'Yes, isn't it always?' He wants to sit in his vest by the wide-open window on the first warm day of spring, drinking a beer, with Anna somewhere in the room behind him, sorting the little brown envelopes of seeds she's saved from last summer. Each envelope is labelled in her beautiful slanted handwriting. She has what he always thinks of as 'an artist's hand'. His own writing is cramped and hard to read. But they've never needed to send each other letters, because they've always been together.
That child in his private room doesn't know it and can't help it, but he carries a disease that destroys ordinary life as fast as the plague corrupts a living body. His father is high up in the Ministry for State Security, and he has one of those names that is spoken only in whispers: Volkov.
The Betrayal © 2010 by Helen Dunmore; reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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