378. A Good Start

My first whole day alone, and it kind of sucked. I guess a part of me have had expectations that I have not quite sorted out.

First of all, I had not considered how much time I would get to spend already on stuff like cleaning up and doing laundry and X-mas shopping – all of which has been postponed while Char and Jay was here.

And second, I have not been totally okay with dedicating the next many days to cleaning up the office and micro-sorting everything and assembling the new furniture.

A part of me really wants to do the Alex Selkirk-talk again, or write a novella, or take a whole day off and just draw.

But I have decided not to. And it feels … okay. But not more.

And on top of that I have been tired. I guess it’s kind of an after-affect of trying to eke out hours to earn with webdesign, worrying about my mother and taking care of Jay and trying not to go crazy in our apartment while those workmen went back and forth.

I can’t just start out instantly doing something else – whether the necessary stuff, like getting that office home in order – or some dreamy let-me-be-all-creative-now-that-I-can-stuff.

It’s more messy than I thought, those few days off from the family. What I thought would be simple.

So I guess I will have to sort it all out in bits and pieces. Wrap my head around my decision to focus on the practical stuff of getting home sorted. Or do something else.

I think I will stick with my focus. And I think I will be able to do it sometime tomorrow, after I have gotten the mega-laundry, shopping and all sorts of errands out of the way.

I mean, Char has forgotten some of Jay’s stuff at an acquaintance’s apartment. There’s an X-mas present I have to go fetch, reserved for us, at a shop elsewhere – tomorrow.

It’s actually a toy-version of a fair trade Noah’s ark. For Jay. It’ll take some hours, but it’s a gift from both Char and I and we have not had time to get it before … well, before I have to go get it. Tomorrow.

I like the idea of that gift. I really like it. Even if he is not old enough to play with it yet.

But it’s … well, two hours that I should use at home, sorting out the stuff there. And so on.

And then this sense, that I’m working against the clock. That if I don’t get some of the errands done, get them out of the way, I won’t have time enough for anything else. And I won’t do anything of importance with the remaining 5 days.

Thoughts like that are like a virus.

I mean, it should be relatively simple. I have 5 days off. I either do work I have not had time for, at home, practical. Or I do creative stuff. Or a bit of both.

So simple.

And now it feels like a part of me is making a big drama about it all.

Well … whenever for some reason I experience such … mess in my head, my experience tells me that I should find an anchor-point. Something to focus on. Something that is positive, even if it doesn’t feel like the answer to any of those problems, imagined or otherwise.

I think writing is a good start …

Hammer and Magic
Chapter 1: Tatiana

The Finland Station

8 November 1917

Oleg Tertjenko looked for the last time at his foster-daughter with a mixture of pride, sadness and fear.

Tatiana Olegovna Rasputina just smiled at him in return.

She does not notice … he thought. How worried I am for her.

He embraced her

“Goodbye, my daughter. Stay safe.”

“You too, papa.”

No, he thought as he slowly let her go and put up his own best smile. No, it will not do to give her any indication of how I feel. She is perceptive enough. We must part quickly.

“So you have the address of the Ladovnas?” he asked her.

“For the 9th time, papa,” she said – and there was that stunning smile again – “yes!”

He used the occasion to feign embarrassment and look away. That meant she would not get to see his eyes, too much. And perhaps guess what he thought.

My little Tatiana … coming here in this climate of revolution and fear, that is bad enough. But risking your young life on such a dangerous mission – which I am not even sure is for the greater good – that is more folly. And I am responsible. I let Woland and the Council talk me into it.

“You will write soon, eh?” Oleg asked and quickly continued to look everywhere else but at his foster-daughter. There were so many people here, many more than there had been when they arrived from Pskov. And so many soldiers. Red soldiers …

“I will write every day, papa,” she said and kissed him on the cheek. Then she caught his eyes, finally.

“Papa – we have talked about this. I know what I am doing – of my own free will.”

He steadied himself.

“Yes, yes, of course. Your mother and I … we just … ” but Oleg broke himself of. He had noticed a larger grouping of red soldiers at the far end of the platform. They looked as if they were talking fervently and stopping ever so often to point in various directions, as if one of them – an officer perhaps – was guiding the rest.

For a search … ?

Could they know we are here?

“Yes,” Oleg forced himself to say … he had to end this now … “Yes, dear, you are a young woman now, all of 17 years old. And you can take care of yourself. Remember everything I have taught you.”

“I will,” she said with the deep seriousness that he loved.

She had come to their home almost 17 years ago after having been through God knows what, and had first been a sparkly little girl and then – now – a young woman, who could indeed turn the heads of many young men in the village. She was lithe, moved like a deer and had long blonde hair and ice-blue eyes. And that indeed turned quite a few of the poor youngsters …

Such a pity I had to keep them all away from her. Piotr would have been a good husband for her …

But it would never do for a koldun’ya to marry – not one of the Commoners.

“Goodbye then … ” he said with difficulty and embraced her quickly for the last time. Then he saw the red soldiers moving in their direction and let go just as quickly – and got on the train.

It was a wonder any train was still running if the rumors were true – that the government had fallen and the city was in the hand of the revolutionaries.

“Goodbye papa!” she yelled back, as the train began moving out from the platform in smoke and steam. “Give all my love to mama – many, many times!”

Oleg just smiled back then let his eyes guide her to what he wanted her attention to be on. Not him. But the soldiers, moving through the crowds.

She saw and understood. Tatiana turned, bowed down as if she had lost something and when she stood up again in the milling crowd … she was no longer there.

Instead there was a middle-aged woman with graying hair. The crowd was thick and everybody had their own to think of. Most thought of getting out of Petrograd while there was still time … Nobody noticed.

Then the red soldiers arrived and began to shove people to look for … something. But whatever it was they were looking for they did not find it.

Perhaps it had not been her. But one could never be too careful.

They did not know how much the red leaders knew. Woland had said they knew nothing, but Oleg suspected that that was not quite so.

The woman who had been Tatiana looked briefly in Oleg’s direction and nodded then disappeared in the crowd, carrying her big suitcase as if it was a lot less heavier than it looked.

Oleg allowed himself a last smile.

I have taught you well, dear Tatiana – but now you are truly on your own. As the Council has demanded … If something happens to you I will never forgive myself, but there is nothing to be done about it right now. You will go and do what you have to do, and we will just have to see what happens. If only you had not insisted on taking that name again …

Such names can be dangerous and although there is some honor in being true to who you are and your real father, I would say that in this instance we have a man who does not deserve such honor …

He bowed his head and went in to try to find somewhere to sit. It was quite impossible.

So Oleg Tjertjenko kept standing, all the way to Pskov and even further … all the while thinking about whether or not he should have been more adamant that Tatiana had not been ordered on this mission.

And if he could have done anything to prevent it …

The worst part of it was, that even if Woland and the Council had allowed him to veto it, Tatiana would have gone anyway. And he could no longer stop her. He knew all that. All of it was true.

It was not just her name – which she insisted on, despite the danger. It was about her growing up. Making her own decisions. Much more so than most young women were allowed, or even capable of in this time and place.

But then again, few of Russia’s other 17 year old females were fully trained sorceresses …