WEP: Shielding Misha

When Yolanda, Nila, and Denise from the WEP website came up with this nifty challenge, I thought: cool! So many possibilities. Unfortunately, the story wouldn’t gel for quite a while. Until the last moment, in fact. My approach could be best defined by the following quote by Bill Watterson:

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.”
“What mood is that?”
“Last-minute panic.”

The story takes place in Russia, in the 1930s, in the midst of Stalin’s terror.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tasya knelt in front of her grandmother’s armchair. “Grandma, you have to help me save Misha. NKVD has been arresting people, innocent people. They have arrested several of Misha’s friends. The accusation is always the same – the enemy of the people – but it’s false. They’ll arrest him too, I know.” She gazed in entreaty at the cantankerous old woman.

Her grandma stared back. “My magic is gone,” she croaked. “Saving him is up to you.”

“I’m a communist. I don’t believe in magic.” Tasya gripped the scuffed armrests tighter.

“You came to me for help.” The thin, angular shoulders, clad in faded chintz, rose and fell.

“I’m desperate. I can’t bear if he is arrested. Tortured.” Her voice broke, but she collected herself. “It’ll kill me, grandma. We have only been married for two years. I’m pregnant. Please.”

“I can’t, Tasya. I can teach you, but you’ll have to work magic yourself.”

Tasya shivered. She was a communist. She had renounced her magic long ago even though she had never told anyone about the long line of witches in her family. Even Misha didn’t know. Should she abandon her convictions now?

If she didn’t, NKVD would come for her beloved husband, take him away, and beat him until he confessed any heinous crimes they wanted. And then they would shoot him. She knew it. Her premonitions had always been true. Her stomach clenched in misery. She didn’t have a choice; she had to accept her magic.

“Fine. Teach me,” she growled.

“There is a price,” the old woman warned.

“I know.” Magic always extracted a price. Whatever it was, Tasya was willing to pay it. “What do I do?”

“I gave you an escritoire for your wedding. Look in the top left drawer, in the back.”

“All the drawers were empty,” Tasya said impatiently. “I put my stuff there.”

“No. Look with your magic. There is a secret compartment with several medallions in it. Take one and make your husband wear it.”

“It will protect him?” Tasya sprang to her feet, ready to rush home.

“No. It’s a receptacle. You have to imbue it with protective magic yourself.”

“How?”

“Wish it. Magic is as much a matter of intent as power. Put your heart in your wish, believe in your magic, and it will keep him safe.”

Tasya kissed the wrinkled cheek and raced the three blocks home.

Misha had already returned from work. “Hey, Tasenka,” he called from the kitchen. “Where were you?”

“Hey, yourself. Visiting grandma. I’ll be right there.” Breathless from her mad dash through the streets, she darted to the bedroom and yanked open the top left drawer of the escritoire. It was filled with her sawing supplies. She pulled it out all the way and willed that hidden corner of her mind to unlock.

blank_pendantshield_3by4Nothing! Cursing mutely, she closed her eyes and groped sightlessly, and her fingers stumbled on the unfamiliar shapes. Yes! She felt an inaudible pop, as her magic broke its self-imposed bonds. When she opened her eyes, she saw a wide and narrow compartment in the back, shimmering faintly. Several medallions rested there, each in its own slot. She picked up one – a shield on a thin chain; it seemed fitting – and hurried to the kitchen.

“I have something for you.” She offered the pendant to her husband. “I want you to put it on and wear it under your clothing.”

He lifted his shaggy eyebrows at the small heap of pewter in her palm.

“Please, Misha. It’s a gift.”

He shrugged, his lips twitching, but he put it on and tucked it under his shirt. “Thank you. What is the occasion? Should I have something for you too?”

“You already have.” She grinned in relief. “I’m pregnant.”

“Oh, Tasenka!” He lit up like an electric bulb, lifted her off her feet, and twirled her around their tiny kitchen. “Love you!”

Tasya hugged him back. Their celebratory mood lasted until nightfall, when Tasya glanced down from their third floor window and saw a dreaded black Marusia, the distinctive NKVD car, gleam evilly under streetlights. It stopped in front of their apartment building. Three men in uniform peeled out and marched into the door.

Already? Icy terror gripped her insides. She hadn’t done anything with her magic yet. She grabbed Misha’s shirt with both hands and concentrated, envisioning the pewter shield on his chest. She poured all the magic she possessed at the medallion. Protect him, she wished with all her being. Keep him safe!

“Tasya?” His blue eyes radiated concern.

Someone pounded, and her head throbbed, echoing the menace on the other side of the door.

He went to answer, and Tasya trailed after him, still wishing: Protect! Protect!

The three men across the threshold eyed them with cold disdain. The leader thrust an arrest warrant at them and recited Misha’s full name and address.

Misha’s wide shoulders tensed beneath Tasya’s hands. From behind him, she glimpsed the warrant sheet and tossed an angry handful of magic at it. A mistake, she thought grimly. There is no Misha’s name there.

Under her eyes, the crisp letters of the name and address morphed into inky smears.

“It’s a mistake,” she whispered.

“Huh?” the man in charge looked uncomprehendingly at his illegible arrest warrant.

Go away! She flung her magic at him like a grenade. You don’t want my husband.

“A mistake,” he repeated, scrunched his forehead, and turned slowly toward the stairs. His subordinates followed him down, their boots clattering on the steps.

Tasya leaned on the wall, too exhausted to move, her head ready to explode.

Misha closed the door quietly and turned to face her. Deadly pale but calm, he touched her cheek with questing fingers. “What happened? I thought… I was sure…”

Tasya nodded weakly. “My head hurts. I need to lie down.” But she knew her blinding headache wasn’t the only price of her magic. The real price was the other medallions, each one connected to a person. She needed to find them all and help them all. She needed to have a serious talk with her grandma. But first, she needed her head to stop hurting. At least Misha was safe. She smiled and fainted.

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This entry was posted in Olga Godim, WEP, Writing Challenge and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to WEP: Shielding Misha

  1. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Olga! Love this story of Misha and Tasya. The tension in the last half was gripping. There’s more to come for sure what with the other medallions. A great entry for the Back of the Drawer prompt.

    Denise 🙂

  2. Obviously last minute panic is the magic ingredient! 🙂

    ‘Magic is as much a matter of intent as power.’

    Love that! and the flash. Hope she can get to the others before it’s too late for them. Power comes with responsibility 🙂

  3. patgarcia says:

    Oh, Olga, your story engaged me. The power of magic, of not forgetting those special talents or qualities given to us that we sometime hide in our drawers, for whatever reason. A beautiful story and I gleaned so much out of it for me.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  4. Pat Hatt says:

    Doing what needed to be done to save him at all costs. Never know what could be in those drawers or what magic can do.

  5. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – oh yes … that dreaded knock at the door in a country where there’s no hiding … fascinating storyline – and I too hope you will develop the story and we’ll learn more about her grandmother … then the little one coming along … cheers HIlary

  6. Beautiful! Love the ending, I was expecting something so different. Honestly, I feared they would take her. So glad I was wrong! 🙂
    More stories to come with Misha and Tasya, I hope. Lovely idea!
    Thank you for the amazing badge. So inspiring!

  7. Jen says:

    Hello Olga!

    I really enjoyed this and I love how there’s room for more. The other medallions hint to other stories, other lives entwined with your protagonist. You did a great job with the tension and the conflict within Tasya, between her wanting to be loyal to her convictions and save her husband.

    Great entry!
    Jen

  8. Loved this story, love magic, I hope she can now use her magic and believe in it more.

  9. Great story. Great use of the prompt. I could clearly see everything unfolding I liked the cliffhanger ending also. Still more magical,protective spells to come.

  10. Toi Thomas says:

    Great story. I like this idea of putting magic away only to discover it later. I also like the idea that there is more to the story with the other medallions.

  11. Debbie D. says:

    Last minute panic can do wonders! 🙂 This was fraught with suspense, but I’m glad it had a happy ending. More to come, with the other medallions? Would make a great series.

  12. Kalpanaa says:

    What a gripping tale you told Olga. Like Yolanda I thought they would take her instead. Great ending. I also that the subject – magic – was lovely and that there’s so much we can change and affect with our intent.

  13. Donna L Hole says:

    Fantastic! I love the use of magic in stories. And what better use for it than to protect loved ones from anarchists. Well done Olga. Excellent use of the drawer concept.

    ps; I love the desk logo 🙂

  14. Olga Godim says:

    Many of you mention in your comments that there should be other stories about Tasya, with other medallions. You’re right. I envisioned this as one story in six installments, each installment having to do with one medallion… and one WEP prompt. I hope I can keep it up for the entire year. 🙂

  15. lauraclipson says:

    Last minute panic always works for me! Loved the story, can’t wait to see where it goes in your upcoming WEP entries.

  16. Hi Olga
    That was a dark point in history. Don’t we all abandon new beliefs for the trusted old ones? I was certain the price would be her child and I’m glad it didn’t take that direction. Now the question is, who else needs a medallion? I sense an ongoing story.
    Nancy

  17. DG Hudson says:

    I do love the idea that wishing will bring on the magic (but I guess you have to be descended from a heritage of witches. . .) The tension in this story reminded me of Dr. Zhivago, one of my fave all time stories. There were also hints of ‘the force’ a la Obe Wan, Luke’s mentor.

  18. artman413 says:

    It’s always fun to read about magic that hides in the abandoned corners of the mundane world, forgotten by those who’ve adopted newer beliefs. The Stalinist Russia setting gave it an added dose of personality and intrigue. Loved it!

    If I may throw in a little critique, the medallion could have been better integrated into the ending of the story. Tasya gave Misha the medallion and charmed it to protect him at the last minute. But then, she used magic separately to change the name on the warrant and send the NKVD on their way. I think it would have been more appropriate to have all that happen as a result of the medallion. Maybe that’s how it was supposed to be, but the way it reads now, Tasya saves the day on her own and the medallion doesn’t really do anything.

  19. Great story Olga. One of the tricks of a great storyteller is to keep people trying to finish the story in their heads, and begging the writer for more. You’ve succeeded!

  20. Pingback: WEP: Madonna run | Olga Godim writing

  21. Hi Olga!
    I came over from the Peace and Love hop because I wanted to read this first.
    You kept my attention throughout this wonderful story.
    Now I’m wondering about the other medallions… 🙂

  22. Pingback: WEP: Golden Fish | Olga Godim writing

  23. ig says:

    Hey very interesting blog!

  24. Pingback: WEP: Puss in Spots | Olga Godim writing

  25. Pingback: WEP: Magic Book | Olga Godim writing

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