WeWriWa—A New Year

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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. In the spirit of the New Year, I’m using a snippet from my alternative history, as 1922 is replaced by 1923. This is from Part II, some years prior to the excerpts I’ve been sharing from. Aleksey has been living in Belleville, Paris to attend the Sorbonne, and his sister Mariya and brother-in-law Igor have come to visit for the holidays since they don’t have any sick or very young children like the rest of Aleksey’s sisters and brothers-in-law.

Modern forensic evidence seems to suggest Mariya was almost certainly a hemophilia carrier, as opposed to just strong speculation for the other three, but since she wanted a big family so badly, I was nice and gave her three daughters before two sick boys and another girl. At the time of this scene, she has only two children, 3-year-old Isidora and 21-month-old Nina. From everything I’ve read, she was a really sweet, gentle-hearted person, and didn’t deserve to immediately have incurably sick children.

This has been slightly edited to fit the sentence limit.

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1923 dawned on a cold, snowy night with lots of stars and an almost full Moon.  Though Belleville wasn’t a neighborhood known for an active night life and merry carousers up past midnight, the holiday was a special exception.  There were still lights on in nearby houses, and fireworks could be seen from the windows.  Most of the fireworks came from amateur locals, but some of the fireworks from nearby Montmartre could still be seen up in the dark night sky.  Inside the warm townhouse, Nina and Isidora lay sleeping on the Persian rug in the living room while the adults, the servants included, drank champagne and sparkling white wine.  A large bowl of papilottes sat on the coffeetable, with numerous colorful wrappers scattered about, and ample dried fruits left over from the thirteen desserts feast.

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“Let’s hope you don’t hurt yourself during this new year, Your Majesty,” Dr. Merkulov said. “I expect to see you walking by March, and we don’t want you to immediately end up in that damned wheelchair all over again.”

“I hate being in a wheelchair even more than I hate wearing calipers.  Why would I hurt myself on purpose?”

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Déjà Vu Blogfest 2015—In Memoriam

Today’s my English birthday (eight days after my Hebrew birthday this year), and I think I’ve finally reached the age where I simply want to say I’m old enough instead of giving my true age. It’s not like anyone would believe me if I told them my true age anyway, since I don’t look a day over 25, if that. Though don’t worry I’ll be one of those people pretending to be turning 21, 25, or 29 every single year from now on!

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As in previous years, D.L. Hammons is once again hosting his Déjà Vu Blogfest, wherein participants repost something they felt didn’t get enough exposure, or their favorite post from the past year. Click on the button for more information and the list of participants.

My Friday posts generally don’t get many views, and this one has under 30 to date since its 17 July posting. It’s a memorial post for Russia’s last Imperial Family, with nothing more than their names, pictures, birthdates, and death dates. I felt that would convey the enormity of this loss of life far more than some overly graphic account of the murders. The Mourner’s Kaddish doesn’t once mention Death, and the Torah portion Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah) starts by talking about how Sarah lived, not that she died. In mourning Death, we celebrate Life.

I also avoided any discussion of the ongoing arguments over whether the Imperial Family (particularly Nicholas and Aleksandra) should’ve been canonized, or which people in particular. To make a long, heated story very short, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad canonized everyone but Fyodor Remez as New Martyrs (including two other servants murdered in September 1918), whereas the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia only canonized the immediate Imperial Family as passion-bearers, plus Aleksandra’s sister Ella and her nun Varvara as New Martyrs.

Originally published 17 July 2015:

In memory of the 19 souls murdered 97 years ago, victims of Bolshevik repression and now elevated to sainthood by the Russian Orthodox Church:

Murdered on 17 July 1918:

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Tsar Nicholas II (Nikolay Aleksandrovich), born 6/18 May 1868

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Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna, née Princess Viktoria Alix Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 6 June 1872

Olgachair

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, born 3/15 November 1895

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Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna, born 29 May/11 June 1897

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Grand Duchess Mariya Nikolayevna, born 14/27 June 1899

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Grand Duchess Anastasiya Nikolayevna, born 5/18 June 1901

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Tsesarevich Aleksey Nikolayevich, born 30 July/12 August 1904

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Dr. Yevgeniy Sergeyevich Botkin, born 27 May/8 June 1865

Anna_Demidova

Anna Stepanovna Demidova (lady-in-waiting), born 14/26 January 1878

Ivan_Mihaylovich_Haritonov

Ivan Mikhaylovich Kharitonov (cook), born 2/14 June 1870

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Aloiziy Yegorovich Trupp (footman), born 5 April 1856

Murdered on 18 July 1918 (though most took several days to die):

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Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich, born 25 September/7 October 1869, and his secretary, Fyodor Remez

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Sister (formerly Grand Duchess) Yelizaveta Fyodorovna, née Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Luise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 1 November 1864

Varvara_Yakovleva

Sister Varvara Alekseyevna Yakovleva, born circa 1850

Ioann_Konstantinovich_of_Russia

Prince (né Grand Duke) Ioann Konstantinovich, born 23 June/5 July 1886

Prince_Konstantin_Konstantinovich

Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger, born 20 December 1890/1 January 1891

Prince Igor Konstantinovich

Prince Igor Konstantinovich, born 29 May/10 June 1894

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Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (really a Romanov), born 28 December 1896/9 January 1897

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a)

In Memoriam

In memory of the 19 souls murdered 97 years ago, victims of Bolshevik repression and now elevated to sainthood by the Russian Orthodox Church:

Murdered on 17 July 1918:

Tsarevich_Nicholas_Alexandrovich

Tsar Nicholas II (Nikolay Aleksandrovich), born 6/18 May 1868

Princess_Alix_of_Hesse_1890

Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna, née Princess Viktoria Alix Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 6 June 1872

Olgachair

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, born 3/15 November 1895

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Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna, born 29 May/11 June 1897

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Grand Duchess Mariya Nikolayevna, born 14/27 June 1899

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Grand Duchess Anastasiya Nikolayevna, born 5/18 June 1901

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Tsesarevich Aleksey Nikolayevich, born 30 July/12 August 1904

BotkinES

Dr. Yevgeniy Sergeyevich Botkin, born 27 May/8 June 1865

Anna_Demidova

Anna Stepanovna Demidova (lady-in-waiting), born 14/26 January 1878

Ivan_Mihaylovich_Haritonov

Ivan Mikhaylovich Kharitonov (cook), born 2/14 June 1870

Aloise_(Alexei)_Yegorovich_Trupp

Aloiziy Yegorovich Trupp (footman), born 5 April 1856

Murdered on 18 July 1918 (though most took several days to die):

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Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich, born 25 September/7 October 1869, and his secretary, Fyodor Remez

Elizaveta_romanova

Sister (formerly Grand Duchess) Yelizaveta Fyodorovna, née Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Luise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 1 November 1864

Varvara_Yakovleva

Sister Varvara Alekseyevna Yakovleva, born circa 1850

Ioann_Konstantinovich_of_Russia

Prince (né Grand Duke) Ioann Konstantinovich, born 23 June/5 July 1886

Prince_Konstantin_Konstantinovich

Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger, born 20 December 1890/1 January 1891

Prince Igor Konstantinovich

Prince Igor Konstantinovich, born 29 May/10 June 1894

1916bis

Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (really a Romanov), born 28 December 1896/9 January 1897

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a)

WIPpet Wednesday—Igor Comforts Mariya

Happy Wednesday! Now that the weather is mostly nice again, I’m able to regularly go to the pond near my apartment. I discovered a goose family in May, and it’s been so fun watching them grow up. Each time I see them, they’re a little bit bigger and look a little different. Sadly, I’ve had to watch them going from six to five to four.

This is how big they were when I met them:

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This is how big they are now:

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Tuesday also made 12 years since I got my left nostril pierced. I’d wanted it since I was 12 years old, and when I was an adult and had done a lot of research, I finally did it. I’ve never regretted it, and love how cute, flattering, and discreet it looks, as well as how it’s the side traditionally pierced in India. I’d rate it a 0 on the pain scale, since I didn’t feel anything except some strange pressure. My piercer really found my sweet spot!

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WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly bloghop hosted by K.L. Schwengel. The caveat is that excerpts must be related to the date in some way. I’m sharing 38 lines, since 24+6+2+0+1+5=38.

Prince Igor Konstantinovich (age 24) has come over to visit Aleksey, whom he previously spent a lot of time with at Stavka (military HQ) during the war. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Aleksey’s 19-year-old sister Mariya.

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Maríya came into the library, limping as she had since her discharge from the hospital.  Just as when she’d returned to the family in August, her large, saucer-like blue eyes were still drained of vivacity.  She barely glanced at their visitor before continuing on to a nearby shelf.

“How are you feeling, Maríya Nikoláyevna?” Ígor asked. “I didn’t get a chance to speak with any of you at your parents’ funeral, but I hope you don’t think it’s too late to convey my utmost sympathies and condolences.  Three years on, I’m still saddened by the loss of my dear father, and the loss of my dear brother Óleg haunts me four years later.”

Maríya pulled a book off the shelf and began limping out of the room.  When the book slipped out of her hand onto the carpet, she burst into tears, and Ígor jumped up to help her.

“Are you feeling alright?” Ígor turned away and coughed. “I’m sorry, my health hasn’t been the same since I had pleurisy and pneumonia three years ago.”

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“Life is just so meaningless and useless since my parents were murdered!  How can any of us go on living and pretending to be happy when there’s no more life for our dear parents?  I should’ve been killed too, not just shot in the leg and left with a limp.  It would’ve been even better had I died of measles last year, and been spared everything.  This palace feels so empty and melancholic without my parents, and I have nothing to do with myself anymore but read, crochet, knit, and go for walks.  I don’t even have much of an appetite, and have no heart to draw or paint.” She stumbled towards the nearest davenport and flung herself down, weeping so hysterically her entire body heaved.

Ígor trailed after her and had a seat on the davenport.  He timidly touched Maríya’s shoulder, then immediately removed his hand.

“Please forgive me, Your Imperial Highness.  I don’t know what I was thinking, just that I wanted to help you when you’re so upset.”

“You’re a family friend, not a stranger.  There’s no offense taken.” Maríya pulled herself up and wrapped her arms around Ígor, still sobbing.

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Ígor hesitated for a moment, then put his arms around her in return. “You were always so sweet, happy, and cheerful, even in the worst of times.  Is there anything that would make you cheer up and be as happy as you used to be, besides the impossible feat of bringing your parents back to life?”

“I was too sweet and happy.  Now I know what being too good got me, almost being murdered.  Nothing that made me happy before makes me happy now.”

“Sure you’ll be happy again.  With enough time, you won’t feel so sad all the time anymore.  If you still love children, maybe you can come over to my brother Ioannchik’s house to play with his two children.  And if you still like soldiers, I bet you could visit some hospitals for the fellows still recovering from their war wounds.  You’re old enough to be a real nurse now, not just have a hospital in your name.  Even if the war is over for us, there are still plenty of guys with serious injuries.”

She began to calm down a little bit.