Katya (what the dead said)


Katya’s parents were pathologists. Don’t ask me why, but pathologists have children too. They adored their daughter, but they had to work a lot. As it turned out, Katya spent her childhood in the morgue. More importantly, Katya heard the voices of the dead. The dead spoke to her, guiding and advising her.

“Katya,” said the dead, “do your homework!”
“Katya,” said the dead, “brush up on geography!”
“Katya,” said the dead, “don’t forget to exercise in the morning!”
“Katya,” said the dead, “learn English!”

In school, Katya amazed everyone with her determination. She easily got top grades, won academic competitions, races, and chess tournaments, wrote excellent essays, and composed poems. By eighth grade, she was fluent in five languages. Everyone predicted a bright future for her. Including the dead.

At university, Katya didn’t slow down. Top grades, adoration from professors, participation in student competitions, sports victories, and active social work. Katya was talked about and noticed. A year before graduation, she was invited for an interview at Gazprom’s central office. A contract with excellent career prospects followed, leading to a rapid climb up the corporate ladder, eventually landing her a spot on the board of directors. Financial well-being, social status, high authority. Invitations to join the Presidential Administration, boards of state monopolies…

In her last year of university, Katya was courted by a guy about whom all the elite girls in Moscow were crazy about. I’m talking, of course, about daughters of elite country representatives, best of the best – major law enforcement, federal officials, mafia bosses, oil oligarchs, aluminum and nickel magnates, who studied at the law faculty. David was tall and slender, with slightly dark skin, black-as-tar hair, and dark brown eyes. Upon seeing his calm, somewhat mysterious, and perhaps slightly condescending smile, even the President’s daughter immediately called her dad and said she didn’t want to study anymore but wanted to get married!

Katya didn’t take David’s advances seriously for a long time. She knew she was an ordinary girl – the daughter of simple pathologists, and a vast social gap separated them. Yet, she accepted and married him. Everyone was astounded. Envious people whispered that the marriage wouldn’t last. But years went by, and Katya had a wonderful son. Eventually, everyone had to admit that Katya had a model family.

Katya’s parents were the happiest. They were still working, doing what they loved, and were overjoyed by their only beloved daughter. Katya turned thirty. She had achieved everything one could dream of, and the prospects seemed limitless. Her parents came to celebrate her birthday in a close family circle. After several warm and heartfelt toasts, Katya’s mom, a bit nervous, said:
“Katya, you are the most wonderful daughter any parent could dream of. Your dad and I, to the best of our humble abilities, just tried to raise you to be a kind and good person… Sorry, I’m a bit nervous. We decided to confess something to you… something we’re not proud of. As you remember, when you were a little child, we constantly brought you to our work after school. You spent hours alone in the morgue while we worked. Then we… for some reason, it seemed like a good idea at the time… we installed speakers in the morgue, and through these speakers, we, pretending to be the dead, gave you what we thought was the best advice and instructions!”

Mom fell silent and looked fearfully at her daughter. Katya smiled softly.
“Mom, Dad, you are the best parents in the world! Of course, I realized long ago that you were giving me advice. And I always followed your advice and never regretted it because it was always the best!”
Tears streamed from her parents’ eyes.
“You’ve always been a smart girl,” her mom said with a happy smile, “but when did you figure it out?”
“It wasn’t hard,” Katya replied, “you gave yourselves away when you advised me the following.”
Katya lowered her voice and said in a mysterious whisper: “Katya, give us a grandson!” Katya laughed and looked lovingly at her son – a beautiful and serious dark-haired boy, the spitting image of his father, and at her husband, whose face wore his usual calm and slightly mysterious smile.

Katya’s parents looked at each other in confusion, and her father looked back at his daughter.
“Of course, Mom and I always dreamed of grandchildren, but when you were ten… well, we wouldn’t have given you such advice.”
“Of course,” Katya agreed, “when I was ten, you didn’t – You advised me that when I was twenty-two!”
“But… Katya! You’re joking, right? When you turned ten, we decided to stop all that and removed the speakers from the morgue!”
Katya looked intently at her parents and then laughed.
“Well, you got me! I even doubted for a second, thinking maybe I’ve been talking to the dead for the last 20 years. Of course! And today, when I visited you at work, you didn’t say anything to me!”

Her parents looked at Katya, and Katya looked at her parents, and gradually Katya’s smile faded from her face.
“No, we didn’t say anything today,” her mother said quietly.
“So, it didn’t surprise you that I still come to your work all the time and spend time in the morgue alone?”
“Yes, actually, it did surprise us. We thought it was some kind of nostalgia for childhood. Maybe you needed it for relaxation or meditation. We decided not to bother you with questions.” Her father coughed, “Alright, daughter, admit it, you’re playing a joke on your old silly parents!” There was a pleading note in his voice.

Katya thought for a moment, then shook her head.
“No. I’m not joking. Let’s think calmly. There are three possibilities. Either the dead really can talk, and I can hear their voices. Or exactly at ten, I went insane, and I started imagining that I hear the voices of the dead, which, for some reason, only happens in the morgue. Or, the third option, someone from your colleagues somehow found out about all this and set up a rather strange and very long prank. If so, it won’t be hard to find out who it is – someone who has worked with you for the last twenty years.”
Her parents thought for a moment.
“From my side,” Katya continued, “I will now write down all the advice this person gave me over the last twenty years, and we’ll try to figure out who it might be. Although it’s strange, I wasn’t joking when I said I followed each of these pieces of advice and never regretted it.”
Katya sat at the table and in ten minutes, with neat, precise handwriting, compiled a list:

Katya, focus on algebra.
Katya, improve in geography.
Katya, move to sit next to Sergey.
Katya, learn English.
Katya, get to grips with computer science.
Katya, study Chinese and Arabic as electives.
Katya, review Informatics and ICT materials before the Unified State Exam.
Katya, apply to MSU for law, corporate law.
Katya, tell Ivan you want to join the KVN team.
Katya, offer to lead the organizing committee of “Russia’s Bright Future.”
Katya, choose a thesis topic on the oil industry.
Katya, call this number. They urgently need a young corporate lawyer.
Katya, marry David.
Katya, take out a loan of four million rubles from the Bank of Moscow.
Katya, open a trading account on the stock exchange.
Katya, sell Enron shares.
Katya, sell your soul to the devil.
Katya, buy Google shares.
Katya, give us a grandson.
Katya, raise the issue at the board of directors about contract 3786-B5/67.
Katya, buy a stake in Facebook.
Katya, sell Brent futures at 148 per barrel.
Katya, don’t drive tomorrow.
Katya, buy gold at 800 per ounce.
Katya, talk to Alexey Borisovich about joining the board of directors.
Katya, accept the Presidential Administration’s offer.
Katya, the time has come! Tomorrow at 8 am, go to the Presidential Administration and visit office 999 on the sixth floor. Knock six times.