Life imitates art… or something


I confess I cheered.  Why?  Because I’ve been working on a book for a long time now.  It kept me company during my time as a caregiver, and I always called it my “winter book” because I always seemed to go back to it when it began to snow.

It's a time travel romance about a young woman named Sasha Kharkov, who goes back to Russia in February 1917, just in time to stumble into the February Revolution.  She's not quite sure why she's there, but she thinks it's to help her grandfather, who is just a boy, and change an important piece of her family's history.


The family comes from Kharkov, in Ukraine, and that’s where this video is from.  This just happened.  What you’re seeing is the people of Kharkov tearing down a statue of Lenin, standing up for the right of Ukraine to be an independent state.  It’s a warning to Putin and his bully boys, and it brought tears to my eyes because I know what this would mean to Sasha and her family.

From the article:

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov sees nothing wrong or criminal in this act of vandalism and said the criminal case was closed since the governor swiftly issued an order to demolish that monument.

“Lenin? Let him fall. As long as the people did not suffer,” Avakov wrote on his Facebook page. “If only this bloody communist idol, leaving, did not add to his victims count.”

Law enforcements were given orders “to protect the people, not the idol,” Avakov added.

This event gives me the epilogue I’ve been looking for.  So in honor of the fall of Lenin in Kharkov, Ukraine, I am going to share a bit of the novel, still in progress.

The house was dark and silent. Everywhere she looked, Sasha saw shadowy forms hunched like great animals in the darkness. All the furniture was covered with sheets and dust covers, but the room, even so abandoned, seemed familiar to her. She went to the fireplace and reached up to tug at the sheet that covered the painting above it. It caught for a moment, and then drifted down to pool into the shadows on the floor like an exorcised ghost. The portrait was of her great grandmother, Natasha Kharkov, in her tobacco-colored velvet gown and the famous amber necklace. This was her family’s home. Sasha was standing in Kharkov House in St. Petersburg. .

Suddenly from the hallway, she heard a sharp sneeze that made her jump. She stepped out of the parlor to confront an old woman, who gave a yip of distress and fell on her knees, crossing herself over and over.

“Oh Blessed Mother, Oh Holy Saints forgive me, forgive me!” the woman moaned. “Forgive me Madame, I know I did wrong but I– I thought you wouldn’t need it anymore!” Coughing nervously the whole time, she produced an object from inside her coat and held it out to Sasha, averting her eyes as if Sasha was too hideous to look at. Then Sasha remembered that she had a growling bear on her tee shirt so the effect must have been pretty startling.

Sasha took the thing – a necklace she guessed, from the feel of it – from the woman’s trembling hand. “Where did you get this?” she asked sternly.

“May the Holy Mother forgive me, I know I did wrong but it was so beautiful and you weren’t going to use it anymore! You’re dead! All the Blessed Martyrs forgive and protect me, but you are dead! I saw you die this afternoon.”

“This afternoon…” Sasha realized suddenly that the woman had taken her for Natasha. “How dare you steal from the dead?”

The woman began to weep, rubbing her eyes and nose, smearing her face with tears and mucous. “I am so sorry, Madame, so sorry. I came back and took it because I thought no one would miss it. So sorry…”

Sasha frowned. “You did a very wrong thing,” she said sternly, figuring that her best bet was to play along. “Had you kept it I would have haunted you all your days and brought evil luck to your children’s children unto the seventh, uh, generation. Now leave this house and don’t ever return!” And she raised her arms in a sort of Dracula-meets-Frankenstein’s-monster gesture, just to emphasize the threat. She only just managed to keep herself from adding “Booga-booga!”

The woman scrambled to her feet and ran from the house as fast as she could. She didn’t even close the door in her haste.

Suddenly it wasn’t all that funny anymore. There was something sad about the house, something abandoned about it that sucked the humor out of Sasha’s little joke. She walked slowly to the door and closed it behind the woman, locking it with deliberate movements. Her hands felt disconnected from her body. Slowly she raised her hand until it caught the moonlight that spilled into the house through beveled windowpanes. The thing in her hand was made of amber. The old woman had given her the gold and amber necklace; the one Roman had not been able to find when he prepared to leave Russia. Sasha was holding her great grandmother’s lost amber necklace.

There was a noise behind her. Sasha turned to look, her eyes following the line of the stairwell to the top where a boy stood, clad in a nightshirt and holding a sword.

It was Roman.


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