Linda Kinstler | Longreads | June 2018 | 12 minutes (3,116 words)
No one heard the flames when they began to lick the roof of our cabin on Christmas Day. The smoke made no sound as it accumulated on the third floor, first in small whisps, then in thick clouds. In the living room downstairs, our small group was sprawled out on the couches watching the Soviet Christmas classic Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, the fairytale film based on a collection of stories by Nikolai Gogol. The stove fire was stuffed with wood, but its raging fire seemed contained. It was negative 26 degrees celsius outside of our mountain lodge, a bone-chilling winter day in the Carpathian foothills of southwestern Ukraine, but inside it was getting hot.
The warmth made us lethargic, so we didn’t notice when the cracks in the floorboards and doors started to glow. When my…
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