Saturday, May 30, 2009


Here's the sample bit of dialog I did for the writing class in April. I'm debating whether to let you in on the setting and time period ahead of time. Naw, you tell me what it tells you. Comments welcome!


Svetlana startled and knocked her head on the cold iron basin above her head.

"Granny!" the strident voice made her wince again. "What in sam-hill are you doing under there? Get on out!"

Crablike, Svetlana inched her arthritic way out from behind the dishwater-streaked curtains that aproned the front of the kitchen sink. Painfully she regained her feet and faced her daughter-in-law.

"Thelma, I look for--" she began in her broken English, "I try to find-- Where you keep soap, brushes, rags?"

"Why on earth you want any of that clobber?"

"I need to clean house. Floors, walls, whole house!"

"What the hell you wanna do that for?" Thelma’s face hardened. "You saying my house ain’t clean enough for you? I take you in last night and today you start in on my housekeeping?"

Svetlana hastened to soothe her. "No, no, you good housekeeper. My boy Yuri always pleased with you. No, no. We must do special clean. Both together, you, I."

"And what in sam-hill for?"

"You know! You not forget? Is Great Week! We have not much time! In three days only is Big Friday! We must clean and get ready!"

"Granny, stop talking crazy. Get ready for what?" Thelma stood with her arms folded across her large, boardlike bosom, the toe of her boot impatiently scraping the scarred linoleum.

Svetlana stared at her firstborn’s widow with dismay. Did Thelma truly not understand? "Dear daughter!" she exclaimed. "We get ready for Pascha!"

"‘Pascha’!" Thelma spat back at her. "You mean Easter? You old fool, Easter was last Sunday. If you missed it, that’s just too bad."

"But--" The croak in her voice woefully reminded her how old she had grown. "But-- you not celebrate the Pascha?"

"No. Yuri’s dead and I’m shut of that foreign tomfoolishness. I celebrate Easter where God put it, like a Christian, and from now on, so will you. Get it through your head, Granny: this is my house and there’ll be none of your heathen Ukrainian goings-on here. Do you understand?"

Svetlana understood. No home. No sons. No daughters.

No Pascha.


Viola Larson said...

I can only guess its somewhere in the mid-west or maybe New York in the late nineteenth century when I believe a lot of Eastern Europeans were coming to America. Obviously Svetlana is a member of a Greek Orthodox Church.

Great scene it reminds me just a bit of Flannery O'Connor with a dusting of Willa Cather.

St. Blogwen said...

You've pretty well got it! In our brainstorming session, we decided that the setting would be rural Minnesota sometime in the 1930s. That Svetlana came with her family to America from the Ukraine in the 1880s or '90s, that by this time she's around 84 years old, and that she's had to sell the farm. The part about the only "relative" still alive or nearby enough to take her in being her firstborn's American widow is my development.

Thanks for the compliment. I won't insult you by calling it flattery; maybe it can serve as a spur for me to actually write something serious?

Viola Larson said...

Good, I'm glad you are not going to insult me--I get enough of that on my own blog: )

Have you seen the movie Sweet Land? It’s not really the same as your story line but you did make me think of it. Its about a German lady who comes as a mail order bride to, I think Minnesota, during the first world war. The whole plot centers around a Lutheran community of Norwegian people who will not let the couple get marriedbecause she is the enemy. It is a great story.

Sandy said...

Just that little bit of the story made me ache inside for "Granny". Your words painted the scene in my head so clearly.