Posted in 1940s, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, holidays, Writing

WeWriWa—Zhenya arrives


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, my Thanksgiving-themed excerpts come from Chapter 13, “Thanksgiving Break,” of A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s 1948, and one of the holiday celebrations is at the home of Lyuba’s mother and stepfather. Also in attendance are Lyuba’s stepsister Dinara and her husband Yarik, who were concerned about their three adult daughters being late.

Second and third daughters Marina and Bogdana just arrived, and Marina came with her new boyfriend Yulian. When Yulian said his family doesn’t observe any American holidays and only follows Russian customs, he was invited to stay. Bogdana then said oldest sister Zhenya went to a Chinese restaurant for breakfast with her new boyfriend Kuzma.

The bell rings loudly and insistently, followed by frantic knocking. Mr. Lebedev sets his newspaper on his armchair and opens the door to find Zhenya supported by two strange men. The younger man, on Zhenya’s left, has honey blonde hair and dark blue-grey eyes, and wears a full Army dress uniform. Zhenya holds onto him more than the other man, and has a very odd standing position that looks more like one of Lyolya’s ballet poses.

The younger man introduces himself first. “I’m Zhenya’s beau, Second Lieutenant Kuzma Demyanovich Nikulin, and this is our accidental chauffeur, Clarence Palomer. Some svoloch ran a red light and plowed into Zhenya while we were crossing Lafayette onto Canal to get to the subway. We don’t think anything’s broken, though he banged her left knee pretty badly, and drove right over both of her lower legs. Mr. Palomer offered us a ride, though I was prepared to carry Zhenya on my back the rest of the way.”

Mr. Palomer tips his hat.

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

“The maniac who did this had an orange Bentley. From what I could see of him through his windows, he was extremely fat and had an odd pipe clenched in his teeth.”

“His name is Boris Aleksandrovich Malenkov,” Ilya says from his easel. “He just got out of debtors’ prison over the summer. We ran into him on our way over here. That jerk dropped me on a hard hospital floor when I was six weeks old, and did lots of horrible things to my mother.”

“He was indirectly responsible for a medical emergency I had when I was a newborn too,” Igor chimes in. “He runs an opium den now.”

Zhenya hops into the house, still supported by Kuzma and Mr. Palomer. Vsevolod and Rostislav get up from the davenport to give her enough room.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

5 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Zhenya arrives

  1. Boris!

    I still quiver at that name – now that I know so many of the things he did and failed to do.

    Any big Russian holidays in November?

    [and Father Frost would be coming up fairly soon…]

    And Igor’s moment – chilling.


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