WeWriWa—Inga meets Yuriy

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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’s snippet comes right after last week’s, as Inga started to get better acquainted.

Inga has told Yuriy she’s eighteen, the circumstances of her leaving the USSR and coming to America, and how she’s supposed to meet the father who has no idea she exists.

Yuriy pours saline over the large cut. “I’m twenty-three.  I just finished my first year of veterinary school, after getting a bachelor’s degree in biology.  If I’d had my way, I would’ve gone right into the service, but my parents wanted me to have one year of veterinary school first.  They thought it’d put me at a better advantage when I come home and resume my studies.  I assume I will come home alive.  Not even the Nazis would shoot a medic.”

Inga bites her tongue as he wipes the residual blood and dirt out of the wound, presses a gauze pad against her knee to stop the flow of blood, and rubs the cleaned-out scrape with black iodine.  Finally he puts a fresh gauze pad over it, wraps a gauze bandage around it, and secures it with medical tape.

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WeWriWa—Inga meets Yuriy

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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’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when Yuriy introduced himself to Inga as a Russian-speaking Canadian army medic and offered to treat her injured knee.

Though Yuriy is a veterinary student, not a human med student, he still has basic training in people medicine. It’s not unheard-of for vets to serve as medics, just as some medics have treated animals wounded in warzones.

Inga lets him pull her up, and grips his arm as she hops along on her left leg.  After she’s settled on a wide brick windowsill of a nearby building, Yuriy retrieves her luggage.

“How old are you?” he asks as he lifts her right leg onto his lap. “Did you just come here, and are you alone?”

“I turned eighteen in June.  My grandparents sent me to Shanghai when we were in Vladivostok for my graduation trip.  Then I got permission to come to America, since my father’s a citizen.  I’m supposed to meet some immigration officials and other authorities, and then we’re going to see my father together.  He has no idea I exist.”

WeWriWa—Inga meets Yuriy

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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’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when 18-year-old Inga Savvina met the acquaintance of Yuriy Yeltsin-Tsvetkov after falling and ripping her knee open.

Inga is very emotional when she learns her Good Samaritan has the same name as her maternal grandfather, who helped to raise her. She’s even more emotional when discovering he speaks Russian too.

Yuriy’s second line means, “I also speak the Russian language.”

“You understand ‘What language do you speak’?”

“I speak Russian and some French.”

He smiles at her again. “Yah tozhe govoryu po-russkiy yazyk.”

Inga thinks back to how her grandfather said there’s another life beyond this one, and that he’ll watch over her from beyond.  She hopes this chance meeting hasn’t been brought about by her grandfather already having passed over to the other side and sending her a helper.

“Come with me.  I’ll help your knee.  I’m a medic with the Canadian Army, and studying to be a veterinarian.  Even if I’m not trained in people medicine, I still have first aide supplies and know how to treat human injuries.”

WeWriWa—Inga meets Yuriy

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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’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when 18-year-old Inga Savvina arrived in New York to meet the father who has no idea she exists.

Inga’s right shoe caught on a crack in the pavement, and she had a nasty fall that cut her knee open. She barely knows any English, and only knows elementary French her grandfather taught her in secret, in preparation for defecting to Shanghai’s French Concession.

Now she meets a young man the reader will be familiar with as Yuriy Yeltsin-Tsvetkov, the oldest child of Lena Yeltsina-Tsvetkova, who lives in Toronto. This is just the beginning of a very close relationship between Inga and Yuriy.

Inga looks up when she hears a friendly male voice above her, speaking in the language she’s only memorized basic phrases and the alphabet of.  A young man with red hair and aquamarine eyes, wearing some kind of uniform, is looking at her with a very concerned expression.

“Sorry, I no understand good English.”

The man smiles at her as he puts her luggage back in the rack. “You understand ‘What is your name’?”

“My name is Inga.”

“My name is Yuriy.”

Inga’s eyes well up to hear her belovèd grandfather’s name.

“You understand ‘Where are you from’?”

Inga shakes her head.

WeWriWa—Inga arrives in New York

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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’s snippet starts the second section of Chapter 73, “Inga in America,” of my third Russian historical, Journey Through a Dark Forest.

In August 1942, 18-year-old Inga Savvina comes to New York City to meet the father who has no idea she exists. Her mother was arrested in 1937 and sentenced to twenty years in Siberia, for refusing to teach Stalin’s phony version of Russian history.

Inga and her family were evacuated to Irkutsk to escape the invading Germans in 1941, which, combined with the more relaxed mood in the USSR, made it easier for her grandparents to send her to safety. A graduation trip to Vladivostok turned into a defection to Shanghai, where she was put in touch with authorities who arranged her passage to San Francisco.

The train finally stops on Sunday, not quite the end of the line, but the end of the line for Inga.  She gathers her luggage and steps from the train into the bright Manhattan sunlight.  This city already looks so crowded and fast-paced, not like the French Concession, Irkutsk, or Vladivostok.

She’s afraid to approach anyone to ask, in her elementary French, directions to the contact she was given, or where a large Russian neighborhood might be.  She just keeps moving with the crowd, making sure to push her luggage ahead of her so it won’t get stolen.  If she loses her luggage, she’ll be left with nothing.

After about thirty minutes of walking with no purpose or direction, the top of Inga’s right shoe catches in a crack in the pavement.  The next thing she knows, she’s on the ground, her right knee ripped open and bleeding, her luggage tumbled out of the rack.  Her knee smarts too much to try standing up, and she has no first aide in any of her bags.  Even the mere motion of gently bending her knee sends waves of pain up and down her leg.

Inga’s father is Lyuba Koneva’s cousin Mikhail Kharzin, nicknamed Ginny, after his childish mispronunciation of the nickname Genie. Her mother, Georgiya, visited New York for Lyuba and Ivan’s wedding in 1923. During the reception, she and Ginny, then sixteen years old, snuck off to the former priests’ quarters and slept together for the first time. Ginny also visited her hotel during the ensuing days.

Though Georgiya never mentioned Inga’s existence in any of the letters she wrote to Ginny, Inga is her father’s spitting image, and she has all Ginny’s letters as additional proof.