Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday Fiction for August 6, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Sharlyn, over at Dancin’ on Rainbows, where you’ll find the Linky tool for the first collection of stories for August.

I’m coming in a little late this week. We were out of town for the night, followed immediately by almost five and a half hours at work. Since some folks were actually waiting for the next chapter of Precocious by Consent, it would be ingracious to disappoint.

I’m still a bit unsure about this chapter. It may end up getting a major reworking sometime in a future revision pass, but for now, there is an important element in this scene that needs to remain. (Note: Katya's cover name on her passport is Yesfir)

Chapter 20

Wednesday late morning

School was an interesting experience. Katya’s previous education had been what her mother could teach her in the restricted environment of the compound in Belarus, followed by the things she had gleaned from various sources during her life as a performer, and since. While many of her classmates acted bored, she was enthralled.

They were studying genetics, and it was all she could do to keep from telling the teacher that what he speculated about had already been proven by Russian scientists working in Belarus. When he postulated on creating puppies with specific traits, she raised her hand.

“Yes, Cathy?” he asked.

“So, it would be possible to create a puppy that would always look like a puppy, no matter how old it was?” she said.

He looked at her with a satisfied smile. “I suppose it would be possible, and I expect it would be a shrewd business idea to do so.”

One of the office runners popped into the classroom and handed him a note. He read it, thanked the student, and looked at Katya again. “Cathy, they’d like to see you in the office after this class is over.”

A chorus of jeers declaring she was in trouble sounded from her classmates. She blushed, and wondered what she might have done.

“That’s enough, class,” the teacher said. “Cathy, you’re not in trouble. If you were, they would have asked you to report to the office immediately.” He leaned against the corner of his desk, and crossed his arms across his chest. “It’s more likely they just lost some of the paperwork for your enrollment, and need you to help them recreate it.”

She had trouble concentrating for the remainder of the class period, despite having a particular interest in the subject. “Playing the role” hadn’t seemed all that difficult when she’d finally agreed to do so, but the reality of maintaining a constant ad-lib performance against a steady barrage of unexpected twists was taking its toll. When the bell sounded to mark the end of the period, she gathered her things into her backpack, and made her way to the office.

Mrs. Rawlings was waiting when she walked in. “Oh, good, Cathy; you’re here. I have someone here who would like to see you.”

“Who?” she asked.

“She’s waiting in my office,” Mrs. Rawlings said, ushering Katya through the door. “Cathy, this is Sister Tatiana from the Russian Orthodox Church. She works with children recently emigrated from Russia.”

The woman stood and smiled at her. She was dressed in a long, black dress that covered her from the neck to the ankles, and her head was similarly covered by a black hat, leaving only her face and hands showing. “You are Yesfir Katina Petrova?” the nun asked, in Russian.

Katya looked at Mrs. Rawlings, who gave her an encouraging smile. “It’s okay, Cathy. I’ll leave you two to chat.”

“Thank you,” Sister Tatiana said. “Come and sit, child; this is a friendly visit, and you have nothing to be afraid of from me.

Katya took the indicated chair, holding her backpack against her chest. “I am called Cathy Adamson now. I have taken the name of my new parents.” She glanced towards the now-closed door. “Why are we speaking Russian if you speak English as well?”

“I wish you to feel you may speak freely with me, without concerns over what might be overheard, Yesfir.” The nun settled into Mrs. Rawlings chair and folder her hands in her lap. “This is the reason that I have come to your school as well, rather than meet with you at the home of your adoptive parents. We have learned over the years of cases where Russian orphans, adopted by American couples, have been abused or mistreated, and so we purpose to make contact with any new adopted children in our region soon after they arrive.”

“I have not been abused or mistreated. The Adamsons have been more than wonderful to me.”

“I’m happy to hear that, and please do not think that I was accusing them. With most of the children we visit, this is also the case, but it would be tragic if we assumed things were well, when they were not, no?”

“I guess.”

“We know, also, that it can sometimes be difficult to adjust to a new life in a new country, and I want you to know that you may call on me anytime you feel the need to ask questions or even to just talk about what you’re going through. Your new parents may be wonderful, but America isn’t always wonderful when you still think like a Russian.” She reached into a tote bag on the floor by the chair. “May I give you something?”

“What is it?”

From a small box, she removed a necklace. “It is a Saint Olga Cross. Are you familiar with the Russian Orthodox crosses?”

She shook her head. “My parents were not members of the church, and did not teach me anything of it.”

“Within this cross is the cross of St. Andrew, one of the patron saints of Russia, and on the back the words ‘save and protect’ are engraved. Would you wear it if I give it to you?” She held the cross close for Katya to see.

Katya touched the cross, and turned it around in her fingers. “It is beautiful, but I could not accept such a gift.”

“It is a gift from God, child, through the Church. Would you deny a gift from God?” She opened the clasp on the chain, and held the two ends apart with both hands. “May I put it on you, Yesfir?”

Leaning forward, she accepted the offer. “Please.”

Sister Tatiana fastened the clasp behind her neck, and then placed a kiss on both cheeks. “May God watch over you, child, and keep you safe. Wear this cross, and always remember that you are a child of God, and a daughter of Russia. However much you may come to love America, never feel as though you must denounce or be ashamed of your heritage. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sister.”

“Keep this card with you as well. The number where I may be reached is on it, and I want you to call me anytime that you feel the need to talk, or if you are having difficulty understanding something about American culture.”

Katya accepted the card from her. The text was in English on one side, and Russian Cyrillic script on the other. “Thank you, Sister Tatiana. I will.”

“Yesfir, one more thing. I know there is much pressure to conform to American culture, and an English name can make it easier for Americans to accept you, but please do not be too quick to discard your name. Yesfir is a good name with a rich history, and I believe it fits you.”

1 comment:

Carole L Robishaw said...

Hmmm, do we trust the nun? or is this a check by the killer?
Thanks, Rick