Yuri Plisetsky once had been a child with a mind full of dreams and wonders. But that was long ago and now Yuri wasn’t a child anymore.
It was before Yuri realised that it wasn’t normal that his parents screamed at each other until their voices got horse and his father left their little flat, slamming the door shut as he left as well as the vase that his mother threw after him and left a dent in the wall by the door, the muddy water running down the old wallpaper and sinking into the dusty carpet.
Yuri had never liked when his parents left for work without saying goodbye first but sometimes they would just forget, busy with themselves, busy with arguing, busy with paper and bills and all other kinds of things that had his Mom smoking pack after pack but that didn’t made sense to him. All that he understood was that he got angry when they left him at home or kindergarten without saying goodbye first. It made him feel invisible. So yes, Yuri was mad and sad when his father left without saying goodbye to him that afternoon when Yuri wasn’t even old enough yet to understand what was going on and his legs were too short to run after him to get a kiss goodbye. Back then he didn’t know, that nowadays he’d be glad about it. Because you don’t run after people that don’t intend to come back and what was a goodbye kiss good for if you couldn’t remember the face of the person giving it to you.
For a long time it didn’t sink in for Yuri that his father wouldn’t come back because his Mom did a good job at distracting him from it. She didn’t spoke about him nor explained anything about him leaving. Just sometimes, very rarely, when his Mom had had a Gin or two too much and her eyes had gone all hazy and she looked at him him with smudged mascara, trying hard to focus on him, she would tell him that his father was a piece of trash that had wasted her time. He was still too young to understand what it meant but instead of asking, he reached out and wiped tears from her red cheeks until she fell asleep on the couch, glass still in hand.
But those were rase occasions. His mother didn’t had much time for him to begin with, telling him she had to work and left him at the kindergarten or at the neighbours for too long. She asked colleagues and friends to look after him while she hurried in and out, changing into short dresses and heels and kissing Yuri’s head before she went out the door again, leaving smudged red lipstick across his forehead in the process.
It made Yuri angry, feeling once again invisible again. In general Yuri felt angry quite often and the older he got, the more it lingered on him and has harder to forget. He wouldn’t want to speak to his mother once she came finally back and dodged her kisses. At first she seemed sorry.
„Don’t be mad at your Mama, Yuratchka. I’m sorry my baby, I’ll make it up to you.“
And she did, like mentioned, she was good at distracting Yuri. She took him to the Zoo and brought him Cotton Candy, listened when Yuri chattered happily about the Tigers there. She kept him around when her friends visited her, opening the windows so the smoke would clear out better and dancing with him, twirling him around the crowded living room and laughing when her girlfriends gave him cheap-wine-and-lipstick-kisses on the cheeks, saying what a pretty boy he was. They turned the volume from the music up louder and he was so happy and busy with dancing that he didn’t notice when his Mama disappeared upstairs with one of her male friends.
Sometimes she would take him to the cinema or a comic-book store but found herself delighted when he’d wanted to watch Disney Movies or ones about speaking animals rather than ones about Monsters or Cars. He preferred comics about Adventures and Heros over ones with Villains and Crimes and it made her stroke the blonde hair of her son than was getting longer and longer. „You’re a good boy my Yuratchka, you’re not like your father at all.“ She decided to not make an appointment at the hairdresser anymore and started to braid his hair instead.
Yuri enjoyed every minute the got to spend with his mother, dreading the minute she would tell him that she had to go again. Because after she left, he would most likely be by himself again even when he wasn’t alone as he wasn’t good at making friends with the neighbors kids, having not enough patience to share his toys with them and had trouble controlling his anger when they got in a fight. And if he hadn’t been eager about going to kindergarten, he definitely didn’t enjoy going to school. There were even more kids there and he felt even more invisible there than he did at home and he didn’t liked it one bit. It caused his anger to boil over, caused himself to lash out more and soon he wasn’t that invisible anymore, at least not to the teachers. But it didn’t help him finding friends either.
Yuri also liked his mothers friends and colleagues which were watching him often. They had pretty curls and long lashes, they gave him candy and called him pretty boy but sooner or later they always lost interest in him, starting to open bottles and discussing over boring things like Men and Money. Sometimes they gave him some coins to go and play music from the Jukebox and then Yuri jumped up and choose randomly, dancing to the songs and closing his eyes, imagining him either far away or his Mama to be here with him dancing along.
When he opened his eyes, she still wasn’t there but her friends and other people would look over, smiling at him and clapping, asking him to dance more and Yuri laughed and did. He twirled around and wasn’t invisible for a while.
The older he got, the less his mother seemed to be sorry about leaving him alone or missing things that were important to him, like performances from the crappy little dance studio that he had started going to. She forgot to sign his school papers, didn’t call back his complaining teachers and often left him at home alone in front of the old Tv. She didn’t seemed to mind that he was still a kid, as long as he knew how to dial the phone and make himself some cereal, she seemed to think that he could handle himself for a few hours. Only that never were just a few hours.
Yuri could now count on one hand how many years it was since his father had left and he knew from a kid from school that it wasn’t normal neither was all the arguing and the fact that his Mom spend so little time with him. Not that he had said anything about it but all his classmates had a whole family, with parents and even siblings. They even spend so much time together that they sometimes got annoyed by them! They had family dinner and played boardgames.
Yuri had no siblings and ate ramen noodles and leftovers for dinner. He didn’t play boardgames but a friend of his mom had shown him how to play pool and poker, saying that one could win money with it when played well. Yuri stared at the dent by the door and was only annoyed that his Mama didn’t came back.
In times that he was left alone and felt invisible, he distorted himself with music and dancing, wanting to become the best in the small class he was in, even if his teacher couldn’t care less. All the energy he had, he rather put into this than any friends or homework. This seemed more important, brought him more fun and had the people paying attention to him.
When he couldn’t do that, he busied himself with trying to braid his hair like his mother sometimes did, knowing that everyone liked a pretty boy. His Mama had said that.
He read comics and books about Heros that saved the day, saved the maiden and kept the darkness away. When he was reading those stories, he forgot all about how late it had already gotten and that it was way past his bedtime. He got some crumpled paper and old pencils and drew the fairytales he had read about, dreaming himself into another wold. Yes Yuri Plisetsky had been a child with a mind full of dreams and wonders. Even if his surroundings tried its hardest to drain that from him.
For his 10th Birthday, Yuri got a card with Tigers on it from his Grandpa. Inside was some money, telling him to buy himself something nice from it. It wasn’t much but Yuri was still very happy, knowing the worth of money since neither of them had much of it.
He went to draw his Grandpa a picture, wanting to send it back as a tank-you. He really loved his dedushka, a kind old man that sadly lived way too far away to be a constant part of Yuri’s life. But when they got the chance the see each other, Yuri never felt invisible. His Grandpa always listened to him and Yuri helped him making tones of Sugar-Cookies and Pirozhki, which he loved so much and was allowed to each as much of as he wanted to.
After Yuri was done drawing, he put the money away, not knowing yet what to do with it but also not wanting to spend it on useless nonsense that he wouldn’t end up needing.
When his Mom came home from work, she was exceptionally happy and cheery and even brought him a small sugary cake for celebration. „Happy Birthday Yuri, oh my pretty baby.“ She squeaked and kissed him atop his golden hair.
Yuri ended up using the money he got for his birthday paying the last dance lesson he would ever get in the crappy little dance studio.
As it turned out, his birthday seemed to be the last good day for them in a long while. His Mom got fired from her job that hadn’t provided much income to begin with, for reasons Yuri didn’t understood. To make matters worse, she caught her boyfriend cheating on her and it was all screaming and crashing porcelain over again. By far, he wasn’t the first guy she had started something with and then broken up again, unbothered to shield her son from the drama that was her love-life. And it wasn’t that Yuri cared much about them, they came into his life and left again, teaching him pool and poker, looking too long at his shiny hair or not paying attention to him at all, before he eventually forgot about them altogether again. But it caused his mother to be in a disasterous mood, she always became meaner and angrier after a breakup, drinking more and snapping at Yuri without reason.
„Love is for idiots, Yuri.“ She would sneer, swaying from side to side. „ Men only want to get between your legs and once they get it, they’re gone searching for someone prettier and younger.“ At this point she was mostly mumbling to herself and Yuri wondered what that meant before he put out her cigarette as she had fallen asleep again and the ashes were starting to fall from the tip onto the couch.
In the 10 years of Yuri’s life, one pattern repeated itself over and over again. Whenever his mother left him alone, he would get angry and unleash at everyone around him until he didn’t felt ignored and invisible anymore or he would close up until no one could reach him anymore.
And whenever his mother had time for him, he would try his hardest to be a good boy, thinking that if he would just try hard enough, he wouldn’t be left alone anymore.
So when his Mama started to drink more, get moodier and unleash her anger at her son, he tried harder than ever to gain her love and goodwill. The boy that usually hadn’t much patience, showed angelic willpower as he cleaned up after his mother: throwing away cigarette stumps and ashes, getting rid of empty glass bottles and trying to get her to eat something, even if he wasn’t the one to make it in the first place. He tried not to get angry when she was off to wherever and came back with a bunch of people, loudly dancing and laughing in the living room, waking him up.
He would offer to paint his mothers long nails, carefully applying the red colour, not wanting to get anything on her skin.
„You’re an angel Yuri.“ She would sigh and Yuri would smile, thinking that if he helped her combing her hair often enough and bringer her her favourite heels and zip up her dress before she went out, that that would make her happy and she would stop snapping at him.
He hoped that handing her the pearls and her perfume as she got ready, would be enough to make her spend more time with him again. „You look beautiful Mama.“ He would say and hide his bad grades and letters from the Teacher from her, so she wouldn’t get frustrated with him.
He didn’t complain that he missed his dance lessons, so she wouldn’t call him a ungrateful brat again. And he wouldn’t ask what he was arguing with the landlord and the neighbors about, he wouldn’t ask were the friends from work had gone and he wouldn’t ask about work altogether because it stung horribly when she slapped him across the face with those sharp red nails and Yuri wanted to be an angel for her, not a brat.
One morning, Yuri woke up from the frontdoor falling shut, surprised to see that the sun was actually rising and he hadn’t been waking up to the sounds of his Mom coming home in the middle of the night. He looked out his dirty window and saw his mothers new boyfriend hurrying over the parking lot to his car. Yuri couldn’t remember his name. He got up from bed and didn’t even bother looking into her bedroom, knowing that this was only the place were she stored her high heels and make up and were she changed into bright-colored dresses and jewellery. Instead he went straight to the living room, were she was lying sleeping on the couch as always, only without a blanket as Yuri hadn’t woken up to put one there. But something was different this time, he couldn’t say what but a funny feeling started spreading through his stomach even if the sight of empty bottles on the table wasn’t a new one. What was new however, was the withe powder between the cigarette stumps and bottle-caps, that looked strangely like the leftover flour on the counter-top after baking cookies with dedushka. Having just thought of him, it was his Grandpa that Yuri ended up calling, even if his mother would be angry at him for doing so without her permission.
„Grandpa, Mama is not waking up.“
Yuri couldn’t remember much of the phone call but once it was over he went back to the couch and put a blanket over his mother before he sat down and waited, he would have liked to clean the mess on the table up but his grandpa had told him to not touch the powder. So instead he watched how the rising sun spread its light through the room, dancing on top of the colourful glass of the empty bottles on the table, creating patterns and swirls of colour and light. To distract himself, Yuri imagined it to be tiny fairies dancing to music of dust and light twirling through the room.
Yes, Yuri Plisetsky once had been a child with a mind full of dreams and wonders. But that was long ago, before the shrieking sound of sirens in the morning and blue and red lights invading their home and ever since then, Yuri wasn’t a child anymore.