Sevastopol’s Vestige, Factoid

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SHORT, SHORT; STORY: Sevastopol's Vestige, Factoid

Sevastopol’s Vestige, Factoid

The butler brought a bottle and displayed it to the two diners by laying it along his palm while holding the underarm of the palm with his other hand lest the champagne smears the parquet floor. Apparently, the finest and the best champagne in Gothenburg.

The butler knows the wine drinkers are unsatisfiable customers: the acquired tastes of artificality of human beings. He showed the bottle and its label of authentication to Tobias Issaksson, first, and then to Camilla Baburova. Because it was the decision of Tobias to order the champagne and he knew about the liquids, he ordered with his head to the butler: you can uncork it. Artistically, the butler poured the liquid in to two champagne flutes, one after another, and placed the half-filled (or half-empty?) flutes on the table for the diners to enjoy. Adroitly, the butler, retreated from them to let them sip in silence or conversation unless summoned.

Tobias picked his flute, lolled to say, cheers but Camilla did not pick up hers. Tobias was pleasantly surprised. Is she teasing me? Pleased that they were together, for the drinks and dinner, he said, “Let’s toast.”

“Sorry, no,” Camilla answered sweetly smilingly.

“Why?”

“Did you ask me?”

“What is there to ask …? It’s champagne. This is our special day.”

Tobias and Camilla were celebrating the achievement of a dream job of Tobias. They were few steps away from bringing their relationship to its logical direction.

“I don’t drink, champagne,” Camilla said clearly.

Shaking his heads in disbelief, Tobias said, “It’s champagne.”

“For you, but not a drink for me,” Camilla snapped. She gazed at the butler who was standing tightly and uprightly but at a distance, by the entrance of the restaurant, waiting to attend the diners. He caught Camilla’s call for him, and came towards her.

“Can I have a green tea, please,” Camilla asked the butler.

“Of course,” said the butler and asked, “anything else?”

“In a while,” Camilla said, “thank you.”

Tobias was seething, still, “Why? it is champagne.”

“We can still celebrate … not drinking champagne is not stopping us from celebrating your dream job, ah?”

The tea arrived in a pot, and a cup of tea was served to her.

Tobias and Camilla lifted their liquid-contained containers, “Cheers”.

After Tobias had a sip of champagne, he could have spoken about something, but still he seethed with the disbelief that Camilla doesn’t like to drink champagne. He said, “I can’t believe…”

“Congratulations,” Camilla said.

“Thank you, it means a lot to me,” Tobias confessed.

“The dream job, or?”

“Both the job, and you.”

“Thank you.”

“I am happy for you, I wish you all the happiness in the world.”

“It could have been happier, if you have would have shared some champagne.”

“What is great, about champagne?”

“One should taste it, to know it.”

“One need not have to. You can feel it how it tastes or how it can taste. Not ambrosia, though. It is just aerated water.”

“What? Aerated water?

“Bubble water. Soda water.”

“One should have a taste for it.”

“I don’t have to have a taste for the soda water,” Camilla observed in a slightly louder voice. She sensed she spoke angrily but the words had come out, and she was unware at the moment whether to apologise or not.

“Why?”

Tobias’ whys irked Camilla. But she answered, “People drank urine and champagne.” And she turned her head towards the other side. From the restaurant in the first floor of Gothia Towers, she could see the roadway and tramway: life unfolded on predictable lines in the city.

“Where?”

“During the war, people in Sevastopol drank urine and champagne, if you don’t know,” Camilla said. “When city was under siege.” In her view, one can predict one’s life but one’s life can also present unpredictable aspects. What happened in Sevastopol aka Sebastopol the notable port and big city on Black Sea and Crimean Peninsula is always a grim metaphor of life for Camilla.

“What?” Tobias asked. He knew Camilla Baburova has a Russian and Ukrainian heritage but that distaste for champagne, and she was raised in Sweden. He was aware of his acquaintances who hanged on to the vestiges of the past, however irrational or idiosyncratic they were.

“It is factoid,” Tobias noted, almost curtly.

“Past is interpreted in many ways,” Camilla observed.

“We’ve to be careful,” Tobias noted, “of fake news.”

“Let us celebrate with food,” Camilla said.

The butler was waiting to take orders from diners but kept an eye on Tobias and Camilla, in case if they need him. He noticed the changing hues on the tips of their noses. If not the noses, the quivers in their bodies said something about the happenings in their heads. He rushed towards Tobias and Camilla with the menu: time to take the order for food.

—Lucinda Palme