“The phrase ‘Fate will punish you,’ spoken by the midwife, became prophetic for her.”

The newborns cried and wailed, but this little bundle quietly sobbed, as if understanding that no one needed him. The stern nurse, Aunt Nelya, who both patients and young nurses were afraid of, looked at the tiny baby with sympathy. Then, she took the bundle decisively and headed towards the ward where Zoya was lying.

“At least look at your son!” she said from the doorway. Zoya continued to stare out the window, not turning her head.

“Your fate will punish you. You’ll regret it someday. How could you abandon such an angel? So what if he was born without a marriage certificate in your passport? Abandoning a child like this?” Aunt Nelya muttered, but Zoya was indifferent.

 She had given birth far from home. No one would find out. She would be discharged tomorrow. She would cross the hospital’s threshold and forget about the annoying nurse and the little white bundle. She would be beautiful and free again. The childbirth hadn’t ruined her figure.

Zoya said to Igor that she was pregnant, and he didn’t react positively. He had a year left to finish college. His father “helped” him get into college and warned him, “No bringing girls into the house while you’re studying.” Igor always dressed stylishly, which attracted admiration and envy. He saw Zoya for the first time in a café where students often hung out. The café was located between the college and the cooperative technical school where Zoya studied. She was the most beautiful girl in her class.
Her classmates didn’t stand a chance. However, students from the college were a different matter. They scheduled a couple’s party. Zoya went to have coffee, but there were no free seats. She stood with a cup of hot drink and a pastry in the middle of the café.

“A gentleman should give up his seat to a lady,” she heard from next to her. She wanted to respond, as she always did, in a condescending manner, but when she saw the stylish and handsome guy, she held her tongue. He offered her his place at the table and sat down facing her.

“Why haven’t I seen you at the college before?” he asked.

“I’m studying at the technical school.”

“Neighbors, then. That’s how we met.” They made a very good couple. Other girls sighed in admiration. Zoya’s parents lived in a district center. She couldn’t wait to introduce them to Igor. However, he didn’t share her enthusiasm and never invited her to his place. He cited his parents’ busy schedules and came up with other reasons. But he eagerly visited the apartment Zoya rented with her quiet, modest roommate Anya. Anya was Zoya’s exact opposite.

When Igor came over, Anya would quickly leave, disappearing from the apartment. She never asked questions about their meetings. Anya was an excellent student, and her idea of fun was spending time in the library or visiting bookstores. During one of their meetings, Zoya revealed her pregnancy to Igor.

“How far along are you?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” she didn’t understand the question.

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