WeWriWa—Halloween anniversary

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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. 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.”

WeWriWa— “It all worked out perfectly”

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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 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 and her 28-year-old friend Achilles Medved, now girlfriend and boyfriend, just ran into newlyweds Yustina and Nestor on the skating rink of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Nestor is a former Marine who lost his right leg at Iwo Jima and was disowned by his parents in disgust as a result.

He also was rejected by every woman he asked out after his amputation. For the longest time, he was convinced he was a mutilated freak unworthy of love. My original plan was for him to marry Bogdana, but she was too immature and shallow at that point. Yustina proved to be a much more natural match with him, and I loved developing their relationship.

“Don’t give up on her if you really love her.” Yustina leans her head against Nestor’s chest. “I had to work so hard to get Nestik to trust my love and seriousness, and it paid off so beautifully. I hope I’m already pregnant with our first child. By the way, Bogdana, thanks for refusing Nestik after you met him. I couldn’t imagine any other woman being Mrs. Ugolnikova, sharing sexual delights with him, and bearing him children in my place.”

“I’m glad she rejected him too.” Achilles smiles down at Bogdana, leaning closer to her face before lifting his head back up. “Bogusya was meant to be the second love of my life, just as you and Nestor were meant to marry each other. It all worked out perfectly in the end.”

WeWriWa—Love on the ice

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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 and her slightly older friend Achilles Medved, who just became girlfriend and boyfriend, are on the skating rink of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, copying the relatively simpler moves of pair skaters. Nothing advanced like death spirals, throws, or star lifts.

Their romantic time on the ice was just interrupted by newlyweds Yustina and Nestor, who married on New Year’s Eve and moved to one of the large estates in Ditmas Park (which were fairly cheap in that era). Nestor is a former Marine who lost most of his right leg at Iwo Jima and was disowned by his parents in disgust as a result.

Yustina flushes. “We can’t do that every single second, as fun as it is. Nestik loves roller-skating with me, and decided to try ice-skating as well. He can never skate alone, but I certainly don’t mind holding him tight so he won’t fall.” Yustina gazes up at Nestor, her face full of love. “I never thought I could love Nestik more than I already did, but becoming his wife has increased my passions a millionfold.”

“Bogusya’s my woman now.” Achilles is still holding her in the same lift, his eyes still firmly locked on hers with the same intimate, smoldering gaze. “I can’t predict when she’ll feel ready to be my wife, but I’ll do whatever it takes to help with healing her wounded mind, heart, and soul.”

WeWriWa—Amateur pair skating

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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 a few pages 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. Her friend Achilles visited with roses and a necklace, and after much emotional discussion, Bogdana agreed to be his girlfriend.

They’re now on the rink at Prospect Park. Before leaving home, Bogdana changed into a white, form-fitting, knee-length dress and thick white hosiery she overlooked when getting rid of her former wardrobe. Achilles also received a pair of black professional skates from a neighbor, who said her husband will probably never want them back.

Bogdana agreed to let Achilles copy pair skating moves with her like he did with his late wife Sabina, as long as he doesn’t try any fancy, advanced moves or drop her.

Achilles lifts her by the waist and raises her as high as he can, then lowers her and lifts her again, with his arms around her waist, slightly leaning forward. Bogdana melts into his powerful body as he alternates spinning around with her and skating in figures. After he lowers her to the ice again, he skates around to face her and lifts her with his right arm behind her knees, his left arm behind her back. Bogdana puts her arms around his shoulders and meets his smoldering gaze, communicating equal parts tenderness and desire. She shudders with her own longings, overwhelmed by the raw intimacy of his intense gaze. This is far more intimate and vulnerable than anything that happened in the clinic.

“Should I assume Dr. Medved is no longer just your cabbie and doctor’s assistant?”

Bogdana glares in the direction of the voice shattering this private moment, and sees Yustina holding Nestor’s left arm. “What are two newlyweds doing out of their love nest? I’d think you’d be locked to each other’s sides until Christmas vacation forces you back to work.”

WeWriWa—The joy of handholding

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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 a bit 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 necklace after their awkward last encounter in the underground clinic where Achilles assists.

After a very emotional discussion, Bogdana agreed to be his girlfriend. As they leave the room, Bogdana extends her hand. Hugging is still a bridge too far after what happened to her, but she feels safe with handholding.

Sparks of electricity flow through her when Achilles takes her hand. She used to deride handholding as kid stuff, something real men don’t bother doing, but now it’s the most exciting sensation in the world. She’s not holding just anyone’s hand, but the hand of the man who loves her, cherishes her, treasures her, adores her. Bogdana tries not to think about how she might not’ve met Achilles had it not been for the attack.

“Bogusya’s my girlfriend now,” Achilles announces proudly. “I hope you don’t mind me coming to visit her every day from now on.”

Fyodora smiles at him. “Of course you can do that. Only a man in love would travel to another borough and back every single day. As soon as Bogusya’s mind is recovered enough to go back to her old apartment, you’ll have a shorter commute.”