Now that I am knee-deep in, and obsessed with, writing the story of my zombie-making chemist Howard’s parents (tentatively titled Defying the Law of Averages), I thought I might share a first glimpse of our beautiful, rebellious young Mimi. Howard’s father and Mimi met over thirty years ago, falling in love in what was then the USSR, where Mimi lived, and a very American Archibald had come to work for a shady, egotistical little man:
The methodical slapping of shoes on the worn pavement behind her had been annoying the holy hell out of Mimi Ivanov since she’d first noticed them about 15 minutes before. This particular pair was a little louder, a little shinier, and a whole lot creepier than all the rest. A gust of wind whipped at her narrow-ribbed torso and the river of brown hair that had been recently liberated from its utilitarian bun. She responded by hugging her mother’s perfume-scented crimson coat more tightly in protest. It was her mother’s fault that she couldn’t stand these stupid winters. She could have inherited her father’s Russian bear frame, but did she? No. Instead, she stubbornly took after her mother. Delicate. It was a curse, to be born delicate and puny in a brutish country, full of ridiculous men, with a body good for nothing more than ballet and ballroom dancing.
Aside from what Papa called “your mother’s bullshit fairy tales,” that coat, an emerald dress, and an elegant bottle of French perfume were the only things her mother left behind. She had been smart enough to snag the items in question before anyone else among the menagerie of threadbare gypsies and misfits she and her father were forced to live with could. Then Mimi had waited patiently, quietly stashing them away until she’d grown into a body the right size for humoring both — and if she were honest about it, not much else. This most likely explained why she nodded off to that greasy-haired spindle-toed party man, Yuri something or other’s speech. It wasn’t like she missed anything important; he had just been pumping the usual load of hot air, expounding on the vagaries and questionable glories of Communism.
Mimi paused for a moment, giving her reflection in a shop window more serious consideration. Wide green cat’s eyes stared back as she watched all the strange bodies bustling in the background. She didn’t belong here, in a country where time moved too slowly, and her diehard father shoved grim reminders of the repercussions of demonstrating down her throat bi-weekly as a cautionary tale. Pretty but odd is what everyone said about her, except for Papa, who knew her well enough to say rebellious. If only some handsome stranger were willing to grab her and slip away with her into the crowd, rebelliousness and oddity and all, she would be rescued from this place. Instinct told her, quite clearly, that she would not find her salvation in the crowd today; the same way it told her exactly why Yuri was following her. It certainly had nothing to do with napping or speeches. It was her face, so much like her mother’s, and that damned Christmas-colored coat.
verbiage ©2015 by author Jennifer Fales