*Part 7 and final part of The Safest Summer Camp in the World. If you haven’t read other parts, click HERE.
I didn’t sleep all last night. I was confused, but mostly impressed with myself for understanding so much of what went on in Russian.
S wakes me up in the morning. He looks sad.
“Today we go home.”
I sit up.
“What is K going to do?” I ask.
S shrugs. “There is nothing to do, we are–hm,” he frowns.
“Trapped?” I ask.
“Breakfast,” he says, walking out. I pack my things up and follow a bit later, missing breakfast. The kids are all crying, or looking about to cry. They keep scratching their heads, running fingers through each other’s hair. One girl is wearing a hat. I don’t see K anywhere.
Ivan looks worst of all. He isn’t speaking to anyone, kicking stones around a dirt path. At two, the bus arrives. All of the students gather around. A man steps out of the main office. It takes a moment before I realize, it is K. All of his hair and beard has been shaved off. He looks like an egg. In each hand he holds an electric razor.
“Line up!” he calls. The kids do. One by one, K buzzes their hair straight down to the scalp. Many of them cry harder. One girl says something about Instagram.
“You too,” K says to S and I. We don’t protest. When the pile of hair is made in the center, K says a lot of things in Russian over it, philosophical things about life and beauty.
He walks into the office and brings out a guitar. S takes a match and sets the hair aflame. We all stand around it. K starts singing the camp song.
Tears start to dry, some of the kids start singing along. They hug each other and rub their bald heads together, even Ivan.
By the end of the song everyone is smiling.
There is no candle but many of the students say something anyways. Things about friends and family and how much they’ll miss everyone. No one mentions Baba Yaga. S comes to me, rubbing my head.
“We are brothers!” he says. Then, pointing from my head to his, “you call this, bald?”
I nod, “yep.”
“Bald brothers!” he cries, and hugs me.
The bus driver, looking at his watch, pissed, calls over to K. K nods, putting his guitar away.
“Everyone on the bus!” he calls.
The children pack all of their bags into the storage bay and climb on.
We make our way back to Russia, bald and stinking of burnt hair. It isn’t till I’m back in Saint Petersburg, undressing for bed that a thought occurs to me. I find my phone amongst my strewn about clothes. I don’t have K’s number, but I find his profile. I message him.
“Hey man, my Russian is pretty bad but did Baba Yaga say anything about body hair?”
He doesn’t respond right away. I pace, stressed, missing the mindless peace of death. It is twenty minutes before my phone buzzes. It’s K: