Since What’s Up Wednesday has been retired, I’m now taking part in WIPpet Wednesday, hosted by K.L. Schwengel. The caveat to participating is that the excerpt must adhere in some way to math related to the date. Since five plus thirteen equals eighteen (one of my lucky numbers and the date of my English birthday), I’m sharing eighteen lines.
This comes from the second chapter of my alternative history in progress, And Aleksey Lived, a what-if fantasy about the unlikeliest Tsar in history. I originally started this story back in ’96 and did a bit more work on it in 2001, but I realised I had to start fresh, with only the same general idea and a few of the same storylines. The original version was just a bad gimmick, the journals of five young women from succeeding eras of Russian history. I also originally had the entire Imperial Family being rescued, but that wouldn’t have worked out well for anyone, and didn’t create any real challenges for my protagonist.
The morning after the miraculous rescue of the Imperial children and two of their retainers, 13-year-old Aleksey initially thinks it was all a nightmare. He’s in a state of shock as his saviors take him down to breakfast in his murdered mother’s wheelchair. At the table, his 21-year-old sister Tatyana urges him to look after himself so he’ll recover all that lost strength and health. I chose her because she was known as the responsible one who always looked after her younger siblings.
“You need to eat your fill, Sunbeam, instead of just pushing it around the plate,” Tatyana said after the soldiers had left them in peace. “You’ve lost too much weight, on top of your injured knee. Now that we have real food again, it’s your duty to eat as much as possible. Your strength won’t regain itself.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You have to be as hungry as any of us. Just look at all this wonderful food the soldiers found for us. You only got so sickly and injured yourself twice in a row because you weren’t getting enough to eat, and didn’t have enough fresh air and sunlight. Now you have no choice but to look after yourself. You do want to live long enough to assume the throne, don’t you?”
“I never really cared about that too much. It was just a position I was born into, not something I was particularly looking forward to. Someone has to be Tsar, and it just happens to be me, even if I’m no one’s idea of a real Tsar.” He plunged a fork into a poached egg and watched the runny yellow yolk running all over the plate.
“You have to be the Tsar. It’s what you were born to be. This also means you need to take extra-good care of yourself from now on. No more riding sleds down stairs, jumping out of boats, roughhousing, chopping wood, or sliding down ice mountains.”