WeWriWa— “That nightmare was real”

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. These lines come immediately after last week’s, from the opening of the second chapter of my alternative history WIP, And Aleksey Lived, depicting the morning after that never happened in real life. Thirteen-year-old Aleksey is very surprised to wake up to find friendly new guards in the house and his parents gone, and particularly confused at how he’s being addressed as “Your Majesty.”

***

Alekséy rubbed the sleep from his eyes, careful not to pull on his delicate skin too much. “What are you talking about?  Last night I had a horrible nightmare we were taken into the cellar and shot, but White soldiers burst in after my parents had been murdered.  Can I see my parents now so I’ll know they’re safe?”

The soldier shook his head and crossed himself. “I’m truly sorry, Your Majesty, but that nightmare was real.  Your parents are in the other world now.  We were just too late to save them.”

562px-Empress_Alexandra_Feodorovna,_Tsarevich_Alexei_Nikolayevich_and_Emperor_Nicholas_II_at_Tsarskoye_Selo

Maybe it was a little cruel of me to change the opening of this story, during the near-complete redo, so that the rescuers were just too late to save the Tsar and Tsaritsa. They were all rescued in the original, unfinished version of this book. But I just realized it would cause more harm than good for the Imperial children, given how cloistered and co-dependent they were, and how the Grand Duchesses in particular were extremely socially and emotionally stunted. This cloistered, co-dependent existence was a big reason why they weren’t married at normal ages for royal women in their era. Many people have speculated Alix would’ve been an over-involved, domineering mother-in-law.

I also felt it would be best for Aleksey’s emotional and psychological independence to be left an orphan and thus be forced away from his parents’ constant overprotectiveness and babying. It helps to make him a healthy, normal adult, able to make his own decisions and break with draconian Imperial traditions, and also makes sure his future bride doesn’t have to compete with her mother-in-law to be the first woman in his heart.

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10 comments on “WeWriWa— “That nightmare was real”

  1. Poor Aleksey! A nightmare indeed! So, did any of the Grand Duchesses make it? I agree that Aleksey would have had to be separated from his parents at some point to become an independent adult. So many interesting things about this story!

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  2. ralfast says:

    A child scarred for life. How he overcomes this will be a great story to read.

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  3. Kate Warren says:

    I think you made the right decision. Aleksey and his sisters will be challenged and grow in ways they might not have if their parents had lived.

    Feeling bad for Aleksey and for the soldier who had to tell him it wasn’t just a bad dream.

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  4. Sarah W says:

    I applaud your narrative decisions, Carrie-Anne. 🙂

    Though I do think seeing the his mother and his bride at war would be interesting, too. Sort of like a real life “Once Upon a Mattress!” o-O

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  5. Alexis Duran says:

    The nightmare is real- what a horrible thing to wake up to. I think it was a wise choice to leave the parents behind. Now Aleksey is thrust into a position of responsibility right away, which makes for great conflict and tension.

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  6. I must agree with the rest here. Your decision to leave Aleksey and the others orphan will only add to the story as the learn to make decisions without their parents. Interesting story. I love those old photos of the real family.

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  7. caitlinstern says:

    You have to make your character suffer, I think.

    I bet he’s going to wake up thinking it was a nightmare a bunch of times, before he really remembers his loss.

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  8. I think you made the right choices about the Tsar and Tsarina, to allow your plot to open up more, to have more changes in the way Russia moves forward. I found it quite believable that a child would wake up hoping the tragedy was all a bad dream. This is a fascinating story you’re weaving, my compliments!

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  9. A horrible morning for Aleksey–and you’re showing that. Intriguing alternate history you’re creating…

    Yesterday, Yahoo ran a post with the last photos of the Romanov family. It was sad. Then I followed some links and spent an hour reading about their final months of life. I had no idea that it was Lenin who ordered the executions because he believed the Whites were nearing the city to try and free them. And that was actually a fluke. They were trying to protect the Trans-Siberian rail. At least that’s what the article said. 🙂 History, full of unimaginable beauty, and horrendous ugliness…

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