Posted in 1950s, Couples, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

WeWriWa—Passionate proposal

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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, from Chapter 55, “The Streets of the Future,” of my WIP A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. This chapter, which closes Part I (to be published as Volume I), is mostly set over Orthodox Christmas 1950.

Twenty-year-old Bogdana Sheltsova, who survived two horrific, life-altering events six weeks apart, is now living with her aunt Fyodora in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. She didn’t expect her friend Achilles to visit with roses and a gift bag after their awkward last encounter in the underground clinic where Achilles assists.

Achilles and Bogdana went to another room to speak alone about an idea regarding the unorthodox request Bogdana made yesterday. She’s stunned when Achilles suggests he can teach her how to pleasure herself if he becomes her lover. Bogdana has long been attracted to him, but won’t let herself believe she’s worthy of a relationship with a nice guy.

“I’m saying I’ll help you if you become my girlfriend.” He makes even deeper eye contact. “I’d do it in stages, until you’re ready for a complete union, heart to heart, soul to soul, mind to mind, body to body, skin to skin. God in heaven, you deserve a man who knows how to make love to a woman. I want you completely, but only if you want me in return.”

Bogdana stares at him, numb with shock. “Did you just say what I think you did?”

“You need a man who knows how to treat a woman properly instead of subjecting her to an act of grotesque violence. I wish I still had my Sabina, but now that I’ve lost her, I shouldn’t live the rest of my life alone. I’m so lonely, and you stole my heart.”

Posted in 1950s, Couples, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

WeWriWa—Stunning suggestion

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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, from Chapter 55, “The Streets of the Future,” of my WIP A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. This chapter, which closes Part I (to be published as Volume I), is mostly set over Orthodox Christmas 1950.

Twenty-year-old Bogdana Sheltsova, who survived two horrific, life-altering events six weeks apart, is now living with her aunt Fyodora in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. She didn’t expect her friend Achilles to visit with roses and a gift bag after their awkward last encounter in the underground clinic where Achilles assists.

Achilles asked Fyodora if he could speak with Bogdana alone, and she approved. He has an idea for fulfilling Bogdana’s very unorthodox request of yesterday, an idea which stuns her.

Bogdana leads Achilles to the library, the box with the necklace in her hand. She can’t accept this, but doesn’t want to hurt his feelings by point-blank telling him so. She’ll give it to a friend after he leaves. Whatever his ideas for granting that unorthodox request might be, she can’t accept them either. She disgraced herself enough yesterday, and doesn’t want his pity assistance.

“I want to teach you how to pleasure yourself,” Achilles begins, looking her straight in the eyes. “But only as your lover.”

Bogdana’s blood runs cold. “What did you just say, Doctor? After the lecture you gave me?”

Posted in 1950s, Couples, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

WeWriWa—Privacy requested

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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, from Chapter 55, “The Streets of the Future,” of my WIP A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. This chapter, which closes Part I (to be published as Volume I), is mostly set over Orthodox Christmas 1950.

Twenty-year-old Bogdana Sheltsova, who survived two horrific, life-altering events six weeks apart, is now living with her aunt Fyodora in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. She didn’t expect her friend Achilles to visit with roses and a gift bag after their awkward last encounter in the underground clinic where Achilles assists.

Bogdana is stunned Achilles got her a necklace after the lecture he gave her about proper doctor-patient relationships yesterday. Fyodora is just as stunned when Bogdana references a request that was purely medical, not sexual.

This has been tweaked to fit ten lines.

“Whatever I asked for didn’t happen, since Mr. Medved refused it like a goody-two-shoes.”

Achilles puts his hand on Bogdana’s shoulder. “About that request. I thought of a way I can fulfill it, but only with certain conditions. I can tell you more about my ideas in private.” He looks meaningfully at Fyodora. “Mrs. Lebedeva-Godimova, may we go to the guesthouse or another room? There are certain things I don’t want an audience privy to.”

“Of course, so long as you stay in the house. As much as I trust you, I don’t want you and Bogusya alone in the guesthouse.”

Posted in 1920s, Couples, Ivan, Left-Handedness, Lyuba, Russian novel sequel, Writing

Happy fourth anniversary

This post was originally put together on 6 October 2012 for a future installment of the now-shelved Sweet Saturday Samples hop. Though not part of the batch of twenty posts I created on 24 June 2012, it’s obviously from the same sequence. After I put those posts in my drafts folder, I went back and made a few more with important sequences I’d left out.

This differs slightly from the published version; e.g., I no longer use pedantic accent marks, and I discovered there was no “traditional” fourth anniversary gift in 1927. Lyuba and Ivan’s anniversary gifts for non-milestone years remain the same, just without references to them being traditional materials.

***

This week’s excerpt is from Chapter 29 of The Twelfth Time, “Naina and Katya in North America.” It’s 6 September 1927, Lyuba and Ivan’s fourth wedding anniversary and the last day of their annual Long Island summer vacation. In spite of their worsening marital and personal problems, they put their issues aside for their anniversary.

***

Lyuba wakes up on the morning of her fourth anniversary to the smell of chocolate waffles and sausage coming from the first floor.  She’s not looking forward to heading home later today, but she intends to savor the last gasp of summer vacation as long as it lasts.

“Happy anniversary, Mrs. Koneva.” Iván reaches under the bed and hands her a wrapped box. “I put a lot of different things in there, but they’re all part of the same present. I went out yesterday and got you something else too. Before you woke up, I snuck downstairs to retrieve it from Katrin’s kitchen. You’ll find it on our kitchen table.”

Lyuba carefully pulls the blue tissue paper off, opens the box, and starts pulling out a series of small decorative bags. “What exactly is this?”

“The traditional fourth anniversary presents are fruit and flowers. Since those aren’t very permanent things, I wanted to get you something as lasting as possible while still being traditional. They’re indoor flowering plants that can live all year. When we have our farm, you can transplant them to the garden and then move them inside during the winter.”

She snuggles her face against the curve of his neck. “You’re a good husband. As many struggles as we’ve had, I’m still glad I chose you. Can you believe we’ve been husband and wife for four years now?”

“Did you get me a present too?”

“Of course I did. You’re getting more and more overeager every year, you bad boy. You used to be able to wait till later in the day to exchange presents. Now you’re giving and demanding them first thing in the morning.” Lyuba puts the seeds back into the box and gets two wrapped parcels out of the closet.

Iván unwraps a transparent glass picture frame with dried flowers pressed between the two layers, and a light green shirt with a subtle floral pattern. “So my sweet little wifey still loves me, after everything I’ve put you through.”

“I will love you till the last breath leaves my body, Ványushka. I want to be with you through all our future lifetimes, till the world comes to an end. But you’d better get a real job once we’re back in the city, or I may have to start nagging you and starting fights with you again. You know I hate having to do that, so you’d better do the right thing.”

Lyuba smiles at the sight of the wildflowers on the vase on the kitchen table after she’s thrown on some clothes and left the bedroom. Iván has always known she’s not the type who goes for flowers, perfume, and chocolates, so the few times he does get her such trinkets, she knows it’s for a very special reason and not just a meaningless gesture he does out of some obligation to be romantic in a certain way. She appreciates how the flowers are just regular wildflowers, the type anyone could buy for cheap at a florist’s, and not some big expensive bouquet of roses or orchids. At least he’s saving his money for more important things now, while still making an effort to buy nice things for her on special occasions.

“Can we go downstairs and eat breakfast now?” Fédya asks.

“You can go right on down, my sweet little pumpkin. Then we’ll have one last day on the beach before we pack up and leave for the train. Just think, on Thursday you’ll have your first day of school!”

“I don’t want to go to school. I’m scared of the teacher hitting my hand.”

“They stop eventually,” Iván says. “After a certain point, they realize they’re not converting you and leave you alone. I must’ve been twelve or thirteen years old by the time they finally stopped hitting my hand, thumping me on the head, and threatening to beat me. You just have to be brave and let everyone know you’re carrying on a family tradition. No one switched me or my Dyadya Ígor, and no one’s going to change you either. Now why don’t we think about nicer things, like breakfast.”

Lyuba holds her son’s left hand tightly as they’re going downstairs to Katrin’s quarters, praying her sweet, sensitive only son is treated nicely in public kindergarten and not subjected to the same fate her husband and late uncle-in-law went through in primary school. Naína and Kátya have told her the policy of the new Soviet Union is right-handed writing in schools, and anyone who doesn’t fit into that majority mold doesn’t have the option of protesting. Right-handed writing is mandatory. Lyuba always figured God made certain people that way for a reason, since an all-powerful being who can do whatever he wants would’ve made everyone right-handed if that were truly the only proper way to be.

Posted in 1950s, Couples, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

WeWriWa—A surprising gift

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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, from Chapter 55, “The Streets of the Future,” of my WIP A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. This chapter, which closes Part I (to be published as Volume I), is mostly set over Orthodox Christmas 1950.

Twenty-year-old Bogdana Sheltsova, who survived two horrific, life-altering events six weeks apart, is now living with her aunt Fyodora in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. She didn’t expect her friend Achilles to visit with roses and a gift bag after their last encounter in the underground clinic where Achilles assists.

Achilles insists he sees Bogdana as a beautiful soul who’s just barely begun to breathe, but Bogdana can’t bring herself to share those sentiments. Her aunt just stepped in to invite Achilles to go skating with them at Prospect Park.

This has been tweaked to fit ten lines.

“Sure, that’ll be fun, and perhaps Bogusya would like a skating partner.” Achilles smiles at her again. “Please, Bogusya, open the bag; I want you to see what I got you.”

Bogdana reaches into the bag and pulls out a blue velvet box. When she opens that, she finds a flat, heart-shaped rose quartz on a silver chain.

“You’re getting a patient jewelry? That really violates the doctor-patient relationship! At least I made the request I did in a purely medical context, and didn’t see it as sexual at all!”

Fyodora raises her eyebrows. “What in the world did you ask for yesterday, or don’t I want to know?”