443. Who Cares? (Part Two)

When it began to get dark, Misha started to look for Nadyezhda. But by then, they were pretty far from that log, and besides, they all had to be home by dark. Misha was pretty upset. He told the other children, and though some got concerned looks on their faces, most were silent as Fyodor said, “Who cares?” Those words may sound cruel to you, but Fyodor didn’t mean them to be cruel – just “cool.” The children searched for a little while (even Fyodor), but soon they realized that they had to get home. And that’s what they did. Maybe they’d find Nadyezhda tomorrow.
Though tomorrow actually did come the very next day, it seemed like forever to Misha. Ordinarily, when Misha was upset, he’d hold Nadyezhda, and feel a little better. Obviously, he couldn’t do that now. His parents showed concern; they knew how much Misha loved Nadyezhda. But they had work they had to do; they couldn’t help Misha search.
When the children gathered to play, some remembered that Nadyezhda was lost, and were ready to help Misha search. Others had forgotten, but were ready
to help as soon as they were reminded. But then Fyodor showed up, and when reminded that Nadyezhda was lost, he said, “Who cares?”
An old woman passing by heard what was going on, heard Fyodor’s comment, and she stopped. She looked at Fyodor, and Fyodor expected her to scold him for his words. That’s what grown-ups in the village usually did when they heard him speak those words.
But this woman did not scold Fyodor. Instead, she said to him, “That is an excellent question!” Then she turned to the other children, and said to them, “Who cares?” The children had never heard those words from anyone but Fyodor, and had certainly never thought of them as an excellent question. But when they heard the words spoken as a question, they slowly began to give their answers. At first, only a few children answered, “I do,” but soon almost all of the children were answering, “I do.”
Fyodor was annoyed. He hadn’t meant his words to be an “excellent question;” he had only meant them to sound “cool.” He walked away from the old woman and the children. He needed time to think. While the other children were searching for Nadyezhda, Fyodor thought. Why weren’t there any children his age in Zhizn? Everyone in Zhizn was either too old or too young to understand him. And he really needed to be understood.
As Fyodor was thinking these thoughts, he saw Nadyezhda. The doll was sitting against a log. He picked it up, and looked at it. Misha’s grandfather had done a great job making that doll; it was beautiful. Fyodor had seen the doll before, but he hadn’t really looked at it. He thought about the way the old woman’s voice had sounded when she’d asked the children, “Who cares?” And as he held Nadyezhda, he knew his own answer to that question. He wasn’t sure whether he would proudly hand Nadyezhda to Misha, or secretly leave the doll where Misha would be sure to find it. But he knew who cared.

Comments are closed.