A gentle creature
A slender young woman, fifteen years and nine months
With very large eyes
An orphan who lives with two aunts, mean
They beat and treat her as a slave, and begrudge her daily bread
She has one option: marry a (two wives in the grave) fifty-year-old shopkeeper and mother his children . . .
She tries to get a job . . . but can’t
The pawnbroker proposes
He’s the lesser evil than the fat and watchful shopkeeper
She takes a long time to consider Mephistopheles introducing himself . . .
And marries him, she pawn, he broker (who quotes Goethe)
Pawnbroker is stern . . . and silent . . . and pours cold water upon her happiness
She stamps her foot at him
Aims a gun at his temple
And falls ill in winter
He pays for a doctor and a nurse
Winter passes
One sunny day, she sings
He kisses her feet . . . and she sobs
Plans of Boulogne to bathe in the sea
She thinks and smiles
Opens a window
Clutches icon of Madonna and Babe
And jumps
Nothing was crushed
Just a small spoon of blood
He claims to be only five minutes too late
So thin in her white coffin
“People are alone in the world.”

The short story “A Gentle Creature” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1876.

GK Stritch

GK Stritch is a contributor to Beatdom and the author of CBGB Was My High School. The book is available at the St. Mark's Bookshop, New York City, and amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

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