Sneak Peek, #2

I am having a hard time focusing on blogging lately.  There are a few reasons for this: First, I am just really busy.  Between the kids activities, Lee being out of town, preparations for Easter at our church, the house on the market and general everyday things that pop up, I have little time to sit and think.

Second, my heart feels anxious right now.  It’s probably mostly magnified by Lee’s absence and all of the aforementioned craziness, but I am truly feeling restless inside.  I feel like I’m not doing enough and equally I’m doing too much.  This morning I got up early, while the house was still.  I opened my Bible and just began to read.  It was so refreshing.  You know when you walk outside on a warm summer morning and step into the cool grass and your whole body buzzes from the cool?  That’s what this morning felt like – stepping onto the cool grass.

Third, when I do have a few minutes to sit down and write, I want to work on The Novel.  I don’t want to edit pictures or video.  I just want to release the characters in my head.  In June, I have a trip planned with a dear friend and a couple of other writer’s.  For four days we will sit on a lake in Northern California and get lost in words.

I’m only mildly excited because it sounds like heaven.

Today I give you one more small sneak peek.  I won’t give too many of these, because I don’t want to give it all away, but a few here and there are fun for me to share…and I hope it’s fun for you to read!  This is, of course, the first draft and contains few edits.  It will change with time and re-reads, but it’s slowly beginning to take form.

This part of the story is told by Ivan Kyrilovich Petrochenko, a father of three teenage children and husband of Tanya.  They are living in Kiev.  This is June 22, 1941, the morning of the bombings, after the smoke has cleared.  Ivan and his son Sergei are headed out to survey the damage.  

The memory of that night will haunt me.  The whistle of the bombs and the thunder as they found their targets still move through my head, my heart, my soul.  Intertwined with the noise is the sound of screaming.  Masha, turning and crying, confused and afraid.  Tanya and Anna gripped in the corner, their cries mingling together to form a low wail.  In the midst of all the noise, I see Sergei, my son.  He is silent.  I watched him through the flashes and tremors.  Between dark and light, he became a man.

As the terror of the night slipped into a balmy, dusty morning, I watched them all closely.  Tanya and Anna, both delicate and small, wrapped in one another’s arms, their faces worn and strained.  Masha sat tucked beneath Sergei’s arm, her head nodding and falling, stubbornness alone keeping her from succumbing to the sleep that so clearly longed to take her away.

And the man Sergei, who sat with his back straight against the wall, protecting the sister he so deeply loved.  I knew the decision he made in those long, quiet hours.  I saw him wrestling, an inward battle flashing through his grey eyes.  And when the war was over, he looked at me resigned, brave, grown.  I nodded, a silent confirmation of what he needed most – my blessing.

Shuffling into the still street, I turned to my son and grabbed his shoulders with both hands.  I felt the muscles that rounded over the tops of his arms and for the first time noticed the sinewy nature of his frame.  My son had developed the taught muscles of a man without me even noticing.  Surely this did not happen overnight.

Looking straight in his eyes, I spoke to him not as a father to his son, but as a comrade.  “You will wait until your birthday.  When you are eighteen, you may enlist.”

My voice came out gruff, almost harsh and tears stung the corners of my eyes.  Sergei’s chin lifted slightly and he nodded calmly.  “Yes, Papa.”

Not caring who might look out and see, I pulled him into my arms and gripped him with the passion that only a father can feel for his son.  Sergei’s arms engulfed me in return and for a long while we held one another.  And in that embrace I bid farewell to the boy I had rocked, fed, played with and taught for nearly eighteen years.  And somehow I knew that when my son left, I wouldn’t see him again.

©Kelli Stuart April, 2011

Have a lovely spring Tuesday!


  1. When I finished reading, I realized I had been holding my breath the entire time. Powerful stuff, my friend.

  2. Four days with friends and your writing…can I just say I am sooo jealous and do you have room for one more?

  3. Let me ask, but if you’re serious we just might! 🙂

    Bethany, thank you for that compliment. Coming from you, that means the world to me. Love you!

  4. Kelli, you are a master of descriptions. You are so good at setting the scene that you make your reader become a participant of the events described. Your talent is awesome and this is going to be a special book both to you and your reader. I will be the most dedicated reader of it.

  5. Spaseeba, Svetochka! I have a few questions for you -I’m going to send you an email soon. 🙂

  6. Wow! Just a few paragraphs and I’m tearing up. You’ve been blessed with an amazing talent!

  7. More! More! I love it girl. 🙂


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