In conclusion, there were many causes of the fall of the Soviet Union.
Options outside academia made Eran cavalier about grading. Late papers intensified the effect. He poised his hand to dash off a red F, but held the penpoint just over the page. Sigh. C+. Good examination of the evidence, but you need to evaluate it carefully and come to a conclusion. “Why do we Minnesotans hate concluding things?”
“I’m from Wisconsin,” Cam said.
“I’m from California,” Mildred said.
“You’re no help.”
“That’s a conclusion.”
“And you’re a Minnesotan,” Mildred added.
Beginning of a long week. Ian had taken Rosamund over to the ‘rents for a family visit. Eran, having taught that morning, was wrapping up grading the stragglers. Cam was working on a post for her new mommy blog. (She had only ten readers, despite naming it Bitch I’m a Momma.) Mildred had turned in her dissertation proposal. Xiaoyu would shred it, she said, out of insecurity that Mildred’s work was poor enough to call Xiaoyu’s advising into question, but then Mildred would punch through some revisions and everything would be fine.
Last paper. Why did the Soviet Union fall apart? The short answer: Because Stalin sucked. “Hey, this one might actually be good!”
Holding his gun like a crossbar across his heart. Shielding himself from harm. Fingers so tight he could never unclench to fire – what would actually shield him from harm. The end of three days. Boots pounding on shattered earth. If he could just make it back to the starting line…
His name was Leslie. He had a spaniel and never told his hunting friends that he liked to read. Among his things was a copy of Rupert Brooke’s 1914. He thought, I shall die, and they shall not think of me / That there’s some corner of a foreign field / That may or may not be me.
(Eran was put strongly in mind of the young man who had bivouacked with the amorous local landowner.)
His 10th Gloucesters had launched three days before; had seen the gas released, the cloud blowing back over their own line; heard the coughing and retching. The panic. Equal parts fear of disgrace and fear of harm. He remembered the start. Awaiting the call, Leslie was held exactly in place by opposing forces. Fear of disgrace pulling him forward across the line. Fear of harm tugging him toward Amiens. How could they be exactly balanced?
Was it time? It was time. It was time. They ran.
The wire, which should have been cut by the barrage, was not cut. But someone found a way through. Leslie followed.
Three days had gone: noise, awake, smoke, duck, dead. Ranks thinning. Clutching his rifle. I must not disgrace myself. Even as he knew there was no one to see. I must not die. Even as he knew it was all too likely.
He was running. Back – back –
Stalin codified the paranoid style of the Soviet Union just as Nixon codified it among the Republicans. Communism never stood a chance.
“Possible history major,” Eran said to Mildred – not a muscle betrayed what he had just seen – and turned to the front page to remind himself of the student’s name.
September 28, 1915: Following three days of fighting in the Battle of Loos, the first large-scale engagement of British New Army units, the British retreated to their starting positions.