Monday, February 2, 2009

Of Children and Peasants – Part X

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Excerpt from “Anna Karenina Comes to America” by Leia Tolstaya*, Millerskaya Ltd., New York, 2009. For earlier installments please click on the keyword phrase “Of Children and Peasants”.

William, Levina, and the children sat in the living room, wearing costumes appropriate to the last quarter of the nineteenth century in Russia.

“I feel ridiculous,” said William, squirming in his tight pants. His attire was borrowed from Levin. Although both men were similar in height and build, and William was proud of his regular workouts, Levin’s body had been tightly honed from the long days of hard labor on his farm. Pants that were meant to be tight-fitting were stifling on William.

“I don’t think you were meant for the ballet,” joked Levina. She wore one of Kitty’s modest dresses. It was lemon-yellow with white lace around the bodice, which was cut a little on the high side at Kitty’s request. Because Kitty loved to go for long walks in the country, it was hemmed at the ankles rather than floor-length. Katrina helped her to button up the small, dainty buttons, which ran all the way up her back. Although this was meant to be an every-day dress for Kitty, Levina felt like she was ready to go to a formal dinner. Her look was completed by a French twist up-do.

The children all wore white peasant blouses, with brown skirts or trousers, black leggings, and brown shoes. These had all been borrowed from Levin’s own children.

“We should take one of those pictures, that people take in studios to make themselves look old-fashioned,” suggested Levina.

In breezed Levin, through the front door this time. He had been busy preparing Anna’s house, which he had purchased while it was under foreclosure.

He never changed outfits when he went time-traveling. In their house, he passed as an eccentric, youngish grandfather, to those who dropped in unexpectedly while he was visiting. Although Levina’s great-great-great-grandfather still looked too young to be her grandfather, the kids would still have to call him grandfather, and so that is how he was introduced to outsiders.

Always straight to the point, he nodded approvingly at their attire and announced, “Everything’s ready for Anna Tolstaya. You’ll have to show her the ropes of the modern household, computer skills included, Levina, like a good sister-in-law.”

“Sister-in-law?” This was a real far fetch for an unrelated woman they were going to rescue from the 1880’s in Russia.

“Your being related would explain to the neighbors why you are being so, well – neighborly. And we couldn’t very well let her keep the name Karenina. Even though her story will change, we don’t know how shocking it will be to her world when she suddenly disappears. She could become infamous for other reasons yet unknown to us.”

To be continued…

*Leia Tolstaya is a pen name for Elizabeth K. Miller, and as such her works fall under the same copyright.

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

Your dress sounds exquisite, and the dress in that picture is stunning, but the corset...ouch.