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Huilunsoittaja

Anton: Chapter 25, Part I

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Anton Stepanovich was only 44 years old.
A doctor nearly demanded him to go to Nice, Italy to recover his health. Anton begrudgingly did, calling it a "vacation," and so he stayed for some weeks. But in fact over those few weeks he sabotaged his health through intentionally destructive drinking, and so he returned to Russia worse than before.
He submitted himself to a sanatorium outside St. Petersburg that happened to be in a district that was counted as Finnish territory. Because he was so ill, he wasn't allowed to leave it. But that didn't matter to Anton. Nothing mattered anymore.
He wanted to die as soon as possible.
News reached the composers of St. Petersburg and also Moscow of Anton's tuberculosis that was rapidly declining his health. He was taking no medicine, and instead drank until he blacked out almost every day and night. Anton was not poor, but he began spending so much of his money his last months that he was nearly broke. He bought expensive wine and champagne, and bribed the workers of the sanatorium to keep getting it for him, although they were extremely apprehensive for his alcoholism.
"Don't view it as destructive, madame!" he once said to a sad-looking nurse. "View it as a revival! To lose consciousness is to be awake."
He was in his own room in which he was quarantined for the most part. He had some of his most prized possessions with him, although he missed his piano greatly.
"How on earth did you ever come to believe that?" the nurse asked.
"The truth is hard to come by sometimes. But I found it! Truth that only a few in this world have come to discover."
"The truth is you've gone mad! It's good you're quarantined here, or else you would have been put in an asylum!"
"Ah, that's what they always say...But I have a grave and serious question for you..."
"What is it?"
"Have you ever thought... maybe all this isn't real?"
"What do you mean?"
"This! Our conversation right now! What if it's just a dream? Maybe we'll all wake up, and find all of Life as we know it was all a nightmare, and then everything will be fine."
"Well, how do you plan on 'waking up' so you say?"
"... I'm working on it."
Anton would of course go into awful coughing fits now which kept him from babbling on too much. He did not like looking at the blood he would cough up, and would throw his handkerchiefs away immediately. Although he had some pain, drinking was his pain-killer for the most part.
Ever since Anton had woken up after the night of meeting Katerina and Ivan, a sudden chill came into his soul, far deeper than physical cold. But an ominous idea lurked at the back of his mind.
He had gained consciousness into the same situation, that Katerina still rejected him.
In other words, he hadn't woken up at all.
So what if it all was for real?
But he refused to believe it.
His solitude seemed to be his only peace. Sometimes he would think, sometimes he wouldn't think at all. He still thought of Katerina to hold on, to hold onto his last desire. It was the only thing that was keeping him on with his sickness.
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