I have a hard time restraining myself from writing – or drawing – now that I have the time, in principle. But I manage.
And I move forward with the office-creation here on the 1½ square-meters in room 1 of our apartment. I have the shelf with the printer and scanner in relative order and I have built a small file cabinet I ordered yesterday. So far so good. With that and All The Other Practicalities.
And then I have written more words on Hammer and Magic and I wonder how it will feel when Jay and Char are back and I have to restrain myself because by that time I will hardly be able to do more than the scheduled 500 words per day.
Well, it will feel like it kind of sucks, but on the other hand – I know that this is coming and this is reality for a good long while. And I have bothered you all enough with all the whiny details in countless of blog posts now, throughout recent weeks.
Okay, maybe not “countless” but it feels like I have been whining a bit, and I don’t want to sound like that. I want to remind myself and put another important thing in writing right here and now: I sorely miss Char. And I miss Jay – perhaps even more.
I miss the little fella, my boy. My first and only son. And only child. Because … well, you know the story.
But I don’t miss him as much because he is my only child. Actually, I just miss him because he is … him. He is Jay and I love him with all my heart. And I look forward to helping him and see him grow up, every day. Even when he becomes a world-weary teen who has little time for his ageing and generally tedious parents 🙂
We will cross that bridge when we come there. But it is a good bridge. Because it is about a promise of growth and change, and although Jay is immensely cute and adorable and all that – he is indeed a real little charmer … well, he will have to grow and become his own capable self, and then at some point leave us and begin to make his own way in this crazy world.
And what could be more beautiful.
There is so much to being a parent that I have not really thought of before I became one. But especially this ever-ongoing … feeling … of being able to both see my son as the infant he is now and the young boy and later man he is going to be.
I can’t really imagine what he will be like in just a few years time. But I know he will be someone else in a way, older, more grown up. And I know it to a point where I feel it, in some strange way. Like there is a sense of who he will be, even if I can’t spell out clearly who that is. There is a sense of that right now.
It is a very strange feeling. But I look forward to seeing it come true.
And here, then, is that long good bit of Hammer and Magic – more than 500 words. This day …
Tatiana allowed herself to stare. In fact, she could not stop herself. She took it all in and enjoyed every step, now that she was on her own.
In Petrograd. In the city …
She had been in Petrograd a number of times but always with other family members – like her cousins. Her foster-father, and foster-mother had never come there.
It is so fantastic being here … in a real- big – city. If only papa had not had to leave …
But he had, at the station. Oleg had told her often enough that he could not stay in Petrograd because there was a man here, whom he called simply The Georgian – now loyal to the Soviets – who was a sorcerer and an old enemy of his. The man’s henchmen had kept watch for some time, even before the revolution, looking for any koldun’yas entering the city. But specifically for Oleg.
Papa never told me much about this man … except that they became mortal enemies when they were both in Shpalerhy Prison, Tatiana reminded herself as she – still in her guise as an elderly woman – moved through the streets, looking for the Ladovna household.
“Oh, how I wish I could follow you all the way to the door,” Oleg had said to her as they neared Petrograd on the train. “But it is simply too dangerous. The Georgian and his men know me. But they don’t know you. Even so, I urge you to use the Change Self-spell we talked about … “
Yes, that had come in handy … Tatiana mused to herself, then felt a sudden surge of renewed excitement.
Here she was, all by herself for the first time in this splendid and big, big city. And in disguise! She was here and she was doing something clever and difficult with her art. This was nothing like the long lonely evenings when she had practiced this particular spell in front of the dented mirror her foster-mother had given her. This was real.
She felt like doing something even more … real.
Instead of continuing towards The English Embankment, where the Ladovnas lived, Tatiana turned down one of the narrower streets and got in line for a bread seller.
It was a very long line and she had not considered if she wanted to buy anything, although she was very hungry. But now it felt like a good idea since it was awfully cold and she wanted to save her spells for something more than just conjuring up a loaf of bread.
Spells were exhausting and although you could conjure up basic good items, something any young koldun’ya quickly learned, it was rarely worth the effort – except in a dire situation.
And Tatiana wanted something more than bread, she wanted to feel like … like fitting in.
She could only do that right now, she felt, by this little excursion. She could stop and listen and maybe … talk to someone. It seemed odd, and yet very natural to feel this way and she presently forgot all about the Ladovnas. There was time enough for them. She needed to feel this … city. Despite its cold, and poverty and restlessness and the barricades and guards … she needed to feel being here. So she stood in line and felt instantly better, although everyone else seemed to feel rather miserable.
But, Tatiana thought, they probably have not lived in such a boring place as I have – for 17 years ...
Yes, her home was the small village where she had lived all her life, in the outback – half a day’s travel away on horse to Pskov – and that was what she wanted to get away from.
In fact, she had entertained the idea of not returning once her mission here was settled and the revolution died down, or whatever happened. She didn’t really care that much, except for some proper government to come into place so people could live in peace and begin to farm again and do other things than fight for their lives – or in the terrible war against the Germans.
The war … Tatiana thought somberly as she patiently waited in the line alongside an old man, a young boy, a Red Guard, a sailor and almost 50 other people … Yakov went to war, my dear brother, and he came home as a cripple. It is not so much the government that decides if people are poor and unhappy although they certainly play a part. It is this ghastly war…
As if an echo of her thoughts, she overheard the sailor talk to the Red Guard:
“I’m telling you, Ivan, you guys need to move fast. The Germans kicked our asses in Estonia – they might be here any moment.”
“Don’t you worry,” the Red Guard replied, “we have the Winter Palace. Kerensky – the coward – somehow managed to flee. But we have the rest of them, and a new government will be proclaimed today. A true people’s government.”
“I don’t see how that’s going to stop the Germans … “ the sailor muttered.
“Germany is ripe for revolution, too,” the Guard answered looking like he knew a special secret that solved everything. “I heard comrade Lenin say it himself. He knows Germany well.”
“Figures,” the sailor answered, less enthusiastic, “they paid for his ticket all the way back to Russia … “
The Red Guard was about to protest this less flowery depiction of Lenin’s train trip from exile, when he suddenly stopped and turned towards Tatiana, who was standing right behind them.
“Hey, granny – what are you staring at? Mind your own business!”
Tatiana became aware only then that she had not been particularly discreet when watching the two men, or anyone else in the line as a matter of fact. She felt her heart beating faster.
“- And what’s with that big suitcase, anyway?” The Red Guard’s eyes narrowed. “You trying to hoard bread – so you don’t have to share with patriotic revolutionaries, eh? Perhaps even sell it on the black market like a filthy capitalist?”
Tatiana was speechless. There was so much bile and contempt in the Guard’s voice, and she began looking nervously from side to side, for a way out. She could hardly cast a spell now – of any kind – without being noticed and marked as even more suspicious.
And what was wrong with this soldier – Guard – anyway? She had only been looking at the two men – a little bit. Okay, maybe more than a little bit, but even so …
“Let it go, Ivan,” the sailor said, coming to her rescue. “She’s probably got starving grand kids.”
“We are all starving,” the Guard said fiercely, “but that will change soon, now that the people are in power. Isn’t that right, granny?”
“Y-yes,” Tatiana said, changing her voice mid-way to be more hoarse and old. That little detail was not part of the spell. As it was she came off stuttering and sounding a bit like a frog or some person who was not quite right in her mind.
Her luck, it seemed. The Red Guard turned away in disgust and continued in an even more animated conversation with the sailor expounding his theory about how the German army would collapse when their soldiers realized the revolution was the only thing that was good for them.
Tatiana heard every word but forced herself to now look away from anyone in the line – which had hardly moved an inch the last 20 minutes. She looked up and down the street, and suddenly everything looked different.
Everything looked a little bit darker, more tense. It finally dawned on her:
Petrograd was not a city waiting for her, to come and have any kind of silly good time – to feel any kind of freedom. None of those stupid ideas which she had not been able to suppress on the long train ride (even though Oleg had spent nearly every minute coaching her on her mission). She felt ashamed as she realized that …
No, Petrograd was a city of suspicion and fear of what might happen next. It was a city of revolution …