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Faces: Chapter 10

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The Osslovsky family didn't hear about Vasily's condition until a few days after his incident. As soon as they found out, they immediately resolved to call on him and Irina, hoping to find him in better shape.
When they came to Vasily and Irina's door, they saw for the first time what conditions they lived in. Although Vasily and Irina always visited them, they never were invited over, and now they knew why. It was a very small home, more like a dormitory.
Irina, seeing them through their front window, opened up.
"Mother! Father! Ilya! I'm so glad you've come!" but she suddenly checked herself, aware that she wasn't at all ready to receive them.
"Dear Irina, I hope you are well," Osslovsky said, "But we heard about Vasily. Is he well right now?"
"To tell you the truth, he wasn't well for several days, but just last night he took a good turn."
"May we come in and see him?" Mrs. Osslovsky asked.
"Yes, although you may not like our circumstances..." Irina frowned and backed up to let them in. "We don't have many chairs, I hope you don't mind."
As soon as they stepped in, Vasily greeted them with a smile.
"Thank you for visiting, Mr. and Mrs. Osslovsky," he said gently and not too loudly. Vasily was sitting up in his bed, but looking in bright spirits. If they had come a day earlier, they would have found him in a much different mood. "Ilya, how good to see you again!"
"And to see you too," Ilya said with a small smile. He felt very sad for his good friend and mentor. "Do you need anything, Vasya?"
"Oh, nothing at the present. We have been doing well," he smiled at Irina, who came and sat down by him. The Osslovskys sat across in new wooden chairs and Ilya remained standing. The stove was burning well, keeping it very comfortable in the room. Although Irina and Vasily had a small place, they had made it relatively nice by cleaning it up and adding some new furniture.
"Is your fever gone?" Mrs. Osslovsky first asked.
"Yes it is. It left last night, but I still have weak lungs. I fear it's for good," Vasily said gravely. "But Irina and I have been discussing what to do next."
"What do you plan?" Osslovsky spoke up.
"We're going to move to Crimea."
"Crimea?" Ilya cried out in dismay.
"But that is so far away! Irina, do you think it's really necessary?" Mrs. Osslovsky asked.
"I do believe so, mother," Irina replied. "Vasily really needs to be in a warmer climate, it has been way too cold for him here, and we think that's what's especially aggravated his condition. Most doctors recommend their patients to live there if they have chronic lung disease."
"What lung disease do you have though?" Osslovsky asked.
Suddenly Vasily and Irina realized that they never really talked about it with her parents. Now it all had to be revealed.
"I have tuberculosis," Vasily admitted. "I've been told I'm in critical condition, but I will improve my chances of recovery by going there."
The Osslovskys stared at each other in shock. Even Ilya turned pale.
"If we only knew, we would have done anything to help you!" Osslovsky exclaimed.
"Yes, I am sorry. It somehow slipped our minds," Irina muttered.
"Well, we will lend you money for the trip, and for medicine. Don't take it as a debt, we will offer it as a gift," Osslovsky nodded to his wife.
"Thank you, mother and father," Vasily smiled. "You are after all my parents too."
"Yes, and we love our son-in-law. But we are very sorry for all of this," Mrs. Osslovsky frowned. She took Vasily's hand and pressed it. "We will pray for you, we and everyone at our church. And... we will miss you and Irina terribly."
"And I will miss you all too."
Ilya kept silent in all of this. He was too distressed to speak up, but stared on in despairat Vasily.
"What will you both do in Crimea?" Irina's mother asked.
"I will mostly likely find a small job, but I will have to stay with Vasily at home for the most part."
"That can't possibly be enough!" she said in dismay. "What more can be done?"
"That's where I come in," Vasily smiled. "I'm going to be... a full-time composer."
"A composer? You compose as well?"
"Yes, I've already done a number of full scale works. Now that I'm laid low, I can actually spend more time than ever to compose. Whatever I make, I will send to Moscow here to be published. Some of it might even be performed."
"Outstanding! I must say that's a unique plan," Osslovsky remarked. "I still will offer my services as much as I can. But we understand the situation now. Oh Irina, how much I'll miss seeing you here!"
"We are planning to leave as soon as possible, whatever it takes for us to sell this place, and move out."
"Then I will certainly help with that! Tell me of its value, and I can get it advertised with other real-estate. It's quite simple, I have experience with that."
"Oh how good!" Irina cried. "Then in that case, we can already start planning out where we will live in Crimea, Vasily and I! It needs to be done all very soon."
"Will you ever come back?" Ilya asked quietly. His eyes were welling up with tears.
Vasily looked at him with compassion. He then bid Ilya to sit down next to him.
"I can't tell you when I will return Ilya, but I'm quite sure I will. Possibly for performances. But don't be too sad, Ilya. We can still exchange letters. Remember, we're still always with each other, even when far apart. I will remember you as much as you will remember me. And I will be very happy for you. I hope you continue to do well in your studies Ilya, and find your niche. And most of all, I hope you grow in your relationship with God. He will sustain you, just as he as sustained me. Oh Ilya, don't cry," he hugged Ilya who started crying openly.
"I'm sorry, Vasya, I don't mean to make you feel bad," he sobbed. "I'm just sad for it all..."
"Yes, I would never have chosen this path for myself, but God did. He's made it clear what I'm suppose to do next in my life. I may not be the musician I imagined I would be, but now I have a new opportunity. Perhaps an even better one."
Suddenly, Vasily got an idea.
"Wait. I have something for you, Ilya."
"What's that?"
"Look next to the stove, you'll see a black box, and rather heavy. Bring it here." Ilya did so.
Vasily nodded toward the box."Open it, and see what it is."
Inside, was a series of wooden pieces, tubes and metal inlaid in them. The wood color was a gorgeous dark reddish-brown, and ivory on the joints.
"It's your bassoon!"
"Yes. Which I can no longer play," Vasily said sadly.
Ilya stared at him in awe. "You don't mean...?"
"I do... I want you to have it."
Irina stared at Vasily, and then exchanged rapid glances with her parents.
"I think you are a suitable owner for this, Ilya. You are growing up, and you have musical talent. Do with it what you wish, and if you want to learn to play it, then all the better. But if you don't, I think you would be the right one to know who to give it to."
"But... isn't this really yours? Isn't it a fortune?"
"It is a fortune. But not a fortune I paid for."
Irina again stared at him. This was something he never told her, let alone anyone else.
“I want to tell you a story, Ilya, of how I got this bassoon...”