They needed to keep you and your family hidden, so they painted over the glass in the windows, and ordered you to keep them closed.

You opened one, anyway.

What did you think when you looked out into the courtyard, Nastya? Were you surprised to see that the promise of Spring had matured into Summer? Did your heart lift at the sight of the wide sky and birds far above the rooftops, or did your darkest thoughts return when you saw the decrepit wooden door which guards the way to the basement?

When a nervous young soldier fired at you because you had defied your captors and dared to look out on the summer sunshine, did you guess then what was waiting for you in that underground room?

There are no chandeliers here, no fine china or sparkling crystal. The drab uniforms which surround you cannot be compared to the finery of the young officers who vied to be your escort such a short time ago.

This is no light and airy palace, yet, until the garrison was changed, you could laugh and play here. Do you remember when you fell off the swing and rolled across the ground, and found it so amusing that you told the story again and again for days?

Can you remember, or is your mind fixed now on the future, a time when the commander who has been so courteous to you will lead you down the steps into the dim and dusty place where your family will be annihilated, with the din of machine guns echoing around the walls?

Should we grieve for you  Nastya? Is it of any consequence that your privileged young life is to be extinguished just as it trembles at the dawn of adulthood? What will your death be, compared to the thousands who have suffered and died through the ill-considered choices of your father?

Can it be said in your defence that you had no part in his decisions, when your people, whose influence is even less, must daily bear the pain of their ruler’s errors?

Your parents’ deaths will come swiftly. Yours will not. It will be delivered by a bayonet as you crouch, alone and shaking with terror, at the furthermost point of that foul and oppressive room.

Should this concern us, when many thousands will be hunted down and killed simply for showing loyalty to your family?

Perhaps not, but there may be a reason that we should not discard your memory, after all.

When we hear of the massacre of thousands, millions, we cannot comprehend it. We feel no connection to numbers. A number cannot stare defiantly back at us from a fading photograph.

We cannot know thousands, but we do know you, Nastya, we know how you will suffer and we can weep for you, and through you we will mourn every one of the others.






17 thoughts on “Anastasia

  1. It is the pathos of this piece which brings home the horror of the time. Being up close and personal provides the impact to stir emotions. The sympathy for the situation has been captured in so few words, well done, I enjoyed the read.


    1. Thank you, James. I’m pleased that you see this story as I have tried to present it. You never know how a piece has turned out until someone reads it. You’ve given me quite a boost!


  2. Excellently told Vic. Such a lot of weight and power in a short word count and a clever use of a single person as a focal point for so much collective suffering. Enjoyed this very much.


  3. I’ve nominated you again for an award – see my blog for details. Feel free to ignore – particularly as I’ve inflicted on this before. Nick


  4. The true horror of events like this must be very difficult to describe without becoming emotionally involved yourself, but you have presented the story so well. We can all feel many emotions regarding Nastya’s fate – and countless more like her – and for me, anger is one of them, as well as sympathy and so much sadness. An excellent piece of flash fiction, Vic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I tried to keep the narration as neutral as possible, to avoid my emotional response getting between the reader and the story. From what you say, I must have had some success. Thanks again for reading and going to the trouble of commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Crying at something like that is a good thing I think. I don’t actually cry very much at all, but if I do it’s usually at the news etc. You are a very good writer. I hope you keep it up x

        Liked by 1 person

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