WeWriWa—Halloween 1945

Happy Hoshanah Rabah and Shemini Atzeret to those who celebrate!

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Vintage Halloween Card

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. In the spirit of the Halloween month, I’m sharing holiday-related excerpts during October.

This comes from Chapter 95 of my third Russian historical, Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s Halloween 1945, and 21-year-old Darya Koneva is spending the holiday weekend at the University of Minnesota. Darya has no idea the true reason for the invitation is because her lifelong friend and neighbor Andrey Vishinskiy wants to spend more time around her. She thinks this weekend was his twin sister Anzhelika’s idea.

For the party in the campus center, Darya is dressed in a dark blue Victorian gown and Anzhelika is a milkmaid.

The room in the campus center is decorated with die-cut skeletons; devil, black cat, jack-o-lantern, and skull lanterns; candy containers in the shape of scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns; cut-out bats and spiders on the walls; a display of Halloween greeting cards; a die-cut orange moon with owls and leaves in the forefront; and streamers with black cats, pumpkins, and skeletons.  Anzhelika’s friends include a clown, witch, American Indian, pirate, Renaissance princess, Pilgrim, fairy, and Bohemian.  Darya lets Anzhelika introduce her to everyone, grateful Anzhelika isn’t telling them her true story.  Anzhelika only says Darya was in Paris during the war, studied at the Sorbonne briefly, and had her education interrupted by the Nazis.

“What would you like to do first?” Anzhelika asks. “We have bobbing for apples, fortune-telling, cutting a fortune cake, floating a walnut boat, telling ghost stories, and a Ouija board.”

“Cake, please.”

Darya grabs the knife and cuts into a cake with raspberry icing, trying not to cut an overly large piece so she won’t make a bad first impression.  She plunges her fork into the cake until she hits the baked-in charm, a ring.

“Marriage within a year!” Anzhelika proclaims.

fortunecake

The only male guest is Anzhelika’s twin Andrey, who’s dressed in a vintage Army dress blue uniform. He’s extremely reviled by almost everyone on account of having a draft deferment for his university studies. Darya too initially excoriated him upon her homecoming, but soon had a change of heart, and now Andrey is starting to fall for her.

Darya and her best friend Oliivia Kalvik were studying abroad at a Parisian lycée for their sophomore year of high school, and unable to return home in the wake of the Nazi invasion. Darya now has latent tuberculosis, a number tattooed on her arm, amenorrhea, and hair growing back abnormally slowly under a wig. Her hair is so slow to grow back because her body is using all its strength to keep the TB latent, though as she comes to suspect, the TB may be hibernating in another part of her body and waiting to return worse than before.

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20 comments on “WeWriWa—Halloween 1945

  1. I like the tradition of the charm in the cake–I’d never before heard of it for a Halloween cake–which sounds delicious. Raspberry icing! I’d have chosen the cake first, too. 🙂

    Good snippet, Carrie-Anne! 🙂

    Like

  2. jtsuruoka says:

    Very nice. It’s rich in details and the prose flows well.

    Like

  3. chellecordero says:

    Especially because of the time period and not being contemporary this sounds like a very intriguing tale. Your visual description is great. Good snippet..

    Like

  4. P.T. Wyant says:

    Love your details. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a fortune cake at Halloween, either, but what a fun idea — either for that or New Year’s Eve.

    Like

  5. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Not only is this a great snippet, but I see you’ve changed your blog’s picture.

    Like

  6. Great cozy Halloween setting. I love the idea of the cake.

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  7. Nice snippet. I wonder if she will really get married in a year.

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  8. siobhanmuir says:

    Intriguing snippet with the old traditions. Nicely done, Carrie-Anne.

    Like

  9. Alexis Duran says:

    I can relate to this character – cake first! The charm is a nice little bit of foreshadowing/intrigue.

    Like

  10. Millie Burns says:

    Love the old Halloween pics to go with the story. Was a fortune cake a real thing? Love the thought of that!

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  11. At least she has her priorities straight- cake above all else! Besides, she deserves it-sounds like she’s been through hell.

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      The war years are just the latest in the traumas she’s gone through in life, since she was already born seven weeks early and was molested on a train at five years old. The latter incident traumatized her so much, she didn’t talk for three weeks.

      Like

  12. elainecsc201 says:

    Lovely details, and I love the decorations on the blog.

    Like

  13. historysleuth1 says:

    Excellent job with the ring in the cake tradition. Reading your blurbs you have really grasped the era well.

    History Sleuth’s Wewriwa Mystery

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  14. Quite the situation and the realities of her life, hidden under the costume and the attempt to enter into the festivities are heart-breaking. Wow, blown away by the snippet.

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  15. Reminds me of the king cake tradition. I love the sad detail of her taking a little slice to seem lady-like. She totally deserves a bigger slice.

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  16. Karen Michelle Nutt says:

    Love the traditions. Ring in a cake–one better be careful. Don’t want to swallow it or break a tooth. lol Enjoyed the snippet and the old cards, too.

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  17. Never heard of the ring in the cake idea. Interesting snippet.

    Like

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