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Natalia: Prologue

This is a story that I've been working on about a sentient Russian doll that I decided to serialize. Here is the prologue:


Thanksgiving had always been Helen’s favorite holiday. And not because she liked to see her extended family, because she liked the food, or because she liked the idea of giving thanks.


It was all because of the Russian nesting dolls. Her grandmother kept a set of three Russian nesting dolls. When Helen was three or four, she had named the dolls: the biggest was Natalia, the middle was Olga, and the smallest was Tatiana. (Technically, her grandmother helped come up with some of the names. The only one she really came up with was Natalia. But that wasn’t the important part.)


So as Helen’s mother and grandfather prepared the Thanksgiving meal together, her grandmother fetched her the Russian dolls. She opened Natalia, being careful with her top; then she opened Olga, again with meticulous attention to detail; and finally, she looked at Tatiana. She didn’t open, because she was the smallest. Helen had always pitied Tatiana for this, and made sure to kiss her on the top of her head.


She played with the dolls for a while, until, after what felt like just a few minutes, she was called in for dinner. She made sure that Natalia and Olga’s tops were carefully aligned with her bottoms, since she respected their feelings too. She was more careful with Natalia, since she was her favorite.


After dinner, she came back for the Russian dolls, yet they weren’t there. She told this to her grandmother, who came into the kitchen to help look for them. Her grandmother opened the refrigerator, moved four bags of spinach, and removed Natalia.


“I wonder how that got there,” muttered Helen’s grandmother, as she continued to search.


Five minutes, then ten, then twenty minutes passed without finding Olga and Tatiana. Helen was in tears at this point, and the whole family knew.


“Charlie, Johnny,” said Helen’s grandfather. “Did you boys hide the Russian dolls?”


“No,” said Charlie.


“Yes,” said Johnny, at the same time.


“Hey!” said Charlie.


“This is not a joke,” said their grandfather. “They mean a lot to your cousin Helen.”


“We’re sorry we did this,” said Johnny. “We’ll help find them.”


“Johnny had the idea to hide them,” said Charlie. In fact, Charlie had the idea, but Johnny didn’t want to protest.


Charlie and Johnny went into the kitchen. Charlie opened the spice cabinet.


“One of them is in here,” he said, and began moving spices.


Johnny started opening drawers at random. He wasn’t sure which drawer the smallest doll was in, but he knew it was in one of the drawers.


Five minutes, then ten, then twenty minutes passed without finding Olga or Tatiana.


Charlie and Johnny didn’t know where the two dolls were.


“I give up,” said Johnny. “I can’t find it.”


“Neither can I,” said Charlie.


“Sorry, Helen,” said her grandmother. Helen loved her grandmother very much, and she looked noticeably calmer. “I think Olga and Tatiana are lost. Me and your grandpa will do our best to look, but they might be gone forever.”


“I hope you find them,” said Helen. “But Natalia needs to be safe. Can I have her, please?”


Helen’s grandmother looked at her daughter, Helen’s mother. She nodded.


“Yes, darling,” said her grandmother. “Take good care of her.”


Helen couldn’t control whether or not Olga and Tatiana were found. But she could keep one of the three dolls safe. Her favorite.


Natalia.


Next: Chapter 1

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Natalia: Chapter 1

Previously: Prologue Seventy-One Years Later Natalia stood inside the drawer looking for something to do. This was quite a common feeling for her, as she had languished there for years on end, no one

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