Posted in 1940s, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

WeWriWa—Suspicions confirmed

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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 he arrived, and Achilles sped to the underground clinic.

This comes a bit after last week’s excerpt, when Dr. Scholl gave Bogdana a saline IV, blood transfusion, and anesthesia. Achilles, a med student, asked if he could be of any assistance, and said he wants to be a doctor like Dr. Scholl. Dr. Scholl asked what drew him to this field of medicine, and Achilles said his wife died of a crochet hook abortion last August. She was attacked by three men while he was in the hospital with a broken leg and bone infection.

Dr. Robert Spencer of Ashland, PA (1889–1969), who helped 40,000 women from all over the U.S. for very affordable fees. He was arrested thrice, but never convicted. Local residents welcomed or tolerated his clandestine activities, since his out-of-town patients brought a lot of business to the area.

Dr. Scholl reaches for a small gripper. “Your suspicions were correct. This is some type of metal. It’s hard to say if she’s lucky she got it all the way through the cervical os instead of pushing it into the cervix itself.”

Dr. Scholl places the extracted piece of metal on a tray covered by a gauze pad, then dilates the cervix and reaches for a cannula attached to a pump and bottle. Achilles watches as he extracts the tissue, while Bogdana continues to bleed.

“I’ll have to pack her uterus with cotton padding to stanch the bleeding. She must’ve punctured something, but hopefully didn’t tear through to the intestines or bowel. The padding will be treated with a solution to facilitate the expulsion of any leftover tissue, along with the padding itself. Dr. Spencer uses this technique too.”

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

Achilles watches as Dr. Scholl performs this final step of the procedure. Everything seems so logical, though he’ll have to watch and assist with many more procedures before any doctor trusts him enough to do it on his own.

“She’s got awhile before the anesthesia wears off,” Dr. Scholl says as he washes his hands. “I think she’ll pull through. There’s no telling what would’ve happened to her if she hadn’t called for you, or if she’d fallen unconscious while waiting for you. So many other women aren’t this relatively lucky.”

Posted in 1940s, Bogdana, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

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.”

Posted in 1940s, Achilles Medved, Bogdana, Fourth Russian novel, Historical fiction, Writing

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.”

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

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.”

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

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.”