This week we begin the first of our guest blogs on with a little piece of dynamite by the Boise, Idaho dynamo, Amanda Turner.



Five American girls journey from Moscow to Schelkovo to see where I’ve landed.  English rises in me like champagne bubbles.  Native speak strikes me giddy, while my isolation shocks them silent.  We exchange stories, realizing that those with virginity to lose have lost, not a month into our stay.  Our tales lack romance, each plays down the brutality.  One weaves dreamy of her host father, pouring in pity for his wife and daughter.  Her story disgusts me, as does my own.

My Russian friends thrill to meet more Americans, but regret their town.  A grain next to the monolith of Moscow.  Schelkovo offers only rows of towering drudgery, the dwellings of communism, and squat shacks selling vodka, cigarettes, bubble gum and whole dried fish, some with eyes and some without.   

A gathering of adolescence forms, plans are laid, a day in the woods. We worm through spindly white trees, too silent for a natural nature.  No sign of life save for a hunchback and three goats.  I wonder if the trees are frozen, preserved and brittle. 

A clearing in the forest, a few hours of refuge from the looming of concrete.  The Russians build a fire, Alyosha strums a guitar.  Apples and potatoes nestle unadorned in the embers.  We scald our mouths on the fruit, Adam and Eve impatient, and crunch through starch, too greedy to cook them properly. 

I translate.  The Americans have each other in the city, free of force to learn the language.  My circumstances differ.  Vodka, for friendship, boredom and warmth.  More vodka, for tradition and novelty. 

Back to town and the Russians request every Beatles song we know.  We strike a drunken harmony, singing and smiling as we leave the silent forest for the quiet town.  I bid the Americans farewell at the taxi stand, too rich to trifle with the bus.  They depart the depression of Schelkovo, bound for the despair of Moscow. 

I return to the Russians, whose eyes cast back to the forest, just as ashamed of their nature as of their city.  I want to reassure them, but I don’t know the words. 

Amanda Turner produces and hosts “The Writers’ Block” on Boise Community Radio.  Learn more about her at and  In another life, she studied Russian, hoping to one day become a secret agent.  Now she just wants to write. 

2 Replies to “Schelkovo”

  1. hello manda , hope you are well and all is well with you . your words seem to say that russia is not a place to visit . well i never have been there yet but do go every year to the ukraine . i hang out in odessa, nikolaev , and now sevastopol . i have a good time there , i have made some friendships there . maybe when i retire , it maybe there . in times of life when all seems gloomy there comes a smile from a foreign land and says “don`t worry , be happy”, and that my lady is you…..hang-loose………raymond

    1. Thank you for commenting. I have not been to the Ukraine, but would like to go some day. I believe that every place is worth a visit. I should note that this piece was written about a trip to Russia that was 20 years ago. And through my teenage eyes, even heaven itself would have been shaded with depression and despair. My experience now would be quite different, I’m sure. Thank you again. -Amanda

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