From the novel: The_Russians_Are_Coming!
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"Honey, it's too cold outside." Nina hesitated, then looked through the window at the first snowflakes whirling in the air like white bees.
"But I can't go without a costume!" cried Larisa. "You're a bad mom. Why didn't you buy me a costume?"
"You chose this yourself." Nina pointed at the ballerina's dress. "At the school party you were the cutest one. It's not my fault that the weather became so cold."
"But I need a costume to go out." Larisa still wept while an upset Nina looked at her with compassion and pain in her heart.
"Sweetie, we have no money to buy another one." The woman stopped short as an idea came to her. She ran to the closet and took out her white lacy blouse with long sleeves and a brown mini-skirt.
"Put on your clothes," she told Larisa, and when the girl did, Nina pulled the blouse straight over Larisa's orange coat. She tied the collar and the sleeves with ribbons, and admired the job that she had done. It seemed now as if the girl was wearing only this blouse.
Then Nina put the skirt on her daughter, and tied the belt so it fit the girl's waist. Since Nina was very short for an adult woman, the skirt reached Larisa's calves.
Next Nina took her straw hat and tied it onto Larisa's head with a pink scarf. Nina decorated her daughter's shoes with bows, and Larisa looked like a peasant girl. She ran to a mirror checking herself out, and laughed with delight.
"I am a shepherdess!"
"Yep, honey." Nina gave her a big toy lamb. "And you won't be cold now."
"We're ready!" exclaimed Larisa, seeing her father enter the room.
"Are you crazy?" Vlad gasped. "It's snowing outside and you wanna send Larisa out wearing only that?"
"Not to worry, honey." Nina smirked, explaining about Larisa's costume, and Vlad hugged his wife. "You're the smartest woman ever!" He kissed her, then his daughter. "Good luck, my girls."
And they all, except Vlad, left the house.
Vlad looked around the deserted room and sighed. His eyes rested on the plate of candy that Nina had prepared for treating the children who would come to the door, and the thoughts of the young scientist changed.
Interesting, he thought. How many calories in one portion of the treats?
From the kitchen he brought a scale and plastic cups, and started sorting the candy. Wrapped up in the task, Lapin took his notebook, and did some calculations.
Don't forget to count out the weight of the papers, Vlad told himself, forgetting everything. Minus the weight of the sticks of the lollipops..
The knock at the door disturbed him. Vlad jerkily opened the door. "What? What do you want?"
A boy wearing a pirate's costume looked at Vlad in bewilderment. "Trick or treat."
Vlad came back to reality.
"Sure." He held a cup brimming with candy and dropped its contents it into the child's bag. "Here you go."
"Wow!" The encouraged boy shook his bag. "Thank you, sir!"
"Happy Halloween." Vlad closed the door and wanted to go back to his calculations, but he heard a tapping. He threw his notebook and thought angrily, If I turn off the lights and go to the bedroom, I can count and no one will disturb me. But, shaking his head, he returned to Earth at once, and taking the plate with candy, Vlad said to himself, Have I cracked or what? It's a children's holiday. Relax, buddy!
During the next few hours he just opened and closed the door giving candy out, and he was surprised at how many children were in this small town. The process became rote for Vlad, and when the door opened and Nina and Larisa came in, he mechanically held out a plate towards them.
"Daddy, daddy!" exclaimed the girl, showing her bag. "Look how much candy I got!"
"Some people offered candy to me, too." Nina was talking with a winsome grin. "They said, 'Let your sister have some candy, too!'" She burst out laughing. Vlad just smiled at his female family members, deriving joy from their naively happy report.
"And I saw a dog with horns," Larisa said, piling her candy into the almost empty plate.
"Yeah, Vlad." Nina's doe eyes sparkled with emotion. "I thought I was going insane. Picture it. The door opened, and I saw a goat in the house. But it was just a golden retriever."
"Goldy is her name," cut in Larisa, rummaging into the candy.
"Yep," Nina continued. "Her owner put something like a cap with devil's horns on her head. Oh, he is such a cute old guy. You know, with a walking stick, neat clothes. Very nice man."
"He asked me," yawning, Larisa interrupted her. "And others asked me, 'Aren't you cold?'"
"Oh, what time is it?" The woman gasped. "Go to sleep, go to sleep."
"But the candy..." The tired girl became capricious, and Nina took her in her arms, and brought Larisa into her room.
Vlad looked at the sweets, then at the plastic cups, and took up his notebook and calculator again.
When Nina finally came back to the room, he was asleep, with his head on his arms, half lying on the coffee table, and the plastic caps with candy in them surrounding him.
The woman took his notebook, and shook her head. "Oh, Vlad, Vlad..."
She gently woke him and helped him get in bed. Even falling asleep, Vlad still murmured about the calculation, and Nina lay next to him, pressing his head to her chest. "Sh-sh-sh. Enough, honey," she whispered with all her tenderness. "Sleep, sleep, my beloved man."