WeWriWa—Taken to the operating room

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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.

I decided to switch back to Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University, the fourth novel with my Russian characters, because the subject of Chapter 41, “A Modern-Day Greek Tragedy,” is now very timely and relevant. It’s September 1949, and 20-year-old Bogdana knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that she became pregnant when her 35-year-old secret boyfriend, his nephew, and their roommate assaulted her six weeks ago. Without a job, and afraid to ask her parents for mystery money, she took matters into her own hands.

Bogdana began bleeding profusely when she used a sharpened piece of hanger, and she called a cab in desperation, asking for her friend Achilles and intending to see the radical Dr. Scholl. She fell unconscious shortly after she crawled out to meet the cab, and Achilles sped to the underground clinic.

Achilles runs down the stairs, almost tripping, his shirt soaked with blood.

“What happened?” Dr. Scholl asks as he appears in the hallway with a stretcher.

Achilles sets Bogdana onto it and divests her of her handbag. “Six weeks ago, she was violated by three so-called men, and came to see you the day after. I doubt I’m wrong in guessing she tried to give herself an abortion. She must’ve called me when she realized something had gone very wrong.”

Dr. Scholl pushes the stretcher into the nearest operating room. He scrubs up and puts on rubber gloves, then starts a saline IV in Bogdana’s right arm.

“Open the refrigerator and hand me one of the blood bags on the top shelf,” Dr. Scholl says. “There’s no time to find out her blood type, so we have to play it safe with O.”

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

Achilles complies, and Dr. Scholl starts a second IV in her left arm. The final step is putting a mask over her face and starting the administration of anesthesia.

“She’s already unconscious,” Achilles protests. “Isn’t that a little unnecessary?”

“This is in case she comes to herself during the procedure. Better safe than sorry. It’s more effective than giving her a strong pain relief drug like morphine. I’m not trained in anesthesiology, but I’m familiar with the basics for emergencies.”

“Do you need any help?” Achilles asks as Dr. Scholl moves Bogdana’s feet onto the sock-covered footrests. “I’m a med student, and hoping to become a doctor like you.”

WeWriWa—The cab arrives

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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.

I decided to switch back to Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University, the fourth novel with my Russian characters, because the subject of Chapter 41, “A Modern-Day Greek Tragedy,” is now very timely and relevant. It’s September 1949, and 20-year-old Bogdana knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that she became pregnant when her 35-year-old secret boyfriend, his nephew, and their roommate assaulted her six weeks ago. Without a job, and afraid to ask her parents for mystery money, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

Bogdana began bleeding profusely after using a sharpened piece of hanger, and she’s unable to extract it. She called the cab company and asked for her friend Achilles, the only person who knows her secret besides the radical Dr. Scholl and uncommonly liberal priest Father Spiridon. Achilles is a med student and very young widower with a toddler daughter.

Bogdana struggles to lock her door in her kneeling position. The keys slip out of her hand after she’s finally accomplished this, and she barely remembers to retrieve them and put them back into her handbag. She crawls to the curb at the sight of the approaching cab, the pain growing stronger and more unbearable every second. Her insides feel on fire, and the blood still hasn’t stopped. It’s all over the sidewalk, in a trail leading back to her apartment.

The moment Achilles pulls to a stop, Bogdana slumps over and passes out. Achilles pushes his door open and runs to her side.

“Bogdana, can you hear me?”

She remains slumped over, her legs covered in blood. Achilles goes into the trunk for his emergency medical bags, whose contents include a Kelly pad.

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

He unfurls the rubber sheet across the backseat, picks Bogdana up, sets her on the sheet, and speeds to Dr. Scholl. Time is of such essence, he damns the consequences of being seen going directly to the clinic.

Achilles squeezes into a parallel spot about ten feet away from the clinic, barely missing nicking the other cars, and takes Bogdana out of the backseat. He closes the doors with his hips and runs towards the clinic without locking up.

“Is Dr. Scholl in?” he shouts as he runs inside. “There’s a very serious emergency. I think she tried to give herself an abortion.”

The receptionist turns white at the sight of the unconscious Bogdana in Achilles’s arms. She picks up the phone and repeats the information.

“You can go right down to the basement. He just finished with another patient.”

WeWriWa—Bogdana’s desperate act

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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.

I decided to switch back to Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University, the fourth novel with my Russian characters, because the subject of Chapter 41, “A Modern-Day Greek Tragedy,” is now very timely and relevant. It’s September 1949, and 20-year-old Bogdana knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that she became pregnant when her 35-year-old secret boyfriend, his nephew, and their roommate assaulted her six weeks ago. Without a job, and afraid to ask her parents for mystery money, she’s decided to take matters into her own hands.

Peppermint is Bogdana’s cat.

After spending several hours bending an old, already-bent hanger back and forth until it finally snapped, Bogdana then moved to unstringing it just as painstakingly and slowly. Finally, she spent several more hours bending it back and forth again until a suitably small piece broke off. The final step was sharpening one of the ends with the never-used whetstone her parents insisted she have.

Now, as dusk approaches, Bogdana steels herself and has a seat on the floor. She figures this can’t be harder than when she douched with Lysol. There’s nothing on hand to numb the pain, but it’ll be over quickly.

Bogdana guides her sharpened piece of hanger into her body, taking deep breaths. She yelps when it hits something she assumes must be the cervix. After taking a few more deep breaths, she wiggles it around until she discovers a slight opening. Victory achieved, she pushes it through.

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

Searing pain rips through her, from a place she can’t be sure of. The intense pain is accompanied by a warm, wet, sticky gushing down her legs. She tries to pull out the instrument, but can no longer reach it. Panic sweeps through her as she tries again and again to get even a toehold of a grip. She has no pliers of any sort, so she can’t extract it the hard way either.

Bogdana suppresses her urge to scream and alert her upstairs neighbors to what’s going on. She crawls over to the phone, pain still holding her in an iron grip, and calls the cab company. In a shaking voice, she asks for Les Medved, and gives her destination as a random address near Dr. Scholl.

During the next ten minutes, she breathes deep and clenches her fists and toes to try to distract herself from the agony. All the while, blood continues gushing down her legs and forming a pool on the carpet. Peppermint pads up to her, then skits away at the sight of the blood.

WeWriWa—Presents from the Lindmaas

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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 week will be my last Christmas-themed excerpt, in honor of the recent Orthodox Christmas. It comes from Chapter 90, “Cruel Christmas,” from A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University, the fourth book about my Russian-born characters. It’s set during January 1951.

Milena Kalvik, age 26, is the nanny of Tarmo and Meri Lindmaa. Their father Vahur, a widower about to turn 33, lost his wife in the final bombing of Tallinn, Estonia in 1944. Meri is particularly attached to Milena, never having known her birth mother. She was born in a posthumous C-section two months prematurely, and has a very unusual scar on her face from the rushed surgery done in the dark with only a knife.

Milena has had feelings for Vahur almost since they met, and adores his children, but doesn’t think he could ever reciprocate.

The Lindmaas are Taaraists, followers of Estonia’s original religion Taarausk (Taaraism), which is built around Nature worship. Taara is their supreme god.

Milena fetches the gifts she bought for Vahur, Meri, and Tarmo. Though they don’t celebrate Christmas, it felt wrong to not give them anything in return. For Tarmo and Meri, she bought James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks and Anne Parrish’s The Story of Appleby Capple, respectively. Vahur’s present is a painted necktie with Bengal tigers.

“I hope you like our gifts,” Meri says. “Tarmo and I spent a lot of time making them. It was easier to do when you don’t live with us anymore.”

Milena unwraps a set of four coasters from Tarmo, painted with geometric patterns in a rainbow of colors, and a green, heart-shaped ceramic candy dish from Meri. Her heart skips a beat when she discovers a rough-cut pearl necklace from Vahur.

“You didn’t have to get me something so personal,” Milena protests.

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

“I’m only your children’s nanny. The other jewelry you’ve gotten me is unprecedented enough.”

“Why shouldn’t I honor such a special person with pearls?” Vahur smiles at her. “I’ve never seen you wearing pearls, and thought you deserved your own, in a unique style. So many other ladies wear basic, boring white pearls, but how many wear rough-cut pearls? It’s special, just like you.” Vahur takes it out of the box and fastens it around Milena’s neck. “Every lady deserves pearls from a man, and since no one else did it, I took it upon myself.”

“So you feel sorry for me because I’m an old maid?”

“Perish the thought. Taara’s keeping you single so long because your husband’s very special and worth waiting for. It takes more time to match some people. Not everyone is lucky enough to find a soulmate at all of sixteen or twenty. You’ll appreciate him more when he reveals himself.”

Milena’s heart flutters at that choice of phrase. She can’t let herself believe Vahur is speaking about himself, but the possibility exists. Her heart beats even faster when Vahur helps her on with her winter wraps and takes her arm.

WeWriWa—Marek’s gifts to Tamara

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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.

Since it’s December, I’ve switched to Christmas-themed excerpts (even though my own winter holiday is Chanukah). This week, the snippet comes from Chapter 90, “Cruel Christmas,” from A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University, the fourth book about my Russian-born characters. It’s set during January 1951.

Lyuba and Ivan’s youngest child, nine-year-old Tamara, is still using crutches and calipers over a year after she had a stroke from being brutally attacked by her second grade teacher and all but one of her classmates. She’s very disappointed and upset she can’t practice walking normally outside the house, no matter how much her family tries to reassure her this won’t last forever.

Tamara’s gift is from eleven-year-old Marek Kalvik, the surprise late-life sixth child of dear family friend Katrin Kalvik-Nikonova. When he recently testified at his mother’s kangaroo court trial for alleged un-American activities, the judge taunted him by saying no one will want to marry him. In case that happens, he asks Tamara if she’ll promise to marry him when they’re grownups, but only if she really wants to.

Tamara limps back to the davenport and pulls off the wrapping paper. She lifts the flaps of the box within and finds a stuffed turtle, an onyx and silver bracelet, an obsidian bead necklace, and a letter. Ivan suspiciously eyes the jewelry as Tamara holds the turtle in her lap and reads Marek’s letter.

December 27, 1950,

Dear Toma,

I hope you get this by Orthodox Christmas. My brothers-in-law, Nikita, and Viivi helped me with selecting your presents. Taavi and Sulev told me turtles represent long life, good health, persistence, determination, emotional strength, and being grounded despite chaos. I asked them about more jewelry to help you with healing, and they said blue stones like lapis lazuli help with relaxation and calming, and black stones like obsidian and onyx help with protection. When we’re older, I’ll buy you black pearls. They protect people from negative energy and have lots of healing energy too, but pearls are grownup jewelry, and lots of money.

The ten lines end here (by the way I counted). A few extras follow.

I hope you don’t think you already have too many stuffed animals and too much jewelry. Each one is different and special, but you might not see it that way when people keep giving them to you.

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