Ernst is a gruff seventy-year-old Red Army veteran. Retired, he lives alone and spends his time laboring over his unpublished novels. Irena, in her mid-thirties, has been taking care of Ernst since his surgery two years earlier. Quiet and shy, Irena is in awe of Ernst's intellect. And as the months pass, Ernst comes to depend on the gentle young woman who runs his house. But Ernst's writing gives him no satisfaction, and he is haunted by his Communist past.