A Girl Sang On The Street Every Evening To Pay For Her Mother’s. But When a Passing Millionaire

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Almighty Lord, do not abandon Mom, I beg you. Make it so that we have money for her treatment. Let her regain her good eyesight. Let her enjoy the flowers she loves so much and be able to work and sometimes even draw. Do not plunge her into darkness. Help us; I know you can do anything in this world. Rita crossed herself and kissed the small icon standing on her bedside table. The girl climbed into bed and almost immediately fell asleep.

She had an incredible dream: she stood in white clothing, barefoot on a hill somewhere, singing. Her voice sounded pure and loud, and there were people near the hill, many people. They all clapped and threw flowers and soft toys at her. Rita’s heart sang too, and a sweet warmth spread through her body, like thick jelly filling her entire being. Suddenly, the girl saw her mom.

She stood far from the hill, waving happily to her daughter. She saw her, saw her very well. Looking into her mother’s eyes, Rita saw them shining with happiness. Then young Rita sang even louder, even clearer. Her voice soared above the Earth and then suddenly became mixed with some chirping. Alarm clock. Time to get up and get ready for school. Rita stretched. There was still a pleasant warmth in her body, like in that wonderful dream.

“I will sing in the square and earn money for Mom’s treatment,” Rita firmly decided, getting out from under the covers. At school, Rita couldn’t concentrate. She was not thinking about lessons at all, but about how she would go to the square by the shopping center today and sing the most touching songs so that passersby would shed tears. Then they would quickly fill her metal box from under the cookies, in which she had been keeping various girly things since childhood.

“Rita Torres, what are you thinking about today?” Señor Dasas, the Spanish teacher, asked sternly.

“I’m sorry,” the girl said, rising from her seat and lowering her eyes. “My head has been hurting since this morning.”

“Maybe you should see a doctor?”

“No, no, everything’s fine,” Rita slumped back into her chair and took a pen in her hand, ready to write down what the teacher dictated.

Rita returned home. Mom was sitting in the kitchen, peeling vegetables.

“Hi, Mommy,” the girl kissed her mother on the cheek.

“Hello, my sunshine. How was school?”

“Everything’s fine, Mom. Let me help you with the vegetables. How are your eyes today?”

“Baby, I’m sorry for causing you so much trouble,” Melena said sadly. “What will happen to us when I go completely blind?”

“Don’t even think about it. You won’t go blind. We’ll have money for your treatment soon, and you will see this world again in all its colors and details, I promise.”

Her mother just smiled. What a glorious daughter Heaven had given her. What could Melena see in detail? Their meager life. She hated herself for how everything turned out in her life. She couldn’t give her daughter anything. She didn’t dare move to the capital, not even to a bigger city. She spent many years working at the local library, and now she had to quit altogether.

Her eyesight worsened every day. Expensive treatment was needed, but where to find this money? The two of them, in the whole wide world, could only rely on themselves and each other. Melena blamed herself for becoming a burden to Rita, and she hadn’t even turned 16 yet. She needed to live and be happy. But what could a girl be happy about when she has a blind mother on her hands? Melena constantly thought about what she could do, how to earn at least some crumbs to survive, but so far nothing had come to her mind.

In the evening, Rita put on her favorite sundress and took a cookie box with her. It was a gift from a kind donor named Rosa, whom her mother had cared for for several years. Thanks to this, they now had a roof over their heads, their own little apartment, more resembling a shack, but it was a home, their home. Before that, Melena and little Rita had constantly moved from one rented room to another. There was no opportunity to afford better accommodation.

There weren’t many people in the square. It was a weekday, and it had already rained several times. Rita stood near the shopping center, placed a box at her feet, and froze. It was scary to sing like this in plain view of everyone, but her mom urgently needed treatment. There was no time to waste, and Rita started to sing, softly at first, then louder and more confidently. Rita stopped noticing what was happening around her. It was always like this when the girl sang, especially if the song resonated in her soul and heart, and there were many such songs. Onlookers began to approach. They enjoyed listening to the young beauty sing, but no one rushed to drop even a single coin into the box. Rita sang only three songs, and then suddenly a security guard from the shopping center approached.

“What’s this gathering here?” he asked sternly. “And you, young talent, better go home or I’ll report you to your parents.”

“I’m not doing anything wrong,” Rita replied quietly. “I just really need money.”

“Ask your father if you need a new lipstick,” the guard sneered, staring at her with his piggy eyes. “Go on, or you’ll deal with the police.”

The crowd dispersed. Rita picked up her empty box and trudged home, but something stopped her. The girl turned towards the river. There was a platform right on the shore where young people usually gathered. It was almost empty that evening. Rita settled under a spreading tree and started singing again. Couples began to pay attention to the young singer; someone even threw some change into the box. Girls hurried to lead their boyfriends away from this beauty with a lovely voice. Since early childhood, Rita adored singing. At first, it was children’s songs from cartoons, then adult ones she heard on the radio or TV.

“You have the voice of an angel,” Melena would say, willing to listen to her daughter for hours. “A great future awaits you.”

But the future was in no hurry to come. Or rather, it was coming, but somehow not great and beautiful, but gray and mundane, sometimes even hungry. That evening, Rita earned barely a euro. It was pitifully little. What did she hope for? This wasn’t the capital where there were many art enthusiasts. But at least here, no one dared to chase the girl away. Rita went home through the church.

She threw a few coins into the donation box. The girl crossed herself, said a quick prayer, and headed home. She decided not to tell her mother anything for now. Since then, Rita started coming to the riverbank every day. Sometimes she managed to earn something, but it seemed like she would have to work for at least 20 years to save up for her mom’s treatment.

On that day, Rita realized she needed to find a job, any job that paid. Even if it was hard, she would manage. She had to manage for the sake of her mother, so she could see, not sink into eternal darkness. “I’ll sing one last time and then I’m done,” the girl murmured to herself and sang the song her mother loved to madness. The girl’s voice echoed along the shore, carried by the wind.

There was always good acoustics on the river. Only the last chorus remained: “I miss you like violets miss the rain. You were given to me by fate, so said the fortune teller, so said the fortune teller.” As Rita bent down to pick up her box, she suddenly saw a man in an expensive business suit walking straight towards her. Was he going to chase her away? Well, she didn’t care anymore; she wouldn’t come back here anyway. Rita straightened up, ready to leave.

“Wait,” the stranger raised his hand. “You have the voice of an angel. It’s the best I’ve heard. Your voice should be heard all over the world.”

“Thank you, sir,” Rita smiled, “but I don’t need that. I need something completely different.”


“Never mind, it’s my problem, and I doubt I can solve it,” the girl sighed sadly.

“You know, sometimes it’s better not to keep it to yourself but to let it out. Who knows, maybe I can help you with something, and you can definitely help me.”

“Me?” Rita was surprised.

“Yes, you. If you agree to sing in my bar, though you’re still a young girl,” he scratched his chin thoughtfully.

“Are you willing to hire me?” Rita almost choked with joy. “Then I can save up for treatment!”

“What treatment? Are you sick?”

“No, not me, my mother. She’s losing her sight rapidly, and the treatment costs a lot of money. I told you it’s better not to keep it to yourself. Do you know, young talent, that my uncle is a great microsurgeon working in the capital?”

“Well, that’s great, of course, but it doesn’t change anything. Where am I supposed to find the money for this treatment?”

“Tell me, can you sing different songs? Not just this wonderful lyrical one, but also, for example, lively or sad ones?”

“I can,” the girl said confidently. “Listen to this: ‘You know nothing about me, and you don’t need to know at all, what I dream about awake and in my dreams, while you dance so passionately.'”

“Bravo!” The stranger clapped his hands. “Give me something else.”

Rita tossed her hair, tied into a ponytail with the elastic on her wrist, and sang again: “I won’t give up anything for you, and don’t ask my hand for my mother, only music forever my love.

I don’t have time to spend on romances, and this one is very sad. My mom always starts crying when I sing it,” Rita said, as if emerging from the depths into which she was sinking with each song. The girl lowered her voice: “Don’t die, my dream, don’t fade away, hope. Life will never be as it used to be. I’ll light a lamp now in front of the ancient icon. I can understand everything in life, but not treason, but not cheating, not cheating, not cheating.”

Rita resembled a nymph. “What’s your name?” asked the grateful listener.

“Rita. So, are you hiring me?” Her face lit up with a bright smile.

“You’ll blow up the bar, Rita. In a month, people will come from the capital just to have a beer and listen to that wonderful voice of yours,” the man hesitated.

“But am I not suitable after all?” Rita looked sadly at her interlocutor.

“It’s not that. You’re so young.”

“Don’t worry about that. You know, when I put on makeup, I look 20.”

“You’re amazing. I can’t miss such a chance. I’ll personally take your mom to the clinic, and I’ll take care of my uncle. Just keep singing. Do you know the bar Insight?”

“Of course, we don’t have many places like that here, especially with such a nice name. And I love its tiled roof. It reminds me of a fairy tale house.

“Thanks, it’s my father’s creation. I want to revive its glory. My main business is in the capital, but I’m running the bar here for now. People advise me to sell it, but I refuse. I don’t want to sell; I want it to thrive. Can you imagine how magical my little bar will become when you sing within its walls?”

“It’ll be amazing. I’m ready. Tell me what to do.”

“First, I need to talk to your mom.”

“No, not that. My mom absolutely can’t get nervous.”

“Then how will she get treatment?”

“I don’t know. We need to come up with something. Tell her you’re from social services, and it’s like a promotion or whatever it’s called. Anyway, tell her she’ll get treatment for free.

“You’re so grown up. I wish my daughter grew up like you. All right, it’ll be social services. Let’s do it tomorrow after 3. Give me your address,” the man said, taking out his phone.

Rita dictated her home address. “By the way, my name is Alberto, and this is for you.” He handed the girl a 50-euro note.

Rita stared at him, wide-eyed. “Take it, my girl. You gave me a few moments of incredible happiness when you sang. It’s worth a lot.”

“Thank you,” Rita said with feeling, hastily putting the banknote into her tin box. “I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow. I’ll tell my mom that social services should come. I hope everything works out.”

“It will, Rita, it will work out for you,” he snapped his fingers. “See you tomorrow, siren.

“See you tomorrow,” Rita hurriedly ran home, then stopped and decided to run into the store for her mom’s favorite coconut candies.

“Mama, I brought you something tasty,” Rita shouted from the doorway.

Her mother didn’t respond. Rita felt a knot of worry forming in her stomach. She entered the small kitchen. Her mom sat at the table, her head resting on her hand.

“Rita, where have you been?”

“Oh, I was just… Mom, it doesn’t matter. Let’s have tea with your favorite candies. My friend treated me. What’s wrong with you? Are you in pain?”

“As always, sweetheart,” Melena rubbed her nose and eyes. “Rita,” her mother murmured almost inaudibly, “we’re out of painkillers.

“Mama, let me massage your head instead. It’ll help you relax, and the pain will ease.”

“My wonderful girl,” tears rolled down Melena’s cheeks. “You deserve a better mother, a better life.”

“Mom, stop it. What are you talking about? I don’t need another mom. Mom, you’re the best mom in the world, and don’t you dare get gloomy. We’ll beat this strange illness of yours soon.” Rita began to slowly comb through her mother’s hair.

“Rita, you have such good hands. They’re as good as your angelic voice.”

The girl smiled. She hoped with all her heart that soon her mommy would regain her sight and never let her down again. The next day, at a quarter to 3, Alberto stood on the doorstep. In his hands, he held a folder with some documents. He wasn’t alone; he was accompanied by a charming young woman. Rita escorted them to her mom’s room. It was only then that she realized she forgot to warn her mom about the social workers. Alberto was on top of his game, just like his assistant. They played the social workers’ role so perfectly, and everything was laid out so meticulously that not a single detail was overlooked. Melena was very surprised, but she still believed. Maybe she had no other choice because that morning she realized she could hardly see anything anymore.

“Mom, I’m off to the store,” Rita called out and went out onto the street with Alberto and Lored, that was his companion’s name, by the way. She turned out to be a waitress at the bar.

“Rita, I’ve scheduled for tomorrow. I’ll take your mom myself. Are you ready if she has to stay at the clinic starting tomorrow?”

“I was ready yesterday. Thank you so much. I won’t be able to repay this until I retire, but I’m ready.”

“You were wrong with such a voice.”

Alberto was right. Melena stayed at the clinic. She had already received her first injection and undergone some elaborate procedures. That same evening, Rita had to sing at the bar. The girl felt uneasy because she had never been to such a place before. Everything was arranged: the mask, the clothes. Lored suggested wearing the mask. Firstly, it will be harder for anyone who knows you to recognize you if someone familiar comes to the bar. And secondly, it’s unclear how old you are,” she laughed.

“Great,” Rita agreed. “Maybe you can come up with a stage name for me.”

“Sure thing, Nightingale.”

“Why Nightingale? That’s a bird.”

“Because you sing better than any bird,” Alberto told me, “and nightingales sing before a storm or a dodge, often at night. Perfect for our bar.”

“Awesome, let it be Nightingale.”

“Ready to stay up past your bedtime? You still have school.”

“Oh, it’s a holiday tomorrow, right? I’m ready not to sleep at all as long as my mom gets treatment.”

“You, Rita, taking such good care of your mom. I have no one else on this planet but her. I love her more than life itself. I’ll do anything to make her healthy and happy.”

Lored said nothing, just hugged the young singer and patted her on the back. Rita felt tears welling up, but she brushed them away. Her makeup was already ready for the stage. Rita felt like a real star. The plan was for her to sing two or three songs to start with, but the bar patrons didn’t want to let go of the girl and even started requesting songs, handing her bills.

The girl smiled and sang more and more. Rita didn’t get home until around 3 in the morning. She was terribly thirsty and tired. How fortunate that tomorrow was a day off and she didn’t have to go to school. She could sleep in. It was decided that Rita would work on Fridays and Saturdays to avoid problems at school. She could work more during the holidays. That night, Rita dreamed of little birds sitting right on her hand and making such tender sounds that it was impossible not to be touched. She even felt like crying. Rita was awakened by the phone. It was her mom calling.

“My sunshine, hi,” her voice sounded cheerful.

“Hi, Mommy. How are you?”

“Good. The doctors and nurses here are wonderful and attentive. My head hardly hurts anymore.”

“I’m so glad. Soon you’ll be seeing like an eagle. You better tell me how you’re doing. Have you eaten?”

“Mommy, of course, I’ve eaten. I’m not a little kid. I’ll be fine. I can take care of myself.”

“Okay. I’ll call you when I get the chance. Bye for now.”

“Bye, Mommy. Love you.”

“I love you too,” Melena disconnected. It had been over a week since Rita had been living alone. Melena was already feeling much better, but her treatment course wasn’t over yet. The Lord helped the girl, and Alberto also asked if she needed any assistance.

Another Friday had arrived. Rita left her house and set off on foot. Usually, Alberto would send someone to accompany her, but that day he had urgent matters to attend to, and apparently, he got so wrapped up that he forgot about it. Walking was quite close, and the street was well lit by street lights.

“Hey, sweetie, could you help?” called out a woman, opening the door of her rather worn-out car.

“What happened?” Rita asked with concern.

“My phone fell right under the seat, and I can’t reach it.”

“Oh, I can help with that.” Rita leaned over the driver’s seat, trying to see where the phone was. Suddenly, she felt a blow to her head and then darkness. She woke up in the car, her hands tied and her mouth taped shut. Rita didn’t understand anything. Why would this elderly woman tie her up and drive her somewhere in the middle of the night? They drove for quite a while. The highway stretched out like a gray ribbon, with only dark forests along the sides. Occasionally, the sounds of nocturnal birds could be heard.

The full moon shone in the sky, as if watching over Rita and perhaps regretting that she had trusted a stranger so easily and was now heading in an unknown direction. Her mouth felt dry. Fear began to creep up to her heart with its sticky cold hands. What would happen to her mom? How could she escape? Where was this crazy woman taking her? Perhaps she mistook her for someone else. Questions swirled in Rita’s mind, pushing each other, but unfortunately, there were no answers. Suddenly, the car sharply turned right. They continued along a forest road for some time before stopping.

“Get out,” commanded the kidnapper, opening the car door. The girl obeyed. It became even scarier. She couldn’t do anything to save herself from the forest. Surely there were predators lurking around.

“Move forward,” the voice sounded unnaturally muffled. Rita walked for some time. The only thought spinning in her head was how to escape from this mad woman. She turned around. In the moonlight, the woman’s face looked terrifying, like something out of a horror movie. Wrinkles covered it, an ugly wart sat on her nose, and her eyes looked somewhat intoxicated. They were the eyes of a cruel person, a very cruel person.

“Forward and don’t look back.” She directed the flashlight at a narrow path. It became chilly. Rita’s thin shirt offered no protection from the night cold. She was trembling. She no longer understood if it was fear or cold. It was dark. Only the moon peeked through the ancient trees. Something crackled underfoot from time to time. It felt like a horror movie. Any moment now, a monster would jump out of the bushes. But the monster was behind her, constantly pushing Rita in the back with its firm fist.

“Stop,” ordered the woman. Rita stopped and timidly turned around. The kidnapper had a rope in her hands. What did she want to do? Strangle her? Tie her to a tree? Only God knew. Thank heavens, Rita never found out about the intentions of that lunatic. There was a faint growl.

“Oh darn, probably a coyote.” The woman looked around sharply. The growling was getting closer. Rita held her breath. What could she do with her hands tied? Absolutely nothing. She looked at the woman with a plea. She slowly, then faster and faster, began to move in the direction they came from. And then she ran at full speed. Rita realized that her days were numbered.

Any moment now, a beast or maybe more than one would attack her, and that would be it. Rita pressed herself against a tree nearby. There was rustling, low growling, and coughing. It was a human cough. But what could a person be doing in this wilderness at this late hour? Perhaps they were attacked by animals, and now they were bleeding out with the very beast that attacked them nearby. Rita closed her eyes. They say you should face danger head-on, but she didn’t want to do that. It was too scary, too heavy for a girl who hadn’t even turned 16 yet.

Suddenly, the bushes parted, and someone dashed straight towards her. Rita mumbled through the gag.

“Who’s there?” a hemail voice called out.

“Quiet, Sam, quiet.”

The poor girl could only utter through her mouth tightly sealed with tape. A beam of light from a flashlight pierced the darkness and blinded her. Rita shed her eyes again, her hands tied behind her back, no way to shield herself.

“Holy Virgin Mary, what are you doing here, kid?” the man asked. The light danced in his eyes from the flashlight while the moonlight fell on his greasy hair. “Who taped your mouth shut, poor thing?” He briskly tore off the tape. It was excruciatingly painful for Rita, but fortunately, it lasted only a moment.

“I… I don’t know. I really don’t know who brought me here. It’s some woman with a face straight out of a horror movie.”

Rita couldn’t hold back her sobs.

“Come, darling, let’s go to the cabin,” the man said gently, untying the ropes around the girl’s wrists. “Of course, there had to be a cabin. It’s not far from here.

Some dreadful sacrificial ritual? Rita’s thoughts raced, but she had no choice anyway. Where to run? In the night forest, into the jaws of coyotes? Or just wander the rest of her life in this thicket? It’s better to go to the cabin. The cabin wasn’t scary at all. It was quite cozy. A friendly oil lamp burned on the wooden table, just like in a fairy tale. And in the corner stood a cot with a neatly made bed. Everything here breathed peace and tranquility. It smelled of honey and some spices.

“I’ll make you my signature Ural tea now,” the man said. “You sit down and rest. What’s your name?”

“Rita,” the girl rubbed her swollen wrists. “Rita Torres.”

“Rita Torres,” the stranger repeated, pouring water into the chubby teapot. “Sounds beautiful, and you’re quite a beauty yourself. Those eyes…”

“Her eyes?” Rita asked, surprised.

“Oh, no one. It’s just memories. Not at me. That girl, Millie, who disappeared from my life so suddenly.”

“Millie?” the girl echoed as if in a trance. “I had a hamster named Millie when I was a kid. Mom laughed, then said our hamster was named after her. I even made such a funny sign. On one side, it said Millie, and on the other, Melena.

The man suddenly dropped a package from his hands, either with nuts or crackers. “Melena. The girl I loved with all my heart was also named Melena. Such a melodious name.”

“What happened to her? I’m sorry if it hurts to talk about it.”

“She just disappeared. I don’t know why. We were dating, talking about getting married, and she just suddenly vanished. Changed her phone number.”

“And you didn’t even try to find her?”

“I tried, but she never told me where she lived. I tried to trace her through registration, but it didn’t work out. I literally tore my hair out. I still remember her every night when the world plunges into silence.”

“Do you live here in this wilderness?” Rita took a sip of the tea. It pleasantly burned her throat.

“No, this is a place of strength, my strength. I live here sometimes, take vacations, and live here as a recluse, thinking about life, about my failed love.

“How sad,” Rita said softly. “My mom has her own mess with love. She never even saw our father in person. Mom outright refuses to talk about him, but I know for sure she still can’t forget him. Oh, I need to make a call. I didn’t show up at work today.”

“You work? You’re just a young girl.”

“I sing in a bar. We really needed the money for my mom’s treatment,” Rita started rummaging in her backpack. “Oops, it’s dead. Okay, I’ll call from home.”

“Stay here for the night, and in the morning, I’ll take you home,” the man suggested. “By the way, my name is Adam.

“Nice to meet you, I guess. I have no other choice,” she lay down on the cot and slept peacefully.

“And you?” Rita looked up at the cabin’s owner.

“Don’t worry about me. I have a mattress,” he nodded towards a distant corner where wooden shelves occupied the entire wall.

Strangely, Rita only felt so calm in childhood when she climbed into her mother’s bed, and they fell asleep together, cuddled up to each other. With this Adam too, for some reason, it felt safe and calm, even though she had only known him for about half an hour. The St. Bernard dog, Sam, settled down by the cot and fell asleep. Rita also fell asleep very quickly. She dreamed that her mother was walking along the seashore, and for some reason, this strange recluse Adam was walking beside her. They laughed and ate cookies from that same tin box that Rita used to store her savings and into which grateful listeners threw their coins on the riverbank.

Adam couldn’t sleep. He lay on his mattress and remembered the past, remembered his unfulfilled happiness, which seemed so close, so real. Melena burst into his life as suddenly as she disappeared from it. They met at the market. He was working for his uncle then, selling vegetables, and she came for lettuce leaves.

“I love lettuce,” she smiled. “So fresh, so genuine, without a hint of affectation.”

“Then I’ll give you a whole bunch,” Adam smiled in response.

“No, no, you’ll be left without pay if you give away vegetables to customers.”

“Will you agree to take a walk with me tonight?” the guy asked as if he didn’t hear her.

“So that’s what it is, and I thought it was a surge of the soul.

“It is a surge of the soul. I’m absolutely clueless when it comes to wooing girls. So, are you in to take a walk tonight?”

The girl clarified, “Yes, exactly.”

“Well, why not take a walk? Especially since Anita asked me to come later today. She’s having a romantic evening with Valeno,” she smiled mysteriously. “My name is Melena.”

“And I’m Adam. Shall we meet by the wooden elephant in the old park? I love that park. I’ll be there around 7. Does that work?”

“Works,” his eyes sparkled. The guy put a huge bunch of lettuce into a paper bag and handed it to the girl.

“Usually people give flowers, and I give lettuce.”

“Thank you. By the way, I love lettuce more than any flowers that die in a vase on the window sill,” Melena smiled and went briskly about her business.

Adam lived with his uncle and aunt. Their love was divided between their daughter and their nephew, who lost his parents early. Laura got married and moved to the neighboring town, visiting her relatives only occasionally. They were happy to hear that Adam had met a girl, but he didn’t hurry to introduce Melena to them until he was sure that their feelings were mutual.

Melena lived with a friend. They rented some shack and worked together in a cafeteria. Meeting Adam turned her whole life upside down. She fell in love for the first time in her 19 years. They strolled, talked about everything, and kissed, deliberately veering into the part of the park where no one was around. They felt so good together. Such happiness is only felt in childhood when you are surrounded by love and care.

They met at Adam’s friend’s place. He often left the city and kindly allowed the lovers to use his absence. They dreamed of a wedding in their own even tiny place. Adam was still finishing medical school then. He was almost a therapist. He came to the town only for vacations, and the rest of the time, he lived in the capital. He planned to stay there until he met his Melena. But one day, she didn’t show up for their date. Just didn’t show up, although they agreed and called each other literally half an hour before the meeting. She was cheerful and said she missed him and couldn’t wait to see him.

In response to his numerous calls, he heard only, “The subscriber is temporarily unavailable.” That’s when he regretted not knowing her friend, not knowing where exactly they lived. He didn’t even know her last name. Such foolishness in a person’s life sometimes happens: to love to the point of madness but not to ask for a last name and an address.

Adam searched, but Melena seemed to have vanished into thin air. Maybe she found someone else. Maybe she did, but he just left and now returned, and she was ready to spend the rest of her life with him. The guy suffered. He lost weight drastically. His uncle and aunt worried a lot about their nephew, trying to calm him down. Then it was time to go back to school.

Adam threw himself into his university affairs fiercely. He decided that, in spite of everyone, he would be a good doctor and he wouldn’t waste a minute of his life on nonsense like pretty girls with a brisk gait. Adam never met his soulmate. The hole in his heart never healed. At times, it would start bleeding again. That’s when he would take time off and go to the woods. It made things slightly easier. It had been over 15 years already. Adam had turned into a hardened bachelor. It’s tough living alone, after all.

And Melena? What happened to her? How did her life turn out? Adam had no answer to that question, nor could he. They had drifted apart like specks on a seashore, but he never stopped thinking about that nymph who had captured his heart forever. He couldn’t be angry with her. He simply loved her. He himself didn’t understand anymore whether he loved her or just the memories of those happy weeks, only them from that summer.

Rita was woken up by Sam, who nudged his nose right into her cheek. She opened her eyes. The dog wagged its tail and licked her nose.

“You’re so sweet, Sam,” the girl said and stroked him on his big furry head.

“Good morning,” Adam entered the cabin.

“How did you sleep?”

“Good morning,” Rita replied, “just like in childhood when Miss Rosa was still alive and we lived with her while Mom took care of her and her place. She left us her apartment in her will. We still live there.”

“That’s good. I’m glad. The forest takes away all our worries,” Adam suppressed a sigh. “Shall we have some tea and then leave?”

“Yes, I’m ready now.”

“The wash basin is behind the cabin. There’s a toilet there too,” Adam stepped out of the cabin. Sam followed.

“How’s your mom?” Adam suddenly asked as they were driving along the road. “You mentioned she needed treatment.”

“She started losing her vision suddenly. The doctor said it can happen from extreme stress, blood vessels narrow. I don’t understand much about it, but something like that. The treatment is expensive.”

“Let me help you guys. I’m a doctor too, although I don’t specialize in eyes.”

“Thank you,” Rita looked at Adam gratefully, “she’s already undergoing treatment. That’s why I sing in Alberto’s bar. It’s called Insight. Do you know it?”

“Insight? Isn’t that the one with a little fountain with lights nearby?”

“Yes, that’s the one. That’s where I sing on Fridays and Saturdays.”

“Do you sing well?”

“People like it,” Rita replied evasively.

“Now I know where to go to enjoy the singing of a lovely beauty,” Adam smiled and turned towards Rita’s home. Rita was about to leave when Adam handed her his business card.

“Just in case,” he said shortly. Lored was standing by the entrance.

“Rita! Virgin Mary, where have you been? What’s going on? Alberto is going crazy. He’s ringing out every bit of soul from Bianca, and her mother is threatening to kill herself.” The girl was literally shaking from excitement.

“Who is Bianca?” Rita hugged her, waving goodbye to Adam at the same time.

“Let’s go to your place. We need to call Alberto before he kills her.”

“Can you finally explain who Bianca is and why Alberto is going to kill her mother?” Rita couldn’t take it anymore. Life resembled some kind of thriller.

“Bianca used to work at the bar before Rita. She sang too. Of course, her singing couldn’t compare to Rita’s, but Alberto kept her around for lack of better options. The girl fell ill a few days before Alberto’s meeting with Rita. He almost immediately informed her that he no longer needed Bianca’s services and paid her something like severance pay. The girl’s mother stormed in with a scandal when her daughter told her what had happened. She threatened to set fire to the bar and kill whoever dared to take Bianca’s place. Alberto considered these threats the ravings of a hysterical woman and forgot about them as soon as she left his bar. He only remembered them when Rita suddenly didn’t show up for work.

Alberto immediately went to Bianca’s house and her impulsive mother, but the girl was home alone and had no idea where her mother was. She never felt the need to tell her daughter where she was or with whom. The bar owner waited for Candida, hiding behind the nearest bushes, parked his car in the alley a few houses away from hers. The woman returned around 5:00 in the morning, clearly intoxicated.

Alberto jumped out of hiding and began to threaten her with the police if she didn’t tell him where Rita was. Naturally, she claimed not to know anything about his new singer, who was not fit to hold a candle to her daughter. Alberto was ready to ring the truth out of this strange woman, but she remained silent. A silicone mask lay on the seat of her old sedan.

Alberto realized that this was definitely not a coincidence. He continued to press Candida and then simply pushed her into the car, quickly got behind the wheel, and headed straight to the police. At that moment, the aunt realized that the matter smelled of kerosene and only said that she had seen some girl matching Rita’s description hitchhiking on the highway. But Alberto didn’t believe her and pulled out the stun gun he always carried just in case. Life is full of surprises.

“If you don’t tell me anything, it will hurt,” Alberto said, aiming his device directly at her face.

“Hey, what are you doing?” the woman widened her eyes and grabbed his hand.

“Either you show me where you’re keeping Rita, or I won’t be responsible for what happens.”

“I really don’t know where your Rita is,” Alberto pointed his miracle device right at her face.

“Let’s go, but I’m not sure she’s there. She asked me to drive her to the forest,” Candida babbled. People said she had served a considerable sentence in her youth. No one knew exactly what for, but Alberto had heard such talk before. It was already around 7:30. They were almost at that very turn onto the forest road when Alberto’s phone rang.


“Yes, Lored.”

“Are you sure? Is she okay?” Alberto sharply turned the wheel and headed back. “If I see you or Bianca, Anita, you both will ride in jail.” The threat sounded serious. The woman fell silent. Apparently, spending the rest of her life in prison wasn’t something she wanted. She understood that Alberto had enough connections to make it happen.

Melena returned from the clinic by herself, by train. She came home without warning.

“Mom! Mommy! Why didn’t you tell us you were coming back? How did you get here?”

“By train,” she simply replied, “and I bought your favorite cookies.”

“Mama, I missed you so much,” Rita hugged her mother and buried her face in her shoulder.

“My girl,” Melena gently stroked her daughter’s back, “I missed you very much too.”

“How are you?” Rita asked, pulling away slightly from her mom.

“Fine. The doctor said it will take some more time for my vision to fully recover.

“Did he say why this happened to you?”

Melena was silent.

“Mom, don’t be silent. It’s something very serious, isn’t it? Will it happen again?” Rita began to cry. She didn’t have the strength to be strong anymore. So much had happened lately that Rita was beginning to turn into a 15-year-old who could only roar while hugging her big pink bear on her bed.

“It’s an echo of the past, Riri,” Mom always called her daughter that when she was little.

“What past? Did

you work in a chemical factory?” did not understand the girl.

“No,” Melena sank down on a chair and stretched out her tired legs. “I saw him recently at the supermarket, a little over a month ago.”

“Mom, don’t scare me. What did you see? Sasquatch or something?”

“Your father.”

“What? You said you didn’t know where he was, that he had a family.”

“That’s true. I don’t know where he is, but he was definitely at the supermarket near our house.”

“Have you talked to him?

“No, of course not. But you know, I did something, something indecent or something.”

“What did you do? Did you kiss him in the supermarket?” Rita jumped.

“Rita, stop mocking me. I took a picture of him. He didn’t notice me or what I did.”

The girl stared at her mother. She was silent, unable to find the right words.

“Do you want to see your father?” Melena suddenly asked, pulling out her cell phone.

“Uh, well, I don’t know. Show me.”

Rita stared at the faded screen of her mom’s old smartphone.

“Oh, come on, no way,” Rita suddenly exclaimed and jumped to her feet. She had been sitting across from her mom at the table before.

“What? What can’t be? Do you two know each other?”

“Imagine, yes. We met just the other day. He saved me from some crazy woman.”

“Rita, how do you put it? Is that what I taught you, daughter?”

“Wait a minute. What crazy woman?” Rita told her mother everything, even about the bar. Somehow she felt it was the right time. The girl’s heart was beating in her chest like a bird in a cage trying to get out at all costs.

“Mom, he loved you. He’s loved you all his life,” Rita said with tears in her eyes. “And that woman and the baby? I saw the three of them. She said, ‘Theo, say hello to Daddy.'”

Melena wiped away a few tears that rolled out of her big gray eyes. “I left right away. I went to a neighboring town with my girlfriend, to her aunt’s house, and later we moved here.”

“You changed your number and went missing, didn’t you?” the girl asked, looking her mom straight in the eye.

“That’s right. I just had no other choice.”

“And to talk? Mom, didn’t you want to know everything? What about finding out that he’s married and happily married, and I’m just a girl for a while?”

“He doesn’t have a family. He’s lived his whole life as a hobo. You should have seen the pain in his eyes when he talked about that girl. You know, I felt so comfortable with him. I kept wondering why, why?”

“But who was that woman with the baby in her arms?” Melena turned a loose strand behind her ear.

“Maybe he was just baptizing that boy,” Rita shrugged her shoulders. “Godfather.”

They walked along the seashore, laughing. Rita looked at her parents and couldn’t help but admire. After all these years, these two had lived apart, unhappy and lonely, all because of a misunderstanding. Who would have thought that Rita would thank the half-crazed mother of Bianca, who unknowingly reunited her with her biological father? How wonderful it was! The girl had never seen her mother so happy. Now her eyes would be in order because he was there, the man of her life, who would now protect her from all the hardships of this big, sometimes cruel world.

Rita sat on the sand next to Monica, who was rocking her baby in her arms. Alberto stepped away to take a phone call.

“She just won’t fall asleep,” Monica complained.

“How about I rock her, and you can rest?” Rita suggested. The young mother agreed and handed her daughter to the girl. Rita hugged the baby close and smiled at this adorable angel.

“I’ll sing you a lullaby that my mom used to sing to me when I was little, and you’ll fall asleep,” Rita said affectionately. In a soft voice, she sang: “The wax of the candle melts quietly. It’s already night outside. Sleep, my beauty, my gift from Heaven, my daughter. The gentle wind rustles the curtain softly. The golden poppy flower. My baby sleeps. Your angel will take the silvery cobweb with love. He’ll weave pure love into your sleep. The firmament will illuminate with its radiance. A star will shine. May it guard the tender sleep of little children. May it guard the tender sleep of little children.

“God, I could listen to you for hours,” Monica whispered softly, taking her daughter back from Rita and placing her in the stroller. “She’s finally asleep, and I’ve been trying for 20 minutes.”

Rita smiled. The future looked brighter. It was decided she would enroll in the conservatory. Her parents were fully supportive. The sea air refreshed, carrying away all worries and troubles, while the sea brought from afar a sense of joy and incredible happiness.

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