WeWriWa—The first guest to arrive

If you’re observing Tisha B’Av, may you have an easy and meaningful fast!


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week, I’m sharing the opening of Chapter 9, “Increasing Attraction,” of my fourth Russian historical. After last week’s snippet, Violetta agreed to come to Igor’s birthday party, and after he left, she and her baby sister Flora begged their mother to keep mum about how they had polio.

Violetta then phoned Igor’s great-aunt Valeriya and a number of other people who know her secret, begging them to keep mum too. When Igor arrived home, Valeriya was on the phone with Violetta. Valeriya urged him not to get his hopes up so much after only one meeting, and said he might find someone else he likes even more. She also said good relationships take time to develop.

The Kalvik penthouse has long been used as the site of many celebrations and get-togethers because it has a lot more space than anyone else’s house. Katrin Kalvik-Nikonova, the mistress of the household, is a longtime friend of Igor’s parents, and the one who paid for Violetta’s iron lung so she could finally go home for Orthodox Christmas 1943 and not lose her security blanket.


To make sure the Kalviks and their servants understand the importance of keeping mum, Violetta arrives at Igor’s birthday party at 5:45, ahead of all the other guests.  Though she’s sure all the other young women will have fashionable knee-length skirts and dresses, she’s changed from her ankle-length turquoise school dress into a teal blouse with elbow-length sleeves and a black ankle-length skirt.  The only time she wears modern knee-length hemlines is at home, without any company, where she feels safe revealing the caliper on her right leg.  At least she no longer wears a caliper that goes under her foot or around her ankle.  With the somewhat shorter caliper she can hide under long hemlines, she’s able to compensate for her unfashionably long hemlines with pretty, fancy shoes, anklets, and nailpolish.

“You’re awfully early,” Katrin observes, looking up from a Japanese textbook. “I suppose you wanted to see Mireena and Milena before anyone else arrived.”

“Well, yes, but I also wanted to make sure you remembered what I told you on the phone last Saturday.  This is really serious business.”


Katrin is teaching herself Japanese (her twelfth language) in preparation for a journalistic trip to see the aftereffects of the bombs. This trip will eventually land her in lots of hot water with McCarthyists, and will be one of the book’s other major storylines.

P.S.: Happy first birthday to my rook piercing! This was my eighth piercing, my seventh ear piercing, and my first real cartilage piercing (not counting my nostril). Sadly, I recently had to retire my beautiful navel piercing because of obvious rejection, but I’ve still got all nine of my ear piercings and my nostril, and I have plans for many more ear piercings. The rook is the barbell with blue gemstones going through the antihelix crus, the small, thick cartilage fold at the top of the ear.

Rook closeup


15 thoughts on “WeWriWa—The first guest to arrive

  1. Poor Violetta that she has to go through all this work to keep the fact she had polio hidden. Like Kim, I think he’s going to find out.


  2. I can understand why she wants to keep it hidden, but if the relationship goes anywhere (and it certainly sounds like she hopes it will) then he’s going to find out eventually anyhow, so she might as well be truthful and upfront now. Besides, it’s not like contracting polio was her fault.


  3. Ah, the lengths adolescents will go to in order to be exactly the same in every way as their peers when these days all as they want to be “different” they are still trying to be the ‘same’ as their particular ‘peer group’ by doing so… fun stuff. Good snippet. Interesting ear holes, BTW. Glad you described it so well, as I would not have known which one you were referring to otherwise. My sister and daughter have various piercings. I have 5 or 6 ear piercings, but no cartilage piercings. I’m more the ink…must be a transference from the pen and ink thing…


  4. I can see why she wants to be known for who she is, not what happened to her–but she better pick the right moment to tell him. If she waits too long, she’ll hurt him.

    I have a sedate two ear piercings, and probably won’t get more. There’s something about them that likes to heal if I go even a couple weeks without wearing earrings!


  5. She’s really diligent about hiding her polio. I hope she won’t be too embarrassed when Igor finally finds out (I’m betting he’ll see no reason for all the fuss.). Great snippet!


    • I’ve been fascinated by the history and culture of body modification for years, though my mods to date are pretty low-key and vanilla. Besides more on my ears, I’m also thinking about a few other mods, though they’re not a top priority at the moment. Unfortunately, my wonderful piercer moved out of state (though he does guest spots Upstate), and the nearest professional piercers are 64 miles away in either direction.


  6. I’m torn between understanding why she wants to keep it secret, and wondering why she does. He’s going to find out eventually. Someone is going to have a slip of the tongue or he’s going to catch a glimpse and the cat is going to be out of the bag. The question then will be if he’s upset she never told him or not. Could put this budding relationship into jeopardy.


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