SETTING: RUSSIA
setting

„Solovetsky. The island in the White Sea. At the end of the sea, she used to think when she was a kid. There was a huge monastery on the island with onion towers and protective walls a metre thick. You could see it from most places on the island, and if you took a boat out it sometimes looked as if the monastery were not quite of this world, floating above the island.“

setting

„Yekaterina’s parents lived in one of the wooden houses huddled together close to the harbour, growing a little more lop-sided with every storm. Her parents talked little and laughed even less. Their eyes were always turning to the sea, as if they wanted to flee from something.“

setting

„The trunks of the birches flashed brightly when the sun broke out from between the clouds. Every one of the birch trees had not one but many trunks, warped around each other in bizarre bends and branching out in complex patterns. They’re dancing, said Yekaterina’s mother, the trees are dancing in a ring with the wind. And Yekaterina said yes but was secretly convinced that the trees weren’t trees at all, but ghostly spirits.“

setting

„Go, Katya, said Yekaterina’s mother in the afternoon, when the light began to fade again. Go and play outside for a while, Papa’s tired. The wind was ice and froze the skipping rope Yekaterina dragged behind her in an instant, so stiff that she couldn’t play with it any more. The snow on the ground looked grey, as grey as the sky. There was no telling where the island ended and the sea began.“

setting

„Long, cold, dark winters. Taiga. The great expanse where once the Sámi people roamed. Until the borders were closed and the Russian Sámi were cut off from their relatives in the neighbouring countries, to be moulded into modern, civilised people, shut away in camps, robbed of their language and thus their identity. That didn’t just happen in Russia of course, but Stalin’s henchmen were particularly effective in their destruction.“

NIGHT WITHOUT SHADOWS
© Gisa Klönne