What do the eyes say?

It was already completely dark. We were racing down the road from Pervomaysk when we heard strange sounds.
The tire was cut to shreds. I am afraid to come out, besides it’s cold already. I sit it out in the cabin while the guys with telephones install the spare. We’re alone on the road–it’s past curfew.

After that, everything was like a mirage–blinding headlights, and constant questioning and document checks.
We’ve never been stopped at so many posts at night.
–Active-duty militia? Or demobilized?
–Demobilized.
How? How did the highway patrolman without fail identify Lyoshka as a veteran? At a single glance?
–It’s simple, Dunya. If you were in combat, one can tell by your eyes.
They don’t tell me anything. I’m looking at Lyoshka, Lyoshka with whom once upon the time we walked the same floor of the university. With whom we drank some cheap booze at the dorm with other students from our department. Philosophy department. Can you imagine?
He suffered a wound to his left arm back in Debaltsevo. His fingers still don’t function well.
Lyoshka never sits, but keeps running like a wolf, back and forth. He’ll sit down briefly, eat something, and again–back and forth. Back and forth. Holding his injured arm close.
Volunteer.
Lyoshka has glasses and his laughter is comical. We even parody his manner of laughter, with his head thrown back.
We talk about our common friends, classmates. Who became whom, how did their lives turn out.
I feel old.
–Lyoshka, time to go home?
–Yes, it’s time.
Such inexpressible sadness and yearning.
–But nobody there will understand, Lyoshka. Nobody will understand.
–We will understand one another.


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