Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my current WIP, my third Russian/North American historical novel, Journey Through a Dark Forest. The title of the book, and the titles of each of the four Parts, are taken from the opening lines of The Divine Comedy. I’m currently in Part II, “The Right Path Appears Not Anywhere.”
It’s June 1937, and 27-year-old Inessa Zyuganova, who recently lost her husband Roman to one of the massacres of the Great Terror, has been smuggled as close to the border with Poland as possible. She, her 7-year-old son Andrey, her 3-year-old daughter Veronika, and her old friend Inna’s 5-month-old nephew Damir, whom she’s been wetnursing, have to cross the River Bug to the safety of Poland.
Inessa has just seen five NKVD agents following them, and told her children to walk very quickly. If they have to, they’ll make a run for it and leave their luggage. Their lives are more important than some letters from old friends, family photos, toys, and clothes.
Inéssa purposefully wades into the river, thankful the water only comes around the tops of her ankles. Mr. Kovalchuk really did let them off near one of the more creek-like areas of this river.
“Where might you be going?”
Inéssa continues walking as fast as she can, still pushing the stroller through the water. She can see Poland right in front of her, probably less than five minutes away.
“Didn’t you hear the damn question? Where the hell are you going in the middle of the night?”
Inéssa lets go of the stroller and begins running, the makeshift cradleboard thumping against her back every step of the way.