Continuing where Chapter 3 left off yesterday…
Life in the factory continued on as it always did, despite the anticipation for the party. Every girl there, likely, dreamed of being Viktor Stepanov’s companion for the night, but similarly, every girl knew how unlikely they were to be chosen. Except, of course, Tanya, who displayed eternal optimism. Who knows how much of it, only in fun. Anastasia resolutely put the thought out of her mind after her disturbing dream. She had no reason to believe she would be chosen, and told herself that she didn’t care to be.
It would only deepen the pain at any rate, wouldn’t it? Attending a party would remind her of the charmed life she once led with her husband. A life forever and cruelly torn from her.
I hate war, God. I hate death. I hate grief and pain.
In the last few days, she had fallen into the habit of talking to God at the most random moments and about the most arbitrary thoughts. She wondered if it bothered Him that many of her thoughts centered on painful or confusing topics.
One of the girls made a quip about the party, and it brought her sister Milana to mind. She ought to write to Milana tonight. It had been a while. Milana’s last letter had been anything but cheerful.
Anastasia tried to bring her focus back onto her work, onto the shifting gears and machinery around her. She glanced up as Viktor Stepanov paced passed her station again, his constant watchfulness over the production of the factory somewhat unnerving. His gaze reminded her of a hawk, and she wondered if he ever missed anything.
I wonder how much of the girls’ chatter he’s heard. If he knows that Tanya has all but claimed him for the party. If he knows what some of the others say when they dream out loud about being his companion for a day. I don’t know how he couldn’t know.
She shook her head, attempting to pull her focus away from the party once more. To convince herself that she didn’t care about it.
One of the gears shuddered and ground in an odd manner, startling Anastasia, giving her a flashback to Tanya’s near demise of a few days before. Before she could do anything about the sound, however, the gears shifted back into their normal grind. She sighed.
“Comrade.” Assistant Director Yakov’s voice sent a zing of fear through Anastasia’s heart. She spun to look at him.
“Comrade, you are to accompany me to the office directly.”
Heart sinking, Anastasia dared not disobey or even question her orders. She left her station, following the assistant director through the working women, to the quieter office at the end of the room.
Once inside, Chief Director Stepanov stood behind his desk, while Viktor stood off to one side, his arms crossed and expression unreadable. Anastasia stood across from the director and waited. The man looked her up and down in an appraising manner, the silence unnerving. Anastasia shifted uncomfortably.
“Comrade, you will accompany my son, Viktor, to the party.”
Anastasia stifled a gasp, but a response from her was not required.
“As he has chosen you, I trust that you will do all things necessary to behave in a manner worthy of such a day. I understand that you have some little experience in these matters?”
Anastasia struggled to find words. “Yes, Comrade. Experience. I have a little.”
“Good.” The director slapped his desk by way of emphasis. “Is there anything you will require from us to prepare you, Comrade?”
“I-I don’t…” Anastasia’s voice trailed away. “I can’t think of anything.”
“Very well, back to your station, Comrade.”
Anastasia made her way back to her station in a daze. Tanya started to ask her what they wanted her in the office for, but they saw the director enter exit the office and she hurried back to her own station.
“Comrades, your attention!” Chief Director Stepanov raised his voice to be heard above machinery and the clatter of working women. “My son has chosen his companion for the party. I am sure you regret that only one among you can be chosen. For the rest of you, your cake shall be provided, and drink too, at the close of day, and may you make merry with it!”
Chief Director Stepanov made a motion for the women to continue their work. Tanya sidled up to Anastasia with a conspiratorial whisper. “I wonder who he chose? It wasn’t me after all – unless he hasn’t let me know yet. I wonder why Director Stepanov didn’t tell us who the lucky girl is?”
Anastasia replied with a noncommittal shrug. She didn’t feel equal to telling anyone anything yet.
I’m going to the party. What am I going to wear? I have nothing. And… Why did he choose me?
To the KING be all the glory!