In her midnight ears, it’s Ilya Lagutenko (Новая луна апреля). Repulsive girl salt is the only evidence of what January winds have evaporated from her cheeks. It turns to moondust and casts mercy on her graceless stumbling when she’s chasing ghosts through unlit suburban forest parks. What you can’t outrun, you can escape on swing sets at any age, so long as it is past midnight. This is the secret to her happiness, to her seemingly infinite batteries. While her obsessions and gatekeepers sleep, she time travels. She taps out spells and target dates in magpie Braille on her woolen coat sleeves. Before embarking, she tosses her conflicting forces into the battle ring, letting them tear at each other’s throats. But she quickly grows bored with it and doesn’t stick around to watch how it all turns out. Instead, she’s off through the trees, straining to hear bizarre male voices over the sound of the wind. Those voices are simultaneously near and far, and are cruelly bewitching. She’s a sucker, and falls for it every time.
On the other side of time’s bridge, she encounters an old man who is stuck in Sverdlovsk, twenty years ago. Before they have even had a conversation, she’s photocopied him, placed his doppelganger in her stories. She’s appointed herself his guardian angel, always keeping an eye on him from around corners, always on the lookout for gutter-punk kids who might dare harass him. But whatever he truly is, it’s not what she thinks. She’s stuffed his doppelganger like a piñata. She’s filled him with gold coins and silver confetti. She’s a sucker, and lays traps like this for herself every time.