Gregory Blake Smith’s short story, “A Few Problems You Might Like to Ponder, of a Winter’s Evening, in Front of the Fire, with a Cat on Your Lap” was originally published in NER 26.1 (2005):
That was sixty years ago. Now in front of the Winter Palace half-naked teenagers eat out of McDonald’s bags and listen to Run-DMC. BMWs fly past the Admiralty. You walk through the tangerine- and lemon-colored city in a kind of delirium, talking to the statues, to the ghosts, to the mounded earth in the Piskariovskoye Cemetery. The tourists wonder at you, but they have come to see St. Petersburg, and you, you live in Leningrad.
In the winter you can still see them, the corpses on the street corners. They are wrapped in sheets or someone’s parlor curtains. Up and down Nevsky Prospekt the trolley cars sit shagged in ice. There is no electricity to run them. No way to clear the tracks of snow. Inside—did they stop to rest and never get up again?—there are corpses seated, facing forward, waiting. They will still be there tomorrow when you pass, and the next day.[read the story]