Posted in 1920s, holidays, Movies, Silent film

Nosferatu at 100, Part III: Release, reception, legacy

Though Nosferatu was a German film, it was first screened in The Hague, The Netherlands on 16 February 1922, at the Flora and Olympia cinemas. The film had its grand German première on 4 March 1922 by the Berlin Zoological Garden’s Marmorsaal (Marble Hall). This was part of Das Fest des Nosferatua party where guests were asked to come in Biedermeier (1815–48) costumes.

Prior to the screening, a prologue written by Kurt Alexander and based on Goethe’s Faust was read, accompanied by Otto Kembach’s band playing Hans Erdmann’s score. Erdmann himself conducted.

Nosferatu was followed by Die Serenade, a dance play also written by Erdmann and performed by a dancer from the Berlin State Opera. Then there was a costume ball, whose attendees included many prominent filmmakers of the era, such as Ernst Lubitsch, Richard Oswald, Heinz Schall, Hanns Kräly, and Johannes Riemann.

The theatrical release was on 15 March 1922 at the Primus Palace.

Several days after Nosferatu‘s première, another of director F.W. Murnau’s films, The Burning Soil, was released. This created lots of extra buzz for both Nosferatu and Murnau, and the reviews were overwhelming positive. However, some critics didn’t think it felt enough like a horror film on account of the bright lighting, clarity of images, and technical perfection.

Despite mostly garnering praise, Nosferatu wasn’t a financial success, and UFA, Germany’s primary film production company, refused to screen it at their major theatres. Nosferatu could only be shown at small indie theatres. Prana-Film, the company who produced it, had also already blown through the several million marks given them as start-up capital from Silesian financiers with little experience in the film business. They spent too much on advertising and other aspects of the film.

Bankruptcy proceedings opened in August 1922, and the film was seized. Prana’s troubles increased when Bram Stoker’s widow Florence sued them for copyright infringement. In July 1925, a Berlin court ordered all copies of the film and anything else related to it be destroyed.

Mrs. Stoker also prevented London’s Film Society from screening Nosferatu with a copy already in England, but they managed to hide it. Sadly, when they tried again to screen it four years later, Mrs. Stoker succeeded in having the copy destroyed. Hypocritically, she was already in film right negotiations for Dracula with Universal.

Luckily, many copies survived undetected abroad, sometimes with different intertitles, character names, and editing. In the late 1920s, a French version with only 31 intertitles (versus the original 115) became wildly popular among André Breton and his Surrealist friends. When this version came to the U.S. and had the intertitles translated, the characters were renamed after Stoker’s characters, and Wisborg was changed to Bremen.

A version released on 16 May 1930 in Vienna was set to music by the recently-created German Film Production company and given the title The Twelfth Hour—A Night of Horrors. It had a happy ending, and the characters got entirely new names. It also contained many scenes filmed by Murnau and cameraman Günther Krampf but never released.

Irony of ironies, this edit was unauthorized itself, and Murnau’s name didn’t appear in the credits!

Since Prana never applied for copyright in the U.S., Nosferatu entered the public domain by default. It came back into the public eye when it was featured (in a quite shortened cut) on the 1960s show Silents Please! Before long, it was widely distributed on home video under many different names and versions.

Nosferatu officially entered worldwide public domain in 2019.

The first restoration effort began in 1981, and many others have followed in the ensuing decades. One such restoration was based on a first-generation nitrate copy of Nosferatu which was unearthed by Murnau scholar Luciano Berriatúa in the Cinémathèque Française and has been shown at several film festivals. Since each version uses different music, tinting, presentation speed, contrast, etc., they’re all separately copyrighted.

In 1979, director Werner Herzog did a remake, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night), called Nosferatu the Vampyre in English. Klaus Kinski stars as Count Dracula.

Two other planned remakes were respectively announced as being in development in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but there’s no news as to their current status.

Countless songs, music videos, films, video games, TV shows, and works of literature over the last 100 years have referenced or been influenced by Nosferatu, and an operatic version was composed by Alva Henderson and Dan Gioia in 2004 and released in 2005.

Posted in 1920s, holidays, Movies, Silent film

Nosferatu at 100, Part II: Behind the scenes

In loving memory of all those who perished 84 years ago today during Krystallnacht, and all the survivors who have since left the material world

As most people probably know, Nosferatu is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. To try to avoid legal trouble, screenwriter Henrik Galeen changed the title and the characters’ names, omitted a lot of secondary characters, and moved the setting from 1890s England to 1838 pre-unificiation Germany. The name of the principal town, Wisborg, is a portmanteau of Wismar and Lübeck.

Unlike Count Dracula, Count Orlok isn’t interested in creating new Vampyres. Instead, he kills his victims through the Plague. When he does drink Ellen’s blood at the end, it doesn’t turn her into a Vampyre.

Also different from the novel, Count Orlok sleeps during the day and avoids sunlight because it would kill him, not merely weaken him.

Nosferatu was the one and only film produced by Prana-Film, founded by Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau. This short-lived studio was named after the Hindu concept of prana, a Sanskrit word with at least 14 meanings including breath, life force, energy, vigour, soul, spirit, principle of life, vital air, and breath of life. It’s believed to permeate all of existence, even inanimate objects, and originates from the Sun and connects all elements.

Prana hoped to produce supernatural- and occult-themed films, but because Nosferatu was a financial failure, and Bram Stoker’s widow Florence sued them, they had to declare bankruptcy soon after its release.

Albin Grau was an occultist, artist, and architect who served as producer and costume, set, and advertising designer. He was also responsible for the mystical and occult overtones and Orlok’s creepy appearance.

Grau got the idea for a Vampyre film based on an encounter he had with a Serbian farmer in 1916, when he was serving in WWI. The farmer said his father was a Vampyre and one of the undead.

Henrik Galeen was chosen as screenwriter due to his previous success with horror films such as Der Student von Prag and Der Golem. Rising star Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau was chosen as director. Though he followed the script very closely, he also rewrote the last twelve pages. Galeen’s corresponding texts are lost. Murnau used a metronome to aid his actors’s rhythm, and made preliminary artistic sketches of each scene.

Filming commenced in July 1921. Locations included Wismar, Lübeck, Rostok, Sylt Island, Lauenberg, the Tegel Forest, and Berlin’s Johannisthal Studios. The Transylvania scenes were shot in northern Slovakia.

Due to budget constraints, cameraman Fritz Arno Wager only had one camera (hence why there was only one original film negative).

Albin Grau calligraphed the 115 intertitles (quite a high number for the time). Dialogue appears in garish colours and modern script; the chronicler’s report is in stylized Latin cursive on a paper-like background; the letter are in German Kurrent; and the excerpts from Book of the Vampyres are in broken block typeface.

Hans Erdmann, a classically-trained composer and violinist with a Ph.D. in Catholic church music, was selected to write the score. Sadly, most of the original music has been lost, despite having been published by Bote & Bock for salon orchestras and large orchestras. The total playing time was 40 minutes, leading film scholars to speculate portions of the score were intended to be repeated.

Max Schreck, a largely unknown actor, was cast as Count Orlok. Nosferatu was only his third film, and his first time playing a lead role. Gustav von Wangenheim was cast as Thomas Hutter; Greta Schröder was cast as Ellen Hutter; and Alexander Granach was cast as Knock.

To try to drum up interest during the run-up to its release, Nosferatu was extensively advertised in issue 21 of Bühne und Film magazine, with stills, essays, production reports, a summary, and a piece on Vampyres by Albin Grau. The première was planned as a huge society event and party, and invitations to Das Fest des Nosferatu were asked to come in Biedermeier (1815–48) costumes.

But despite all the effort put into the film and its publicity, it wouldn’t receive its full, proper due for many years.

Posted in 1920s, holidays, Movies, Silent film

Nosferatu at 100, Part I: General overview

Note: This text is directly lifted almost entirely from my 2017 post I did about Nosferatu on its 95th anniversary. My intention always was to write a much more in-depth series for its 100th anniversary.

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horrors), one of director F.W. Murnau’s most famous films, and one of the few silents most people outside the fan community know exists, had its grand première 4 March 1922 by the Berlin Zoological Garden’s Marmorsaal (Marble Hall). Because Bram Stoker’s heirs sued over this unauthorized Dracula adaptation, and a court ruled all prints be destroyed, Nosferatu almost became one of the far too many lost films.

Thankfully, many copies outside of Germany escaped the notice of Bram Stoker’s enraged widow Florence, and today the film is widely considered a classic of horror and German Expressionism.

In 1838 Wisborg (a fictional city), Thomas Hutter is sent to Transylvania by his employer, real estate agent Knock, to visit Count Orlok. Rumours about Knock circulate, but one thing known for sure is that he pays his employees well.

Orlok wants to buy a house in Wisborg, and Knock tempts Hutter with extra money. He says Hutter may have to go to a bit of trouble, with some sweat and blood.

Knock suggests Hutter offer Orlok the empty house across from his, and bids him a good trip to the land of the phantoms.

Hutter’s wife Ellen (whose opening scenes call to mind a D.W. Griffith ingénue made to act like an overgrown little girl) is very worried about him, but he assures her he’ll be fine.

Hutter stops by an inn in the Carpathians, and everyone responds with horror when he announces he’s on his way to Count Orlok. The owner warns him not to go any further tonight, saying the werewolf is roaming the forests.

That night, Hutter begins reading a book about Vampyres.

Hutter sets out on his last leg in the morning, and urges his riders to hurry so they get there before dark. They stop before the destination, claiming a bad feeling.

As soon as Hutter crosses the bridge, he’s seized by eerie visions. The creepiness increases when an eerie-looking coachman gives him a lightning-speed ride the rest of the way.

Orlok (Max Schreck, whose surname means “terror”) is displeased to have been kept waiting so long, till nearly midnight, when the servants are asleep.

Orlok’s house gives Hutter the creeps, and he’s further creeped out by Orlok’s weird reaction to his bloody finger. Hutter tries to leave, but Orlok begs him to stay until day, when he sleeps, completely dead to the world.

In the morning, Hutter writes a letter to Ellen to reassure her he’s alright. By evening, Hutter shows Orlok Ellen’s picture, and Orlok remarks on her lovely neck. Orlok also says he’s buying the deserted house across from Hutter’s.

Hutter reads more of his Vampyre book, which makes him even more eager to get out of there. His terror goes through the roof when Orlok stalks towards him.

Meanwhile, Ellen is sleepwalking on the balcony. Her friend Harding catches her before she can fall off, and calls for a doctor. Ellen has a terrifying vision of her husband in danger.

The doctor says it’s just a case of mild blood congestion.

At dawn, Hutter finds Orlok asleep in a coffin. Shortly afterwards, he sees Orlok moving coffins into the courtyard, piling them on a carriage, getting into the one on top, and driving away.

Hutter collapses and is brought to hospital.

Orlok boards the schooner Empusa with coffins full of dirt. Meanwhile, Knock goes crazy under his spell.

While Hutter hurries home, Empusa also draws ever closer to Wisborg, bringing with it the Plague.

Will Orlok’s evil spell be broken before all of Wisborg is destroyed?

Posted in 1950s, holidays, Movies

Horrors in an Austrian castle

The Black Castle, made during the twilight of the classic horror era, had a special pre-release show on Halloween 1952 and went into general release the next week. Among the first cities to screen it were Philadelphia and Los Angeles (the latter on 20 November). It premièred in NYC on Christmas. Between January–April 1953, it was only shown in Southern, Southeastern, and Midwestern cities with a population between 5,000–50,000. In August 1953, it finally was released to the entire U.S.

A few sources claim it premièred in Sweden, though I was unable to find any actual dates for this, and IMDB cites its Swedish opening as January 1953, after the NYC première.

On a dark and stormy night, two coffins are supposed to be closed and prepared for burial. The servants dispatched to this task notice the corpses look rather alive, and that their eyes aren’t closed. We then hear the desperate unspoken pleas from the man, begging them not to bury him alive.

What in the world led up to this?

Sir Ronald Burton (Richard Greene) is determined to get to the bottom of his two friends’ disappearance. He’s convinced Count Carl von Bruno (Stephen McNally) of Austria had a hand in it, and talks his colleagues into letting him take on this mission.

While Ronald is at a nearby tavern called The Green Man, a sword fight breaks out, and his finger is scratched. It turns out that the two guys who started it are very close to Bruno.

Ronald presents himself at Bruno’s Black Forest castle as Richard Beckett. Also in the castle are Bruno’s buddies from the fight, one of whom, Count Steiken, was wounded and is screaming as he receives treatment from Dr. Meissen (Boris Karloff).

Bruno tells Ronald there’s going to be a leopard hunt very soon, with an imported leopard being contained (and very hungry) until it’s time to release him. To throw off Bruno’s suspicions about his real identity, Ronald insists he’s never gone hunting in Africa.

That night, Bruno’s new bride Elga (Rita Corday) walks in on Ronald while he’s snooping around the castle. Ronald pretends he was trying to find Bruno, and after striking up a friendly rapport with Elga, he’s led to Bruno in the cellar.

Also in the cellar is the caged leopard (who looks like an obvious panther), being tortured by servant Gargon (Lon Chaney, Jr.). Elga strongly objects to this upcoming canned hunt, and the sport of hunting in general. After Elga and Ronald leave, Bruno takes the whip from Gargon and starts torturing the poor defenceless animal too.

While Elga is leading Ronald to a strange secret room, a trap door is triggered by a stone on the floor, and they’re caught in a cage. Elga convinces her husband she got lost while trying to go another way, and Gargon releases them. Bruno reveals an alligator lagoon behind the door, and says there’s no getting past it if they want to escape.

The next day, the hunting party sets out, and Ronald catches the leopard after falling into a ditch. Bruno shoots the animal while Ronald is wrestling with him, which infuriates Ronald. It’s not good hunting etiquette to shoot someone else’s prey.

All is seemingly forgiven, however, when Bruno says he killed the leopard with Ronald’s own rifle, and gives him the winning prize of two beautiful dueling pistols, the pelt, and some money.

At a celebratory party that night, Ronald dances with Elga. When they’re speaking alone outside in the moonlight, Ronald recognizes a strange human head charm on her necklace, which matches a ring we saw him wearing after the tavern fight. Elga says she doesn’t know anything about it other than that it was a gift from Bruno.

It seems as though this is the beginning of a beautiful romance, but Elga’s suspicions are aroused when Ronald reveals he took the pendant from her while they were kissing on top of the stairs. She demands to know what he was really doing in her husband’s room and why he came here.

Ronald initially says he can’t explain, then closes the door (behind which an unknown someone is eavesdropping) and tells her Bruno is a murderer. Some years ago, he held power over a native tribe in Africa by posing as a white god, with the goal of gaining control of a fabulously rich empire. Ronald was there on an expedition at the same time. Though they never personally met, their forces were in battle together, and Bruno was wounded in the eye by one of Ronald’s men. This proved he was a mortal, not a god, and the natives rose up against him and drove him out of their country.

Ronald’s two best friends were there too, and Bruno swore he’d get revenge against them. Now Ronald is convinced Bruno murdered them. The natives gave each of them that pendant as a token of appreciation, and they swore they’d never part with these gifts. “Only murder could’ve placed this in the Count’s hands.”

Ronald says he’s leaving in the morning, but promises to return for Elga.

Dr. Meissen approaches Bruno and says his friend Count Steiken is waiting in the trophy room with a very interesting revelation. As Steiken is about to say something about Ronald, he drops dead.

Though nothing incriminating was said, Bruno goes to Elga’s room and claims Steiken told him all about her dalliance with Ronald. After she admits her feelings for Ronald and that she never married Bruno by choice, Bruno leaves her with the demented Gargon.

Bruno cordially bids farewell to Ronald in the morning, without letting on he knows about the affair. However, when he’s at The Green Man, Dr. Meissen comes to him with a story about Elga being in grave danger, and says Ronald must return. If not, Bruno will kill her just as he killed his first wife.

By the time Ronald returns, claiming he forgot his new dueling pistols, Bruno has been tipped off about Ronald’s suspicions of his murderous crime. Little does Ronald realize he’s walking right into a trap from which he might not escape.

Posted in 1940s, Darya, Historical fiction, holidays, Third Russian novel, Writing

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! This year’s Halloween-themed excerpt for the holiday comes from Chapter 95, “Andrey Opens the Door,” from Vol. IV of Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s set in 1945.

Lyuba frets as Darya shuts her suitcase on Halloween morning and heads downstairs. “Are you absolutely sure you want to go a co-ed party Lika’s throwing instead of enjoying Halloween with your family? Look how nicely we decorated the house! You don’t have anything in common with those co-eds, and don’t know them. If you’re worried about men at an unchaperoned party, I’m sure Andryusha will be the only fellow there. Men are really hard to find on campuses these days.”

“It’ll be nice to meet other people my age and get out to do more things. I have to see what campus is like eventually, since I hope to resume my studies, and I want the school closest to home.”

“What will you do with yourself on Thursday and Friday while Lika’s at class? Walk around a strange, large city you don’t know, or wander around a strange campus? What if you get lost, or someone assaults my darling miracle baby?”

“The worst has already happened. A change of scenery will do me good.”

“Since when do you want to go to university so soon? You insisted you couldn’t bear to do that, and now you’re envisioning a near future as a co-ed?”

“It’s not healthy to only interact with family and close friends. I need more outside interests and friends. Whoever heard of a well-adjusted twenty-one-year old still living at home, without a real outside life? Even if I never marry, I deserve my own life.”

Lyuba gently smiles. “Don’t discount the thought of marriage. I once spurned the thought of marriage and motherhood myself, as a reaction against what happened to me, but the right man healed my heart. Perhaps your own future husband is closer than you realize, and he’ll wash away those disgusting memories of that degenerate on the train. After what you went through, you deserve a loving husband, a beautiful wedding, and darling children.”

“No, I’m quite sure I never want any man touching my body.”

“If it’s the right man, you’ll want him to touch you. Trust me on this.”

Darya shakes her head and continues out the door to the waiting wagon. She smiles at her father, and doesn’t attempt to contradict him when he goes on and on about how she’ll miss their family while she’s away for five days, and that she’s not cut out for campus life, or life away from her family period. Once his mind is made up, it’s very hard to convince him otherwise. If he happens to be right, the worst that can happen is Darya will decide campus life isn’t for her, and return home none the worst for wear.


Darya pulls into the depot at 3:00, on-edge from travelling by herself on a train for the first time since that incident with the degenerate. She’s shaking as she grabs her suitcase and rushes off the train in search of Andrey and Anzhelika.

“Over here, zaychik,” Andrey calls. “How do you like me in uniform?”

Darya smiles when she sees Andrey in an old Army dress blue uniform. Anzhelika is dressed as a milkmaid. A lot of people are smiling at Andrey and saluting him, blissfully unaware this is a Halloween costume and that he got out of the war without a scratch.

“I got it at a consignment shop the other day. It’s from between the wars, when uniforms were a bit more fancy. I really feel bad for not serving and doing my part to save you and Liivi.”

“You look very nice in uniform, though I hope you don’t wear it everywhere to trick people into giving you better service and more respect. Eventually, decent people will have to realize not everyone was meant to be a soldier.”

Darya follows them onto a streetcar and lets Andrey carry her suitcase when they unboard near campus. She looks around in wonder, absorbing all the sights and sounds. This is nothing next to the Sorbonne, but it’s a big university.

“This is my home, Sanford Hall,” Anzhelika says, indicating a Colonial-style building. “Andryusha lives in Pioneer Hall. I suspect we’ll have to find an off-campus apartment when we’re graduate students. Andryusha will be safer from mean comments in his own home, and for all the new students will know, he’s a returning GI.”

“Lika’s house mother knows you’ll be staying here for a few days,” Andrey says. “She doesn’t know you have tuberculosis.”

“Good. Someday that damned disease will disappear.” Darya steps into the building and identifies herself to the house mother sitting behind a desk, then signs herself in as a guest.

“You’re friends with the draft-dodger?” the house mother asks disdainfully.

“Of course. We’ve been neighbors our entire lives, and I’m only three months younger than Andryusha and Lika. He’s too much of an intellectual to survive the military. It’s a marvel his father survived seven months in a Siberian labor camp, since they’re so similar.”

The house mother makes a dismissive face as they continue on to Anzhelika’s room.

“I hope you’re not too disappointed there won’t be any guys but Andrey at this party,” Anzhelika says as Darya looks around and starts unpacking. “Men are hard to come by here. I’m sure Andryusha isn’t the only fellow with a student deferment, but the only other guys I know of are 4-Fs, much-older students, fellows with families or important jobs, medical students, and guys in the V-12 Navy program.”

“Oh, no, I’m not interested in men. Just between us, as much as I want children, I’ll probably be an old maid, or have a celibate marriage and adopt kids.”

“You’re not interested in marriage?” Andrey tries to put on his best poker face. “Perhaps we can talk about this in psychotherapy. I hope you’re not scared off marriage because someone hurt you worse than we already know about.”

“It’s not important. Something bad happened to me a long time ago, which I don’t want to discuss. It’s too personal and upsetting.”

“Of course. I hope eventually you feel safe enough to bring it up when I’m counseling you. I hate the idea of our zaychik being hurt like that.”

After Andrey is gone, Darya takes out her Halloween costume, a dark blue Victorian-style gown sweeping the floor, with long sleeves, a high neckline, a four-tiered skirt, buttons up the back, and a wide sash. Only a serious, modest costume will do.

“I can’t believe I have the body to wear this,” Darya says as Anzhelika helps her into the dress. “Six months ago, I was a bag of bones, an ageless, sexless hag. Now I look like a woman again.”

“Are you sure you don’t want a boyfriend? It’s been so long since you were abused on that train, and the right man won’t force anything on you.”

“Even if that hadn’t happened to me, there’s still the last few years. Who’d want such damaged merchandise? Normal men want normal women. Don’t try to use the example of my parents. They were both scarred inside.”

“You never know. The right man might surprise you and appear when you least expect it.”


Darya holds Anzhelika’s hand as they set out for the campus center that evening. As they’re walking, she keeps imagining this campus becoming her campus and starting her university education all over again, better late than never. She has no illusions about her Sorbonne classes transferring, since she never completed that first semester. True to Anzhelika’s word, there are very few men apart from professors and employees. This could almost be Tatyana’s alma mater Barnard.

The room in the campus center is decorated with die-cut skeletons, lanterns shaped like devils, black cats, jack-o-lanterns, and skulls, candy containers in the shape of scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns, cut-out bats and spiders on the walls, a display of Halloween greeting cards, a die-cut orange moon with owls and leaves in the forefront, and streamers with black cats, pumpkins, and skeletons. Anzhelika’s friends include a clown, witch, American Indian, pirate, Renaissance princess, Pilgrim, fairy, and Bohemian. Darya lets Anzhelika introduce her to everyone, grateful Anzhelika isn’t telling them her true story. All these women know is Darya was in Paris during the war, studied at the Sorbonne briefly, and had her education interrupted by the Nazis.

“What would you like to do first?” Anzhelika asks. “We have bobbing for apples, fortunetelling, cutting a fortune cake, floating a walnut boat, telling ghost stories, and a Ouija board.”

“Cake, please.”

Darya grabs the knife and cuts into a cake with raspberry icing, trying not to cut an overly large piece so she won’t make a bad first impression. She plunges her fork into the cake until she hits the baked-in charm, a ring.

“Marriage within a year!” Anzhelika proclaims. “Before long, you’ll have your pick of eligible bachelors. All the men will be coming home soon, and it won’t take much to turn their heads after being deprived of women for so long.”

Andrey stands back as his sister and the other guests cut into the cake and discover a horseshoe, penny, bells, fleur de lis, anchor, castle, crown, heart, and kite. He’s left with the last slice, which contains a flower.

“New love is blossoming,” Anzhelika interprets.

“With whom?” the fairy laughs. “Maybe your brother will find a college widow or a sad old maid who can’t get any other man. How damn emasculating, to have to marry a much-older woman. The only younger guy I ever dated was just six months younger, and even that felt odd and unnatural.”

The clown hands out dry crusts of bread, giving none to Andrey. “If you eat this at night, any wish you make on it will come true. And if you sleep with your pajamas inside-out, you’ll dream of your future husband. That’s easier than walking backwards out the door at night, picking grass, and putting it under your pillow.”

Andrey stands back as the ladies proceed with fortunetelling and bobbing for apples. He represses his urge to lecture them on how the Ouija board isn’t scientific, knowing full well they won’t care. He’s only here as a sympathy guest because he’s Anzhelika’s twin. At the end of the party, he hangs off in the shadows as Anzhelika’s friends go off to their various dormitories before curfew.

“Now I see what you meant,” Darya whispers. “It was easy for me to condemn you in the abstract, but not after I saw how all this criticism really affects you. You’re a good person, even if you haven’t served.” She hands him her bread. “You deserve to make a really nice wish and have it come true. I don’t know what I’d wish for other than to be normal again.”

“No, you deserve a nice wish too. Maybe you can wish you’ll find a sweetheart soon. I don’t believe in fortunetelling, but you never know if something might come true. I really hope your fortune in the cake comes true.” Andrey tears the crust in half and gives the other piece to Darya. “Sweet dreams. I hope you get whatever you wish for, and maybe even dream of your future husband.”