"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth."
-William W. Purkey
Alyona looked around, she could've sworn that she heard a loud noise. She cocked her head to the side, listening for more, but everything was quiet once again.
She returned to her poetry book a handwritten memoir of nearly every song, poem, limerick or joke ever told in her father's bar. Then she saw her favorite poem
All the pious are on a spree,
They see god is not at home.
He got drunk on homebrewed liquor,
And left to go abroad.
(Translated from Russian, therefore it doesn't rhyme)
This was a crude and generally boring Chatushka, when it was by itself (A Chatushka is a Russian style of short poem, usually in an ABAB or ABCB poetic style, basically meaning that A rhymes with A and so on and so forth.) Alyona had heard the Chatushka being sung by a foreign looking man when she was only twelve, foreigners were very rare in such a small village so Alyona had payed very close attention to him. He sung in a deep, yet quiet voice and played a very strange instrument.
The instrument was apparently called a Domra and was a hollow, circular container with a hole cut in the center. There was a long wood block coming out of the circular container, and it had three strings attached to the top of it running over the block and ending at the base of the circular thing.
Although it looked strange and Alyona could not possibly begin to comprehend how the foreigner played it, with a swift flurry of fingers the foreigner began to play a sweet, gentle melody. This, accompanied with his voice, creating the most beautiful Chatushka Alyona had ever heard. It had been the first poem she had ever written down and from that point on, she wrote down every single poem she heard, regardless of whether they were good or not.
She had carefully drawn the instrument, it had taken many days but eventually she had drawn an exact replica of it. Over the next year she took jobs from any of the villagers who needed help with anything, she sowed clothes, baked, and apprenticed herself to many professionals. All the time, she was looking ahead to one day, and when that day finally came she rose very early in the morning, and was out of her house before her father could even ask what was going on.
First she called in a favor with Kirill, the town butcher, so she could get some lengths of intestine to make the instrument strings. She had thought for a long time and decided that she wanted horse gut. She had told the butcher many months ahead of time and he had been drying them ever since.
Then she want to Sasha, who was the town's seamstress, and gave her the gut so she could cut and prepare it into proper strings. She handed some kopecks to Sasha who quickly gave her back the money and smiled, (A Kopeck is 1/100 of a Ruble, the national currency of Russia which was basically a weight of silver) then Alyona ran out the door and began heading towards Guga's house.
Guga was the town's resident… He was an expert at his job of… Alyona didn't really know what Guga did, but he knew the forests better than anyone else. She ran up to his house and knocked on the door, Mariamna answered the door. She was Guga's wife, and behind her Illarion was playing with a bit of wood whittling it with a small knife. The boy was about eight right now, and he was absolutely fascinated by the grooves the knife made in the soft wood.
"What can I do for you Alyona?" Mariamna said, in a soft weak voice.
Alyona thought that this was strange, usually had a much more passionate voice, expressing her deepest emotions even when she tried not to. That she was this quiet… It could only mean bad news.
Alyona shook off her thoughts and asked, "Where is Guga?"
Mariamna shook off her illness and replied "He's here, I'll go fetch him." She then shut the door and walked off to find her husband.
Alyona just stood there for several minutes until Guga opened the door and spoke, "Hello Alyona, how are you?"
"I'm fine sir, I just need your help with my project."
"Ahhh, finally got the money I imagine?" To which Alyona eagerly nodded her head.
"Well, I figured you'd be along someday so I'll have the wood ready in a few days."
Ecstatic that she was getting the wood, but a bit downtrodden that it would take a few days, she handed Guga the money and walked off towards the Blacksmith Antony's workshop.
After a short walk, Alyona had her good spirits back. She merrily skipped down the street until she spotted Antony, hard at work on Ingots for someone's house that needed to be repaired. She waved hello to Antony, who wiped his hands on his clothes and then waved back.
"Hello Alyona, what can I do for you on this fine fine day?" Antony asked in his melodic voice.
"I need some nails for the Domra I'm building."
"Sorry to say this, but I'm busy working. I have dozens of jobs to complete, and with Ksenija pregnant…"
"I understand sir" Alyona said, then began walking away. As she walked away, she failed to notice the smile that crept across Antony's face.
Alyona walked home, feeling sad that she had worked so hard to gain this money only to be told that she couldn't get her precious Domra yet. She began her sad walk home, imagining the fun she would soon have with the Domra, only making herself feel worse about the whole situation.
She finally arrived at her house, it was a very large building the second largest building in town, right after the town hall. Her father was the town Brewer, one of the most important people in town, though few recognized him as such. Alyona shared the house with her father Boleslav, her mother having died many years previous and her father refusing to speak of it. The two of them live on the second floor, the first being occupied by several tables and the bar as well as Barrels of various Ales, he had everything from vodka to ambrosia. The materials he gathered from Guga and Sofya whenever they had extra herbs of differing types that they could spare. Boleslav was very successful at his job and his Ale making skills practically sustained the town single-handedly.
Alyona entered her house instantly wondering why all of the curtains were closed, leaving the house shrouded in darkness. She walked into the darkness feeling for one of the curtains, unaware of the beings that lay in wait for her.
Suddenly the curtains were thrown open, temporarily blinding Alyona with the sudden influx of light. Then the bright light faded and she saw all the townsfolk gathered around, Including all of the people she had talked to today. Her father was there in the center surrounded by Antony, Sonya, Kirill and Guga were standing around him.
"What is all this?" she asked.
Without even bothering to answer, her father and the other four parted revealing a large wooden object. Alyona's eyes went wide, and she looked around wondering if this was all a dream or not. Then she walked towards the object realizing that it was the Domra she had been trying to build, she took up the Domra and fingered the strings unable to believe her goal was in front of her after all these years.
Her father had known what she was doing and had been planning this for months, waiting for this day to come. He set up a giant party, it was the greatest moment of Alyona's life and the expression on her face brought joy to Boleslav. Then Boleslav waved his hand towards a man in the doorway, then Fedar who was the town's resident baker, brought in several loaves of bread. Bread was a rare commodity and it had taken Boleslav a long time to afford it, but it was all worth it.
They danced and sang and Alyona played her Domra and all were happy.
That had been the most wonderful day of Alyona's life, it was the 14th anniversary of that party, her father was gone 6 years and she was the Brewmaster now. Alyona had always refused to drink alcohol, it destroyed her inhibitions and made her absolutely miserable. She was flipping through her book and enjoying all the memories they gave her.
She heard a loud ruckus from the town center, unable to concentrate on her book anymore she left to go find out what had happened.