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The Graduation Dance in 1941

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"Say goodbye to your little bear, Adelphel," urged Janlenoux, "we're already half an hour late. Any later and they will drink all the good wine, eat all the delicious appetizers, leaving not even one girl for us."

"Wine and dessert, Perhaps."Adelphel stood in front of the mirror, picking out a bow tie . The smile on his face made him more charming than ever. Golden-pink curls like flower buds covered the top of his head. Light green eyes shone like jewels under his acacia-like lashes. His voice was full of vivacity, youthfulness and the confidence that only a handsome boy could have: "Girls, impossible." He winked smugly. It was those eyes that made him the dream of every girl in his grade.

"Only for you like that." Janlenoux looked at Adelphel in the mirror. His best friend was hesitating between a sky blue and a pale green bow tie, and Janlenoux pointed to the one on the right. The green set off better with Adelphel's eyes. "I don't think you need to waste time dressing up at all. As soon as you show up, the girls will swarm to you like bees to flowers.No matter what you wear."

"Thank you for the advice and the compliment, my friend." Adelphel smiled. He agreed with Janlenoux's choice and tied his bow tie like an expert. Against the white collar of his shirt, his neckline was as elegant as a swan.

Adelphel sang as beautifully as the white bird as well. Janlenoux had the honor to be among his audience.The song came through Adelphel’s tongue was Budyonny's March.

“... We are all fearless knights,

all of our life is a fight...”

From the age of five, Adelphel had this phrase on his lips.

It had almost turned into a motto, thought Janlenoux.

"Have you thought about what you're going to do after this?" Asked Adelphel, looking at himself in the mirror with satisfaction.He had finished dressing, finally.

"I want to be a cook," replied Janlenoux, "I have told you that in the last winter."

"It's summer now," remarked Adelphel, "which means you haven't changed your mind."

"I like cooking, you know that." said Janlenoux, "and you always enjoy a lot in my kitchen."

"Yes, indeed." Adelphel nodded pleasantly: "You're going to be the best cook in the world for sure, and I will be the most loyal customer you could ever have, now and always."

"And what are you going to do?" asked Janlenoux,"Since you brought it up."

"I want to get a dog in the garden."Adelphel answered.

"A dog?" Janlenoux sounded a little surprised, "Is that your great ambition?"

Adelphel nodded: "Why not? I've been thinking about it for a long time."

"What kind of dog?"Janlenoux asked Curiously.

"A borzoi."Adelphel answered quickly, "Grey and white fur, like moonlight pouring over the ice."

"I bet you've already thought of a name for her."Janlenoux guessed.

"Radiance." Adelphel replied, "My dog must have a name that shines like the sun."

Janlenoux was not at all surprised by this. He glanced again at the wall clock. "Time to go, Adelphel, since you are ready."

Without any more delay, Adelphel walked to the door and put on his shoes.

They were already more than an hour late. But it didn't matter. Tomorrow was Sunday, and also the summer solstice. The nights were short, the days were long. Fun and joy awaited them. All the happiness could last till morning.

On the windowsill, a tiny toy bear watched them quietly as they hopped across the road like sparrows. It was a birthday present from Janlenoux to Adelphael many years ago, the fabric of which was a little worn but still well cherished. Showering in the soft light of Leningrad’s white night, the brown figure of the tiny bear was glided with silver glow, as brilliant as the hope shinning in the hearts of the first generation of Soviet high school graduates at this day.

The next day was 22 June 1941, when war broke out.