Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m still sharing from my current WIP, the longest single-volume book I’ve written to date, the third of my Russian/North American historicals. This is the ending of Chapter 35, “A Xenial Welcome,” as the stories of some of my Soviet characters slowly start linking up with the characters who are already in the U.S. It’s tweaked slightly to fit 8 sentences.
Though Inessa is still waiting for her visa back in Europe and recovering from a bullet wound in her leg, some of the other members of her family have gone on ahead to America, thanks to connections with old orphanage friends who immigrated years ago.
Her cousin Rustam, who survived a mass grave three months ago, still has a precarious psychological state even after coming to a safe place. Two of his sisters escaped to America three years before, and are shocked to see what’s happened to him. To try to distract himself and purge his demons, he’s started a graphic novel of sorts (which wouldn’t have had that classification in 1937). His wife Olga, Inessa’s adoptive sister, has just had their firstborn child only a few days after coming to America, and asked him to name her. This is Rustam’s reaction.
He heads back out to his comic book in progress and begins drawing a cover, Kurapaty as it looked in happier times, a peaceful forest with tall, thick trees, birds singing, butterflies, cool grass, and the blanket of white anemones. In the corners and around the border, he draws some of the flowers he used to pick during school and family outings to the countryside. As he’s drawing Martagon lilies, he remembers how he used to bring those flowers to the graves of his five older brothers who were killed during the Civil War. His father had explained that lilies symbolize peace, and that it could only be a hopeful, positive omen to leave peaceful flowers on the graves of war dead, in the hopes that there might never be another war again.
Ólga looks up when Rustam comes back into the room, this time with a title page, and she tearfully smiles her acceptance as she reads it:
One Lived to Tell the Tale, written and illustrated by Rustam Dmítriyevich Zyuganov
In memory of my dear friend, neighbor, and cousin-in-law Román Vasilovich Safronov and all the other innocents who were murdered in Kurapaty on the night of 11 April 1937, and for my beautiful, intelligent, generous wife Ólga Leonídovna Kérenskaya and our firstborn, Liliána Rustamovna Zyuganova, whom I survived for.
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”—Buddha.