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 young couple Patya Siyanchuk and Vladlena Zyuganova headed out to their Christmas tree at the urging of their children.
Vladlena has just directed 7-year-old Karina to a present for Patya, and Karina has put it in her father’s lap. Patya, a former Marine with a below-elbow amputation, wishes Dyed Moroz (Grandfather Frost) had left him a new arm under the tree.
“Mama found this with a lot of help from some very special people. We hope it’s your best Christmas present ever.”
Patya eyes a thin, rectangular box. “It looks like someone got me the new pastel colors I asked for. Couldn’t I please open those first?”
“You don’t know anything I got you, you naughty boy,” Vladlena chides. “Just open this first, and then see if it’s not your best Christmas present ever.”
Patya holds it in place with his right arm while he pulls off the paper and bow with his left hand. Three and a half years after his below-elbow amputation, he’s gotten significantly better at navigating these sorts of tasks, but he still struggles to do them as quickly as other people. When he reaches the cardboard box, he lifts the untaped flaps and pulls out a bulky parcel wrapped in orange tissue paper.
Patya has become an artist since his amputation, particularly with pastels, the present he wanted most. His priest’s granddaughter Violetta, whom some of you may remember, visited him in hospital and let him borrow some of her pastels.
Drawing was what helped her to develop greater strength and dexterity in her left arm and hand after her right side was damaged by polio, so it was natural to suggest this to Patya. He’s now an art student in a master’s program at Queens College, hoping to become an art teacher.