WeWriWa—Irina’s cigarette girl costume

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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 year, I’m starting my Halloween snippets early, since it’s so close to October.

This comes from the start of the second section of Chapter 83, “Halloween Happiness,” of my WIP A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It takes place over Halloween 1950. Irina, Lyuba and Ivan’s seventh child, just turned seventeen, and has a very individual fashion sense. She dreams of attending the Parsons School in New York to become a fashion designer. Her Halloween costumes are just as unique as her regular wardrobe.

Irina wakes an hour earlier than usual on Halloween and pulls a tray on a strap out of her closet. When she saw that at Andrey’s belovèd antiques store several weeks ago, she knew she had to be a cigarette girl this year. Irina fills it with candy cigarettes, bubblegum, jellybeans, gumdrops, nonpareils, chocolate-covered peanuts, chewing gum, cheap costume jewelry, yo-yos, and a pack of Gauloises.

She sets the tray on the bed and slips into the dress she designed herself, a red dress with black accent lace, barely meeting the fingertip rule, with a halterneck, hugging her body in all the right places. Irina complements it with red fishnets, red gloves with black sequined swirls, and red peep-toe wedge heels. She covers her bobbed hair with a red pillbox hat with black accents.

For jewelry, she puts golden bangle bracelets on each arm, and fastens a red pearl choker and a gold chain with an onyx rose pendant around her neck. Irina takes out her earrings and replaces them with red pearls in her third piercings, black pearls in her second, and heavy golden coils in her first. That finished, she puts on dark red lipstick, black mascara, teal eyeliner, and dark blue eyeshadow. Since her hands are covered by gloves, there’s no need to change her nailpolish.

WeWriWa—A surprise present

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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. I’m currently sharing from my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. This week’s snippet comes early in the next chapter after “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee.”

It’s now several days after 11-year-old Sonyechka had her hand skated over at Rockefeller Rink, and she and her family are on their way to family friend Katrin’s 50th birthday party at the Waldorf-Astoria. A deliveryman stopped them in the hall, with a surprise present for Sonyechka.

Sonyechka takes the parcel and skips back to her room. As soon as Irina unlocks it, she goes inside and pulls off the deep blue wrapping paper. A stuffed hippo, with deep brown plush fur, awaits her, along with a short note.

To Miss Sofya Koneva,

I hope your hand feels better really quickly. I thought you might like this to make you feel better. Hippos are really tough animals, and you were really tough to not scream or cry when that jerk ran over your hand. My parents told me your birthday was Friday, so this is a belated birthday present too.

Regards,

Adrian Furtsev

“He must really like you!” Irina teases. “No older boy gets a girl your age a present when he doesn’t have to.”

WeWriWa—A secret connection

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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. I’m currently sharing from Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s December 1949, and newly-11-year-old Sonyechka has been knocked over and had her hand skated over at Rockefeller Rink.

This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when Sonyechka’s helper Adrian complimented her and her sister Irina on their fancy, custom-dyed skates and told Sonyechka he hopes her hand heals soon. Now Irina, who’s old enough to understand certain things and keep important secrets, realizes just who Adrian and Poliksena are.

As Adrian skates after Poliksena, it dawns on Irina that these must be the shunned Anya and Alya’s children. She doesn’t envy them, having to keep so many secrets at all times, spin plausible cover stories, and avoid other topics altogether.

“What a nice young man,” Platosha says. “I wonder how he and his sister know our family.”

“Probably from church,” Irina lies. “It’s probably one of those cases where someone remembers or knows you a lot better than you do them. I’d surely remember someone with an unusual name like Poliksena.”

“That’s the kind of boy you need to date when you’re old enough, Sonyechka,” Beatrisa says. “Adrian is very mature for his age. I assume he’s about fifteen.”

Anya and Alya are longtime friends of Lyuba’s who were shunned from their circle after their lesbian relationship was discovered on Coney Island in 1923. In 1927, out of desperation, Lyuba came to them to beg for financial help, and was told they’d forgive her and give her money regularly if she came for weekly visits and genuinely rekindled their friendship. All these years, Lyuba and her four oldest children have kept their friendship a secret from everyone.

A gay friend provided the material for an artificial insemination at a radical underground clinic, and they publicly pass Adrian and Poliksena off as children they adopted in Prague. A few extremely trusted people know they’re natural children, but not about the lesbian relationship.

WeWriWa—Fancy skates

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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. I’m currently sharing from Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s December 1949, and newly-11-year-old Sonyechka has been knocked over and had her hand skated over at Rockefeller Rink.

This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when one of Sonyechka’s helpers, Poliksena, asked if her family are the Konevs from Minnesota. Sonyechka’s sister Irina nodded and asked if their families are acquainted, and Poliksena only said that’s a very long story.

“I like your skates, Sonya,” Adrian says as Poliksena skates off. “Your sister’s skates are nifty too. I thought only Polya dyed her skates fancy colors.”

“I love making my own fashions,” Irina says. “Who wants to have plain white skates like everyone else when we can have eye-catching colors like turquoise and royal blue? I’d rather be one in a million than one of a million.”

“That’s what my parents say too. It’s nice to blend into the crowd and be just like everyone else, but human beings aren’t supposed to be like coins who come out of the mold identical. I hope your hand heals quickly, Sonya.”

WeWriWa—A strongly left-handed family

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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. I’m currently sharing from Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s December 1949, and newly-11-year-old Sonyechka has been knocked over and had her hand skated over at Rockefeller Rink.

This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when Sonyechka came back to the rink after her sister Irina and cousin Platosha gave her first aid. Sonyechka’s helpers, Adrian and Poliksena, have waited to see if she’s alright, and Irina said the hand that was injured isn’t her dominant hand.

This has been slightly tweaked to fit ten lines.

Adrian smiles at her. “I’m left-handed too.”

“All three of our brothers are southpaws, and so are both our parents and youngest sister, though our mother’s a switched righty. One of our older sisters taught herself how to write left-handed, to impress our father. Her husband’s also a southpaw. So far, we have four southpaw nieces and nephews.”

“Do your teachers bully you?” Sonyechka asks. “The teachers at the stupid school I’m leaving were so mean about it, and one of them broke my baby sister’s arm to try to switch her.”

Poliksena looks at them more closely. “Are you by any chance the Konevs from Minnesota?”