin would write only in ink and Glotov would count out only in gold. And they were both so different and unlike each other—the one being narrow chested and with a thin line of moustache, the other broad shouldered and with whiskers like a cat, one looking out from the depths of his being, while the other was always ready to break into a smile. All the same they were friends who ate at the same table.

They both had a distinguishing mark—part of their nature and so deep there could be no hiding it. It would shine out from under the eyelids of a person even when asleep, and anyway it didn’t matter in the slightest whether it was buried in the pupil of the eye or ran from the pupil around the eyeball. It was like an insect’s proboscis or a feeler that both had in common, and it’s not as though this feeler clung to life, but somehow sucked into itself everything that was living around it, down to the merest blade of grass that breathed, to the tiniest stone that grew, and sucking them in with a kind of voracious joy—with a joy, indeed, that you might find infectious. That’s what it was.

Who needed to, could see it; who couldn’t see, could feel it; and who couldn’t feel, could guess it.

They were young—both were thirty or thirtysomething; they were successful—they somehow managed to make a go of everything; they were physically strong—they were never ill, never complained about their teeth, and they had no obligations either in wedlock or out of wedlock; each was alone in the steppe, as it were, and the steppe stretched out far and wide in all its might around them, free, unbridled and unconfined—one’s very own.

Read the entire excerpt on LitHub.

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