Sonya Reacts


This is the final of the twenty posts I originally put together on 24 June 2012 (plus a few posts from the same story arc done at later dates) for future installments of the now-defunct Sweet Saturday Samples hop. It differs slightly from the published version; e.g., I no longer pedantically use accent marks, and Mrs. Herzena is now Mrs. Kharzina.


In Chapter 32 of The Twelfth Time, “The Exodus Begins,” Sonya has finally discovered what happened to her surviving daughter. During Alla and Karmov’s wedding celebration, Ginny’s mother begins pressing, for not the first time, for a potential marriage match between him and Kittey. Ginny insists, as always, that he still loves Georgiya in the Soviet Union. Ginny and Georgiya will eventually be reunited, but not for many, many, many years. Ginny will meet his daughter Inga long before he sees his one true love again.


“Speaking of Kittey.” Mrs. Herzena takes a large piece of smoked fish from the serving platter. “Have you given any further thought to marrying her, Ginny? It’s not good for people of your age to be unmarried. I’m not suggesting having children immediately, since I didn’t, but at least have your own adult household. People will start to talk about you if you’re not married soon.”

“Not on your life,” Kittey says. “I’d never leave my brother and his family. I’m going to Minnesota with them. Perhaps when I’m a bit older, I’ll go to the University of Minnesota. But in the meantime, I have to help Kat and Kólya with running their planned general store. And my nieces and nephews adore me. How could I even think of deserting them?”

“Don’t take Tyotya Kittey away from us!” Anzhelíka begs.

“She loves us more than our mother!” Andréy says.

“I already have a woman I love,” Ginny says. “Kittey is too much like a sister to me to even think about in that way.”

“That girl is never going to defect,” Mrs. Herzena says. “She loves the Soviet Union too much. Unless that new Stálin fellow makes life as unbearable for her as that lunatic Lénin made it for us, she’s staying exactly where she is for the rest of her life. And you’re certainly not going home. Stop wasting your time dreaming about someone you’ll never see again. I’m sure she’ll move onto an attainable man soon.”

“Even if this Geórgiya does meet and marry a nearby man, I want you to stay in contact with her as long as possible,” Sónya says. “She’s the only person who can provide information on my daughter. I know parents are allowed to bring children to Canada and bypass immigration regulations, but I’m sure that man would fight such an order. I still can’t get over how he just took my Kárlochka eight hours away from where he found her and adopted her. Decent people don’t assume a lost child is unwanted or that no one’s looking for her!”

“He was always an annoying pain in the neck,” Ginny says. “I’m not surprised he’s still unmarried. But if Kárla loves him and calls him Papa Lyonya, it would probably be very traumatic for her to be taken away from him. No offense, Sónya, but you’re a stranger to her. She hasn’t seen you in almost nine years. She was far too young to remember when she was taken away.”

“I hope to God he suffers the same way we did when the Tsar was overthrown,” Naína says. “I’m not the only one who’s suspicious about how some relative nobody was able to rise all the way to the top, instead of one of Lénin’s top confidantes. Usually people are up to no good when they rise so high so quickly, and get rid of better-qualified competition in the process. I only hope our Kárlochka stays safe if bad things happen over there.”

“You can still have another baby to replace Kárla, Tyotya Sónya,” Tatyana says. “You’re Tyotya Gálya’s age, so I know you’re not too old yet to have more babies.”

“And you can find a younger man,” Nikoláy says. “Tyotya Mótya, Tyotya Gálya, and Válya Yeltsina married younger men. Maybe you can have a little boy with your new husband.”

“There’s no proof my Maksím is dead. I’m sure no priest would allow me to marry again if the status of my first husband is unknown.”

Tyotya Állochka just got married again, and she found out her first husband was dead,” Novomira says. “A nice priest will understand your first husband is probably gone, but there’s no way to find proof.”

“You’d be blameless,” Kittey says. “At least think about it. I’m too young to think about marriage, contrary to what Ginny’s mother thinks, but you’re too old to not think about remarriage and more kids while you’re still fertile.”

Sweet Saturday Samples—In the General Store


This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples also comes from Chapter 39 of The Twelfth Time. During her visit to Minnesota, Lyuba has been helping her next-best friend Kat and Kat’s sister-in-law Kittey with the general store they’ve started since relocating. After the business day ends, she’s allowed to choose a free gift to take home to her newly-discovered stepsister Lyolya, and a gift for herself. She gets the exact type of necklace I’d love, a spider necklace. (I already have a small jewelry box made to look like a spider’s web, with a red spider on top.)


Kat turns the sign on the door around from “Open” to “Closed” at 5:00.  By this time Tatyana and Fédya have gone back next door and Kat’s children have gone to their own house, and only Kat, Kittey, and Lyuba are left in the store.

“Did you notice anything you’d like to buy for your new stepsister?” Kat asks. “She’s the dancer, right?”

“A ballerina.  Praise God, she regained her mobility after those godless Reds almost destroyed her kneecaps.  It’s a miracle she’s able to dance again, well enough to get lead roles.  I assume she has plenty of dance clothes provided for her.”

“Dancers always appreciate pretty hair decorations,” Kittey says. “We have a section of jewelry and hair ornaments, some of them handmade and others we ordered from a catalogue.”

Lyuba goes over to the corner of the store reserved for fancy purses, ladies’ watches, jewelry, and upscale scarves. “I know she’s a fellow Sagittarius, so her birthstone is turquoise or blue zircon.  She might like to get hairpins with those stones.”

“And put them in a pretty little clutch.  That’ll be a nice presentation.”

“I hope she doesn’t think it’s too rude to get a gift from a stranger.  I might be her stepsister, but she’s never met me.  She’s probably more expecting to get gifts from her real sisters.”

“You’ll become her real sister in time,” Kat says. “Matryona, Dinara, and Svéta all appeared some time after we’d come here together, and they don’t see you as just a stepsister.  Maybe you have the most special relationship with Álla because she’s the stepsister you’ve known longest, but your surviving parents are still married.  And you share that adorable little brother.”

Lyuba selects a pair of silver hairpins with heart-shaped blue zircons and a black silk clutch with pink ballet slippers embroidered on it. “How much is this going to be?”

“You can have them for free if you’d like,” Kat says. “We’re not going to charge one of our best friends.  Think of it as a courtesy gift.  We know you’re not going to make a habit of helping yourself to merchandise.  And we’re no longer practically starving, so we can afford to give some stuff away for free.”

“Are you sure you don’t need the money?  I can easily afford it, so long as it’s not hundreds of dollars.”

“It’s our treat,” Kittey repeats. “You should have a nice gift to take back to her next week.  Your kids will make something, but everyone expects kids to give homemade or cheap gifts.  Adults with decent money are supposed to give more upscale presents.”

“If you insist.”

“Save your money for taking care of your remaining business in New York and relocating here,” Kat says. “And you’re going to have a baby in October.  Think about him, and not trying to reimburse us for a small gift.  You can even take a little something for yourself too, if you’d like.  Have anything you’d like, and it’ll be on us.”

“Now that’s just taking advantage of you!”

“We won’t let you leave our store to go home till you get a small gift on us.  How about something purple?”

Lyuba shakes her head in resignation. “Fine, you win.”

Kat pulls out purple wrapping paper for Lyolya’s present and the item Lyuba eventually brings to the front, a necklace with a spider pendant.  Kittey giggles when she sees the necklace.

“I knew you’d see that and want it.  You’re still such a tomboy, even as a married mother.”

“Why not?  I always liked spiders.  They’re such beautiful creatures.  And this isn’t some childish costume necklace.  It looks elegant and refined, as least as far as a spider necklace can look.  I’ll be proud to wear it to work.”

“You and Iván are perfect for each other,” Kat smiles. “You’re both so different from the so-called norms, and don’t mind that about each other.  I think people who are different seek other outcasts out, or are pulled together through some unseen force.  Either way, I’m sure you’ll get back on track beautifully once you’ve permanently resettled.  In spite of all your problems, you still have that deep base in common.”