TITLE: You Cannot Kill a Swan
GENRE: Historical fiction
This was not the response Iván Ivánovich Konev was expecting when he proposed to his sweetheart Lyubóv Leontiyevna Zhukova.
Lyuba has told Iván to pretend their month-long clandestine romance never happened. She expects him to carry on as though they’re just best friends of the opposite sex, after everything they shared. And to add insult to injury, she said she still loves him. Iván has never heard of such a confusing, heartbreaking response to a marriage proposal, particularly not when the boy and girl have secretly been in love for nine years, since they were children. At least his good friend Alekséy Vladímirovich Trótskiy didn’t make fun of him for being unmanly when he caught him crying in a closet.
“Not too long ago we skipped gymnasium and spent the day at the pond,” Iván says wistfully. “We were watching the swans and talking about how they mate for life. When a swan finds its soulmate, the two swans swim together and their beaks form a heart shape. Well, you can’t kill a swan’s pair bond, and my beautiful swan will be back where she belongs no matter how long it takes.”
“You’d have to be willfully blind to miss how she’s always looked at you,” Alekséy says. “I never bought her charade of preferring Borís over you. If I were a girl, I’d pick a tall, handsome, well-mannered guy over that short chubby Malenkov. I know you're best friends, but anyone who knows what’s what can see Lyuba only has romantic feelings for you.”