WIPpet Wednesday—Lectured by another sister

Welcome back to WIPpet Wednesday, hosted by K.L. Schwengel, a weekly blog hop wherein participants share excerpts from their WIPs related in some way to the date. Twenty plus five is twenty-five, so I’m sharing twenty-five sentences.

My alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, is told in four acts (1918–19, 1922–?, 1929–31, and 1939–45), plus an Epilogue. It starts where the real-life story sadly ended, and depicts a much happier 20th century for Russia, with perhaps the unlikeliest ruler in history. So many books, both novels and non-fiction, focus on the four Grand Duchesses, but I always felt most drawn to Aleksey, for so many reasons. I don’t believe he would’ve automatically died young anyway or been too sick to rule in his own right.

The morning after he and his sisters were miraculously rescued just in the nick of time, he doesn’t have much of an appetite for the feast the soldiers prepared, amid the famine going on in Yekaterinburg. First 21-year-old Tatyana urges him to regain his health and think about his newfound responsibilities, and then 22-year-old Olga picks up where she left off. He’s not very happy at being told he has to scale back his active nature and live what he feels isn’t a normal life.

613px-OlgaAlexei

“Maybe some other boys like that, but I don’t.  And I don’t want people to think I’m not a real boy.  I’m too old now to be happy with that.  The last thing I want is for people to think I’m not a real man when I’m older.”

“People will judge you as a real man by your deeper actions,” Ólga said. “A real man has quality of character, a noble heart, a generous spirit, and a kind nature.  You can participate in all the hunting, fishing, roughhousing, indoor sledding, and wood-chopping you want, and it won’t make you more of a real man if you don’t have a good character underneath.  Anyone who makes fun of you for spending your time with quieter pursuits isn’t anyone you need to be keeping company with, and their attitude says far more about them than it does about you.”

“But I want to do those things.  It’s boring to sit still all day, and it’s not fun to have to watch everyone else having fun and being normal.  I don’t always hurt myself when I act normally.”

“But you’ve hurt yourself enough times to have learnt your lesson by now.  Now that Mama and Papa are gone, you have to be the man of household and learn to properly take care of yourself.  We can’t take care of you forever and protect you from yourself.  Do you or don’t you want to live as long as you can?”

His eyes grew misty. “I want to live a long time, and not always have to wonder when my last sight of the clouds, the sky, and the birds will be.”

“And do you want a long life more than you want a typical boy experience?”

“I want to live more.  Even when I’m in pain and wish I could die to end my misery, I’m still scared of the thought of never seeing the beauty of nature again.  I don’t want to be dead and never know the beautiful world of the living ever again.”

“Then you’ll do whatever it takes to stay healthy and live as long as you can.  But don’t use that as an excuse to only sit about drawing, reading, and watching nature.  You should exercise your joints too, so they build up greater strength and become more resistant to slips and falls.  Mama and Papa would want you to survive and be strong for them.”

**************************************

In real life, Aleksey said something very similar to Olga when she found him lying on his back looking at the clouds, “I enjoy the sun and the beauty of summer as long as I can. Who knows whether one of these days I shall not be prevented from doing it?”

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14 comments on “WIPpet Wednesday—Lectured by another sister

  1. ReGi McClain says:

    Poor Aleksy, surrounded by older sisters. Maybe he and my son should commiserate. My son has 2 older sisters and as spoiled as he is being the only boy, I think they offset it. 😛

    Like

  2. shanjeniah says:

    I’ve always loved Aleksey, and you’re just intensifying that week after week. I’m itching to hug that poor boy. He’s so close in age in this snippet to my own boy that I can really get a sense of that poised-on-the-edge-of-adulthood place he’s in – able to see the shape of life as a man, but still too young to fully accept that it’s going to happen to him, and that some things have to be surrendered along the way.

    Since hugging Aleksey tightly isn’t possible, and might not e a good idea- I’m planning to give my boy a big hug when he gets home!

    Gorgeous, poignant snippet. The only thing I can imagine adding to it would be a detail or two about the sensory aspects of the scene – a smell, a taste, a texture, or some small action interwoven with the dialogue.

    Like

  3. chrysfey says:

    Your books sound like they take some much more work than anything I’ve ever written. There’s a lot of feeling and thought in the things Aleksey says.

    Like

  4. Adrian says:

    I love the conversation and the logic Olga brings into it here. It’s a coaxing of sorts, which is what Aleksey needs. Great excerpt!

    Like

  5. Amy says:

    I think Olga has it better as to how to draw him out. I love the way she’s firm with him but not in a lecturing, know-it-all way.

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  6. Jocelyn Rish says:

    I’m always so impressed with the scope of your stories and your research. Poor Aleksey.

    Like

  7. Eden says:

    Aleksey is… so very young and yet so very old. It’s interesting that he actually said something similar in real life… perhaps have Olga mention that “once you told me X; do you still feel that way?” And yes, I’m with Shan on the sensory details; it is a very head-space scene.

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      That’s one thing I’ve had to work on over the years, having people do other things while they’re speaking. There was a little before this, but perhaps there could be some more sensory details worked in without seeming overkill and too flowery.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. jamieayres says:

    I love Olga (although I may be partial because of my GG) . . . and yes, poooor Aleksey!

    Like

  9. Misha says:

    I always feel so sad when reading about the Romanovs. So tragic.

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  10. jazzfeathers says:

    I really like this exchange, especially the beginning. Olga’s first words really touched me. And I think she’s right, we should only parsue approval from people we admire.

    Like

  11. I really get a sense of Aleksey’s spiritual age, here, and how it can conflict with the boy he still wants to be. This is a very good show of reluctance to grow, then realization that he must grow in order to live. Very nice job.

    Like

  12. kathils says:

    Great exchange between the two. I’m going to throw in with Eden and Shan though. A hint at where they are, what they’re doing, something to break up the dialog would certainly help. Often, action reveals more than words.

    Like

  13. What an interesting premise! I’m a total research addict too. 🙂

    Great exchange here, but as others have indicated, some setting detail to ground the reader would help a lot.

    Like

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