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Svetlana – 4: The Memory Girl

She laughed and looked down at the photograph. I kept one eye on my watch, the other on her face. It was strangely animated, her eyes dancing over the picture, while fleeting expressions floated like ghosts.

This is the fourth chapter in my serialized story. You may wish to read the previous chapter 1st: Svetlana – 3: Interview.
The menu ‘Svetlana’, in the left sidebar contains links to chapters published so far. A similar menu can be found at the bottom of the post.

This story tells of a man who has adopted a life of helping homeless and vulnerable girls, and of waging a dark and ruthless private war on the human traffickers and criminals who prey on them. His chance encounter with a young Serbian woman, and his experience of her growing unconditional love for him, reveal to him that emotionally, he is as broken and beaten as the girls he is trying to help.

Warning: The story contains adult subject matter, several explicit scenes of an intimate sexual nature, descriptions of human jeopardy, and is not suitable for minors, or those who are easily offended.

« Previous Chapter – 3: Interview ——–oOo——– Next Chapter – 5: Lovers »

The Carlson Imperative
Book 1: Svetlana Curuvija
© 2010 J.W.Brown

Chapter 4: The Memory Girl

I closed the door and Svetlana and I looked at each other. Then we embraced. She held me very tight. She was trembling, and it didn’t surprise me, after what she had just recalled. I felt that she needed diversion, so I murmured in her ear.
“Every Saturday evening, we have a little party upstairs. The girls dress in their best and we have games, listen to music and dance. Would you like to go up tonight?”

She released me, but kept her arms around my neck. “Plis, that would be lovely. Can I change?”
“Of course, there’s no hurry, take your time.”

While she washed, I picked up her notebook, and sat down at my desk. I scanned in the images of the five men she had drawn, at 600 dpi resolution and composed two emails.

“Mr Linton,

I have a young lady artist looking for placement, please see attached samples of work. Probably equally as good with landscapes. Quick answer required if possible, meet your place or mine.

Rgds J.”

I attached the scanned pictures and sent it, and began the next.

“Hi Derek,

A few of the guys and I were considering a spot of off-roading in the middle of the week. If you fancy making the numbers up to four that would be great. Contact me on Monday at noon for meet details if you are interested.

Respect, J.”

I pressed the send button and sat back in the chair. Maybe I was being a little hasty, but a strong sense of urgency had gripped me.

I washed and changed clothes. The humidity levels were still high, and I was thirsty. I fished a cool lager from the fridge, and sat down on the sofa.

She was so quiet. As before she appeared in front of me, having made no sound entering. She wore the blue dress, matching blue slippers, and the Opal Lalique hung on it’s chain around her neck.
She clasped her hands in front of her. From the short curls of blonde hair, to her neat ankles, every inch of her was beautiful.
She smiled. “You don’t mind I wear her dress?”

I stood up and took her hands.” She would have wanted you to have it – so it is now your dress.” I paused, still mesmerised. “You are so beautiful, it takes my breath away.”
She moved forward and kissed me, her arms wrapping around my neck.
Her kiss set my lips on fire and I held her sweet face between my hands.
We separated, and holding her hand, we went upstairs.

It was still early, but several of the girls were already dancing to the music from a CD player. We grabbed a few sandwiches and sat down together on a sofa, and Svetlana looked around, then said quietly “You rescue all?”
I smiled. “We take in any girl that needs help, if we have room for her.”
“What becomes?”
I paused, then replied slowly in Serbian “Various things happen. Those that have had their passports stolen, we help repatriate when they are ready, if that’s the right thing to do. Some girls just leave when they are ready to, and some others are adopted, or fostered. We try to keep in touch with those girls that want us to. Some of the girls get a job in London, some help us with other girls.”
“Like Katya?”
I nodded. “Like Katya.”
“She is special to you – like Zee.”
It wasn’t a question, but I felt she needed an explanation. “Some of our girls have been in really bad situations. Some in which I had to take action personally – those girls are really special to me.”
She nodded and smiled, her calm blue eyes assessing me “I understand why they love you so much.”

Her praise was said matter-of-factly, but nearly had me blushing, and her perception meant that I couldn’t take risks with hiding from her actions I needed to take, so I took the opportunity. I said in halting Serbian. “I’ve taken the liberty of sending copies of your drawings to a friend, who may be able to identify them. I hope you don’t mind?”
She took my hand, shaking her head. “Anything that will help you find my sister, I will do – just ask.”

I got up and walked to the bookcase, pulling out one of my favourites – photographs of rural English towns. I leafed through it and found a particularly busy picture, and passed it to her, looking at my watch as I did.
“Please try this for me. I want you to look at that picture for 30 seconds. When the time is up I will ask for the book back, and I want you to describe as best you can, what you remember about the picture.”
She laughed and looked down at the photograph. I kept one eye on my watch, the other on her face. It was strangely animated, her eyes dancing over the picture, while fleeting expressions floated like ghosts.
“OK Svetlana. Time’s up.”

She passed me the book and I took a pencil from the table and moved across to another chair to face her.
“OK” I said, “In your own time, and words, what do you remember?”
As she talked, I numbered each item she mentioned in sequence with the pencil. An awe crept over me, as she didn’t simply describe who, or what was there, but gave a flawless and lengthy description of the appearance and actions if any. This coupled with the sheer number of people and things she had noticed, astounded me. I was aware the room had gone quiet, although Svetlana rattled on, so I held up my hand for her to stop.
She smiled “I do OK?”
I laughed. “That was brilliant”

Although Svetlana had been describing the photograph in her own tongue, Jane and several of the girls could see I was marking the photo as she spoke. Jane came over. “That is one of the most remarkable feats of memory I have ever seen.” she said quietly.
I smiled up at her “For me too, Absolutely incredible.”
One the girls came forward. “Can we try?” I handed Jane the book, and they went off to test themselves. I turned to Svetlana.
“That is a remarkable gift.”
She looked quizzically at me, and I repeated it in Serbian.
She smiled “You are sweet man. My trick pleases you?”
“It does – very much.”

I walked over to our sideboard, and took out an A4 drawing pad. I passed this and the pencil. “Can you draw what you have seen in the photograph?”
“Sure.” she smiled easily and set to work. I noticed that the items she drew first were in the same order as those she had named. After 5 minutes I asked her to stop. It was incredible. Her detailed sketch was almost identical to the photo itself.

I leaned forward and kissed her. “You are one very clever girl!”
I went to get her another juice, and passed the pad to Jane, murmuring “You enjoyed the first demonstration of her memory, how’s that for a second?”
She took the pad from me and glanced at at it, drawing her breath in quickly as she did. “Good God!”
“Exactly” I said quietly, and returned to Svetlana.

I sat down beside her and took her hand, she cushioned her head on my shoulder and I began quietly in Serbian.
“Katya told me that your memory is very good, if not outstanding, and suggested that you could maybe help by drawing places you have been and seen in London. But she also warned that recalling these images might hurt you dreadfully, and that we need some professional advice if we are to ask this of you.”
She had sat up “But this I can do Joe!”
“Shall I arrange for a doctor to talk to us as soon as possible?”
“We no need doctor – I help.”
She was very keen, and I didn’t want to argue. I made a mental note to talk to Millicent and let the subject drop.
I kissed her.

We sat and relaxed, watching the girls dance. Her sweet smell washed over me, and the soft tinkle of her laugh as she watched the girls was like heavenly music. I must have closed my eyes when a soft lilting voice asked “Is she your girlfriend?”
It was Lizzie.

“She is. Her name is Svetlana.”
I turned to Svetlana “Svetlana, this is Lizzie. She hasn’t been with us very long.”
Svetlana beamed at the child. “Hello, Lizzie. And lovely brown eyes you have.”
Lizzie wasn’t phased. “You are very pretty.”
Svetlana laughed lightly “Thank you, and so are you.”
“Can I do your hair?”

For the first time I noticed the hairbrush in Lizzie’s hand.
Svetlana looked at the brush and understood. She nodded “Yes, plis.” and turned sideways on the sofa, smiling at me as she did.
Lizzie gently ran the brush through Svetlana curls, and she started to sing quietly. I couldn’t understand the words, although they were vaguely familiar. Nor did they sound Welsh, but I was no expert. She sang beautifully, and I closed my eyes and just listened.

When Svetlana felt Lizzie tiring, she asked gently. “Thank you. I brush your hair now Lizzie?”
Lizzie handed her the brush and sat down on the sofa. This time it was Svetlana who started singing – the same lullaby I’d heard earlier today.
Unaccountably, tears began in my eyes, and not wishing to upset either of them, I got up quietly and went into the kitchen.

I fixed myself another juice and re-entered the day room, sitting down with Jane. She nodded at Svetlana. “Can we help her?”
I nodded. “She probably has every detail of her captors, and the places they haunt, ready to recall from that amazing memory. But, Katya is concerned that the act of recalling everything could be very dangerous.”
Jane nodded. “It’s one of the things that was discussed at college. A visiting professor of psychology was giving a lecture on the rehabilitation of patients suffering from severe PTSD. He was researching mechanisms that can turn off the involuntary recall of such violent and disturbing images, so as to help the patients.”

We sat and chatted while we watched the activity around us.
I looked across the room. “Look” I said. Lizzie was curled up in Svetlana’s arms, both had their eyes closed and both, apparently were asleep.
Jane grinned. “They look lovely together.”
I nodded. “They do.”
I walked across the room. They were indeed both asleep. Both breathing deep and evenly. I fetched a rug and covered them, and then sat down opposite them. They did look lovely. The smaller girl’s dark hair fell over Svetlana’s honey-coloured neck, Svetlana’s cheek tenderly lay against Lizzie’s head.

I sat letting the sounds of the room wash over me, and watching the sleeping, embracing girls in front of me, and must have dozed off.
A quiet “Joe” in my ear brought me back instantly. Jane was sat beside me. I looked around. Apart from us and the sleeping girls, the room was deserted.
“Oh, sorry Jane, I must have dozed.”
She laughed quietly. “I wouldn’t have woken you, but..” she nodded at Svetlana and Lizzie.
I nodded. “OK, I’ll carry Lizzie, if you get the doors.”
I stood up and gently moved the rug to one side, then lifted the sleeping child into my arms. Jane re-covered Svetlana with the rug and then led they way across the room. In Lizzie’s room, she peeled back the sheets and I laid the girl down. Jane removed her shoes, covered her over, and we returned to the day room.

“Will you waken her?” Jane whispered.
“No, but can you get the doors again for me?”
I removed the rug and lifted Svetlana into my arms. She murmured “Mmm”, her eyes fluttering briefly, and her left arm went around my neck. Jane grinned at me, then headed once again to the door. She led the way after we left the lift in my basement, and turned back Svetlana’s sheets, then whispered “Good night Joe.”
I nodded “Thanks Jane.” and she left.

I sat Svetlana on the bed, and unclasped the Lalique and laid it on the bedside table. I unzipped the dress, and slid it forward, off her arms, then laid her gently down. After lifting her legs onto the bed, I lifted her thighs gently and removed the dress. For a brief moment I looked at her lying, calm, peaceful and so beautiful in a sheer silky slip Zee and her had bought that morning. I lifted the sheets to cover her, but she reached out and took my hand. Her eyes were open. “Will you cuddle me tonight Joe plis?”
I knew. I knew all was not well, and that the events of the day had taken their toll. “Of course sweet Svetlana. Of course I will.”
She smiled, her lovely blue eyes thanking me.

I peeled off my clothes and lay beside her, covering us both with the sheets. I slid my right arm underneath her neck, and she needed no more encouragement. She snuggled in, her head on my chest and her right leg straddled my body. I wrapped my left arm around her and I felt her breathing started to deepen almost immediately. For a long while I just lay there. It felt so strange, so beautiful, and so right.

I woke up only once during the night. I was thirsty and my mouth tasted foul. I extricated myself gently, and went into my own room, cleaning my teeth and drinking a glass of water. With another in my hand, I returned to Svetlana. She was still asleep, but readily resumed cuddling me as I lay back down beside her.

« Previous Chapter – 3: Interview ——–oOo——– Next Chapter – 5: Lovers »

Svetlana – Index of Chapters.

Book 1 of The Carlson Imperative is now available as a PDF download here: The Carlson Imperative – Book 1

The Carlson Imperative is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between characters in the story, and real persons, either living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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