She’s good but she’s not a nihilist, I said, leaving the library with Zhenya, where I’d just introduced her to Yana— one Russian to another. Implied here, which Zhenya understood: Because You! and Because Russia! implied also: so what do I want with her, ultimately, this assimilated non-nihilist— implied but not obvious, right, or so I hoped, because then the question took over of whether through the nineteenth-century walls of free knowledge and public literacy she’d heard me, Yana, call her, to Zhenya: not a nihilist. And if she had— but had she?— what would that mean for our ‘newly blossoming friendship’ as she’d called it in an early text, that had seemed to point to a Q: aurait-elle de l’esprit ? I tried the old ‘put myself in her shoes’ and once there, hated me. Not a nihilist—how dare! Not a nihilist—I’ll show you… Then Zhenya, the voice of reason: she didn’t hear, but should she have heard, well, she’s not a nihilist, hence would not be offended by being called not a nihilist. Ah, but it’s in the tone— couldn’t you hear that scorn? ô Zhen, ô fellow hateful muse: why am I so superior? why am I the worst person alive? you understand this; I thought all Russians understood this! Zhenya with her nose in demons that week, a later text. La femme de la nature et de la vérité—c’est moi ; that’s me, shedding friends faster or exactly as fast as it takes to say not a nihilist. Out of this certainty that she’d heard I got all quiet, I retreated, taking notes, underground with Zhenya who was leaving in a few days back to Venice, that village, that sunshine. See—Zhenya: a nihilist! Ah well, lost Yana; there’s always Anya. Then Zhenya had a falling out with Nastya the day she and Yasha left town. In ballet class with the teacher who hated me, my name was the only one she wouldn’t Russify— chika-chika-boom! it didn’t flow: too Anglo, plus no profess’ed love. I was under the impression all of you were nihilists. I was so sure we’d be close. Hadley Suter is a novelist and poet living in Jersey City.