Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m changing to my unfinished fourth volume about my Russian characters, which I began for NaNo but haven’t touched since December. I now realize I should’ve begun it during the summer, when I was bursting with motivation and excitement, instead of waiting a few months. I’m hoping to get back to it by the summer.
This passage comes shortly after the beginning of Chapter 8, “Igor’s Infatuation,” set in October 1948. (FYI: Igor is pronounced EE-gahr, with a very soft R.) Lyuba and Ivan’s fifth and sixth children, Irish twins Igor and Ilya, are studying art at NYU, and are living with Ivan’s aunt and stepuncle (a former prince). Ilya has already found a girlfriend, but Igor hasn’t found anyone special until now.
I’ve broken the passage into two paragraphs so it doesn’t look too big on the screen.
NYU’s Elmer Bobst Library, Copyright Beyond My Ken
As he walks through the esteemed Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, Igor notices a pair of dark violet peep-toe flats embellished with a large silk rose on each shoe. From what he can see of her toes, she’s painted them a gorgeous shade of ultramarine. The bearer of these shoes doesn’t have her feet crossed at the ankle, as many women do. From this side of her carrel, Igor sees a cerulean hemline almost as long as something Anastasiya would wear, but not long enough to conceal the beautiful golden anklet on her left foot, with several teardrop-shaped onyxes, and the equally beautiful silver anklet on her right foot, with several oval-shaped jades. Whomever this woman is, she certainly takes great pride in her feet’s appearance.
Igor has never considered himself particularly a foot fellow, but when that’s all he can see of a woman, it’s terribly exciting. Imagining the rest of this woman gives him a little thrill, just as he’s always preferred girls who wear slightly longer skirts and sleeves instead of showing off their knees and elbows. Fantasizing about what he can’t see is a lot sexier than seeing everything at once and having nothing left to the imagination, nothing to potentially look forward to seeing. He just hopes the woman on the other side of the carrel has an attractive face to go along with the pretty feet.
I got the idea to introduce Violetta through her feet after attending a Cecil B. DeMille film festival in November and discovering Mr. DeMille had a foot fetish. That sure explains why he featured feet so prominently in a lot of his films! It also makes sense for Violetta to gussy up her feet so much because she’s a polio survivor, and lucky she was able to relearn how to walk.
Igor and Violetta met a few times as children, but this is their first real meeting. Igor has no idea she had polio, is hiding a caliper under her long skirts, used crutches until June, and sleeps in an iron lung. Violetta guards this secret tightly from all her new friends. At most, she blames her limp on a leg injury, and tells Igor she’s not a born lefty like he is due to a severe injury to her right arm.
Since NYU wasn’t co-ed in this era, Violetta is at the Washington Square auxiliary campus.