Important Day

(short story)

Kyiv is a beautiful city, you know? Especially in the morning, when the golden autumn sun touches the tops of the buildings with its rays; when a light breeze sifts every leaf in quiet parks and playfully pokes the dog that has dragged its sleepy owner for a walk…

Oh yes, Kyiv mornings are beaut-…


Ahem, yes. Kyiv mornings are marvelous. But not when you’re late for an exam…

A loud scream shook the walls of the sleepy house, but honestly, Max didn’t care at all. He was worried only about the numbers on the clock — 08:02, and the fact that he was running around the apartment in his pajamas.

I overslept!!! Damn, how could I?!

Max had a graduation ceremony at the university today, and he had spent the whole night preparing for it, and now…

And now I’m running like an idiot in different socks to the nearest tram stop! Thank you very much to the author for such beautiful lyrical digressions, but can you go faster?

Ugh, how rude. Why are people so aggressive?

Anyway, our hero has just cubed down from the sixteenth floor, almost knocking down an old lady on the stairs.

Why the stairs, you may ask? Oh, very simple, the lift is out of order today…

At 8:15, with a broad step, Max jumped into the tram, just as it was about to close its doors. He leaned his head against the cool window, feeling the slight sway of the vehicle. Four stops and he’s there. He’ll be on time!

‘Sorry…’ a voice said from somewhere to the side, ‘I’m sorry, but your T-shirt is on inside out…’

Max turned his head and met the eyes of an elderly woman in an ironed blouse, who was smiling at him. The young man was instantly embarrassed — his clothes looked as if an elephant had trampled on them…’

‘Oh…’ he scratched the back of his head nervously, ‘I didn’t notice, I’m in a hurry…’

The woman smiled with understanding and… And with all her strength she fell on Max, accidentally elbowing him in the ribs. The boy exhaled sharply from surprise and hit the back of his head against the window he was sitting by.

When the noise died down and most of the passengers got to their feet, Max heard the driver’s voice:

‘So, dear passengers, get off. The tram went off the rails.’

God, seriously?! Why is it happening TODAY?’

In desperation, Max bit his lip and almost howled. When the doors opened, he jumped out into the street and…


Max opened his eyes and sat up sharply.

The first thing he didn’t understand was why he was sitting on the road.

The second thing was why the light was so bright, just like cinema spotlights.

And thirdly, who is this man?

The latter had just picked up the hem of his beige coat and sat down next to Max, a folder in his hands:

‘Well, well…’ the man looked at his notes, ‘Shvets Maksym, shall we get registered?’ The stranger smiled, and his bright blue eyes shone for a moment.

‘Where?’ Max managed to squeeze out, feeling like a fish out of water.

‘What do you mean, “where” ?’ the man arched his thick greying eyebrows, ‘To a new adventure called life beyond the Earth… Boy, you didn’t even reach the average,’ the stranger scratched his head thoughtfully, ‘You were given 77, and you’re doing this…’

‘Wait, wait!’ Max interrupted him, ‘What does “life beyond the Earth” mean? Am I… Am I dead?!’

‘Well, technically not yet, but seriously, let’s sign these documents and go, we’re behind schedule.’ The man held out an open folder and a pen.

Maksym looked at it and thought that he must still be sleeping at home in bed, having a very strange dream:

‘Listen, this must be a mistake! I can’t die… I mean, not today, not now… I have… I have a diploma defence, I’m already late!’

The man blinked in surprise and then laughed lightly:

‘Listen, boy, what diploma? You understand that it`s God’s will and all this stuff… So come on, sign it and let’s go, I promised St. Paul to meet him for coffee today.’

Max was silent for a few seconds and then grabbed the stranger by the collar of his coat.

‘No, you listen to me…’ the boy growled through his teeth, his eyes darting frantically from side to side, ‘I went to this university every bloody day for four years, I spent months writing this damn diploma, I didn’t sleep at night for a week because of the anxiety… HELL, I HAVE MORE ENERGY DRINKS THAN BLOOD IN ME! So now, you take me back immediately, I’ll hand in this damn project, and then I’ll jump off the seventh floor so you can do whatever you want!’ The guy shoved the stranger sharply, causing him to almost fall over.

‘Jesus, you students are crazy people.’ The man looked at Max with shock, then snapped his fingers and the world exploded with light.


Max felt himself being shaken by the shoulders with all his might. He finally opened his eyes and saw the blurry outline of his professor`s face.


Professor Litinsky looked as if he had seen a dead man.

‘SHVETS! Why on earth are you throwing yourself in front of my car?’

‘I was in a hurry,’ Max said hoarsely.

‘What?!’ the professor almost shouted, still holding the boy by the shoulders.

Maksym leaned on his elbows and raised the folder with the inscription “DIPLOMA PROJECT” in the air:

‘Here you go, professor.’

The elderly man exhaled tiredly and rubbed the bridge of his nose:

‘God, you students will give me a heart attack one day…’

Max was silent for a moment, and then he lay down on the road and laughed.

In the distance, he could hear the sounds of an ambulance and the voice of a frightened professor assuring the police that everything was fine. But honestly, Max didn’t care at all.

All he cared about was the fact that he seemed to have successfully defended his diploma project.

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