Posted in 1920s, Antagonists, Boris, Historical fiction, holidays, Russian novel sequel, Writing

WeWriWa—Antagonistic Christmas


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.

Because Russian Orthodox Christmas was 7 January, here’s one final holiday-themed snippet. This comes from The Twelfth Time: Lyuba and Ivan on the Rocks, which is set from 1924–1930. It’s now Orthodox Christmas 1925, and antagonist Boris is having a terrible holiday with his parents. They have a knack for pushing one another’s buttons, and have a difficult time seeing the other side.

Tanyechka (Tatyana) is Boris’s only blood child, whom he had with Lyuba and was forced to sign over all paternal rights to.

“So you gave dollar bills out like candy to all the kids in your religious school, and gave a ten-dollar bill to your assistant,” Mr. Malenkov says in distaste. “I suppose that’s why you couldn’t afford better presents for your mother and I. What do I want with a raccoon skin coat, and what does your mother need with a dress that looks like a slip? You expect either of us to wear these ridiculous things in public?”

“All the guys wear raccoon coats nowadays, and I want Matushka to look beautiful and fashionable when she goes out. See, the dress comes with a headband with a fake feather and glovelettes.”

“Why do I need a feather in my hair and these strange lace things around my arms unless I’m going to a costume ball or working in a brothel?” Mrs. Malenkova asks. “I’m surprised young women are able to wear such revealing dresses in public and not get arrested.”

“Your mother and I are forty-three years old, and we’d be the laughingstock of the city if we ventured out in public wearing young people’s fashions! Meanwhile we both made sure to get you presents with practical value, not things you’ll stuff in a dust-covered chest in another few years when the fad ends!”

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

“Oh, yes, because every modern young man wants nothing more than long flannel underwear, bath towels, sheepskin boots, and a duffel bag for Christmas. Those are gifts you’d give your dedushka or uncle, not your young son! I dropped off my gift for Tanyechka last week, and made sure to buy her cute stuffed animals and religious storybooks. You know, age-appropriate things she’ll actually want, need, and use.”

“I suppose it’s okay if you’re not trying to see her or speak to her,” Mrs. Malenkova sighs. “The judge did say you’re allowed to deliver presents.”

“Lyuba and Ivan have the most beautiful baby girl,” Mr. Malenkov goes on, rubbing salt into his son’s wounds. “It’s a pity you’ll never father another child. It would be nice to see what a future child of yours would look like, besides the one you abandoned before she was born.”


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

3 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Antagonistic Christmas

  1. I’m not sure of the history, but his parents are awful to him. Very unsympathetic characters, no matter what Boris did in the past. He certainly has my sympathy. Tweeted.


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