Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.
This year’s Halloween excerpts come from the currently-numbered Chapter 122, “Heterogenous Halloween,” of A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University, in 1951. The chapter’s second section opens as model Lyudmila poses for Halloween photos taken by her now-agent, primary photographer, and unofficial husband Anton.
Lyudmila’s legal husband Denis gave her three venereal diseases and left her barely any money before he deployed to Korea, and Anton nursed her back to health, paid her hospital bills, got the bank to give her access to Denis’s account, and moved her into his Minneapolis estate. They’re currently in his third home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.
Zolotse is a term of endearment meaning “my gold.”
Lyudmila sends a smoldering gaze to Anton as he photographs her in a wizard costume barely meeting the fingertip rule. The studio of their Ditmas Park estate is littered with various Halloween props—crystal balls, brooms, paper moon cutouts, jack-o-lanterns, Tarot cards, stuffed black cats, cauldrons, owls, graves, zombie scarecrows, ravens, witch hats, bats, spiders. Several large trunks of Halloween costumes are off to the side. Musidora, Behemoth, and their five ten-month-old kittens prowl around and consent to being held by Lyudmila for some of the photos. These photographs will go out to clients seeking Halloween pinups, and the usual agents in charge of distributing pinups to GIs. Others are just for Anton’s eyes.
“I bet you know what this is for.” Anton hands her a heavy plastic jack-o-lantern. “You’ll get more treats tonight, but the treats in this are the kind you can keep.” He squeezes her right breast.
The ten lines end here. A few more to complete the scene follow.
“Not that I’m complaining about our fleeting treats. Those are a lot more fun than permanent treats, since they’re never the same twice.”
Lyudmila reaches into the jack-o-lantern and closes her hand around what feels like jewelry. She pulls out a long necklace with rough-hewn orange and black crystals first, followed by a strand of tiny, delicate pearls with a black crystal bat charm, a very wide bracelet with orange and black beads, large silver disc French hook earrings with dark blue spiderwebs painted on, and a black Bakelite brooch with nine black cherries suspended from it. At the bottom is a gold-leaf, illuminated manuscript of Rumi’s love poems.
“One year ago today, I met my zolotse and began realizing the greatest happiness of my life,” Anton says. “Little did I know I’d soon feel compelled to possess all of you, not just seduce you and have fun for a little while. I can’t wait till you’re my legal wife.”